A classic Tiramisu is made with ladyfingers dipped in coffee or espresso and layered with a mascarpone cream. The coffee is the key element and its caffeine boost is what gives tiramisu its name, which translates to “pick me up.” But a tiramisu is a dessert that can be very versatile and it is actually very easy to infuse other flavors into a basic recipe to create all kinds of variations that don’t involve coffee.
This Limoncello Tiramisu has a distinctly springtime feel to it and it is loaded with lemon. There is lemon zest in the cream and the ladyfingers are dipped in a mixture of fresh lemon juice and limoncello. The cream here is a no-cook recipe and it is made with mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and heavy cream. Mascarpone has a nice richness to it, but the cream cheese adds a slight tang that goes nicely with the lemon in the recipe. Heavy cream gives the mixture a lightness, so it doesn’t seem heavy as you’re eating it. The cream has only a light lemon flavor, providing a nice contrast to the stronger lemon flavor from the ladyfinger layers in the dessert.
The mixture that the ladyfingers are dipped into tastes a bit like a Lemon Drop, and it has a fairly strong lemon and limoncello flavor to it. But since the ladyfingers are only briefly soaked in this mixture, you don’t get the same strong flavor that you do in the limoncello alone. Instead, you get a sweet, lemony flavor that is a very nice contrast to the rich cream. Limoncello is a lemon liqueur and there is quite a lot of it in this recipe. If you don’t want to use a liqueur, you can actually make this using only lemon juice, for a lemonade-like flavor in the finished dish. If you opt for the non-alcoholic route, however, be sure to taste as you go because with additional lemon juice, you might find that you want to add a little extra sugar in to the dessert to sweeten it up a little more.
Garnish this tiramisu with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar or a little bit of grated white chocolate before serving.
8-oz mascarpone cheese, softened
4-oz cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy cream, cold
1 tbsp limoncello
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup limoncello
approx 30-36 ladyfingers
extra confectioners’ sugar, for finishing
In a large mixing bowl, beat mascarpone, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream, limoncello and lemon zest at high speed until mixture is fluffy and very smooth.
In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the fresh lemon juice. Allow to cool slightly, then combine mixture with limoncello. Dip each ladyfinger into the limoncello mixture to let it soak up some of the liquid for 2-3 seconds, then place in the bottom of a 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish. The bottom of the pan should be completely covered with the ladyfingers in a single layer.
When there is a full layer of ladyfingers, spread half of the lemon cream mixture on top of them. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers and cream mixture.
Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.