Pick Me Up – Tiramisu

Pick me up! That’s what Tiramisu means in Italian. I’ve had two failed attempts in making Tiramisu before, but this time, I really did my homework. I looked up tons of videos and read up tons of websites just so that this time, the Tiramisu would turn out fine. BUT! It didn’t turn out fine at all, it turned out to be great!

Tiramisu has always been one of the most popular Italian desserts. Some people couldn’t understand what’s the hoo-ha revolving around Tiramisu. “It’s just cream and coffee and cake!” They would say. Sometimes I myself cannot understand why I like Tiramisu so much, it may be just because Tiramisu has the combination of all things that I like – coffee, cream, chocolate and liquor. Tiramisu is characterised by its delicate and intense taste. It simply just melts in your mouth and you taste all the flavours at one go, with each flavour complementing each other perfectly.

As for the origin of Tiramisu, according to foodtimeline, it was said that:

Food historians generally date the invention of tiramisu in the 1960s-1970s and acknowledge its zenith of popularity in the 1980s. The first restaurant to serve Tiramisu is generally thought to be El Toula (est. 1968 ) in Italy. Or…was it invented in Baltimore? Either way, the ancestors of this dessert (minus the chocolate and the coffee) are Renaissance-era English trifles, 18th century Tipsy cake and 19th century Zuppa Inglese. Before this? Ancient Romans enjoyed breads steeped in honey, wine and spices.”

Tiramisu is traditionally made of Savoiardi dipped in coffee and mascarpone cream. Savoiardi means “from Savoy” in Italian. They are a type of sponge cake (though they taste more like biscuits to me) that has the shape of a large fat finger and hence they are also given the name Lady Finger, which is NOT the vegetable Lady‘s Finger. I’ve got a few friends who was shocked when I told them it’s made with Lady Finger (they really thought it was the vegetable).

Mascarpone is a triple-creme cheese that is made from a generally low-fat content fresh cream. Apparently it’s made from the milk of cows that have been fed with special grasses that are filled with fresh herbs and flowers (how true this is I’m not very sure, but this is what I found on this website). It is generally used alone or in zabaglione. Zabaglione (from kuali.com) is an Italian warm and foamy dessert that is made by whisking egg yolks, sugar and dessert wine (normally Marsala) over a pan of simmering water until the mixture is thick and frothy. You’ll see a picture of it below later.

The Lady Fingers that I used is from the brand VICENZI (number 1), which is available in hypermarkets. I got mine from NTUC Xtra at Ang Mo Kio HUB. Other ingredients that is required in this recipe are:

2: Bulla Cream
3: Caster Sugar
4: Mascarpone Cheese (brand is MAURI, available in supermarkets)
5: Baileys Irish Cream (I used Caramel)
6: Eggs
7: Rum Flavour
8: Cocoa Powder

I made two types of Tiramisu at one go. One flavoured with Baileys and the other with rum. The original recipe called for Marsala and rum and since I do not have Marsala at home, I decided to do a little experiment with just Baileys and rum. The Baileys was added in almost every part of the recipe – the mascarpone, the zabaglione and the coffee while the rum flavour was added only in the mascarpone. Except for the Bulla Cream, all other ingredients are at room temperature.

Firstly I whipped the Bulla Cream till soft peaks formed using an electric mixer and then kept the whipped cream refrigerated. The Bulla Cream, the blue bowl and the beaters were refrigerated till chilled before I start whipping the cream (do not let the cream to sit out of the refrigerator for too long). I set the bowl of cream over another bowl of ice water so that the cream will not split and form butter (as seen from the photo on the left).

Next I cleaned the beaters and beat the mascarpone cheese with sugar and flavouring (one with Baileys, one with rum flavour). Then I set it aside while I make the coffee and zabaglione.

For the coffee, I used SUZUKI Coffee – Italian Espresso. To ensure that the Lady Fingers will soak up the coffee evenly, the coffee has to be warm when dipping the Lady Fingers into the coffee, so do not make the coffee too early. As it is espresso, I sweetened the coffee with half a tablespoon of sugar. For the Baileys version of Tiramisu, the coffee was also flavoured with Baileys.

The zabaglione was made by whisking egg yolk with sugar and flavouring in a heat-proof bowl that is set over a pan of simmering water (do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl, the distance between the bottom of the bowl and the water surface should be around 1 inch). I whisked the mixture manually for 5 minutes before removing them from the heat and continue whisking them until they holds a trail when dropped from the whisk (which I believe looks like that in the photo below). The zabaglione has a tendency to harden at the sides of the bowl so I had to keep scrapping the sides frequently.

