For the Love of Tiramisu

For the Love of Tiramisu

There are many reasons why you should make Tiramisu!  For us,  it is a no-bake dessert that can be fully customizable depending on your tastes.  We love that you can control the sweetness, the look of it, and make it your own!   Better still, the backbone of Tiramisu relies on prepared ‘lady finger biscuits’, so this dessert comes together quickly and easily.  With little special equipment and easy to find ingredients, make this dessert for your next party!  

Tiramisu, put simply,  is a chilled dessert with heavenly layers of creamy mascarpone cheese, delicate ladyfinger biscuits soaked in coffee, and a hint of cocoa.   Let’s dig deep into this dessert, starting with the history, outlining the ingredients & preparation, and the variations of this iconic Italian dessert.

The Origins of Tiramisu:

Tiramisu, which translates to "pick me up" or "lift me up" in Italian, is believed to have originated in the Veneto region of Italy in the 1960s or 1970s. While its exact origins are shrouded in mystery, Tiramisu's popularity quickly spread beyond Italy, becoming a beloved dessert in kitchens and restaurants around the globe.

One popular tale suggests that tiramisu was created by a clever pastry chef in the town of Treviso. It is said that the chef developed the dessert as a way to impress his customers with a unique and flavorful creation. The energising treat that is tiramisu can be attributed to one of its main ingredients: coffee!  

Another story attributes the invention of tiramisu to the city of Siena, where it was allegedly served to give a boost to weary travellers passing through.  Makes sense!   

Regardless of its exact origins, tiramisu gained widespread popularity in Italy during the latter half of the 20th century and eventually became a beloved dessert around the world. 


Key Ingredients:

No matter what variation you may put on tiramisu, here are the essential ingredients to have on hand.   Many of these ingredients are staples in our home kitchens, save for the mascarpone, which we explain below.  

  1. Mascarpone Cheese: This rich and creamy cheese provides the luxurious texture that defines Tiramisu.   Mascarpone cheese is a creamy, rich, and indulgent Italian cheese that hails from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. Mascarpone is made from fresh cream, which is heated and then coagulated with the addition of an acidic substance, such as lemon juice or citric acid. The resulting curds are then drained and the creamy curd is collected and gently pressed, creating a smooth and velvety texture.   Compared to other cheeses, mascarpone has a high fat content, typically around 60-75%. This high fat content contributes to its luxurious mouthfeel and rich flavour.   It also has a delicate, slightly sweet taste with a mild tanginess that pairs beautifully with both sweet and savoury dishes.     Because of its versatility and creamy texture, mascarpone is not only used in desserts like our beloved Tiramisu but also in savoury dishes such as creamy pasta sauces and risottos. 
  2. Ladyfinger Biscuits: also known as Savoiardi in Italian, these biscuits are delicate, finger-shaped sponge biscuits that are popular in a variety of desserts.   They are  light and airy and have  a dry and porous texture, which makes them perfect for soaking up liquids like coffee or liqueur without becoming overly soggy.    Ladyfinger biscuits are typically made from a batter consisting of flour, sugar, and eggs. The batter is piped into long, slender shapes before being baked until they are lightly golden and firm to the touch. The resulting biscuits are crisp on the outside and soft and sponge-like on the inside.    These light and airy biscuits serve as the perfect sponge for soaking up the coffee and liqueur mixture.  See below for Gluten Free option!   
  3. Espresso Coffee: Strong brewed espresso adds a bold and robust flavor to each layer of Tiramisu.   We’ve also used strong coffee, so there is no excuse not to make this if you don’t have espresso on hand!  
  4. Cocoa Powder: A dusting of cocoa powder on top using a fine mesh strainer makes you look like a professional pastry chef!  
  5. Eggs and Sugar: Whipped egg yolks and sugar create a light and fluffy zabaglione, adding sweetness and structure to the mascarpone filling.
  6. Liqueur (Optional): While not traditionally included in all recipes, a splash of Marsala wine or other liqueur can enhance the depth of flavour in Tiramisu.  Our version contains the popular coffee liqueur, Irish Baileys!   

Basic Method:  

Creating Tiramisu requires just a few simple steps and some tips and tricks for the perfect dessert.   We love the simplicity and repetition of putting this dessert together.   This is just an overview of the method. Click HERE for the full recipe & class!  

  1.  Prepare the coffee: Brew a strong batch of espresso or coffee and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  2. Make the mascarpone filling: In a mixing bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, whipped egg yolks, and sugar until smooth and creamy.
  3. Assemble the layers: Dip ladyfinger biscuits into the cooled coffee and liqueur if using, and arrange them in a single layer at the bottom of a serving dish.
  4. Add the mascarpone mixture: Spread a layer of the mascarpone filling over the soaked biscuits.
  5. Repeat: Continue layering the soaked biscuits and mascarpone filling until you reach the top of the dish.
  6. Chill and serve: Refrigerate the Tiramisu for several hours to allow the flavours to meld together, then dust with cocoa powder before serving.

Variations and Creative Twists:

While the traditional Tiramisu recipe remains a timeless classic, there are countless variations and creative twists to explore:

  1. Fruit Tiramisu: Add fresh berries or sliced fruit between the layers.   This is especially beautiful in the summer months using local strawberries!  
  2. Chocolate Tiramisu: Incorporate layers of chocolate ganache or grated chocolate for an extra indulgent treat.  Even easier, add 1 or 2 spoonfuls of good quality cocoa powder to your mascarpone filling.   
  3. Vegan Tiramisu: Substitute dairy-free alternatives such as cashew cream or coconut yogurt for the mascarpone cheese to create a vegan-friendly version.
  4. Gluten Free Tiramisu: GF Lady Fingers are available here.  Using these will give you an amazing Gluten-Free dessert!   
  5. Tiramisu Cake: Transform the classic dessert into a layered cake by stacking alternating layers of sponge cake and mascarpone filling.
  6. Individual Tiramisu Dessert Trifles: in small dishes layer the filling and garnish with lady fingers.  

Make it Now!  

There is a reason why some desserts have simply stood the test of time.   Tiramisu stands as a testament to the timeless allure of Italian cuisine. Whether enjoyed as a comforting indulgence or a show-stopping dessert for special occasions, Tiramisu never fails to captivate with its irresistible blend of flavours and textures. So why wait? Treat yourself to a slice of Tiramisu today and experience the magic for yourself!  

Click HERE for our On-Demand Tiramisu Cooking Class complete with step-by-step instructions, ingredient list & our own tried & true recipe!