[RECIPE] Alcohol-free Tiramisu

This marks the first recipe I had to go back and make a second attempt for.

I would like to say that this was pretty authentic, as authenticity goes. I found the recipe from the package of Italian biscotti savoiardi, or lady fingers in layman’s terms. Brand: Alessi. In actuality, I found several recipes but all of them went out the window when I went shopping for the actual ingredients and found it on the side of the cookies. After all, the lady fingers were made in Italy and who would know the recipe more than the Italian company that makes the lady fingers, a major component of tiramisu?

I thought it would be simple and I followed the instructions well. Wrong decision. It was a three-step recipe that was squished into a block rectangle text. Of course not all the details were written! Unfortunately, I found out belatedly.. either that or the recipe’s author assumed all people following the recipe were hardened chefs, of which I most certainly am not.

First came the zabaglione cream.

5 Egg Yolks, from large eggs
1/4 cup of Cane Evaporated Sugar
1 tablespoon of Vanilla Powder/Extract

Prepare a pot and fill it halfway with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a heat-proof bowl (to be placed on top of the water, as if you were making ganache), beat egg yolks and sugar together. Once the water reaches a boil, reduce heat to simmer and place the egg yolk mixture over the water, stirring in the vanilla extract, and cook for 6 to 10 minutes, scraping the bottom and sides of pan occasionally. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes once the simple custard has thickened.

Then came the tiramisu itself.

1 cup of Whipping Cream, chilled
2 tablespoons of Sugar
1 lb (16 oz) of Mascarpone Cheese
1 recipe of the above Zabaglione Cream
2 cups (16 oz) of espresso, or strong brewed coffee
1 14 oz package of Savoiardi Cookies (lady fingers)
2 tablespoons of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Whip cream until thickened and add 1 tablespoon of sugar, until soft peaks form. Fold in Mascarpone and Zabaglione and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a separate bowl, mix espresso and 1 tablespoon of sugar.

To assemble, arrange 18 cookies on the bottom of a 9″ by 13″ baking pan. Carefully spoon about 1 tablespoon of the coffee mixture over each cookie so that they are well-saturated but not falling apart. Spoon half of the cheese mixture over cookies and sprinkle with half tablespoon of cocoa. Repeat once more, ending with a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight so that the cookies can soften as they absorb moisture.

My problem came with the whipping of the cream. I forgot that you had to whip the cream first before putting in any flavorings until it had thickened a little. I kept on beating it for so long, looking at it incredulously (I know it should not have taken that long) until the fat had separated into… butter. Wow. At least I made my own butter? In a fit of delusion, I decided that little specs of butter should be all right, and I mixed it with the Mascarpone and Zabaglione after straining most of the liquid. It was still too watery and I ended up adding it to pancake batter. Oops. At least it tasted good, though overly indulgent.

The second time around, I knew better and it largely came off without a hitch. The cream whipped successfully – though I experienced a moment of doubt – and nothing was amiss. Ah, yes. I did mention “largely”, didn’t I? That would be because of the Mascarpone. I had a problem with becoming completely incorporated with the Zabaglione and whipping cream, so little chunks were still in there. I tried mashing it with spoons, but there was just too much Mascarpone so I ended up hoping that no one would notice once I got most of the chunks to look smaller and not as noticeable. I didn’t want to do a spur-of-the-moment experiment with beating the mixture and overdoing it and coming out with something too liquid again. Perhaps next time, I will prebeat the Mascarpone with the Zabaglione…


  • Mascarpone can be substituted with two 8-oz packages of cream cheese combines with half-cup of whipping cream and 5 tablespoons of sour cream; this was taken from the recipe
  • The original recipe included 1/2 cup of Marsala Wine in the Zabaglione Cream recipe (just stir it in, along with the vanilla) as well as 1/2 cup of Brandy or Marsala in the espresso. However, I chose to do mine without alcohol, so I opted out.
  • In the original recipe, they added the vanilla extract in the coffee, but because I used vanilla powder (extract has alcohol), I decided to cook it in so I wouldn’t find random globs of concentrated vanilla, but I imagine stirring it into the hot espresso should have been fine.
  • The end product was delicious. The taste was unmistakenly tiramisu… and very decadent. I ate a 2″ by 3″ square and was in heaven! …But I could feel my arteries clogging. I could detect the little rebellious bits of Mascarpone, but it was easily overlooked.
  • The recipe literally said to “spoon” the cream mixture over the lady fingers. The cream isn’t as thick as I thought it would be and I would love to experiment with the recipe a couple more times to perfect it, but I find that the oozing ‘cream’ gave it a homemade character.

And here are the not-so-glamourous pictures. I took none of the actual cooking process, but I decided I couldn’t have my first time making tiramisu pass me by without some sort of visual proof!

The First Layer of Lady Fingers. Half of them have been soaked in the espresso.

The First Layer of Lady Fingers. Half of them have been soaked in the espresso.

A close up of the Second Layer of Lady Fingers.

A close up of the Second Layer of Lady Fingers.

The final product, the day after. Not that pretty to look at, but delicious nonetheless!

The final product, the day after. Not that pretty to look at, but delicious nonetheless!

Bon appetit!


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