Tiramisu – Italian “pick me up” Dessert

TiramisuTiramisu is that scrumptious dessert of zabaglione custard with mascarpone cheese, savoiardi (lady fingers) dipped in espresso and marsala, and dusted with cocoa powder.  It was created in Treviso, Italy about 1970 by Alba and Ado Campeol, owners of the restaurant Le Beccherie.  The classic recipe was made with raw eggs, a no-no due to salmonella potential, so the zabaglione is now cooked over steaming water.

I first made this dessert in 1989 from a recipe in Ciao Italia Cookbook, the companion cookbook to Mary Ann Esposito’s TV series.  She is in her 20th year as a cooking show presenter and was one of my mentors when I got the foodie bug.  I carried her cookbooks to the South Pacific along with Joy of Cooking, Better Homes and Garden, and Sunset.  This recipe parallels the classic tiramisu from Le Beccherie and you will love the creamy texture and luscious wine laced espresso flavors.   If you don’t have marsala wine, rum and Kahlua may be used.  Philadelphia cream cheese may be substituted for the mascarpone cheese.  And day-old toasted sponge cake may be used in place of the savoiardi biscuits.


  • 3 lg. eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp espresso coffee
  • 2 Tbsp marsala wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 cup (10 oz.) mascarpone cheese, beaten smooth
  • 1 cup espresso coffee
  • 5 Tbsp marsala wine
  • 20 savoiardi biscuits
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder


  1. Cream egg yolks with sugar until light and fluffy.  Transfer to a double boiler.
  2. Stirring constantly, add 1 Tbsp espress coffee and 2 Tbsp marsala wine.  Continue to stir and heat until zabaglione thickens and coats the back of a spoon.  Remove to an ice bath to cool.  Stir occassionally while cooling.
  3. Cream softened mascarpone cheese until light and fluffy.  Fold into cooled zabaglione.
  4. Whip heavy cream until peaks form.  Fold into zabaglione. The mixture will be the consistency of mousse.
  5. Add 5 Tbsp marsala wine to 1 cup espresso coffee.  Dip each savoiardi biscuit into the espresso and quickly remove.  Place 10 dipped savoiardi into the bottom of a 9 inch spring-form pan. 
  6. Cover biscuits with half the zabaglione.  Repeat layers.
  7. Cover the top of the tiramisu with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or several hours.
  8. Remove foil and dust with 2 Tbsp cocoa powder.
  9. To serve remove spring form, slice into wedges, garnish with chocolate shavings or curls.  Serve with your favorite coffee.

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6 Responses to “Tiramisu – Italian “pick me up” Dessert”

  1. Melissa Says:

    I love tiramisu and this sounds like a great recipe. Thanks!

    • JoAnn Says:

      Thanks Melissa for dropping by. This is really easy to make and better than many restaurants serve. Enjoy!

  2. joeline Says:

    I absolutely looooove tiramisu and have been searching for a good recipe for a long time now. Will be sure to give yours a try, looks beautiful!

    • JoAnn Says:

      You’ll enjoy this one…be sure not to get the savoiardi too wet otherwise they will be soggy.

  3. Angie Says:

    I have been wanting to make this, but could not find the mascarpone cheese at the supposedly good grocery down here Publix. I just found it the other day at Winn Dixie of all places, I will be trying this soon. Thanks for the recipe!

    • JoAnn Says:

      You can always use cream cheese. Its nearly the same consistency and flavor. I made this in the South Pacific substituting sponge cake for savoiardi biscuits, rum for marsala and cream cheese for mascarpone. It was always a hit even tho it wasn’t authentic. Enjoy!

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