pistacchio tiramisu

We are old hands at tiramisu, dating back to 1980 for bob, the year he was out of the country and Reagan was elected POTUS (that's President of the United States for you foreigners). But like anything often repeated, variations relieve the monotony, however delicious this dish usually proves to be. So we have tried various variations (can I say that?), first with strawberries in Italy, then pumpkin, later with limoncello, then lingonberries or their close relatives, and finally pistacchio, ani's favorite gelato flavor. We like the Italian spelling with two "c"s.

We are pretty unimaginative when it comes to these variations, since we keep coming back to the original and making minimal flavor changes. We grabbed a pistachio liqueur after a free sampling at the duty free exiting St Martin a few years ago—ani gave the green light—and this is one of the applications we did not have in mind, but a trendy restaurant around the corner from our rented summer residence in Rome planted the idea in our wish list for duplication back in philly with an amazing finish to a pretty good dinner with friends there.

So 1/4 c of the pistachio liqueur in the zabaione base of our classic tiramisu recipe gives the mascarpone mousse its green color and pistacchio flavor. Without this liqueur, however, you are out of luck and will have to figure out some more complicated alternative to injecting flavor and color. We had tried to incorporate some cream of pistacchio into the mascarpone in our first attempt, but just a little bit made the mascarpone unhappy, losing its smooth texture, so we gave up that idea. Then to keep the cocoa contrasting flavor in the mix, we sprinkled the first of the two layers of ladyfingers and mousse lightly with cocoa (our idea), and finished off the second layer with roughly chopped roasted pistachios, as we had experienced in Rome. The crunchy topping contrasts with the smooth soft strata below. Another option to try would be to sprinkle some chopped pistachios in the center as well as on top,  but no need to overdo it.

The result was pretty good, the guests seemed to like it. We saved two slices for our neighbors, but she was out of town a few days and the temptation was too great for him to resist—no PT left when she returned. Next time...


4 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
4 T pistachio liqueur
1 lb or 500g fresh mascarpone
1 c whipping cream
300g ladyfingers (36 but you really only need about 26 or so)
3/4 "cup" freshly brewed espresso coffee diluted by 3/4 c warm water
a light dusting of cocoa finely grated bittersweet chocolate for the center (optional)
2-3 T roughly chopped roasted pistachios (finely chopped is better!)


  1. Let the mascarpone come to room temp.
  2. Produce some espresso coffee and dilute it with water. Set aside. 
  3. Separate your egg yolks into the bottom of a double boiler (water under the upper pan inside) and beat together with the sugar using electric beaters until thy are light yellow, then mix in the liqueur.
  4. Transfer to the stovetop and heat up the water to gradually cook the zabaione while you are at first beating with the beater, then switch to a wooden spoon to stir until your instant read thermometer reads at least 160° F.
  5. Transfer to a small bowl covered with plastic wrap and either cool down in the freezer or in ice water inside a larger bowl.
  6. Meanwhile use a wooden spoon to mash up the mascarpone.
  7. Whip up the heavy cream (we put the bowl and beaters into the freezer to chill first to facilitate the whipping).
  8. When the zabaione is cool enough, combine with the mascarpone, then fold in the whipped cream.
  9. You are ready to assemble.
  10. Dip each ladyfinger into the diluted espresso, careful not to make them soggy, and arrange in a layer at the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan lined with a circle of parchment paper. Cut the ladyfingers to fit together and fill in the gaps around the edge and middle.
  11. Pour half the mousse over the first layer and smooth out. Then sprinkle (optionally) lightly with cocoa or grated bittersweet chocolate.
  12. Repeat with a second layer. Refrigerate.
  13. When ready to serve, sprinkle the roughly chopped pistachios. Remove the side of the springform pan. Slice and serve.


  1. Tiramisu classico, with egg whites.
  2. Bad egg tiramisu, template for this recipe, egg whites replaced by whipped cream.
  3. Pumpkin tiramisu.
  4. Strawberry tiramisu.
  5. Limoncello tiramisu [or even guavaberry-lingonberry tiramisu].
  6. 2023 update. We did a 50 percent increase to an 11 inch diameter springform pan for a diverse party crowd, except for the mascarpone component which we left at the original amount. It quickly disappeared. Actually we doubled the whipped cream but that was too much for the target volume. Doubling the pistacchio liqueur was not a bad idea. Adding 50 percent more of that to the original quantities is also worth considering. Trial and error improves the product.
  7. Illustrations available.
tiramisupistacchio.htm: 21-may-2023 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]