Tiramisu, for two

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(Tiramisu – recipe in post)

One year ago today, a friend and I strolled through the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. We wandered lazily, with nowhere to go, and nowhere to be. We talked about everything, and nothing. I’m sure we talked about something… or maybe not at all.

The evening air was cool and clean, and as the glow of the sun faded across the tops of the buildings we found ourselves drawn into a cozy little restaurant, the warm ambiance beckoning us in  from the streets. Looking for something sweet, we pushed our menus aside and ordered nothing but dessert – a simple tiramisu, to share.

One year ago today, The Boyfriend and I had our first date.

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(Tiramisu is Italian for ‘pick me up’ – and it helped The Boyfriend do just that!)

Tiramisu wasn’t only the first dessert we shared, back on May 14th 2011 – it was also the first dessert I made for him, several weeks later.

meal 1

Pan-seared sea scallops over wilted greens and parmesan risotto, with white wine, tiramisu and fresh raspberries to finish. This was the first meal I made in The Boyfriend’s kitchen, and his first taste of what things might be like with me in his life. Sweet, simple, and delicious – how could anyone say no?

meal 2

I didn’t have the blog back then, but for some reason I still insisted on photographing the meal. Perhaps I was just that pleased with myself, but more likely I was desperate to remember every detail of our days together.

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In honor of our one year anniversary, I could think of no better way to celebrate than to sit down with this fantastic treat, a glass of wine, and our memories. Reminiscing over the past, and toasting to the future. It’s been one hell of a year – cheers!

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Note that despite my deceptive title, this recipe makes one 9×13 pan full – far more than two serving sized portions. Enough to feed two for a week, or twelve for a day.

Adapted from: Gastronomer’s Guide
Makes one 9×13 pan full, about 12 servings

4 large eggs, room temperature, separated*
1 cup + 1 TBSP granulated sugar, separated
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 cups espresso or dark brewed coffee
3/4 cup coffee liqueur (i.e., Kahlua)**
1 package (50 count) ladyfingers (can be substituted with layers of sponge cake)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional – not traditional, but I like it)
Cocoa powder or dark chocolate for garnish

Fresh fruit, berries, mint leaves, powdered sugar, etc. – to garnish (optional)

*Recipe contains raw eggs – I’ve included instructions within the recipe on how to omit these.
**Can be substitute in part or in whole with other flavored liquors – Irish Cream, Amaretto  Rum, etc. – or omitted entirely for an alcohol-free dessert. If leaving this out, you may need a little more coffee.


1.    In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and 1 cup of the sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until pale, fluffy, and light, 10-12 minutes.
*If you are concerned about raw eggs, place bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Beat yolks and sugar over double-boiler until pale, and smooth ribbons fall from the beaters when turned off and lifted. Remove from double-boiler, and continue with recipe.
Add the mascarpone cheese, and beat on low speed until incorporated and smooth.

2.    In a separate bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. If using a hand-mixer, this may take a few minutes – be sure to get down to the bottom of the bowl so no moisture settles there. Note that if you are using the same bowl or beaters, they must be thoroughly cleaned first – if any yolks or fat come into contact with the whites, they will not whip!
*If you are concerned about raw eggs, omit the whites and replace them with 1 cup heavy whipping cream. Whip cream to medium-stiff peaks, and continue as directed.

3.    Using a flexible rubber spatula, fold half of the whipped egg whites into the custard to lighten it. Fold in the second half, until smooth and fully incorporated.

4.    In a large bowl (or the same bowl you used for the whites) combine heavy cream, 1 TBSP sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract, if using. Optionally, you can add another TBSP of liqueur. Beat on medium-high speed to stiff peaks.

5.    In a shallow dish, combine the coffee and liqueur (if using). Dunk the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture, letting them soak up some of the liquid. Don’t submerge them for more than 10-15 seconds, as you want them to hold some of their texture and not fall apart.

6.    Place the ladyfingers in rows across the bottom of a 9×13 pan (or into the bottom of a trifle glass), breaking them in half if necessary to fully cover the bottom.  Spread half of the egg and mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers, then repeat with another layer of soaked ladyfingers and the last of the egg and mascarpone mixture on top.  Spread whipped cream over the top of the layered pan – this should fill the pan all the way to the rim.  Dust with cocoa powder, or shavings for garnish.

7.    Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight, before serving.

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37 Responses to Tiramisu, for two

  1. Caitlin May 15, 2012 at 2:40 am #

    what a beautifully written post. i could picture you walking on a lovely spring night. first dates are so special <3 i still remember mine and dayv's..such good memories. happy anniversary and here's to many more!!

    ps- the tiramisu looks incredible.

    • Willow May 15, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Thank you! It was a lovely day last year, but honestly I didn’t think it was a date at the time… I was insistent that we were ‘just friends’ – haha! That didn’t last very long. :P

  2. martina May 15, 2012 at 9:58 am #

    for once i have to say that the recipe is pretty similar to the original italian one -except for the vanilla, that should definitely not be there.

    • Willow May 15, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

      Indeed – I’d never seen vanilla in a tiramisu recipe, but I’ve made it with and without and prefer it with just a little in the whipped cream. I’m a fiend for vanilla, though – so maybe that’s just me?

