This classic and authentic Italian dessert of ladyfingers dipped in espresso and Kahlua is layered with a mascarpone custard lightened up with fluffy whipped cream.
This post is in partnership with Kroger
It started out as just another photo shoot for the health publication I was the creative director for when we lived in Los Angeles. It was years ago but it’s one of the few I harken back to with a wee bit of envy. Not because of the beautiful model we were shooting that day, nor the perfectly celebrity-styled home in the Hollywood Hills we had rented as our location for the day.
No, it was actually because of a small-talk conversation I had with my wardrobe stylist. She was leaving the next day for Italy. For a month. And she was staying in a villa in Florence. Not just any villa, but a villa she had been invited to by restauranteur and chef Nancy Silverton of Los Angeles’ famed Campanile and Mozza empires. Their plan was simple: to cook together (with the amazing Nancy as chef!), eat amazing Italian dinners, drink local wines, and do all the things one’s imagination dreams up while envisioning an amazing vacation in Italy.
I have been jealous of that trip for the last 15 years.
I’ve never been to Italy. Let me rephrase that. I’ve yet to visit Italy. Putting it that way sounds more like a plan of action than a major case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Not that I’m looking for a life-changing experience ala Under the Tuscan Sun, but I’d be happy to take my stab at strolling through those rolling Tuscan hills and venturing through the Italian farmers market.
Until then, I’ll savor my Italian adventure with my own taste of Italy right here at home.
Italian food very well could be my favorite of all cultural foods. From the fresh and fast pastas to the slow roasts and braises. The savory and the sweet. For a while I was making this recipe for Tiramisu just about twice a month. We couldn’t get enough.
So when Kroger asked me to share a recipe for their Taste of Italy event, this one immediately rose to the top of the list.
About the Recipe
This year for a limited time, all Kroger stores will be offering quality, authentic products and flavors like the Bonomi Ladyfingers (or Savoiardi) I’ve used in this recipe for their Taste of Italy event. There will be buy one get one free offers, plus in-store events and even a Parmesan cheese wheel cracking event on September 17 at participating stores.
Tiramisu is deceptively easy to make for such a fancy sounding dessert. After making this recipe for some time, there are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.
First, tiramisu is a no-bake dessert that’s best when it’s had some time to chill out in the refrigerator so all of the flavors meld. Plan on making this recipe the day ahead of serving it, or at least 8 hours before. I’ve let it sit in the fridge up to 48 hours before serving and it has only gotten better with time.
The typical tiramisu recipe consists of store bought ladyfingers soaked in strong espresso that are then layered with mascarpone-flavored custard and whipped cream. I make mine with instant espresso paired with an equal amount of Kahlua, a creamy, rum-flavored coffee liqueur. I’ve tried dark rum, Marsala, Frangelico and even the espresso on its own, but this is my favorite version. If you’re averse to alcohol, substitute it with almond extract or simply leave it out.
The ladyfingers are soaked in the cooled espresso and Kahlua mixture and that’s where the flavor develops. Due to their porous nature, the ladyfingers soak and soften as the dish sits in the refrigerator. Note of caution, if soaked too long, the ladyfingers will become soggy piles of goo. I like to give mine a quick flip or two in the espresso then pop them straight into the serving dish like little soldiers. If you’re looking for a more fancy presentation, I created one with this Pumpkin Tiramisu recipe. So fancy 👯
I make my Tiramisu in this 9 X 9-inch baking dish. When placing the ladyfinger cookies in the dish I lay three one way then three the other so all of the cookies fit evenly without having to break any into pieces. Different brands of ladyfinger cookies generally come in the same sizes, so this usually works fine for me. This dessert can also be made in glass cups or jars for individual servings similar to a trifle.
The next layer consists of an egg yolk and sugar mixture that’s been cooked over a double boiler to create a sabayon custard. I’ve whisked it by hand before but I find I get the best consistency when I use a hand blender. It’s important at this step to continuously mix the mixture so it doesn’t turn into scrambled eggs. The custard will thicken and triple in volume and then it’s time to pull from the heat and let cool.
Once cooled, the room temperature mascarpone cheese is whisked into the custard and then folded into whip cream that’s been flavored with just a bit of vanilla and another dose of Kahlua. I prefer this layer to be really light and fluffy with cream, but if you like a more custard bite, feel free to cut the amount of whipped cream you fold into the sabayon by half.
Truth be told, it had been a little while since I last made this recipe so I made it twice to test and then to photograph. The second time I made it, I forgot to add the mascarpone to the custard step, so I whisked it into the whipped cream mixture instead. And guess what? It turned out just fine.
A simple dusting of cocoa powder is all that’s left to do before serving. And getting messy with it.
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
- 1 cup boiling water
- 6 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Kahlua liqueur
- 3 eggs
- ½ cup sugar, divided
- 4 cups whipping cream
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 7-ounce package Savoiardi cookies (ladyfingers)
- Cocoa powder
- Bring 1 cup water to a boil and pour into a shallow bowl. Mix in the espresso powder and ½ cup of the Kahlua liqueur. Set aside to cool.
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites (save the whites for another use) and add the yolks to a small, heat proof bowl that fits snugly over another saucespan filled with about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and top with the bowl of egg yolks. Add ¼ cup sugar to the egg yolks and use a hand mixer to beat the eggs on medium speed over the simmering water for 4-5 minutes or until the mixtures is thick and creamy and light yellow in color. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool.
- In another large bowl, add the whipping cream, the remaining ¼ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons Kahlua and the vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.
- Transfer the cooled egg yolk mixture to a large bowl and add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture and blend until smooth. Gently fold the whipping cream into the egg yolk mixture with a large spatula, taking care not to deflate the cream. If you prefer more of a custard topping, set the mixture aside. If you want an extra fluffy cream, beat the mixture in the mixer for about 30 seconds to 1 minute and then set aside.
- Working with 2-3 ladyfingers at a time, toss the ladyfingers in the espresso mixture and arrange half of the ladyfingers in a single layer in the bottom of a 9 X 9 square pan or serving dish. Spread half of the whipped cream mixture over the ladyfingers. Soak the remaining ladyfingers 2-3 at a time to create another layer and top with the remaining whip cream mixture and spread evenly over the top.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours up to 48 hours. Run a knife along the inside of the pan and cut into squares. Dust the servings with cocoa powder and serve.
This post is sponsored by Kroger. As always, thank you for reading and for supporting companies I partner with, which allows me to create more unique content and recipes for you. All opinions are always my own.
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