Tiramisù – booze and caffeine, what could possibly go wrong?

21 Dec

As I’ve mentioned before in my recipe posts, desserts were not a big part of my upbringing, but some events call for something a little special. One such event that has become a tradition within the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble over the last handful of years is the final official meeting of the Core Ensemble, (the major artists in the company) in any given calendar year. We come together to reflect on the year that was, to dream on the possibilities of the year to come, and to share food. It is a potluck dinner, each artist brings a plate, and over the last three years I have always contributed what is fast becoming my signature dessert – Tiramisù.

Here is my recipe, cobbled together from many different traditional and contemporary versions, but trying to remain true to the origins of the dish. No berries, no jelly, no bells or whistles. You can add those, if you must.


Image credit: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/photo_21917811_italian-tiramisu.html’>lsantilli / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Rob’s Tiramisù

Ingredients & Equipment

Savoiardi, 500g (about 36 biscuits)

Mascarpone cheese, 250g – at room temperature

Espresso coffee, strong, cooled,  2 cups

Marsala, 1.5 cup

Eggs, 6

Sugar, white ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons

Chocolate, bitter/bittersweet, for grating

Cocoa powder, for sprinkling


1. In a large (wide) bowl mix 1.5 cups of strong espresso (cooled) with a cup of marsala. Set aside.

2. Make the Zabaglione:

  • separate five eggs into whites and yolks; set whites aside
  • in a medium-sized bowl, whisk 5 egg yolks and one whole egg with ¼ cup sugar until the eggs are thick and lemon colored
  • whisk in ½ cup Marsala
  • microwave on high for 30 seconds
  • whisk
  • repeat the microwaving and whisking about 4-6 times, or until the pudding is thick

3. Make the Mascarpone cream:

  • beat the Mascarpone until it is light and airy
  • stir ½ cup cooled espresso into the mascarpone
  • beat the 5 egg whites (reserved from previous step), adding 3 tablespoons of sugar – a little at a time – until they form stiff peaks and have a glossy sheen, about 4 minutes.
  • gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture until it is all the same color

4. Completing the Tiramisù

  • use a 9×17 inch glass baking dish
  • dip Savoiardi biscuits, a few at a time, into the coffee/marsala mixture from step one. Dip them for only a few seconds, so that they don’t become soggy. The centre should still be dry at this stage. Place the biscuits into the bottom of the baking dish as you dip them, until you have made a single layer covering the bottom of the dish.
  • layer Zabaglione, then Mascarpone, on top of the layer of Savoiardi
  • dust with cocoa powder (and optionally grated bitter chocolate).
  • repeat the layering (dipped Savoiardi, Zabaglione, Mascarpone) a second (and optionally a third) time.

5. Refrigerate for 8-24 hours before serving.

Tiramisù is best eaten 24-48 hours after making. Beyond that time it starts to get very soggy.


5 Responses to “Tiramisù – booze and caffeine, what could possibly go wrong?”

  1. colorfulcharactersclub December 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm #


  2. James January 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    I tried to make this over the Christmas period, but smaller. The consistency didn’t really work out (I had the mascarpone in an electric mixer and left it too long – clotted!), but it still tasted pretty good!

    Could you confirm whether 9 x 17 inches are the correct measurements for the baking dish? That’s huge! I can, however, understand the need for it if you are usually making the dish to feed the QSE.

    • robpensalfini January 6, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

      Hey James, you guessed it, those proportions are for feeding a pack of hungry actors. I usually use a 20x30cm AND a 15x15cm dish with a recipe of this size. By all means use a smaller dish and half the recipe for a family gathering. Egg whites can be tricky to work with, it’ll come with practice. I generally avoid electric mixers if possible (and sometimes it isn’t) except for beating egg whites til they are stiff. I do all folding with a spatula. xoxo

      • James January 7, 2014 at 12:47 am #

        Thanks Rob!


  1. Nutella Tiramisu - Recipe - Champagne and Chips - December 22, 2014

    […] recipe was inspired by a friend’s recipe for an amazing tiramisu with layers of zabaglione (a fancy Italian custard). I swooned when I saw Rob’s recipe […]

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