The literal meaning of tiramisu, which is "pick-me-up", is bit of an understatement.

When tiramisu has been made with the correct ingredients, namely chocolate, mascarpone cheese, coffee, and zabaglione made with Marsala wine, cannot be adequately described by words. It can only be experienced.

In fact, Tiramisu is a desert worthy of a special occasion: neither making nor eating it should be rushed.


Chocolate Zabaglione Custard

  • 140 gram dark chocolate
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (40 ml) castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) Marsala (sweet Italian wine - we used Lombardo Ambra Garibaldi Dolce Marsala)
  • 4 egg whites

Mascarpone-coffee mixture

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Moccona instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 250 gram Mascarpone cheese (we used Tatua soft cream cheese, available in New Zealand supermarkets)


  • 300 ml cream


  • 125 gram Italian Lady fingers / Boudior Biscuits / Dutch Langevingers / Sponge fingers
  • 2 x 1/4 cup Marsala wine


You will need a rectangular dish, approximately 220 x 120 mm (we use a Pyrex loaf size dish).

  1. Melt the chocolate, preferably in a container over boiling water.
  2. In a double boiler, beat the egg yolks and castor sugar together until very smooth. Whip eggs and sugar mixtuer vigorously for a few minutes over the heat, until the mixture have reached the ribbon stage. (Ribbon stage is when you can use your whisk to write a figure 8 on the surfave of the egg mixture.) Take care not to boil the mixture.
  3. Fold the cooled, melted chocolate into the zabaglione. Leave to cool down.
  4. Mix the coffee and mascarpone together.
  5. Whip the cream until it forms peaks.
  6. In separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until it forms stiff peaks, and then fold it into the cooled down zabaglione.
  7. Place a layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of the rectangular dish.
  8. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of Marsala over the biscuits to moisten them.
  9. Spread half of the Mascarpone-coffee mixture over the biscuits.
  10. Follow with half of the chocolate-zabaglione and then with half of the cream.
  11. Repeat the with a second layer of biscuits, moistened with 1/4 cup of Marsala, the rest of the coffee-cream cheese, the rest of the chocolate zabaglione and then the rest of the cream.
  12. Cover and let it set overnight in fridge.

Optional: sprinkle roasted slivered almonds over the cream-on-top.