TiramisuThere are at least three different stories surrounding the origins of Tiramisu.

The first is that it was was initially created in Siena, Tuscany. The occasion was a visit by Grand Duke Cosimo de’Medici III, in whose honor the concoction was dubbed zuppa del duca (the “duke’s soup”). The erstwhile duke brought the dessert back with him to Florence.

The second theory is that is was a cake specialist from Torino who invented in honour of Camillo Benso the Count of Cavour to sustain him during the difficult job of unifying Italy.

Northern Italians will swear blind however that it was invented in Treviso and was a favourite of Venice’s courtesans to fortify themselves between their amorous encounters. Tiramisu literally translated means Pick Me Up.

Whatever the true history behind Tiramisu it has become one of the most popular and well known Italian deserts.

You will find hundreds of variations, some light and fluffy, some rich and creamy, some strong on the coffee and others with more emphasis on the liquor.

The Italians use Savoiardi biscuits to soak the coffee and liquor – the American version would be Lady Fingers.

The Mascarpone cream cheese used today is a replacement for the custard used in the original recipes.

Here is our light fluffy version of this wonderful desert.


2 Eggs
250g/8 oz Mascarpone
A packet of Savoiardi (Ladies Fingers)
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
Cocoa to decorate
2 Cups of Strong Expresso Coffee
½ Cup of Milk
Small glass of Desert Wine or Liquor
50g Dark Chocolate

How to make the Tiramisu

  • Separate the eggs into yolks and whites.
  • Add a tiny pinch of salt to the whites. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to form a creamy paste. It will go from a bright yellow to a pale cream colour. Add the mascarpone and stir. Mascarpone is a cream so if you use an electrical mixer use it very briefly otherwise you may find the cream separating.
  • Fold in the egg whites gently. Set aside.
  • Make a jug of strong coffee and mix it with the milk. Add a small teaspoon of sugar if you have a sweet tooth. Add the desert wine/liquor to the mixture.
  • Dip each Savoiardi in the coffee/liquor mix to soak. Arrange the soaked biscuits into one layer in a serving dish.
  • Once you have the layer of soaked biscuits cover with a layer of the cream mix. Sprinkle with a layer of grated chocolate.
  • Repeat the biscuit and cream layers until the dish is full.
  • Finish by sprinkling generously with the cocoa.
  • Cool in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Please note that this is a dish that should be eaten the same day that it is made as it is made with raw eggs.

Serves 4


  • To make a richer version of Tiramisu leave out the egg whites – use only the yolks. The preparation is the same as above but no folding of whites required.
  • This version may require a little more than two hours in the fridge to allow more time for the cream to soak in.


  • Some good Italian friends of mine made me a pineapple tiramisu and it was amazingly fresh and a great alterative summer desert.
  • No coffee required. Instead mix the pineapple juice with the liquor and soak the Savoiardi in this.
  • Instead of the chocolate and cocoa layers there are layers of pineapple fruit on top of the savoiardi then the layers of the cream.

Try one or all of these – they’re delicious!

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