Tiramisu (the easy way)

A particularly simple way of preparing this highly indulgent Italian dessert.

Vegetarian. Hands-on time: 12 mins. Total time: 12 mins (plus chilling).

Contributed by Janey Macleod (December 2006).

Tiramisu (the easy way)

Photo © Veg World

It's funny to think that, until a few years ago, hardly anyone outside the Italian province of Veneto had ever heard of tiramisu, yet today it crops up on the menus of up-market restaurants throughout the world - and with good reason. When made well, it can be absolutely delicious - just the thing to top out a celebration meal or a special occasion.

I've often wanted to make tiramisu at home, but all the recipes I found were either too complicated or relied on hard-to-find ingredients. They typically involve carefully cooking egg yolks over boiling water, or mixing a syrup at an exact temperature. Another problem is that many tiramisu recipes call for gelatin, which is a no-no for us vegetarians.

I finally developed my own recipe, which I set out below. To be honest, it's not the authentic Italian version of the dish, but it tastes just as wonderful and is very easy to make. It more closely resembles that other popular Italian dessert, zuppa Inglese, which, according to some sources, was an early version of tiramisu (and also of the English trifle).

Needless to say, this dessert can never be described as low fat. You could reduce the fat content by using yogurt in place of the cream, but it wouldn't make that much difference and wouldn't be quite as indulgent. I prefer to go with the full-cream version. After all, this isn't something you eat every day.

The recipe calls for chocolate biscotti. If you can't find these, you can use plain biscotti or any sponge-based cake instead. Lady fingers (savoiardi in Italy or trifle sponges in the UK) would work very well. To make up for the lack of chocolate, sprinkle a teaspoon of cocoa powder on the cakes while they are soaking.

For the liqueur, Tia Maria and amaretto are both highly suitable, but sherry is a good substitute. Another good choice would be Kahlua, which is a rich coffee-based liqueur. If you prefer a non-alcoholic version, just omit the liqueur and add half a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead (or see my separate recipe for alcohol-free tiramisu).

These quantities should yield six portions.



Start by placing the biscotti side by side in a flat dish. They should ideally cover the base of the dish without overlap.

Add the liqueur to the coffee and pour it over the biscotti. Leave to stand for a few minutes while the biscotti soak up the liquid.

Beat together the mascarpone and cream.

Carefully arrange half the biscotti in an 8-inch (20 cm) bowl. Gently press down with a fork so that they are evenly spread. Add half the mascarpone mixture, again spreading it evenly. Repeat with the remainder of the biscotti, this time also pouring over any excess coffee. Then add a final layer of the mascarpone mixture.

Finally, sprinkle the chocolate shavings over the top. Chill for at least half an hour before serving.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.