Thursday 29 December 2011

Amaretto tiramisu to kick trifle off your Christmas list

Amaretto Tiramisu ready to serve
My festive season is always a wonderful mixture of nostalgic celebrations – some timeless societal traditions, plus some more recent personal rituals. Each Christmas eve my former schoolfriends and I are reunited in the same local pub to swap stories of the highs and lows of the past year, and each Christmas morning I awake to discover that the snowman stocking my Mum made me as a baby has been filled with gifts.

The warm glow of nostalgia that fills me at this time of year is heightened by the array of festive food on offer. One lick of rich, gooey clotted cream on top of a hot mince pie and I am transported back to the dining table of my Nan’s house in Cornwall, playing board games with my cousins as part of our earliest Christmas party experience. One bite of a chewy, chocolate-coated Lebkuchen cookie and I am reminded of the relief I felt as a child when my Dad returned from his winter business trips to Germany, bearing a gift of gingery biscuits shaped like stars and hearts.

But there’s one Yuletide culinary custom that leaves me cold. Even though I’m “all grown up” now, my tastebuds still can’t stand the combination of soggy sponge, rubbery custard and squidgy fruit more commonly known as trifle.

Over the years I’ve experimented with a variety of alternative desserts to follow the Christmas day roast, and this year I perfected my recipe for an amaretto tiramisu – the classy Italian cousin of the “classic” English trifle. After just one spoonful this decadent dish instantly secured its spot as part of my annual festive feast  – it feels far lighter on the stomach than a Christmas pudding, and its sweet marzipan flavours will mean there’s no reason to ice a fruit cake in future!

Amaretto tiramisu leftovers
Amaretto tiramisu (serves 6 – 8)
10 Savoiardi biscuits (or almond frangipane cake)
60ml amaretto (or other almond liqueur)
3 eggs
60g caster sugar
500g mascarpone
50g Amaretti biscuits
50g good-quality dark chocolate

NB. This recipe is an amalgamation of coffee-flavoured tiramisu dishes by Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver and my own instincts. The quantities are estimates only – please feel free to add more or less of any ingredient (especially the liqueur!) depending on how extravagant you like your Christmas desserts to be!

Amaretto Tiramisu #1
1. Place Savoiardi biscuits, or slices of almond frangipane cake in a layer on the bottom of a clear serving dish. Coat with around 30ml of amaretto and leave until the alcohol has soaked in to the sponge.

Amaretto Tiramisu #2
2. Crack the eggs and put the white in a separate bowl to the yolk. Whisk the egg yolk with the caster sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy, then add in the mascarpone and the rest of the amaretto. Next whisk the egg whites for a few minutes until they form soft peaks, then gently fold this into the mascarpone mixture. The amaretto cream should have a sweet flavour and mousse-like consistency – you may want to add more amaretto or a drop of honey at this point. Once you’re happy with the balance of flavours, spread half of the mascarpone mixture on top of the soaked almond fingers.

Amaretto Tiramisu #3
3. Crumble up the amaretti biscuits into a layer on top of the mascarpone cream. The biscuits will soften once they are surrounded by the cream, so keep the amaretti chunks quite large so that they still retain a crunchy texture.

Amaretto Tiramisu #4
4. Top with the rest of the mascarpone mixture, being careful not to disturb the amaretti biscuits whilst spreading the cream across the dish.

Amaretto Tiramisu #5
5. Using a fine grater, cover the tiramisu with a thick layer of dark chocolate shavings, then leave to chill until after the Christmas day roast dinner.


  1. Looks amazing! This is my kind of trifle - no jelly in sight!

  2. Thanks Kerry - it was delicious! I can't stand soggy fruit in jelly and cold hard custard, so I think this tiramisu is a far better dessert than trifle for a special occasion!

  3. Is there a reason you left out the coffee? Would it ruin the dish?