Nonna Anna’s Tiramisu

tiramisu“Tira mi su” is an Italian phrase which literally means “pick me up,” and this dessert will accomplish that. Because the main ingredients are eggs, cheese and espresso, it is as appropriate for a breakfast or brunch buffet as it is after dinner as dessert! The first time I ever tasted Tiramisu the combination of flavors and textures on my taste buds sent me to my happy place. Even though I never had this as a child it is like a comfort food for me.

There is no oven time required and just one layer requires cooking on the stove top, not counting if you make your espresso on the stove top. Once you have everything staged, the assembly is a snap.Tiramisu 2

Tiramisu is the perfect holiday dessert. It is sinfully creamy and best when prepared a day ahead; so you get a beautiful presentation of wonderful deliciousness with no last minute fussing. Try this for a holiday brunch. It is practically a breakfast in itself, eggs, cream, coffee, cheese…a perfect brunch addition.

Tiramisu does not get baked; the layers are prepared and then assembled. The trickiest part of the recipe is the Zabaglione. Zabaglione, by itself, is an Italian dessert, consisting of egg yolks, sugar and marsala wine or another liqueur. If you want to make this and skip the whole Tiramisu, serve the Zabaglione with fresh berries.tiramisu ingredients

When Nonna Anna was a young child in Naples, Zabaglione was often served for breakfast…no alcohol and they used whole fresh eggs; pure protein with some sugar thrown in for tastiness. (Yes, my mother-in-law’s name is the same as mine, so we call her “Nonna Anna”.)

The recipe on this site gives the measurements for an 11 x 7 inch glass dish. For a more dramatic presentation you can also make this in a trifle bowl. The quantities will differ depending on the size of your bowl, but it should be fairly simple to figure out.Tiramisu 1


Servings 12 servings
Author Anna


  • 1 package crispy Lady Fingers cookies - this should be about 24 cookies, be sure you buy the crispy cookies
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups Espresso, sweetened with 4 teaspoons sugar and cooled, you can make fresh or use instant.
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder about 1/4
  • 1 recipe zabaglione, recipe follows
  • 1 8-ounce container frozen Lite Cool Whip, defrosted
  • 1 7x11-inch glass or ceramic dish


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 5 Tablespoons sugar, superfine sugar works best
  • 2 Tablespoons Marsala wine

Garnish, Optional

  • Berries
  • Mint leaves



  1. Mix 1/4 cup of the espresso with the mascarpone cheese. This will make the mascarpone easier to spread.

  2. Pour the sweetened, cooled espresso into a pie plate.


  1. Dip a lady finger into the espresso, turn it over, remove quickly, and place in the 7x11 dish, make one whole layer of lady fingers dipped in espresso.


  1. Dollop on top of the lady finger layer half of the mascarpone mixture - If it is difficult to spread, add a little more espresso.


  1. Drizzle half of the zabaglione over the mascarpone layer.


  1. Then  spoon on half of the Lite Non-Dairy Whipped Topping.


  1. Using a small sieve or shaker can, sprinkle cocoa powder over the whipped topping.
  2. Do a second pass of all the layers.
  3. After the final layer, sprinkle generously with the cocoa powder for a rich, chocolaty flavor. You can also add chocolate shavings to make it a little fancier.


  1. Bring about an inch of water to a boil in the saucepan.
  2. In the glass bowl, with a hand mixer on high speed, beat the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow.
  3. Stir in the marsala wine.

  4. Reduce the heat under the pan of boiling water to a simmer and place the glass bowl over the water, make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. (Or use a double-boiler.)

  5. Whisk until the mixture thickens slightly, the texture is consistent, and the color is a pale yellow.
  6. Use an instant read thermometer and remove from heat when the temperature reaches between 140º and 150º This should take 8 to 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and continue whisking the egg mixture for about a minute to stop the cooking.
  8. It is important to never stop whisking and to not overcook, you want the mixture to be creamy, not scrambled eggs.

Recipe Notes

Gr8 Do Ahead Tip:

To fully experience the true flavors, make this dessert the day before serving and refrigerate.

Gr8 Tips:
  • If you make espresso for breakfast, make extra and set it out to cool for later.
  • Make sure to defrost the frozen whipped topping in the refrigerator the night before, it will be easier to spread.
  • If you make egg white omelets, save your whites. These should keep in the fridge for about 4 days, tightly covered.

Please let us know how your Tiramisu turns out! Be a Gr8 Friend and post a picture of your completed creation on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; and tag Great Eight Friends!


  1. alex | 13th Apr 15

    you should sign each post by the person who wrote it so that it’s more clear

    • Anna | 18th Apr 15

      Yes, that’s the plan. Thanks for your comments and suggestions, we Gr8-ly appreciate the help!

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