A very traditional dessert from my Italian heritage, Tiramisu. Also known as “Pick me up” is so-named from the espresso/coffee that we use to soak the biscuits.  Beware, you MAY NOT SLEEP after a large portion!  😉
I’ve been making this “recipe” since 1993 from when I owned my Italian restaurant, The Excelsior Cafe in Telluride, Colorado. I use the word “recipe” loosely because everyone knows I cannot measure, which is why I was booted out of the baking side of our kitchen in 2008 by my stickler Chef/Owner and business partner Donna. She is meticulous about ingredients measuring, and I am incapable of following a recipe the same way every time. Thus, this is the dream dessert for me because it’s very forgiving!
The KEY to great Tiramisu is to take it easy on the sugar. This separates any Tiramisu from AWESOME Tiramisu…  Always use LESS SUGAR at first, and taste as you go. You can add more, but you can’t take it away again. That’s why the recipe shows a range of sugar amount.
At this year’s holiday party, we used a cake dome flipped upside-down as the bowl to hold the dessert and set it into the upside-down foot of the cake stand (see photo of delicious result). Donna is a genius!
(All ingredients can be found at Mona Lisa Deli in Little Italy, San Diego)


  • Whisk/whip
  • Electric mixer or whip
  • 2 Large mixing bowls
  • 1 Smaller bowl for the hot coffee (must be large enough to dip the biscuits lengthwise into it)
  • Spatula (any kind) to spread the mousse
  • Large glass bowl or any deep serving dish


  • 1 Large package Savoiardi (crispy lady finger biscuits)**
  • 1 Pint Mascarpone Cheese (sweetened Italian cream cheese)
  • 8 Eggs, separated
  • 1/2-1 Cup Sugar (1/2 cup honey or maple syrup could be substituted but would change the flavor)
  • 1 Pint strong coffee or espresso (hot)
  • 1 Shot Kahlua or other coffee liqueur (I do NOT use Marsala or Rum, but other people like that option as well)


  1. Mix 2 of the egg yolks with about 1/4 cup of sugar until it’s a light lemony yellow
  2. Mix all or most of the mascarpone cheese into the yolk-sugar
  3. Whip ALL of the egg whites with about 2 Tbls. sugar until you get nearly stiff peaks (not too stiff, or it is harder to fold)
  4. Fold whipped whites into the mascarpone mixture.
  1. Mix the hot coffee with the coffee liqueur & sugar to create a coffee dipping bowl for the Savoiard biscuits
  2. Taking about 4 lady fingers at a time, dip them into the warm coffee mixture and place them at the bottom of your glass bowl or pretty serving dish until the entire bottom of the dish is covered in coffee-soaked treats.
  3. Spread about 1-2 cups mousse over the lady fingers
  4. Repeat  steps 2 + 3, finishing with a mousse layer
  5. Dust the entire top with cocoa powder
  6. Cover in plastic wrap, and Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.  You can re-dust with more cocoa if the plastic wrap messed it up.
  7. Serve with an XL Spoon into small glass bowls or any cute cups.


Less than 20 minutes!

*I’ve made this with Irish Cream instead of coffee liqueur, added chocolate ganache to the mousse, added chocolate chips, etc.  You can play with this recipe to your heart’s content!
**Savoiardi (pronounced “sav-oy-ARE-dee”) are sold in packs of 6 sleeves; you’ll use more or less depending on how many  layers of mousse & biscuits you want and what type of bowl or container you use.
TIP: Wear food service gloves to avoid having coffee-scented fingers all week!


Have fun making this recipe for your friends and family. Please share your creations to our Facebook page, we would love to see them all!

-Elaine & Donna