'Impressionism' – coffee crème pâtissière, sponge and coffee zabaglione

Ernesto Iaccarino's showstopping dessert is an edible interpretation of a coffee cup served with dainty vanilla sponge cake 'spoons'. The cake 'cup' is filled to the brim with coffee-spiked crème pâtissière and smooth zabaglione and finished with a striking dusting of icing sugar and ground coffee. The individual elements of this dish can all be made in advance, making it an excellent dinner party dessert – buy the spoon moulds ready-made to save even more time.

First published in 2016
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Coffee crème pâtissière

  • 250ml of whole milk
  • 1/4 vanilla pod, seeds only
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40g of caster sugar
  • 20g of plain flour
  • 20ml of espresso

Sponge cake

  • 3 eggs
  • 180g of icing sugar
  • 200g of plain flour


To serve


  • Silicone baking mat 4
  • Rolling pin 2


Begin by preparing the coffee crème pâtissière. Combine the milk and vanilla seeds in a small pan and gently bring up to the boil. Once boiling, remove the milk from the heat and pass through a sieve into a clean pan
  • 250ml of whole milk
  • 1/4 vanilla pod, seeds only
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until light and creamy. Sift the flour into the bowl, gently folding the flour into the egg mixture from the bottom of the bowl up until thoroughly combined
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40g of caster sugar
  • 20g of plain flour
Gradually pour the hot milk into the mixture, stirring well to combine, and pour the mixture back into the milk pan. Place over a low heat and allow to thicken gently for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer to a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally to ensure no lumps form. Once cool, cover the surface of the crème pâtissière with cling film to prevent a skin from forming and transfer to the fridge until required
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
To make the stencils for the sponge cake shapes carefully cut out 4 rectangles measuring 7x11cm from a silicone mat for the cylinders. Cut 20 identical teaspoon shapes out from a separate silicone mat and place on top of another silicone mat to form a mould, doing the same with the cylinder stencil.
For the sponge base whisk together the eggs, icing sugar and plain flour until thoroughly combined. Carefully spoon the sponge mixture across the rectangular and spoon moulds and spread smooth with a palette knife. Bake in the oven for 6 minutes
  • 3 eggs
  • 180g of icing sugar
  • 200g of plain flour
Remove the spoon and rectangle shapes from the oven and leave the spoons to cool. While still hot, roll the rectangles around some rolling pins to form a cylinder shape and leave to cool
For the zabaglione, whisk together the egg yolks, espresso and sugar until combined. Warm the mixture over a bain-marie, whisking until it thickens to a cream-like consistency. Remove from the heat and allow to cool
For the coffee crème pâtissière, vigorously mix 100g of the crème pâtissière with the espresso and transfer to a piping bag. Gently remove the cylinders from their rolling pins and divide between serving plates, piping a generous serving of coffee crème pâtissière almost to the top of each one
To serve, spoon a little of the zabaglione into the top of each cylinder and smear a generous portion of the remaining zabaglione across each plate, garnishing with a coffee bean. Divide the cake spoons between plates and dust liberally with icing sugar, finishing with a generous sprinkle of ground coffee using a teaspoon as a stencil
First published in 2016

Taking over from his father meant there was a lot of pressure on Ernesto Iaccarino's shoulders when he became a head chef. Fortunately, his natural talent in the kitchen meant he easily retained the family's two Michelin stars.

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