Tiramisu My Way

Serves 8-10 (a little goes a long way of this rich dessert)

As summer makes itself felt in Australia once again, what could be a better dessert than a trifle of sorts? Since tiramisu is really an Italian spin on trifle, it’s cool on a hot summer’s day, looks spectacular with minimum effort and is a real crowd pleaser. It’s great for entertaining too because you can prepare it the day before and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it; guests are always impressed when you suddenly have dessert ready with seemingly no effort!

I’ve loved tiramisu for years and have been lucky enough to have sampled those made by people with an Italian background – first generation Australians – and even one made by a genuine Italian, who found it amusing that we referred to the literal translation of ‘pick me up’. But with super strong coffee, that’s just what it does!

When I wanted to make my first tiramisu a couple of years ago I searched our cookbooks and did a quick online search and found many varied ways of making it and when certain elements of the methods given didn’t work out the way they were promised to, I became disheartened and sought to improve upon the recipes I’d found.

On this, my third attempt, I believe I’ve got it right so I’m ready to share it for your dining delectation.


You will need:

  • 1 bowl or dish in which to arrange and serve the tiramisu – mine is a glass bowl for fruit/punch/salads with a 27cm diameter at the top, tapering down to 15cm diameter at the base – being glass it means the dessert is very pleasing to the eye if you want to serve it at the table.
  • 1 packet of 200g sponge biscuits/fingers (Savoiardi brand in the cake section of my supermarket)
  • 285ml of very strong, best quality, freshly brewed coffee (about 4x strength is good)
  • 500g mascarpone [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mascarpone] (near the cottage cheese in the supermarket)
  • 4T castor sugar (or substitute 2T for rapadura sugar, if you have it, for a richer flavour)
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 140ml Marsala*
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 2-4 squares of good quality dark chocolate

*Marsala is a port made of white wine grapes and a vanilla pod added. It can be hard to come by in Australia these days, so try substituting with vin santo or sweet sherry or a tawny port.

What to do:

  1. Layer the sponge biscuits in the
    bowl (2 layers)
  2. Add 2T sugar (rapadura, if using),
    to the coffee and drizzle over the sponge fingers, taking care to ensure even
    coverage so each sponge finger is well-soaked.

  3. With a metal tablespoon, gently
    fold and blend the remaining 2T of sugar into the mascarpone. (Don’t be tempted
    to get out the beaters or a whisk! Stick to the spoon or the mascarpone will
    split and become rather less than attractive!)
  4. Score one side of the vanilla
    pods so they’ll open out flat and scrape the seeds into the mascarpone.
  5. Add about 6T of the Marsala to
    the mascarpone, one tablespoon at a time, and gently fold and blend.
  6. Add the orange juice to the
    mascarpone, a tablespoon at a time, and gently fold and blend, gradually
    getting more of a whipping action until the mascarpone has a loose, shiny
    consistency and about 2-3T of the orange juice is left.
  7. Add the remainder of the Marsala
    to the orange juice and drizzle over the sponges distributing evenly.
  8. Dollop the mascarpone over the
    sponges and gently cover and smooth, pressing lightly to make sure any gaps are
    filled. I like to leave the top a little roughed up for a more relaxed feel.
  9. Sprinkle the top with the orange
    zest and grate the chocolate directly on top too.
  10. Cover with cling film and refrigerate
    until ready to serve (overnight is best).

This served 8 for a friends’ Christmas catch up last weekend. We walked off the luscious richness with a Christmas lights walking tour around town! The many joys shared that evening left us all feeling at one with the world and I hope this recipe will do the same for you, your family and friends.

Merry Christmas

© Palitja Moore, text and images, 2015

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