This popular Italian dessert is traditionally made with ladyfingers, but you can also use a homemade pound cake with your own healthy ingredients. This can be made one or two days ahead of time. Just cover with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


  • 3 cups mascarpone
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup mild-flavored honey (start with the lesser amount and add more if you like things sweeter)
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine or 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (use 3/4 cup if not using Marsala)
  • 2/3 cup freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup unrefined sugar (rapadura or Sucanat)
  • 1 homemade pound cake, gluten-free if desired
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. Make coffee syrup by dissolving unrefined sugar in freshly brewed coffee. Simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl beat together the mascarpone cheese, honey, Marsala (if using), and whipping cream with an electric mixer until the mixture is fluffy.
  3. Cut cake into 1/2-inch slices. In a lightly buttered 2.5-liter glass baking dish, place a layer of cake slices, cutting to fit as needed. Brush enough of the cooled coffee syrup over the pieces to moisten, but not saturate the cake.
  4. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the cake slices, and smooth with a spatula.
  5. Repeat layers one more time. Refrigerate any coffee syrup left over, and use to replace part of the liquid in chocolate cake or brownie recipes.
  6. Just before serving, sprinkle top with cocoa powder. For best results, place the cocoa powder in a sieve and shake over the surface. Do not sprinkle on ahead of time or the cocoa will pick up moisture from the cream layer and not look attractive.


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