According to Wikipedia, the Italian dessert tiramisù means “pick-me-up”, or metaphorically, “make me happy”. When I read this, I shook my head in disbelief. Read on, to find out why and to become privy to my most excellent recipe for tiramisu.

I think we can all agree that this layered Italian creation is a celebration dessert. With the effort and specialty ingredients required, it’s not really an every day event. But there are times, like yesterday for us, when a bad day can warrant making something special for pudding, just to make up for it.

We tried to make a great start to our Saturday. I made my best-ever buttermilk pancakes – which were indeed best ever – and England was set to deliver a sterling Autumn day with clear skies and plenty of sunshine to warm the cooling air. But things just went down hill from there. Everything we did turned out wrong. We went to go to the fair only to find it wasn’t open yet, which sent little LT into a chasm of disappointment and despair. So we though a trip to the Saville Gardens in Windsor might do the trick, but do you think we could find it? I’ve never wanted to punch a piece of electronic equipment as much as I wanted to with our GPS that day. We even checked the website and used other non-GPS methods of getting there, to no avail. So as if it could sense our frustration, it took us the long way home. I was getting hungry,  the boys were getting antsy and so far we’d spent most of the day in the car. We decided we’d stop by the fair after all, we’d seen the huge slide and the boys were keen to try it, but of course when we got there there was no one manning it.

OK, so our troubles mostly ended there – no one got hurt, it wasn’t that bad. Needless to say it was not turning out to be the greatest day, even though we did try. I’d scheduled a weekend of jam making and cookie baking but couldn’t muster the motivation to do any of it. We were slumped in front of Nigella’s TV show and Adrian spied a dessert that we both saw absent-mindedly as we commiserated over our wasted efforts at familial bliss. It looked like a creamy pudding in a martini glass, AT swore it was tiramisu, but we can never be sure.  Half-seeing that pudding though, was enough to spur AT into going shopping to get the ingredients to make our very own tiramisu that evening. The hour was getting late, so I hurriedly fished out my old recipe that I’d made once, many, many years ago. I knew it was good because I’d kept it so long. I also knew it was a combination of a few recipes. I was not off to a good start with kids bickering in the back ground and phone calls every five minutes from AT, looking for savoiardi biscuits. As I answered the phone for the third time, hands covered in cookie dough – which I’d decided to make after all – seeing as I was in the kitchen, it was enough to drive me to drink. Literally. A quick slosh of brandy that I’d need for the tiramisu, and my nerves were calmed.

I made a zabaglione while I waited for marscapone and sponge biscuits to be couriered home. He’d managed to find it all in the deli down the road when Sainsburys failed to deliver. Phew. I thought I was going to have hurl my zabaglione in frustration. And so it was in a haze of domestic frustration that my tiramisu was born. And it was as we grabbed spoons the next day to eat some straight out of the dish, that we were able to appreciate the quality of this recipe. I would not recommend eating this pudding on the day it’s made. It needs a whole day in the fridge to develop. I had doubted the recipe when we ate some last night after only a few hours in the fridge. It didn’t seem sweet enough but I was relieved to discover that was indeed only a matter of time before the genius of this recipe would be realised.

I know it doesn’t look the greatest – but, like poor Jane Eyre, it was born of misery and made with no mind for presentation. Assembled in a large corning ware dish, I didn’t expect to be blogging about it. But with a day to mature, this is a recipe worth blogging about. It involves a fair amount of whisking (with a machine of course) and many bowls but this tiramisu is worth the effort for any celebration or bad day.

Tiramisu Recipe


Layer 1 – 1 large carton of double/ whipping cream

Layer 2 – 1 large (500g) tub of Marscapone cheese, 1 shot of espresso*, 1 or 2 tbsp brandy**

Layer 3 – 3 eggs, 3 tbsp brandy, 3 tbsp caster sugar (to make zabaione, or zabaglione)

Layer 4 – savoiardi biscuits, 1 cup (long black) of espresso, a good slosh of brandy


Layer 1 – whip the cream, so it’s light enough to be spooned  and spread, set aside.

Layer 2 – blend together the Marscapone and coffee, set side.

Layer 3 – on a double boiler, whisk 3 yolks and 3 tbsp of sugar over the heat till it turns pale yellow. Add the brandy and keep whisking till it thickens. Set aside to cool.

Whip 2 egg whites to stiff peaks. When the zabaglione is cooled to room temp, fold in with the egg whites.

Layer 4 – combine coffee and brandy and dip biscuits in briefly to coat all over.

Now, starting with the soaked biscuits, make a layer of biscuit, then cover with the zabaglione mixture, then cover with Marscapone mix, then top with cream. Repeat.

Put in the fridge for a day at least or over night.

You can dust with cocoa if you like, but I think it kind of ruins it.


* I realise not everyone has an espresso machine in their home. You could perhaps buy a double shot of coffee at a local cafe and bring home, or simply use Nescafe.

** I only had brandy in the cupboard, which worked great, but you could use Kahlua, Tia Maria, Cognac, sweet wine or even rum or whiskey.