Tirami Su

There are many desserts that embody the refinement and sophistication found in the culinary traditions of Italy. But to me, Tirami Su exemplifies that sophistication like no other. The balance between opposing flavors of sweet and bitter is amazing. It is lite yet filling at the same time. It leaves you with the magical touch of espresso which energizes your system at the finish of a hearty meal and a few glasses of wine.

It is a night at the opera, a magnificent symphony heard under a star filled sky, a spring love affair in Rome; all on a dessert plate.

In our home, Tirami Su is only prepared on the holidays; so it retains it’s near mythical status the rest of the year.

Longing makes the palate grow fonder.

Oddly enough, I do not have a family recipe for this amazing dessert. The one here is based a recipe from Giuliano Buglialli’s book, Classical Techniques of Italian Cooking, with a tweak or two I added over the ten years I was preparing it at my restaurant. In 1998 it was added to the rich culinary tradition found in the four branches of my family; Foti’s. DeSciullo’s, Pellegrini’s and DeSandlo’s.

This recipe will fill a disposable aluminum pan 9″x13″. Buy one with a plastic lid to keep the dessert safe in the refrigerator. If you have a high traffic frig like ours, it is inevitable that something will land on top of it.


36 Ladyfinger cookies

2.5 Cups Espresso, cooled

.5 Cups Spiced Rum

8 Eggs

8 Heaping Tablespoons Granulated Sugar

1.25 LBS Mascarpone ( Warmed to Room Temp 60 – 65 degrees F)

1/3 Recipe Chocolate Ganache


  1. Mix two egg yolks and the sugar until the sugar is completely incorporated and are lighter in color.
  2. Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Whip into a thick paste.
  3. Whip eight egg whites until they form peaks and hold their shape. Gently fold the whites into the mascarpone/egg yolk/sugar mixture.
  4. Dunk 1/2 of the ladyfinger cookies in the espresso & rum and line the bottom of the pan with them. (After dunking them they should hold their shape, so don’t submerge them for too long.)
  5. Using a spatula, put a thin coating of ganache on the tops of the cookies in the pan.
  6. Layer 1/2 the mascarpone mixture onto the chocolate coated cookies.
  7. Repeat the layering process, placing the second layer of cookies in the opposite direction of the firs layer.
  8. Dust the top of the second layer of mascarpone mixture with cocoa powder.
  9. Cover the tray and let it ‘set-up’ over night in the refrigerator.
  10. Cut it in squares when serving.


1 LBS Bitter Sweet Chocolate

2.5 Cups Cups Heavy Cream

  1. Chop chocolate finely using a serrated knife and place in a large bowl.
  2. Bring cream to a boil over medium-high heat then pour directly over the chopped chocolate. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to gently stir chocolate and cream until combined. Let it sit at room temperature just until thickened.


The traditional Zabaglione is a cooked custard made with eggs. It is flavored with sugar and Marsala wine and often served over berries or fruit.

This is a family favorite for the holidays. However, the Marsala can make it an acquired taste for those who did not grow up eating.

When I opened Dominic’s, I had to have this traditional dessert on my menu but I also wanted it to be enjoyed by a wide range of guests. My solution was simple, replace the fortified wine with the almond flavored liqueur Amaretto, cool the custard, and fold in whipped cream.

This was one of our best selling dessert.

I hope you make it often and share it with friends and family.

Buon appetito !


6 ea. Eggs, whole, large

5.5 oz Sugar, Granulated

2.5 oz Amaretto

1 cup Heavy Cream


1 Separate yolks from the whites.

2 Place yolks and sugar in mixer whip until thick and light in color. Add amaretto and whip a minute longer.

3 Put yolk/sugar mix in bowl and whip over a double boiler until thick. Work the mixture down from the sides of the bowl to the center to prevent it from burning.

4 Let mixture cool to room temperature. While cooling, whip cream to stiff peaks.

5 Gently fold both mixtures together, fill tall wine or margarita glasses and refrigerate for an hour before serving.

6 Garnish with blue berries and red raspberries rolled in sugar.

Creme Anglaise

In my world, this is the ultimate dessert sauce and it is easy to make. I also consider this a base, to which additional flavors can be added to create something different. My favorite ingredient to date is pureed banana. When banana is added, it will continue to oxidize. If you make it a day ahead, you will have to skim the top to remove the brown color.

Brown sugar can be substituted for white sugar if you want a slightly darker flavor.

Use a heavy bottom pan to cook this in. Once this goes back on the stove, a low medium heat is best. If the milk/egg mix gets too hot it will ‘break’ resulting in a grainy texture. It should be smooth when done.

Let it cool to room temp before adding the banana. Start with a quarter of a banana and adjust to your taste.

Happy Cooking !


1.5 Cups Milk

4ea Egg Yolks

1/2 Cup Sugar

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

1/4 Cup Heavy Cream


  1. Combine the sugar and the yolk and whip until they are lite in color and thick in consistency.
  2. Bring milk and vanilla to a boil then remove from the stove.
  3. Temper the egg mixture by slowly adding 1/3 of the hot milk. Stir constantly. Once you do that, add it back into the hot milk.
  4. Cook the milk/egg mixture over a low medium heat until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Stir constantly while cooking.
  5. Serve chilled.

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