Terrific Tiramisu

June 21, 2013
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Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.

I love dairy desserts. This usually means ice cream, whipped cream and any kind of cheesecake. I never need the excuses of Shavuot or the 9 days to whip up my tried and true favorites but it wasn’t until I started adding several Mascarpone filled Tiramisu recipes to the mix that my kids wanted me to serve dessert first.

Mascarpone is a triple-cream cheese made from low-fat fresh cream. Mascarpone is often used in Italian recipes (instead of butter) to add a rich thick consistency to sauces and fillings. Originated in the early 17th century in Italy, Mascarpone’s distinctive flavor comes from the milk of cows that have been fed special herbs and flower combined with their regular feed. There are a variety of kosher certified Mascarpone cheeses available but, in the event you can’t find any, you can substitute a whipped cottage, cream or ricotta cheese.

Mascarpone is synonymous with the Tiramisu. This classic dessert (literally means “Pick Me Up” in Italian) was first created for Grand Duke Cosimo de’Medici III in the 17th century and the name has come to represent a wide range of interesting cakes, parfaits and pies.

So what does a Tiramisu taste like? Saying that it’s a light, fluffy, mocha infused cream cheese like mousse with a hint of liqueur and wisp of chocolate really doesn’t even begin to describe it. The basic ingredients for a classic Tiramisu are mascarpone, ladyfingers* (or savoiardi in Italian), whipped cream, espresso or very strong coffee, chocolate or orange liqueur, sugar, semisweet chocolate and/or cocoa powder.

I like to divide the Tiramisu recipes I have into 4 sub categories
(1) Basic recipes that includes Mascarpone cheese, eggs*, sugar, espresso coffee, ladyfingers, liquor and cocoa. Heavy whipping cream is occasionally an optional ingredient.
(2) Additional and/or Substitute ingredient Tiramisu. These recipes usually include ingredients like fruit or nuts and “dress up” the classic ingredients.
(3) “Healthy Tiramisu” is what I call the recipes that use low calorie ingredients to keep the calories in check as much as possible.
(4) Tiramisu inspired recipes. Any recipe that includes most of the classic ingredients and a few other additions in a pie, cake or parfait incarnation.

The following recipes run the gamut from the “I can do this in my sleep” to “what was I thinking” but all can be prepared a day in advance. I would not suggest freezing the recipes as the Mascarpone mixtures tend to separate and get grainy when frozen.

*NOTE: Some classic recipes call for raw eggs.
I substitute egg beaters (or some other brand) for the egg yolks with great success. Just use 2 tablespoons of egg substitute for each egg yolk, thenthere isn’t any issue of raw eggs, as the stuff is pasteurized.

Classic Lite Chocolate Coffee Tiramisu (dairy)

8 to 10 servings

Slightly toasted strips of pound cake can be substituted for the ladyfingers.


  • 1½ cups mascarpone or ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup light cream cheese
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 egg yolk 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup strong prepared coffee
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate/coffee-flavored liqueur
  • 20 to 24 lady finger cookies


  1. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with vegetable spray.
  2. In food processor, combine the mascarpone or ricotta cheese, cream cheese, sugar, cocoa, egg yolk and vanilla and process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
  3. In an electric mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the cheese mixture.
  4. In a small bowl combine the coffee and liqueur.
  5. Put half of lady fingers in bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of coffee-liqueur mixture. Spread half of cheese mixture on top. Repeat the lady finger, liqueur, and cream layers.
  6. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Tiramisu Lite (dairy)

9 servings


  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup no or low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 cup no or low fat sour cream
  • 2 Tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 (8 oz.) carton vanilla low fat yogurt
  • 1 (8 oz.) package Neufchatel cheese
  • 1¼ cups hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon instant espresso coffee granules
  • 40 ladyfingers
  • ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa


  1. Place the sugar, cottage cheese, sour cream, rum, yogurt, and Neufchatel in a food processor and process until smooth. Set the mixture aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine the hot water and espresso granules.
  3. Split the ladyfingers in half lengthwise. Quickly dip 20 ladyfinger halves, cut side down, into espresso; place, dipped side down, in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish.
  4. Dip 20 more ladyfinger halves, cut side down, on top of the first layer. Spread two cups cheese mixture evenly over ladyfingers; repeat this procedure with the remaining ladyfingers halves, espresso and cheese mixture ending with the cheese mixture.
  5. Place one toothpick in each corner and one in the center of the Tiramisu (to prevent plastic wrap from sticking to cheese mixture); cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate three to eight hours.
  6. Remove toothpicks; sprinkle with cocoa.

Coco Berry Tiramisu (dairy)

8 to 10 servings

This recipe does call for raw eggs so if you must make sure to keep this recipe refrigerated until just before serving.


  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ pint whipping cream, whipped very stiff
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 lb. mascarpone cheese
  • 2 packages lady fingers
  • 1 pint blueberries, washed
  • 1 pint strawberries, washed and sliced, reserve 2 for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar


  1. In a small sauce pan combine the water and ¼ cup of sugar and simmer until the liquid is clear. Remove the water from the heat to cool and then add the lemon juice and set it aside.
  2. In another bowl combine the egg yolks and 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Whip the mixture until it is lemon colored and thick, about 5 minutes.
  3. In another bowl whip the mascarpone and 2 Tablespoons of the vanilla until smooth.
  4. Combine the mascarpone and egg yolk mixture. Fold in the whipped cream and mix well. Dip one side of the lady fingers (horizontally) into the syrup and line side of bowl, next cover bottom with ladyfingers, spoon in 1/3 of the cheese mixture. Spread the blueberries over the cheese mixture, top with more ladyfingers. Repeat with 1/3 of the cheese and this time cover with the strawberries finish with the remaining cheese.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cover by placing one toothpick in each corner and one in the center of the Tiramisu to prevent plastic wrap from sticking to cheese mixture.
  6. Garnish with sliced strawberries and powdered sugar just before serving.