  3. Ritroviamoci in Cucina May 15, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    This is truly a meal for a king!!! The photos are beautiful as always … seems that the food can be touched.
    So cute the idea of this journey into the past.

  4. Pallavi May 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

    WOW, what a beautiful dessert..it is one of my favorite as well! My husband (back then my boyfriend) went to school in Ann Arbor (UFM). I have such fond memories of that place. We would go to Gratzi and order tiramisu. Best days of my life :) Thanks for sharing the recipe…lovely photography!

    • Willow May 15, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Ah, thank you! I love A2 (born and raised) – we actually had our Tiramisu at Cafe Felix, just a few doors down from Gratzi! :D

  5. shannon @ a periodic table May 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    what a sweet post (both in taste, and in emotion). :) i love that you remember your first date with The Boyfriend…stuff like food and the little things get lost in the shuffle most of the time. this looks beautiful, and now i’m hungry for the whole meal. tiramisu was the first dessert i helped my now-husband make for someone’s birthday probably 10 years ago now – the first joint effort in the kitchen, i think, and back before i knew anything about cooking or baking. :) happy anniversary!

    • Willow May 15, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

      Thank you! We both remember quite a bit of the way things started out – it’s really important to us, but also, it hasn’t been that long. Give it another few years and who knows if we’ll remember any of it. :P
      Also – this is quite the dessert to make together early in a relationship! Bravo!

  6. Jen @ Juanita's Cocina May 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    Happy anniversary, honey.

    My one year wedding anniversary is coming up in a few weeks and I need to blog about it. With food. Because I remember what we ate right after we married. And I remember the day like it was yesterday.

    Beautiful! The post and the food…

    • Willow May 15, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

      Thank ya! And congratulations on your upcoming anniversary – I love how clear those memories are! :)

  7. Anita at Hungry Couple May 16, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Happy dating anniversary! Mr. Hungry Couple and I just had tiramisu the last time we went out to eat and we always share our dessert. :)

    • Willow May 16, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Thanks! That’s the best way to do it, if you ask me. :D

  8. Non stick, Nutty and Sous chef May 16, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    That’s such a sweet post! :) and Tiramisu, indeed a beautiful pick me up :)! Happy Anniv and have many many more! :)

    • Willow May 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      Thanks! Looking forward to the many years to come. :)

  9. MyFudo™ May 16, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    You are a talented storyteller…It is indeed great to reminisce the past year over a delicious, elegant treat. Happy more years together! =)

  10. Meg May 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    those scallops look perfect! omg.

    • Willow May 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

      Haha – thank you for noticing! It was actually the first time I had cooked scallops, and the first time I’d used The Boyfriend’s pans/stove. I was SO pleased with them! Seared to perfection on both sides, and tender in the center. I had also specifically called my fish monger earlier in the week to find out when they’d be getting a fresh shipment, and picked them up that very morning – definitely some of the best scallops I’ve eaten! :)

  11. Oishii Treats May 17, 2012 at 8:46 pm #

    Happy anniversary :) What a lovely story and beautiful pictures. I love tiramisu, I too have made this special dessert for the hubbys birthday a few years ago. There’s something about tiramisu that just says I love you. BTW the parmasen rissto sounds delicious. Have a great day!

    • Willow May 17, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      Thanks! It really is a special treat… perfect for special someones! :)

  12. From Valeries Kitchen May 18, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    Oh Willow, you are singing my song! I’ve got a major sweet tooth and these pictures are just downright taunting me. The scallops look amazing as well. You’ve got some real talent girl!

    • Willow May 18, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks, Valerie! Sorry to be a tease. :P

  13. Kat May 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm #

    But I thought 9X13 pan only serves two, no? ;) It might as well, because this looks absolutely gorgeous, and I would find it hard to resist having just one slice. I love the addition of a little white heart. Happy one year anniversary to you both!

    • Willow May 18, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      Thanks! And it is hard to resist… I might, maybe, have finished off a good 1/3rd of the pan because I didn’t want it to “go to waste”. Whoops! :P

  14. lizchewy May 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Happy anniversary!! The tiramisu looks so delicious!! If I were to make one of these I think I would find it really hard to resist eating it straight out of the pan.


    • Willow May 18, 2012 at 4:09 pm #

      Thanks! I have the same problem – I’m thinking I’ll make a half batch in a smaller pan next time. It’s just too good to resist when I know it’s sitting in the fridge!

  15. frugalfeeding May 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm #

    That’s so pretty, Willow. I can’t believe I’ve not done tiramisu yet since it’s my favourite dessert. Perhaps I’ll post my own twist next week! Happy anniversary.

    • Willow May 19, 2012 at 12:53 am #

      Thank you! I look forward to seeing what you come up with. :)

  16. fat pig in the market May 19, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    No wonder you’re together one year later. Seriously…who wouldn’t want more of that first meal you made. Happy anniversary!

    • Willow May 19, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

      Heheh – thanks! He still waxes poetic about those scallops… perhaps I should take the hint and make them again. :)

  17. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes May 19, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

    Congrats Willow on your 1st year together – I wish you many more years of happiness & tiramisu :)

    Beautiful photos!

  18. chilliliefde May 21, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    wow these are stunning photos! happy anniversary!

  19. Arti Rathor April 16, 2020 at 6:40 am #

    Such a tasty dessert and all-time favourite.

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