Italy’s most famous dessert~

La Dolce Vita~ The Sweet Life

My days lately have been filled with editing the manuscript for the book, which also includes cooking and editing the manuscript’s recipes. There have been several occassions, by the end of the day, when the refrigerator is full of the various, and failed, attempts at a single recipe. Ignoring my German heritage, I truly must be Italian–I can never throw away a failed attempt. Instead, I will silently eat all the versions myself, wishing that I had just added a “a little more of this or that.” I never inflict failed attempts on Richard. He may get to taste them, but he only gets served the final, perfected version.

Here is the recipe, not in the book, for tiramisu that I learned while I was cooking in Viterbo. Also, here is a portion from the manuscript describing the moment I learned how to make the recipe. The recipe follows the excerpt.

Buon Appetito!

*An excerpt from the working manuscript of “BEYOND THE PASTA: 28 Days of Recipes, Language, and Life with an Italian Family.”:


Cream Filling (single batch):
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 egg whites
Pinch Salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream
18 ounces mascarpone, room temperature

For assembly:
2 (7.05-ounce) packages of ITALIAN lady fingers (not all will be used). I used Vicenzi brand “Vicenzovo”
purchased at the World Market store.
6 double espressos (not 12 single espressos, but 6 double espressos). Do not use coffee (it is not strong
Unsweetened cocoa, to dust over top

For an 11×13” casserole or cake pan I make a DOUBLE batch of the cream filling. If you use a smaller pan (8”x10”) you can use a single batch of cream filling. But, I recommend the 11×13 and a double batch of cream filling. Regardless of pan size: You do not have to double the lady fingers or espresso amounts for a double batch of filling. You just need the extra filling due to the size of the pan. Otherwise, the tiramisù isn’t moist enough.

-Combine egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with a mixer on medium speed until the sugar is dissolved and the egg yolks are light in color (5-10 minutes). Make sure the sugar is dissolved, otherwise the cream will be grainy.
-In a separate bowl, whip egg whites with a pinch of salt to stiff peaks.
-In a chilled bowl, whip heavy cream to soft peaks.

-Add mascarpone, a quarter at a time, to the egg yolk/sugar mixture beating until smooth with each addition.
-Using a spatula, carefully FOLD the egg whites into the egg yolk/mascarpone mixture. Do not over mix or you will deflate the egg whites.
-Using a spatula, carefully FOLD the whipped cream into the egg yolk/mascarpone/egg white mixture.

-Spread some of the cream mixture in the bottom of the pan. Only a thin layer is needed here.
-Place the double espressos in a small container (I use a shallow, square Zip-Loc/Glad disposable container). Dip each ladyfinger, one at a time, into the espresso. The secret is to put the ladyfinger in, turn it over, and immediately remove it from the espresso shaking off any extra drops of espresso. Do NOT let it soak in the espresso. The ladyfingers are amazingly absorbent. SO, it is literally: into coffee, turn, remove, shake off and then place on top of the cream layer in bottom of the pan. Place the ladyfingers next to each other so they touch. At the end of the pan, break the ladyfingers (before you dip) to size to fit the last row.
-Spread a layer of the cream mixture (1/3) over the ladyfingers (this can be a thicker layer than the bottom).
-Dip and layer another row of ladyfingers TURNING AND LAYERING THEM IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION from the first layer. Again, break the ladyfingers at the end if necessary to make them fit.
-Spread another layer of the cream mixture (another 1/3).
-Dip and layer the final row of ladyfingers turning and layering in THE SAME DIRECTION as the first layer but make sure the broken ladyfingers are at the opposite side of the pan from the first layer.
-Top with remaining cream (the last 1/3).
-Dust top with a solid layer of cocoa so the cream is no longer visible.
-Refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours to allow the ladyfingers to absorb the cream. Actually, 8+ hours is best.


About the Author

Mark LeslieMark Leslie, seen cooking on NBC’s "The Today Show" and Hallmark Channel's "Home & Family," loves to cook for anyone with an appetite, vacations in Italy every year, and lives to eat his way through every plate of pasta and cone of gelato placed before him. His first book, “Beyond the Pasta: Recipes, Language & Life with an Italian Family,” tells of his life in Italy while cooking with an Italian grandmother. He shares his food experiences on his blog at and has taught cooking classes in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Texas, and across Alabama. While judging for high school culinary events, he was chosen by the US Department of Education to judge for their "National Education Startup Challenge." Mark can be regularly seen cooking on NBC-affiliate, WSFA-TV 12's "Alabama Live! each Friday, bringing easy, locally sourced recipes to central Alabama. His iTunes app “Beyond the Pasta” features helpful videos and more of Nonna’s family-style recipes that she shared with him, plus, upon its release, it was named “New & Noteworthy” by Apple. DaVinci Wines chose Mark as their "2012 Storyteller" in Language Arts—where they sent him to Vinci, Italy, to write about wine, food and life. Mark, his home and book have been featured in such national publications and blogs as House Beautiful, Paula Deen, Food Republic, The Kitchn, Apartment Therapy, Field & Stream, and The Daily Meal. A Chicago-area native and “Yankee” by birth, Mark has lived in Alabama for over 24 years, and celebrates the fact that he started life eating farina, progressed to grits, and finally arrived at polenta. Buonissimo!View all posts by Mark Leslie →

"Beyond the Pasta" is owned and operated by Mark Leslie. Unless otherwise specified all content, writing, recipes and photography is original and held in copyright through the Library of Congress. It may not be used without the express written consent of Mark Leslie.