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Valentine's Day Dessert Idea: Easy Tiramisu Recipe

Posted by Claire | Friday February 8, 201317 comments

This is a story about good intentions. And chocolate. And alcohol. 

So as you can imagine, three of my favourite things.

After a few trips to several local grocers (it turns out ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese are rather hard to find) and the liquor store, I came home laden with ingredients and a firm plan to make the recipe "tomorrow".

In other words, I had every intention of making it later that week. By then, the ladyfingers had been claimed as an after-school snack and the mister had sampled the liqueur (of which I had the foresight to buy a very small quantity). Naturally I had to sample some too, just to be sure of its quality and appropriate flavour profile.

At least Valentine's Day is still a shy week away and I have time to buy more... right?

Tiramisu can be made without ladyfingers for a more pudding-like texture, and the basic recipe flavour can be easily tweaked according to the type of alcohol used (or lack thereof). This version of tiramisu is adapted from Sophia Loren's recipe which appeared in her cookbook.

3 Eggs, separated
5 Tbsp Sugar
6 oz (approx 170 grams or 3/4 cup) Mascarpone* Cheese 

36 Ladyfingers* 
1/2 cup Orange* Liqueur
1 cup Espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 oz (approx 55 grams or 2 squares) Baker's Chocolate, grated
1/2 cup Cocoa powder
(*see bottom of this post for recipe substitutions)

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and beat well. Add mascarpone and combine well.  

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture to create a creamy texture.

image credit: TastyRetreat
Combine espresso and liqueur. Dip half your quantity of ladyfingers into the liquid just long enough for them to get wet (do not soak). Using a 9x12-inch serving dish, arrange a single layer into a tight formation on the bottom.  Cover with a layer of half the creamy mixture and top with grated chocolate. Dust with half the cocoa quantity.

image credit: TastyRetreat

Repeat the layers: a tight row of ladyfingers dipped in liqueur-espresso, topped with your creamy mixture. Set the remaining cocoa aside.

Place the pan in your refrigerator to chill for at least 12 hours (can be up to 24 hours before serving). This allows the ladyfingers to soak up the moisture until melt-in-your-mouth soft.

When you are ready to serve, dust with the remaining cocoa. Cut into serving portions and garnish with extra chocolate shavings, if desired.

image credit: ChefDennis

Last, sit back and accept everyone's compliments.

* Mascarpone cheese can be hard to find and costly besides. I have substituted with ricotta cheese (straight swap) or a cream cheese/whipping cream mixture (instructions here). The taste is just as good, though the texture is slightly different.

* Ladyfingers can be exchanged for pound cake or angel food cake sliced into finger shapes. I suggest you stick with a dense cake, but you could use fluffier baking for a more pudding-like texture.

* Orange liqueur can be a broad category that includes Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, or orange brandy. My version uses a 40% alcohol, so if you're using something milder, you can increase the quantity of alcohol if you desire a stronger taste.

* other suitable liqueurs can include coffee liqueurs, Frangelico, Irish Cream, etc. It can also be made without any alcohol, which will make the coffee and creamy flavours stand out. 

As I confessed up front, I did not actually make my tiramisu in preparation for this post. Luckily, many others on the world wide web have, and so I "borrowed" their images and credited appropriately. Each picture accurately reflects what my tiramisu preparation looks like.

Have you tried tiramisu? Please tell us about your recipe adaptations in the comments below!
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on February 14, 2013  laced  711 said:

This look unreal!

on February 14, 2013  egreens  318 said:


on February 13, 2013  Racenhawk  2,604 said:

will have to try it!

on February 13, 2013  frose  994 said:

One of my favorites. I'm doing it the same way as well. Used rum adn still turn out nice :)

on February 12, 2013  smiley_gen  9,344 said:

Looks simple enough! Thanks for sharing this easy version!

on February 12, 2013  chel  602 said:


on February 09, 2013  nscott84  4,013 said:

Being half Italian I grew up indulging in this great dessert. It just so happens to be a fave of mine. I was pleased to see the authenticity since some people tend to desecrate the sanctity (lol) of it by substituting marscapone with cream cheese and espresso with coffee. Two thumbs up! I will be trying this..

on February 08, 2013  LyrissaSmillie  9,434 said:

ohhh my yummmmmm!!
I used to work at Death by chocolate *until I gained 10 lbs and had to quit!* and whenever theyd get me to make the Tiramisu Id do the..one for you..one for me dance..mmm

on February 08, 2013  CandiceFleming  516 said:

This looks super yummy!

on February 08, 2013  mamaluv  STAFF said:

@fredamans, that's true! The first time I made this I followed the instructions exactly (1 cup of orange liqueur, and I used Grand Marnier I think). We got plasteredddddddddd. I never knew you could get drunk eating a dessert :)

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