Real tiramisu.  Authentic Italian tiramisu.  Y’all asked, I delivered.

Not only was this dessert highly requested by you, my fabulous readers, but also, when I made a redneck version of tiramisu with apple pie moonshine, you received it so well.  Thanks for not balking at my down-home version.  As a reward, I made you the real deal.  With brandy.  And zabaglione.   I even splurged on mascarpone for you.  However, I made it a few times with cream cheese and it was delicious.  I also made a batch with Frangelico (hazelnut liquor), and I dare say it was better than the version with brandy.  I’m now dreaming of making it with chocolate liquor.

Speaking of Frangelico, Giada has a version of tiramisu made with lemon, hazelnuts and Frangelico in one of her recent books, and it made me a believer in tiramisu.  I used to be lukewarm about it.  But now, I see the light—cookies soaked in alcohol and layered with creaminess is a zen state.  Perhaps this summer, I’ll work on that one for you.  I adore no-bake desserts for summer.

Real zabaglione requires you to stand over a double boiler with a hand mixer.  Check beforehand if your mixer cord reaches the stove.  I was scared of this step because I’ve only made real zabaglione one other time in my life, but I found the process so easy that I’m dreaming up a small batch of 7-minute frosting for you next.

So, put on a pot of espresso (or dissolve some of that instant espresso I’m always calling for in my recipes), grab some lady fingers, and get ready for this one.

Authentic Tiramisu

Authentic Tiramisu
Makes 2 bowls.


For the dip:

  • 1/2 cup espresso (or 1 tablespoon espresso powder dissolved in 1/2 cup of boiling water)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 8-12 lady fingers (depends on your bowl size)

For the zabaglione:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces mascarpone (or cream cheese), softened
  • cocoa powder for dusting (optional)


  1. In a small, shallow dish stir together the espresso, powdered sugar and brandy. Set the lady fingers aside.
  2. Next, make the zabaglione: in a medium bowl that you can fit over a pan of simmering water (or the top part of a double boiler), add the egg yolks and granulated sugar. Beat with an electric hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until the mixture falls off the beaters in ribbons. Stir in the brandy, then set the bowl over barely simmering water (not boiling!) and beat continuously until it reaches 160 degrees. Once it's up to temperature, remove the zabaglione from the heat and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Have ready the mascarpone on the side.
  4. Once the zabaglione has cooled for 10 minutes, fold in the mascarpone gently. Finally, fold in the whipped cream.
  5. Have your serving dishes ready. Dip one lady finger in the espresso mixture and flip it over immediately so that it doesn't soak for more than 2 seconds per side. Fit it in the bottom of your bowl (you might have to cut it, depending on your serving dishes). Continue until the bottom of both serving dishes are covered. Scoop one-fourth of the zabaglione-cream mixture on top of each layer with cocoa powder, if desired. Then, do another layer of lady fingers in each dish. Divide the remaining zabaglione between the dishes, and dust with cocoa powder.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours before serving.


My serving dishes seen in the photo are 12-ounces each. They hold 1 1/2 cups of water. Look for a similar size, or make the dessert in a 6 or 7" pie pan.