Monday, December 17, 2012

Tiramisu Inspired Dessert

Let me tell you a story about my attempt at Tiramisu.  

I wanted to do something special for my hubby for our 21st anniversary. As it would happen, my dearest friend in the world was also coming into town, and bringing her Prince Charming with her. So now the celebration morphed into an Anniversary/Woohoo-Karen-got-the-job/Happy-Birthday-to-Matt type of thing. This calls for something big! Something I've never done before. Something everyone loves. Tiramisu. 

Have you ever looked at recipes for this lovely dessert? If you look at one, you might be doing ok. If you look at more than one, you can be sure that none of the recipes will agree with each other and your head will start to swim with all of the ingredients and instructions that each person insists you MUST DO to be authentic! Eggs, no eggs. Raw eggs, or cooked eggs? Rum, Amaretto, Marsala? No alcohol at all! Lady Fingers? No, pound cake! Marscapone or cream cheese? Both? Only use Espresso! Just use coffee!

I gave up on authentic before I even began. In fact, I gave up on recipes. I decided to ditch it all and just wing it, making my own recipe. I hesitate to call this Tiramisu, because I'm sure purists would stone me or something. It might be well deserved. So we're going with Tiramisu-inspired.

I nervously gathered my ingredients and immediately ran into problems. Not just any problems, Baptist Girl problems. (BGP) The original recipe called for alcohol of some sort. I am not strictly opposed to alcohol, and actually like to use it for cooking. I happen to have an inherited bottle of amaretto, and was excited that I could use it for this. My BGP was not a conflict over using alcohol, it was a struggle over opening it. I couldn't get the top off! It's been a couple of years since I baked anything with it, but I'm reasonably sure I didn't have this kind of trouble before. I called my daughter to help me. The first thing she said was, "WHAT are you doing with that bottle, missy?!" She's a funny girl. Alas, even my muscle-bound teenager couldn't get the top off, so I dismissed that idea and moved on. So much for Plan A.

Rum extract! Not ideal, but it would help the flavoring. Do you think we could find even a drop of rum extract?? I know for a fact that I have at least 2 bottles floating around somewhere. But it was definitely not on the shelf full of extracts where it belonged. Good-bye to Plan B.

Plan C involved a total reworking of the recipe I had in mind, but I think it worked. I would not serve it to someone who was an expert on Tiramisu, as it would likely be a huge disappointment to them. But I don't think anyone will spit it out in disgust. (There were moments I thought that might be a possibility...)

So, below you will see the recipe for my final attempt. Should you try it, I'd love your feedback. Especially if you have tasted the real deal. I'd like to know how close I got. ;o)

Leni's Notes
~This made a 13x9 pan, there was enough filling that I probably could have made another smaller dish, but I just layered up extra filling. 
~Other than making coffee, there's no cooking involved in my version.
~I feel like this would freeze really well. I might save a piece and try it, it would make a terrific dish to make ahead for the holidays, and then just pull out to thaw the day of.
~Don't yell at me for doing it wrong. Remember, Tiramisu Inspired.
~Budget played a roll in my choice of ingredients. If you've got money to spend and want to go for marscapone instead of cream cheese, go for it! 
~Having now served the tiramisu, I can say that next time I would definitely use at least half marscapone, if not all.
~This one took a bit more time than I usually spend on a recipe. I think it would go faster with experience, but for a no-bake recipe, it took me a while. Probably all the decision making I was doing along the way.
~This plates beautifully! I served it with coffee. A lovely night was had by all.

2 Cups of Decaf Espresso or strongly brewed coffee, cooled
2 Tablespoons of raw sugar
3 packages of Lady Fingers. (Each package had about 40 small lady fingers)
4 (8 oz) blocks of cream cheese, softened
3/4 Cup raw sugar
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream 
2 tsp vanilla extract
Cocoa Powder

~Brew the coffee, and mix in the 2 T of sugar. 
~Place in the fridge to cool.
~Cream together cream cheese and sugar until smooth
~Whip the heavy cream and vanilla extract until you have soft peaks, but not runny.
~Fold the cream mixture into the cream cheese mixture.
~Separate the lady fingers.
~Dip the lady fingers into the coffee and place in pan.
IMPORTANT NOTE! This is a very quick process, 2 seconds or less. Any more than that will have them falling apart in your hand.
~Put a layer of dipped lady fingers in the pan, making sure you've covered in all with the fingers laying flat.
~Gently spread half of the cream mixture over the lady fingers.
~Layer a dusting of cocoa powder over the cream mixture.
~Repeat layers.
~Cover tightly with plastic or foil and place in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

If all goes well, you should be able to cut a square of this dessert to plate for your guests.

Blessings from my kitchen to yours,


  1. This sounds great, Leni! I think I'm going to try this for my oldest son's birthday! :)

    1. Let me know what you think!