Tiramisu means “pick me up” or “lift me up” in Italian and it certainly does that!
It would have to be up there as one of my favourite Italian desserts and I don’t think I’ve met anyone to date who doesn’t like it.
Over the years, I’ve tasted many variations of Tiramisu – majority consisting of sponge finger biscuits (Savoiardi) dipped in coffee & optional liqueurs, layered with a mixture of eggs, sugar, mascarpone cheese & grated dark chocolate. I love a version I once saw by chef Graziella Alessi from Melbourne on Italian Food Safari. She made an Italian Meringue (beaten egg whites stabilised with cooked sugar syrup) as opposed to a standard meringue and folded it through the mascarpone mixture. I tried this myself and the results were heavenly – a lovely smooth creamy filling. I did make a few minor changes to Alessi’s original recipe though – instead of using Sambucca & Strega liqueurs, I used Kahlua & Marsala (and just because they are my favourite in creamy desserts). You could substitute for your favourite liqueurs as well.
I made this dessert a few weeks ago for friends who come over for dinner and it was a hit. Make sure to present it in a clear glass bowl to impress your guests visually as well.
Tiramisu means "pick me up" or lift me up" in Italian. If you need a little 'pick me up' for the weekend then this is the perfect dessert for you and so easy to put together. It is made of sponge finger biscuits (Savoiardi) dipped in coffee (& optional liqueurs), layered with a mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese with grated chocolate - a heavenly combination.
Original recipe by Graziella Alessi - adapted by Angela Palermo
30 minPrep Time
30 minTotal Time
3 Egg yolks
60g Castor sugar
70ml Kahlua liqueur, or more to taste
40ml Marsala, or more to taste
20–30 (about 500g pack) savoiardi (sponge finger) biscuits
1 litre hot espresso coffee
100 g dark chocolate, chopped
100 ml water
250 g sugar
125 ml eggwhites (from 4–5 eggs)
- Put the egg yolks and castor sugar in an electric mixing bowl and beat on high speed until pale and thick (about 2 mins).
- Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture and beat on low to medium speed until combined (be careful not to over mix as you may split the mascarpone). Then add a dash of Kahlua & Marsala and beat briefly. Set aside in a separate bowl.
- Pour the water into a very clean, grease-free saucepan and slowly add the sugar, making sure all the grains get wet. Bring to the boil over medium to high heat and cook till it is at 112°C on a sugar thermometer (or soft-ball stage, which is when you can drop a small amount of syrup into cold water and it forms a ball that you can shape in your fingers).
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites on high speed in a very clean electric mixing bowl until they hold medium peaks. With the beaters still going, slowly and carefully add the hot syrup (at 112c) in a thin stream down the side of the bowl. Continue to beat until the meringue is completely cool.
- Gently fold the Italian meringue into the mascarpone mixture.
- Start by soaking the savoiardi biscuits in the coffee (with the added liqueurs) a few at a time without letting them get completely sodden (the coffee shouldn’t soak all the way through, so there should still be a little portion of biscuit in the middle left untouched.)
- Lay the biscuits into a large bowl, and keep soaking and adding biscuits until you have lined the base and sides entirely.
- Sprinkle the biscuits with a little of the chopped chocolate.
- Spread one third of the mascarpone mixture over the top.
- Cover with more coffee-soaked biscuits, sprinkle with more chocolate and add another third of mascarpone. 11. Repeat the layers again and smooth the top. Then sprinkle with remaining chocolate.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, until the tiramisu is firm enough to cut or scoop out.