I took my classic tiramisu recipe from Easy Dutch Oven Cooking and added a scandalous heap of fresh strawberries. And, I’m sharing it with you just in the nick of time for peak strawberry season.
Truth? My first encounter with strawberry topped tiramisu was not love at first site. It was, however, love at first bite. My initial impression was that a strawberry couldn’t possibly improve tiramisu. Lo and behold, my palate got a refreshing dose of humility.
Turns out, strawberry tiramisu is the anti-dessert, dessert. It’s not too sweet. Always refreshing. And, kinda oddly better than traditional tiramisu. Scandalous.
Strawberry tiramisu is all about simplicity and contrast. There’s rich and creamy mascarpone, sweet balanced with bitter, espresso-dipped lady fingers, and tart, delightful strawberries galore. It’s the kind of dessert I’d confidently serve after any savory meal.
So, you may be wondering, does tiramisu really need strawberries?
Does a cookie really need chocolate chips?
Feel free to weigh in on either of these important existential questions in the comments below.
Let’s Talk About the Mascarpone Mixture and the 7 Baby Steps Involved
For those of you who didn’t skip straight to the recipe, I want to break down the second step. Step 2 is a bit involved and I don’t want you to get overwhelmed. In a nutshell, it’s 7 baby steps in this order:
- a double boiler egg yolk+sugar foam
- mascarpone mixture+egg yolk mixture
- whipped cream
- mascarpone mixture+whipped cream
- egg whites
- egg whites+mascarpone mixture
Step-by-Step: How to Make Classic Tiramisu (My Way With Fresh Strawberries)
This is a no-bake, layered cake-esque dessert that takes about 20 minutes to assemble and an overnight chill in the refrigerator. You can make it in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven (keeps it nice and cold) or a 9x9x2.5 inch glass dish.
Gather your ingredients and let’s make tiramisu!
Step 1: Make the Espresso Mixture
To start, you need to brew some espresso. You’ll need 2/3 cup liquid espresso along with a bit of dark rum. I like to do this step first so it can be cooling.
Ingredient Tip: Recipes that call for espresso are somewhat flexible. You can brew espresso at home easily in a stove-top espresso maker or you can mix instant espresso granules with warm water. If you want, you can even substitute strongly brewed coffee in a pinch.
Step 2: Make the Mascarpone Mixture
Lot’s of little steps here. To start, you need a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a handheld beater device with whisk attachment. Sorry, no hand mixing here.
To start, whip the mascarpone (similar texture to cream cheese) with some of the rum.
Next up, make the egg yolk mixture. You need a heatproof bowl set over a pot with about 1-inch of water (double boiler). Put the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar and whisk until light and foamy.
Add the egg yolk mixture to the mascarpone mixture and beat until combined (pictured above).
Whipped cream (medium peaks)
In a separate (clean bowl), beat the heavy cream and vanilla extract to form medium peaks (you really want to avoid over-whipping because it will take on an oily, dense texture).
Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture just until incorporated. You’re over halfway there!
Next, you are going to whisk egg whites to form stiff peaks. The key to getting this step right is to start with a completely clean, dry bowl.
Gently fold the egg white mixture into the mascarpone mixture. Applause!
Step 3: Assemble the layers and Chill.
Now for the fun part. Grab your dish and quickly dip the lady fingers into the espresso mixture. One by one, lay them flat to form the first layer.
Place a dollop of the mascarpone mixture on top and spread evenly. I love using an offset spatula for smoothing all the way up to the edges of the dish.
Proceed to dip the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture again to form another layer on top of the mascarpone mixture. Top with remaining mascarpone mixture on top.
Refrigerate for 2 hours to set the layers of the cake.
After refrigerating, sift the cocoa powder over the top and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day. I like to use a plain ol’ strainer for this.
You’ll want to cut the strawberries just prior to serving so they don’t release too many juices.
Ingredient Tip: Strawberries really range from sour to sweet. If you can find ripe strawberries, they need little more than a pinch of salt or sugar to bring out their glory. The best season for enjoying true strawberry flavor is April (though the season spans from January to May, depending on location).
For a no fuss dessert, you can scoop your cake with a big spoon or use a spatula to form square slices.
Serving Tip: When serving cake, I like to keep a big measuring cup full of hot water for dipping my serving utensil. That way, you get a clean slice every time!
- 1 9x9x2.5" glass/enameled cast iron dish or a 9×13" dish but with 24 lady fingers and thinner layers
- 2/3 cup strong espresso
- 3 tablespoons dark rum divided
- 8 ounces mascarpone
- 2 large eggs separated
- ¼ cup white sugar divided
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 pinches salt for cake and strawberries
- 20 ladyfinger cookies
- cocoa powder for topping
- 2 cups strawberries see notes
- Make the espresso. Combine the espresso with 1 tablespoon dark rum in a small bowl and set aside to cool.
- Make the mascarpone cream. With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the mascarpone with the remaining 2 tablespoons rum until smooth. Set aside. Place a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of shallow simmering water; you don’t want the water to touch the bowl. Put the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of sugar in the bowl and whisk until light and foamy, about 5 minutes. Pour over the mascarpone mixture and beat just until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the heavy cream and vanilla extract on medium-high speed just until medium peaks form; the whipped cream should appear soft and pillowy. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture just until incorporated. Set aside. In a clean, dry bowl fitted with a clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt on medium-high speed until foamy, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes longer. Fold into the mascarpone cream.
- Assemble the layers. Set a 9x9x2.5" enameled/glass dish on the counter next to the lady fingers, coffee mixture, and mascarpone mixture. Quickly dip each side of the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture and lay flat to form the first layer in the dish. Place a dollop of the mascarpone mixture on top, spreading evenly. Proceed to dip the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture again to form another layer on top of the mascarpone. Top with the remaining mascarpone mixture, spreading evenly.
- Refrigerate. Cover with the lid and refrigerate for 2 hours. Sift the cocoa powder over the top and refrigerate again for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.
- Serve. Just before serving, remove the tops of the strawberries and cut in half lengthwise. Place in a bowl with a pinch of salt and stir. Allow to sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to release the juices. When you see the strawberries glistening in their own juices, spread them over the cake. Using a large spoon, scoop the chilled tiramisu onto serving plates; you can dip the spoon into warm water to make serving each portion prettier. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.
Photography by Adam Rahman
Originally featured (sans the strawberries) in my cookbook: Easy Dutch Oven Cooking