Recipes and essays exploring Southern identity through food and travel

Recipes and essays exploring Southern identity through food and travel

Chocolate Tiramisu

Chocolate Tiramisu

In my head, this is my tira-miss-you cake. I’m alone on Valentine’s Day this year, a holiday that we don’t usually celebrate anyway. This weekend I felt unfairly sad about spending the week cooped up in Indiana while my S.O. attended a fancy-pants conference in D.C. So we had wine and this sweet, layered cake. I only learned after the fact of eating (almost an entire) tiramisu that it takes its name from the Italian phrase best translated as “pick me up.” With coffee, booze, and sugar, I don’t see how this treat couldn’t offer you a pick-me-up.

Homemade ladyfingers come in for the win in this fantastic recipe. They give the custard cake a fantastic texture and they are so airy, they soak up all the fantastic coffee and liqueur flavor in a snap. Don’t let them actually soak in the coffee, they are too delicate and will fall apart.

If you aren’t a chocolate addict, it’s very simple to skip the chocolate in this recipe. But for me, nothing pairs with chocolate like coffee and this recipe is the perfect charm for the middle of the week. And you have just enough time to make this sweet baby and refrigerate it before Valentine’s Day tomorrow! Whether that’s a cake just for you, or a cake for two :).

Chocolate Tiramisu

Rich chocolate custard layered between homemade ladyfingers take this classic recipe to the next level.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 12 minutes
Servings 8 slices



  • 3 eggs large
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour spooned and leveled with knife
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Chocolate Custard

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk warm
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 12 ounces Greek yogurt full fat
  • 4 ounces milk chocolate roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups strong coffee
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder for dusting
  • 2 ounces chocolate peeled into curls



  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper. Fit a piping bag with a 1/2-inch tip and set aside until ready. 

  2. Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a small pot.

  3. Combine eggs, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and use a rubber spatula to combine. Place bowl over top of simmering water, insert a candy thermometer and stir constantly until mixture has reached 160F, about 5 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and return bowl to stand mixer. Using whisk attachment, whisk mixture on high speed until soft peaks, about 5-10 minutes. Mixture should briefly hold shape when whisk is removed, then gently fold back into the rest of the mixture. 

  5. Remove bowl from stand mixer and sift flour and cornstarch into the bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet, gently folding until all dry ingredients are combined.

  6. Use a rubber spatula to spoon all batter into piping bag. Twist the end of the piping bag or use a clip to seal the bag. Pipe filling onto prepared baking sheets, making about 30 cookies that are 3-inches long and about 1-inch wide. Leave 1/2-inch of space between cookies. 

  7. Bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes, or until cookies are just golden. 


  1. While cookies are baking, begin custard. Prepare a 6-inch springform pan by covering bottoms and sides with plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang. Fill a large bowl with ice water and heat 2 inches of water to simmering in a small pot. 

  2. Place roughly chopped chocolate in medium bowl.

  3. Combine eggs and sugar in a heat-proof bowl and place over simmering water. Whisk until sugar has fully dissolved and no granules are visible. Slowly add warm milk in a steady stream, stirring constantly. Mixture will become quite frothy. Clip candy thermometer to bowl. 

  4. Continue to stir until the mixture is light and foamy and candy thermometer reads 170F, about 10 minutes.

  5. Remove from heat and pour warm custard over top of the chocolate. Stir until fully combined and all of the chocolate has melted.

  6. Place bowl in the ice water bath. Stir constantly for 1 minute, until custard is cool to the touch and thickened. 

  7. Put cream cheese and yogurt into a medium bowl and whisk until fully combined and smooth. Add mixture to chocolate custard and use a rubber spatula to combine, folding until there are no streaks remaining.

Build Cake

  1. Combine strong coffee and liqueur in a shallow bowl. 

  2. Dunk ladyfingers quickly in the liquid and line the bottom of the pan, cutting cookies where needed to fit the pan.

  3. Once the bottom of the pan is lined, pour 1/3 of custard over top of the ladyfingers and spread evenly across the pan. Cover layer of custard with soaked ladyfingers, alternating ladyfingers and custard layers. End with layer of custard.

  4. Dust tiramisu with cocoa powder and immediately refrigerate or freeze. Peel chocolate into curls and sprinkle on top right before serving. 

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