Next was the mixing of all the mixture together and then the layering of the Tiramisu and then the refrigeration.

The plus point about this recipe that I used is that not a lot of eggs is used. For a 4-servings size of Tiramisu (which is the recipe below), it only requires 1 egg, unlike some recipes that requires up to 4 to 6 eggs which, to me, is pretty scary. In addition, only half a package of VICENZI (12 Lady Fingers) is required for a 4-servings size. The servings actually depend much on own liking and preference, but in my humble opinion, such a creamy dessert should be served in small portions such that it will leave people craving for more but not let them be overwhelmed by the taste.

The verdict? It was a draw between the rum and Baileys Tiramisu. I personally like the Baileys version better but I guess it depends very much on you yourself. :D Making Tiramisu is indeed challenging yet fun at the same time. It may be a little time consuming, but the end-results are definitely worth it when you see others enjoying what you’ve made.

I’ll leave you with the Baileys version of Tiramisu, but I’ll note the variation at the end of the recipe. :D

Baileys Tiramisu (serves 4)

(adapted from Food & Travel – Tiramisu with Raspberries)

150grams double cream
125grams mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream
1 egg yolk
50ml Italian espresso coffee, warm
12 Savoiardi (Lady Fingers)
Cocoa powder, for dusting

  1. Beat double cream till soft peaks formed. Keep it refrigerated.
  2. Beat mascarpone cheese with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of sugar till incorporated, then beat in 1 tablespoon of Baileys. Set aside.
  3. Combine egg yolk, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon Baileys in a heat-proof bowl. Whisk till blended. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk till glossy and pale, light and fluffy for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk until the mixture holds a trail when dropped from the whisk. Whisk till cool. This is called zabaglione.
  4. Fold in the whipped cream into the zabaglione and then mix the zabaglione mixture into the mascarpone mixture.
  5. Pour the warm espresso into a shallow bowl and sweetened with remaining half a tablespoon of sugar and stir in remaining tablespoon of Baileys. Dip the Savoiardi into the coffee quickly (once on each side only) and arrange 6 in the bottom of the serving dish. (Use a serving dish that can fit 6 Savoiardi snugly)
  6. Trickle or brush some espresso on the centre of the Savoiardi. Dust with a layer of cocoa powder. Spoon half of the zabaglione mixture and spread evenly. Repeat another layer, topping with zabaglione mixture and a thick layer of cocoa powder.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap (cling film) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours for the flavours to develop.
  8. 10 – 15 minutes prior to serving, freeze the Tiramisu before cutting it into serving size. This will ensure neat cuts in your tiramisu. Lift the Tiramisu out and transfer to a serving plate. Dust with extra cocoa and serve immediately.

Rum-variationOmit all Baileys used and beat in 1 teaspoon of rum flavour (or 1 tablespoon dark rum) into the mascarpone cheese.
True-Italian-variationSubstitute all of the Baileys with Marsala wine (using the same ratio) and beat in additional 1 tablespoon dark rum into the mascarpone cheese.

Tips~Do not dip the Savoiardi into the espresso for too long otherwise the resulting Savoiardi will become very soggy and wet. Just give it a roll in the espresso and lift it out immediately.
~It is best to refrigerate the Tiramisu at least overnight in order for the flavours to develop fully. To be refrigerated for up to 2 days only due to raw eggs in the recipe.
~Keep leftover Tiramisu in the refrigerator covered otherwise it will dry out easily.

Pick me up! :D

EDIT (4 November 2008): I made a Tiramisu Cake using the same recipe. It was great. =)


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  1. says

    Hi Ivan! I just checked out the website you gave me. My god she’s amazing! I’m SO inspired to make my own ladyfingers the next time. :)

  2. suee says

    heyy! the tiramisu looks so tempting!
    anw thanks for e tag(: and for missing me too!:D
    when i’m back i’ll look for u for food!haha.
    enjoy your slacking time now!(:

  3. says

    Hey Tiffany! I totally agree with you. Mothers always make the best food in the world! :D

    I hope you’ll like the above recipe! :)

  4. thecookieblog says

    Wow! This sounds sssoooooo yummy! My husband and I both LOVE Tiramisu. For me, my Mom makes the best Tiramisu in the world.

    I say, if people don’t know what the fuss is all about, then they’ve never had a truly great Tiramisu!

    I’m so glad you found a recipe that worked out for you. I’ll try it and let you know how it turns out.

    Happy Baking!
    Ohma’s Cookies

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