Tiramisu Cheesecake (dairy)

8 to 10 servings


  • 1 (16 oz.) package cream cheese
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs*
  • 2 Tablespoons coffee or chocolate liquor of your choice
  • 1½ cup crushed chocolate wafer cookies (I like Oreos)
  • 1/3 cup very strong coffee
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar or whipped topping
  • ¼ cup mixture of ½ cocoa and ½ espresso instant coffee

*Eggs should be at room temperature.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Sprinkle the crushed cookies at bottom and up the sides of a 9 or 10″ baking dish and drizzle generously with the very strong black coffee. Set the crust aside.
  3. In an electric mixing bowl or food processor combine the cream cheese, sugar, liquor of choice, and vanilla and mix until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing between each addition. Mix until everything is creamy and smooth. Add the liquor to the cheese mixture and mix well.  Pour the cheese mixture gently over the prepared crust.
  4. Bake for about 50 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 20 minutes.
  5. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for about 2 hours (overnight is better).
  6. Whip the whipping cream with the 2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar.
  7. Just before serving, garnish the top with the whipping cream or topping and sprinkle generously with the cocoa/espresso mixture.

Tiramisu Parfaits with Toasted Almonds (dairy)

6 servings

A simplified version of the classic Italian dessert, this looks lovely served in parfait or champagne glasses. The recipe uses pound cake and cream cheese instead of the traditional ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese.


  • ½ cup coffee liqueur
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup dark corn syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee powder
  • 2 Tablespoons plus ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1½ cups chilled whipping cream
  • 1 (12-oz.) purchased pound cake, cut crosswise into 12 slices
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted


  1. In a bowl combine the ½ cup coffee liqueur, ½ cup water, ¼ cup dark corn syrup, 2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder and 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar. Blend well.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine 5 Tablespoons of the espresso syrup, ½ cup powdered sugar and 8 ounces cream cheese. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
  3. In another mixing bowl combine 1½ cups chilled whipping cream and remaining ¼ cup powdered sugar and beat into stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.
  4. Place 1 pound-cake slice in bottom of each of 6 parfait glasses or wine goblets, tearing and pressing the pound cake to fit. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon espresso syrup over each. Spread 1/3 cup cream cheese filling over each. Sprinkle a few almonds over the top. Repeat the same layering the with remaining pound cake, espresso syrup and cream cheese filling.
  5. Sift unsweetened cocoa powder generously over the top of the parfaits.
  6. Cover parfaits and refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
  7. Top parfaits with toasted sliced almonds just before serving.

Lite Strawberry and Chocolate Tiramisu (dairy)

10 to 12 servings


  • 2 (8-oz.) packages light cream cheese (Neufchatel works well), softened
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ cup low fat milk
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Coffee flavored liqueur
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 (8-0z.) container frozen light whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 Tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder
  • 1 (3-to 4½-oz.) package ladyfingers
  • 1½ pints strawberries
  • Mint leaves for garnish


  1. In large mixing bowl combine the light cream cheese, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and 3 Tablespoons coffee flavor liqueur and mix, at a medium speed until the mixture is well blended. Increase speed to high and continue beating until smooth, scraping the sides frequently. Remove half the cheese mixture to medium bowl.
  2. To the cheese mixture remaining in the large bowl, add the cocoa and beat on low speed until blended. Gently fold half the whipped topping into each cream cheese mixture.
  3. In a 1-cup measuring cup, stir together espresso powder, 1/3 cup coffee flavor liqueur, and enough water to equal 1 cup.
  4. Separate each ladyfinger into halves. Line the bottom of 2½ quart glass bowl with 1/3 of the ladyfingers. Brush with 1/3 cup espresso mixture. Spoon half the plain cheese mixture over ladyfingers; top with half of remaining ladyfingers. Brush ladyfingers with 1/3 cup espresso mixture.
  5. Spoon all the cocoa-cheese mixture over the ladyfingers; top with the remaining ladyfingers and brush with the remaining espresso mixture. Spoon the remaining plain cheese mixture over the ladyfingers.
  6. Cover by placing 4 to 6 toothpicks around the edge of the bowl and one in the center of the Tiramisu to prevent plastic wrap from sticking to cheese mixture and refrigerate at least 3 hrs.
  7. Arrange the strawberry halves on top of dessert; garnish with mint leaves.

Toffee Tiramisu (dairy)

8 to 10 servings

The toffee candy in this recipe adds a delightful crunchiness to an already perfect dessert.


  • 1 frozen prepared pound cake, thawed and cut into 9 slices
  • ¾ cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup chocolate syrup
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 (1.4 oz.) bars chocolate covered English toffee, chopped


  1. Arrange the cake slices on the bottom of a rectangular 11×7-inch glass baking dish, cutting the cake slices, if necessary, to fit the bottom of the dish. Drizzle the coffee over cake.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor combine the sugar, chocolate syrup, and cream cheese and beat until smooth.
  3. Add the whipping cream and beat on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Spread the cream mixture over the top of the cake slices. Sprinkle the chocolate-covered toffee candy pieces over the top of the cream mixture.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but no longer than 24 hours to set dessert and let the flavors blend.

Eileen Goltz, a professional chef and caterer, is the author of the new cookbook, Perfectly Pareve.

© Eileen Goltz 2003

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.