This week it’s a billion degrees in the UK, but luckily this is a recipe that requires almost nothing from you. This is truly a dessert for people who don’t cook – it requires no heat, and nary an egg gets cracked. If you can whip cream and dunk cookies, you can make tiramisu.

It’s also my grandpa’s favorite (along with pecan pie.) My grandpa is a man who wants at all times to be driving a gigantic 50’s-era Cadillac, chewing on an expensive cigar, on his way to a swingin’ jazz gig, or maybe the theater. The three-martini lunch was invented for this man, so it makes sense that the Grown Uppest dessert is his favorite one.  

I used to hate it as a kid, and I suspect I’m not alone. It looks like a big sweet cream cake (and it is), but it’s got all of these grown-up flavors: coffee and booze and NON-sweet chocolate? What the heck is the point of non-sweet chocolate?

Well, once you grow up and get indoctrinated into the cult of enjoying booze and coffee, you find out.

Where things like coffee walnut cake are all about gentleness and balance and comfort, tiramisu is about putting yourself in a trebuchet of brain chemistry-hijacking substances and launching yourself joyously into the stratosphere. It’s the speedball of legally-available dessert ingredients.

It’s got STRONG coffee to yank you UP, it’s sweetly boozy to help you stay LOOSE, and it’s all bound together with straight-up cream cheese, by which I mean a lethal combination of good cream and fresh cheese (and more booze.)

The cocoa powder’s there to keep things from getting TOO too sweet, and the ladyfingers are ostensibly to provide “structure”, but really to act as coffee-delivery sponges so you can get as much caffeine as possible into every bite.

It’s perfect. I want to kiss on the mouth the Italian who invented this.

Tiramisu is something I used to order every time I could at a restaurant, because it’s so fancy-looking and complex-seeming and has steps and layers like a lasagna, or one of those insane puff-pastry tarts they make on Bake Off.

Surprise! It is not a cake. It is not even a tart. It is a BOGOP (Big Old Pile Of Goop). There’s a reason every Italian restaurant serves it, and it’s not because it’s a deeply complicated thing to make.

Also, it has to sit overnight so it’s the perfect make-ahead dinner party dessert, for when you’re too busy zou-bisou-bisouing to get stuck in the kitchen.

just one more time in case you forgot


(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Originally, you’re meant to whip the eggs, mascarpone and marsala together to make some kind of fancy custard, but I don’t have time for all that and neither do you. Just make a mascarpone whipped cream and call it a day.

You can put rum in the coffee if you want, that’s your business, but definitely pick up some marsala. It just won’t taste right otherwise.


  • 24 ladyfingers (savioardi) cookies (store bought)
  • 1 cup of whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup (65 grams) sugar
  • 1 8.8-ounce (250 ml) package mascarpone
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) sweet or dry marsala (if you’re using sweet, cut back a little on the sugar)
  • 1 cup (235 ml) strong coffee
  • A couple tablespoons of your favorite cocoa powder, for sifting over 
  • Dark chocolate for grating on top
  • A couple tablespoons of rum, if you want


1. Make a cup of coffee. Let it cool to room temperature. Add rum if you’re hardcore.

2. Whip your cream. Add sugar, marsala, and mascarpone and whip together until stiff. 

3. Dip ladyfinger quickly in the coffee and make a layer of soggy ladyfingers in the bottom of a loaf pan.

4. Put half of your whipped cream on top (like a lasagna.)

5. Shake some cocoa powder and grate some dark chocolate on top.

6. Add another layer of coffee-soaked ladyfingers.

7. Layer the rest of the cream on top.

8. Grate some more dark chocolate on top and then sift some cocoa powder make it look professional.

9. Put in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

10. EAT

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