The Battle of Mascarpone and Other Tales from the Tiramisu Wars

While working at an oh-so-career-relevant summer job, I inadvertently found myself in the midst a tiramisu war. It all started when one of my friends naively asked a lady for the recipe of the strawberry tiramisu she had brought to the office. Mistake. I believe that her genuine request must have sounded something like this to this lady: “I want to steal ALL your tiramisu secrets and challenge you to the ultimate tiramisu bake(?)-off MWAHAHAHAHA”. People can get greedy over recipes, but this was extreme; on the spot, the lady publicly announced that my friend would attempt to emulate her tiramisu and bring it the following week so we could all compare. Much to her chagrin, the recreation far exceeded its predecessor and thus war broke out. We suddenly had a middle-aged German lady bringing in to work exorbitant amounts of tiramisus with strange twists, violently stuffing them in our mouths, just in order to proclaim “OH ABER SEE! IT EES ALL FINEESHED. EET WAS SEEMPLY ZEE BEST ONE YET!”.

The saddest part was that none of them were particularly good. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t really believe in putting fruit in tiramisu. One of the highlights was an “apricot tiramisu” which had a top layer of apricot goo that oxidized, turning into a delicious-looking diarrhea-inspired brown. There’s nothing more devastating than having to throw away almost an entire case of tiramisu, but it was honest-to-God inedible. We advertised it to colleagues from nearby offices, who would hurry along excitedly at the promise of an Italian treat and, upon taking a look, would suddenly go “oooooh, I’ll just have a bit… I’m on a diet really”.  After having tried a plethora of different tiramisus (plural of tiramisu anyone?) I came across this traditional and simple, yet impeccable recipe.

The key is the mascarpone – no matter what you’re told, do not substitute with quark, Philadelphia or let yourself be tempted to engage in any other soft-cheese shenanigans. Tiramisu is made with mascarpone. Punkt. Having said that, the beauty of this recipe lies in its flexibility: you can adjust the alcohol, sugar and coffee levels to your taste. It is simply victorious.


You will need:

5 eggs
500g mascarpone
½ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup + tablespoon Marsala wine
coffee (instant works just fine)
cocoa powder
many lady fingers (who comes up with these names?), depending on how many layers 1 or 2 packets

  1. Separate eggs, making sure there’s no egg yolk in the egg whites.
  2. Beat the egg whites till you get stiff peaks. Put aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add sugar and Marsala to the egg yolks. You can adjust the amounts slightly to your taste (more/less alcohol). Beat vigorously with an electric mixer until you get a velvet-smooth beige mix (zabaione! Nom) and you can’t see the sugar crystals anymore.
  4. Mix in the mascarpone and continue beating until it’s just mixed in.
  5. Fold in the egg whites gently until it’s all nice and even. Taste, trying to forget that what you have in front of you is pretty much a big bowl of raw eggs. YUMMY!
  6. Prepare some lukewarm coffee, and add the tablespoon of marsala. Again here, you can adjust the strength of the coffee and amount of marsala to your taste!
  7. Get either a large gratin dish or small cups. Dip the lady fingers in the coffee mixture QUICKLY and lay them out. Seriously, do it fast. They will fall apart otherwise.
  8. Pour the mascarpone mixture and smooth with a spatula. Lick spatula. No, just kidding. Ok fine, lick it. (PRO TIP: You can achieve multiple orgasms layers by just adding half the mascarpone mixture and repeating the lady finger layers).
  9. Put in the fridge and leave to set overnight (or at least 5 hours).
  10. Dust with cocoa powder and serve!

One two three four – SCORE
[Numerical ratings are out of four, where four is best/healthiest/hardest.]
Taste: 3.92 we agree Tiramisu is not for everyone, but I have witnessed non-believers gobble this stuff down.
Difficulty: 2 pretty straight forward, specially as far as desserts go.
Healthiness: 1.3 Raw eggs. Creamy cheese. Biscuits. Sugar. Alcohol. No way this is good for you. Except maybe for your soul.
Cost: Okay, here’s where Tiramisu lets us down. It’s not cheap. Mascarpone. Marsala wine. Eggs. It adds up.
Overall: 3.3 Only because it’s so expensive


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s