4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces Wisconsin mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon sweet Marsala wine or 1 tablespoon rum*
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strong coffee or espresso, cooled
1 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
In a small saucepan, beat the egg yolks lightly with a wire whisk. Add the sugar gradually; beat well. Whisk in the milk until blended. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, about 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat; cover the top with plastic wrap to prevent a film from forming. Refrigerate 1 hour until cool.**
Remove the egg mixture from the refrigerator. Add the cheese, stirring well to blend. Whisk in the wine or rum. Set aside.
In a chilled non-plastic bowl, beat the whipping cream at high speed, 2 to 3 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Mix in the vanilla. Fold half of whipped cream into the egg mixture, reserving the other half.
Separate the ladyfinger halves (they come split). Brush both sides of the ladyfinger halves with cold coffee, using a pastry brush. Place half of the ladyfingers in the bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking pan, or a similar-sized bowl.
Spread half of the egg-cheese mixture evenly over the ladyfingers. Top with the remaining ladyfingers and spread the remaining egg-cheese mixture over all. Cover with the reserved whipped cream. Sift the cocoa powder over the whipped cream topping. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
*You can substitute 1/8 rum extract mixed with 1 tablespoon of water.
**For a quicker version, mix 1/2 cup egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters, with the sugar and milk. Proceed with the recipe - no cooking required.
Note: It is important to keep refrigerated before and after serving.