Daring Bakers: Tiramisu

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by two of the most talented bakers I’ve seen in the blogosphere: Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. And what a doozy of a challenge this was! Not only did we have to make tiramisu, but we had to make the mascarpone cheese and the ladyfingers from scratch! (Of course, I’d have to make ladyfingers from scratch regardless; I’ve yet to come across gluten-free ladyfingers in the store.) This was definitely an exciting (albeit a bit daunting) challenge. I am so glad it was chosen: I had only tried tiramisu once before, and wasn’t too impressed with it. I was chatting with a friend of mine about this (as I know she loves tiramisu), and she told me that I just must have eaten tiramisu at the wrong place, because it’s the most amazing thing ever.

You know what? She was right. This dessert is the perfect pick-me-up. Both decadent and light at the same time, rich, but not too rich, with such a layer of complex, yet seemingly simple flavors. It was delightful. Aparna and Deeba definitely know how to choose a good dessert. I had to take most of my creation to the office to share, lest I be tempted to eat the whole thing. It was that amazing.

Prior to this challenge, I’d never made cheese of any variety. Not sure why I waited so long. Making mascarpone, while it takes a bit of time, is SO simple. I’m now inspired to move on to other fresh cheeses – the mascarpone set up so deliciously thick and creamy, it far surpasses store-bought. I can only imagine how a freshly-made ricotta or goat cheese would taste.

As for the ladyfingers, I followed a gluten-free recipe from The Art of Gluten-Free Cooking. I was a bit concerned when my batter was rather thin (I think my eggs were a bit too cold, and the whipped egg whites didn’t stiffen as much as they should have), but I pressed on. The resulting cookies were a bit thin, but they were deliciously crisp, with a slightly soft center. In the tiramisu,  they performed beautifully – they didn’t fall apart or get extremely soggy. Heaven.

While it was a bit of work, I’d definitely make tiramisu again – likely for special occasions. (to the family: put in your birthday requests now!) It was definitely worth the time and effort. Note: If you choose to make this, allow yourself enough time for preparation. The mascarpone needs to be made a day in advance, and the zabaglione and pastry cream need 4 hours to chill. Your ladyfingers will also need to be completely cool before you assemble the tiramisu. (I made my cheese two days in advance, and made the zabaglione and pastry cream the day before.) Enjoy!


For the mascarpone cheese, adapted from Baking Obsession

2 c heavy whipping cream

1 T fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 inch of water to boil in a large skillet. Reduce the heat to medium. Pour the cream in a medium stainless steel bowl and place in the simmering water. Heat the cream, stirring often, until it reaches 190 degrees (this will take some time). Add the lemon juice and continue stirring until the cream curdles. (You won’t see actual “curds”, but it will get a lot thicker, coating the back of a spoon.) Remove the bowl from the water and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a fine-meshed sieve with 4 layers of dampened cheesecloth and place over a bowl. When cool, pour the cream mixture into the sieve. Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Keep refrigerated and use within 3-4 days.

For the ladyfingers, adapted from The Art of Gluten-Free Cooking

4 eggs, separated

1/2 c + 1 T sugar

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

1/4 c sorghum flour

1/4 c + 1 T arrowroot powder

1/4 c tapioca flour

1 t baking powder

1 t guar gum

1/8 t salt

1/2 c confectioner’s sugar (if you can’t tolerate corn, you can always put regular sugar in a food processor and process until fine)

Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until creamy and the yolk falls from the whisk in ribbons. Stir in the vanilla. Set aside. Beat the egg whites until stiff and add the remaining tablespoon of sugar and whisk for about 30 seconds, making sure the egg whites cast off a glossy sheen.

Add the sorghum flour, arrowroot powder, tapioca flour, baking powder, guar gum and salt together and whisk. Add to the egg whites in three separate batches, folding gently with each addition. Then fold in the egg yolk mixture. Spoon your batter into a pastry bag with a 1-inch tip. (You could even just use a plastic ziploc bag and cut the tip off of it.)

Pipe fingers that are about 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide on your parchment-lined baking sheets. Dust tops with confectioner’s sugar. Place the sheets in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Switch the baking sheets and bake for another 10 minutes or until ladyfingers are lightly golden on the edges. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Makes 1-2 dozen ladyfingers.

Tiramisu, adapted from The Washington Post

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice. (I used my 8-inch springform pan, lined on the bottom with parchment paper.)
Mix together the warm espresso, rum and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Working quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


  1. says

    Wow, gluten-free ladyfingers’ now I want to do that. I always love tiramisu and it’s one of my favorite desserts. I always buy my macarpone cheese and lady fingers too. I’ll make my own cheese when I have the time and of course, when ingredients are available (which is always a problem), I’ll try this gluten-free lady fingers. They look fabulous.

  2. says

    You know, it never even occurred to me that you could actually make your own mascarpone cheese!? I guess that says something about modern conveniences…

    I’ll put in my birthday request for one of these now. 😉

  3. says

    I’m so glad that you were able to find a gluten free recipe for the tiramisu and that you enjoyed it so much! It looks spectacular, great job!

  4. says

    Great job on the tiramisu! If you try making ladyfingers again, try chilling the dough before you pipe out the dough. Then get them into the oven pretty quickly. That way they won’t have a chance to spread out too much before they cook.

    Natalie @ Gluten a Go Go

  5. says

    Gluten-free ladyfingers sound excellent. I would never eat a Tiramisu in a restaurant myself, again. :) Yours looks lovely.
    Thanks for baking with us.

  6. says

    Aw well done. I’m glad you enjoyed the challenged and managed some gluten free fingers. I would have eaten it up all by myself…it looks so good! We loved hosting the challenge!

  7. says

    I’ve missed reading up on all your posts Alta! I can’t believe you made ladyfingers from scratch – something I’d never have patience to do! Tiramisu is one of my faves! Now i really want to reach over and steal a piece of this from you to eat!

    • tastyeatsathome says

      Shelly – It was a lot of steps, yes, but it was way fun!

      Esi – I loved it. Need to figure out what to do with the rest…

      5 Star Foodie – It was fun! I want to make tiramisu again!

      Trix – Thank you!

      Deeba – I had to get it out of the house, or I would have eaten it all by myself!

      Aparna – I would love to find more reasons for gluten-free ladyfingers. They’re light and delicious!

      Cookin’ Canuck – Thank you!

      Natalie – Definitely will try that. Makes perfect sense.

      Lauren – Yours looked great! Thanks.

      Sook – You should really try it! It’s delicious!

      Jenni – Thank you! I loved making it.

      Jenn – Thanks!

      Emily – Thank you!

      Angie – Mine was the “traditional” version – I loved everyone’s renditions, but I did enjoy mine just as it was!

      Christine – Thank you!

      Simply Life – Thank you!

      Iris – So when is your birthday? I’m going to have to make some plans… :)

      ap269 – Thank you!

      Divina – store bought cheese and ladyfingers would certainly make this easier! I did enjoy making everything from scratch though!


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