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Terrific Italian tiramisu

Tiramisu, the simple way. Naturally, it's best to use the freshest possible ladyfingers - a small cake known in Italy as savoiardi. It's always possible to make them, but the preparation is for the advanced only.


6 cake (lady fingers)
1⁄4 c coffee (espresso)
1⁄2 c cheese (Mascarpone cheese)
1 egg (large)
1 T rum (dark)
1 T brandy (or Cognac)
3 T sugar
1 T cocoa (unsweetened powder)


Whisk the egg and add a pinch of salt. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the Mascarpone (a type of cream cheese) until thoroughly mixed. It may help to leave the cheese to warm to room temperature for a half hour before beginning.

In a small, wide bowl mix room temperature espresso, rum, and cognac. Dip a ladyfinger into the espresso mixture until it is sopping. Then remove and place on wax paper. Repeat for the other five.

Pour the egg-cheese mixture on top. Line two ladyfingers up side by side and place two more on top at right angles. Pour on more topping. Repeat with the final two. Carefully lift the dessert by grabbing the edges of the wax paper and place into the refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove and place onto a plate, then sprinkle with cocoa powder before serving.

Total time
45 minutes
Cooking time
Preparation time
4 servings


Feel free to experiment. Like all Italian dishes, there are regional differences and variations made by individual chefs. One popular style uses a bit of Kahlua, which works well thanks to its association with coffee. Amaretto is sometimes added to the mixture, but then you may want to leave off the cognac. Some enjoy a dash of vanilla in the cream.

Physical preparation varies from chef to chef, too. Many like to use 1/2 cup custard cups to hold each ladyfinger individually during the refrigeration step, then stack afterward. Some will boil the sugar in water to get a syrup that is added to the mixture. That thickens the recipe and gives it a highly sweet taste. That shows a French influence, since Italians lean more toward spice and earthy tastes than sugary ones.

Try them all and you'll soon find the tiramisu style that suits your palate best. Food is always about the individual


Italian cuisine

By most accounts a relatively recent invention, unlike the majority of Italian dishes which are centuries old, Tiramisu is thought to have come from an enlightened chef in Treviso. But whatever its origins, its true birthplace is the Hall of the Gods. For, this coffee and cream cheese dessert is simply heavenly.

Desserts don't feature front and center in Italian cuisine. That's really a shame, since there are several that could be, and are, proudly served in the finest restaurants. One outstanding example is tiramisu.

dairy, dessert
Italian food recipes