literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

This is Foolproof Tiramisu—Trust Me, I Know

I made tiramisu for a dinner party last week, so I thought I would share the story of how this recipe made it into my repertoire. A few years ago, my sisters and I thought it would be a great idea to make tiramisu. I believe there's little explanation necessary for this decision. We set out to find a recipe that was quick, labor un-intensive and catered to our (at the time) lack of cooking chops. Once we settled on something that seemed doable, we assembled the ingredients—minus ladyfingers. To us, ladyfingers were a superfluous luxury (and one that required either a level of baking we could not achieve or a run to the store we refused to take). Instead, we baked a 9" x 13" yellow cake. Which we then cut in half. And attempted to use in place of ladyfingers. 

The result was disastrous, and there are several reasons why:

- Cake soaked in coffee and smothered with frosting and stacked atop its similarly soaked-and-frosted counterpart is not particularly sturdy

- Placing said cake on a platter rather than, say, in a walled dish does nothing to buttress the soggy, flaccid pastry layers

- Cake, it turns out, is not an acceptable substitute for ladyfingers. Trust me. It's not.

- Tiramisu is meant to be made and chilled in a dish with walls—once set, it can be sliced and removed to a plate without losing its shape

Suffice it to say I learned a lot from, ahem, constructing this original tiramisu. Since then, I've slightly tweaked the recipe and my technique and the results have been fantastic. It's not a traditional tiramisu, to be fair. It lacks real espresso—in part because I don't have an espresso maker. Because espresso is like crack for me—and rum, but it's seriously yummy and easy on the wallet.  So take my word for it: Spring for ladyfingers, and invest in a Pyrex baking dish. As for baking with my sisters, I can vouch for that, too—now that I've recovered from this early traumatic experience.



  • 2 packages  (3 oz. each) soft ladyfingers, split, divided
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed strong MAXWELL HOUSE Coffee
  • 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • teaspoon vanilla, divided
  • 16 ounces whipped cream cheese
  • cups thawed cool whip
  • teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


In mixing bowl, mix sugar, vanilla, cream cheese and cool whip using an electric beater. 

Place a layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Pour half the coffee over the ladyfingers. Top with half the cream mixture. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, coffee and cream mixture. Sprinkle top with cocoa powder. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or ideally overnight to set.

Adapted from Kraft

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