strawberry tiramisu 2.0

Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board and restart a project from scratch. Our first team approach to this problem abandoned our tried and true tiramisu mold that was successful for numerous flavor variations and the departure was not entirely satisfying. The key sticking point was the failure of the strawberry dunking liquid to penetrate the crispy savoiardi with time and soften them for the characteristic tiramisu texture, a goal that diluted espresso coffee seems to do effortlessly. The attraction of a strawberry version is bob's childhood memories of strawberry shortcake, a classic American dessert at least during his younger years, though not experienced much lately by the cooking team operating in reduced dessert climate (a savory rather than sweet kitchen manager plus fears of the grave reducing intake of nutritionally questionable dishes). The fancy strawberry cakes with strawberry pieces and creamy filling are attention getting but usually a bit heavy with sugar based icing. Tiramisu seems like it should be the lighter approach to this conundrum.

So Ani departs for her annual EAS Analytical Chemistry Symposium up in Princeton on a Saturday after lunch, and as they say in Italy, "Quando il gatto sta fuori, i topi ballano." [When the cat's away, the mice will play.] Bob sampled the strawberry cream liqueur on hand and was not convinced, so that was added to the shopping list. Some reasonably priced mascarpone from Trader Joe's, a big package of savoiardi from Carlino's Market in Ardmore, then off to Wegman's which seems to be our only local reliable source of decently red strawberries. Scanning the cordials at the Ardmore WIne and Spirits store along the way, no sign of Bailey's (limited edition) Strawberries & Cream or any other brand. Asking the staff, they too look where bob found nothing, and only by accident did they spot a giant stack of boxes of this product behind our shoulders for the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season apparently. So much for being familiar with their inventory. A bit expensive, but invention requires the proper ingredients, spare no expense in the quest for culinary success!

Over many hours the kitchen becomes a big mess since the kitchen manager was not around to enforce continual cleanup along the path to a finished product. First the zabaione step of the classic recipe, but adding a quarter cup of liqueur does not seem to change the bright yellow color at all. Another quarter cup is added to reach the half cup used in the hazelnut cheesecake bob's memory confounded with tiramisu, and still not much effect. The third one at least gives a strawberry flavor to the mixture. Cool down while bob wastes time on his laptop. Then assembly time. How to soak those savoiardi? Some hot water (microwave) stick hand blended with a few strawberries and a quarter cup of cream liqueur. And then serious dunking time. Will it do the trick? If not, we will have to figure out a better approach.

With the whole pint of heavy whipping cream and the 500g of mascarpone and the 4 egg zabaione, the amount of soft billowing cream filling quickly makes it clear that there will be excess, so the solution is a surplus small pan from the leftover, given that all the other ingredients were available (big package of savoiardi, extra fresh strawberries, etc.).

Thanks to our old physics friend Fabrizio exiled in Turkey after a harrowing few years in Saudi Arabia, we inherited the only square nonstick springform pan we have ever seen, and much easier to cut rectangular portions with instead of triangular wedges in the usual round pan (is this kitchen geometry going on here?). 8.5 inch square, so slightly bigger in capacity than the 9 inch round (8.5^2 = 72 versus Pi*4.5^2 = 64). Still not big enough for this recipe. Hence the extra overflow pan. The big one destined for a friend's party, the little one for us family when Ani returns in 4 days. By then the savoiardi should have softened up in the fridge if the one day rest turned out not to be sufficient. The 8 inch round pan is actually 7.25 inches inside, are result would fit in a 9x13 inch rectangular pan, but then you would have to scoop out the tiramisu. Perhaps you can figure your pan arrangement as a reader exercise?

The problem with modification of the size of the recipe is that eggs are most easily added in whole numbers, and mascarpone comes in either 250gm or 500gm (in Italy at least) containers. We could do a 3 egg version with 1.5 small mascarpone containers, which for us is no problem because of ani's mascarpone ravioli sauce.

So did it work? Yup, the ladyfingers were nicely softened, but maybe we could have cut down a bit on the amount of creamy mixture. The strawberry flavor came through, but big portions are not advised. Everything in moderation.


3 egg version 4 egg version    
3 4   large egg yolks
3/8 c 1/2 c granulated sugar
3/8 c = 8 T 3/4 c   strawberries and cream liqueur
250+75 g or 3/4 lb 500 g or 1 lb   mascarpone
3/4 pt 1pt   heavy whipping cream
225 g 300 g   savoiardi = ladyfingers (approximate)
2 1/4 c 3 c   hot water
3/8 c 1/2 c   strawberries and cream liqueur (approximate)
2 pts 3 pts   fresh strawberries, cored and halved/quartered depending on size (approximate)


  1. Start by halving and hulling your strawberries to remove the green leaves and white core. Set aside.
  2. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks with electric beaters for a few minutes in the top of a double boiler and gradually add the sugar until it reaches a bright light yellow color, then beat in the liqueur.
  3. Insert in the top of the already boiling lower pot and keep beating until the mixture thickens and reaches 160 degrees F as measured by an instant read thermometer.
  4. Remove from the double boiler and put into a container that can be chilled in the freezer, putting plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skim from forming and chill down a while until it is cooled completely.
  5. Meanwhile whip the cream with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. We usually chill the beaters and bowl in the fridge.
  6. Mash the mascarpone in a large mixing bowl, then by hand beat in the sugar until smooth, then fold in the whipped cream until smooth.
  7. Heat 2 c of water in the microwave. Add 1/4 c strawberry and cream liqueur and 2 or 3 large hulled strawberries  and puree with a hand blender.
  8. Begin assembly. Dip each ladyfinger in the liquid and really drown it for maybe 6 seconds, avoiding that the ladyfinger actually breaks apart.
  9. Arrange a bottom layer in your springform pan of choice, given the kitchen pan geometry lesson considerations above.
  10. Spread half the creamy mixture (or less if you have too much of it) over the ladyfingers.
  11. Arrange one by one the halved (or quartered if really big) strawberries evenly across the layer.
  12. Repeat with the second half (or less, etc,)
  13. Put it the fridge covered with plastic wrap at least 24 hours.


  1.  The original team recipe.
  2. The strawberry variation.
  3. The last variation: pistacchio.
  4. Ani's easy mascarpone ravioli sauce (for leftover mascarpone).
  5. One of the guests asked if there was any chocolate hidden in the dessert. Nope! Lucky bob did not follow the original recipe which had shaved chocolate on the top! Why spoil the strawberry flavor with competing flavors?
  6. Illustrations available.
tiramisustrawberry.htm: 20-nov-2019 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]