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Classic Tiramisu- Without the Alcohol

Tiramisu, the quintessential Sicilian dessert, and the ultimate party food.  Although I’m (half) Sicilian, I didn’t grow up with this dessert at family dinner tables. I’m not exactly sure why no one ever made it, but it took for me to travel to Italy and taste the real deal for the first time to be hooked, over and over again. 

Tiramisu in glass dish

Needless to say, it’s my most-requested recipe and is so variable (I have a Strawberry Tiramisu recipe in my cookbook).

But the special ingredient is really the savoiardi, or lady finger cookies. You can find them at most Italian grocers and many international supermarkets in the ‘ethnic’ aisle, cookie aisle or Italian foods aisle. I see them everywhere in Chicagoland supermarkets.

savoairdi bag

Because, umm…I guess they’re shaped like long a long and elegant ‘lady finger’?

savoiardi up close

And after soaking them in coffee, they look a bit like this:

making cookies fit

You’ll prepare the cream mixture ahead of time, before even beginning to soak any of the savoiardi. You have to do that, otherwise you’ll end up with a big mess of soaked cookies and nowhere to really put them since there will be one layer of cookies and then cream has to be added to that, then another layer of cookies right on top. You can’t let the soaked cookies just sit around somewhere else.

When preparing the cream mixture, I like to use raw cane sugar like one of these, but you can also use powdered sugar, too, which is finer and requires less whisking to absorb nicely into the cream.

two different sugars

Next is another star ingredient and our super substitute for rum or brandy; it’s my go-to brand/variety, but you could also use a vanilla bakery emulsion or another alcohol-free variety found at Whole Foods by Frontier.

If you don’t have vanilla extract, you can leave it out, but you may want to replace it with some other flavoring. In that case, add apple juice to the cream and whisk before pouring it on the cookies; it serves as a replacement for brandy that is sometimes called for in traditional tiramisu dishes.

vanilla flavor trader joes

Just be sure to give yourself enough time to make this entire dish ahead if time and refrigerate- the coffee really needs to soak into the lady finger cookies and the cream really needs to get cold for it to gel all together nicely.

spread cream

Now for the top, let’s talk chocolate. Dark chocolate, if you like. It should be cold because you’ll need to grate it for the top of the dessert.

shaving the chocolate

So it can come out nice like this. Otherwise it’ll be a mess. Trust me. I know about messes.

chocolate and cocoa mix

You may even want to sprinkle the cocoa/chocolate shavings mixture at the last moment, but that’s really up to you. You can do it just before refrigerating the entire dish.

side view tiramisu

P.S. If you’re looking for a dish to take to someone’s house on Eid, this is it.

Enjoy!

 

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Classic Tiramisu- Without the Alcohol

Tiramisu in glass dish

By Yvonne Published: August 7, 2013

  • Yield: 6-8 Servings
  • Prep: 25 mins

The perfect marriage of coffee, cream and cookies, dessert doesn't get much better than this. Substitute decaf coffee, if desired.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Make coffee and set it aside in a large bowl to cool.
  2. Using a deep bowl and strong whisk or a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix the mascarpone, milk, crème frâiche, and vanilla extract. Add powdered sugar and mix well. It should be the consistency of pourable cream; add more milk, if needed (1/2 teaspoon at a time).
  3. Line the bottom of a square glass dish layer with the mascarpone-milk mixture.
  4. Soak each lady finger cookie one by one in the coffee for about 6-10 seconds, or until the cookie has absorbed enough coffee but it's still firm enough to set flat in the glass pan.
  5. Line the pan with one row of soaked cookies. Next, add the mascarpone mixture and smooth over with a spatula. Repeat this one more time, or until all of the cream and cookies have been used.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix the cocoa powder with the chocolate shavings. Dust the top layer of the dish with this mixture.
  7. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving, or overnight, giving it time to set.
  8. Cut and serve chilled either on small plates or in small cups.

11 comments

  1. This is THE recipe I always wanted! Great tip for the brandy replacement. I am not a dessert person but this is something I won’t say no to (except when it has alcohol in it).

  2. I have a question. Where can you buy alcohol-free vanilla extract? I’ve seen some but they are not real vanilla and I hate the artificial flavoring products. Please suggest a brand if you can.

  3. Asak. I recently saw a show on cheese on the Cooking Channel and was surprised to learn that mascarpone cheese is fermented in wine. Is that true? If so, is there a substitute you use? JZK.

  4. @Shabnam- great question. Traditionally, mascarpone was made with tartaric acid, which is found in wine barrels. http://biology.clc.uc.edu/fankhauser/cheese/mascarpone.HTM but in most commercial products, that is not what is used; instead it can be made with another form of acid like lemon- and also made a home, just like in this recipe by Huff Po writer and blogger, Laura Kumin, of Mother Would Know:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laura-kumin/how-to-make-mascarpone-ch_b_1728275.html

  5. asselamu aleikum i wish give to you my idea for alkohol free Tiramisu recipe
    4 large egg yolks
    100 g sugar
    120 ml apple juice
    500 g mascarpone
    1 teaspoon mahlab
    Lady fingers 20-24 pc
    Natural cocoa for sprinkling
    Put for short time the lady fingers in this mix:
    150 g strong coffee / espresso /
    2 tablespoons sugar
    100ml apple juice
    1/4 teaspoon mahlab
    Yolks with sugar, apple juice and mahleb break in a water bath until thickened, cool and were added mascarpone.

  6. How do u make the cheese mixture? By whipping with a whisk or mixing with spoon or using a beater?

  7. Assalamualaaikum sister….what exactly is creme fraiche? can i use whipping cream instead?

    • @Tanwar- It’s a French style heavy cream but it’s not very sweet. It’s lighter than whipping cream but if you want to use whipping cream you’ll need to thicken it a bit. I think a happy medium is to use ‘whipped cream cheese’, but again it also needs to be sweetened or the overall dessert will taste a bit flat. I hope that helps!

  8. This looks perfect

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