Spring is here and it's time for Limoncello Tiramisu and dreaming of trips to Italy! This gloriously sunny dessert is perfectly balanced with luscious mascarpone cream with silky lemon curd and sponge fingers spiked with limoncello cream. This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader!
Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert made with layers of mascarpone, whipped eggs and savoiardi sponge finger biscuits dipped in alcohol and coffee. Literally Tiramisu means "pick me up" or "cheer me up". The pick me up in question comes from the coffee and alcohol that sponge fingers are dipped in. In the case of this tiramisu it's the limoncello liqueur that definitely serves to cheer.
I loved this dessert so much as I love creamy and tangy flavours together. I had a spare packet of sponge finger biscuits that were coming up date in a couple of months and as I hate anything to go to waste I decided to try this limoncello version of tiramisu. Little did I know how absolutely delicious it would be! This is pure summer and reminds me of trips to Italy. It is best paired with small shots of homemade limoncello. In fact I used homemade limoncello and lemon curd using lemons from my friend Valentina's tree in my recipe. This recipe uses both the skins and juice of the lemons.
Mascarpone vs Cream Cheese: mascarpone is a softer version of cream cheese. While cream cheese can be stiff enough to be chopped up, mascarpone is more like a dense, thick cream and dollopy in texture. If you don't have access to mascarpone you can use softened cream cheese whipped with 1/2 cup of cream.
What is Limoncello? Is a liqueur that hails from Southern Italy (Sicily, Naples and Amalfi Coast) made from grappa or vodka and lemon peels. It is usually served chilled as an aperitif (before a meal) or as a digestif (after a meal). It's one of the best frugal recipes to use lemon zest especially if you go through a lot of lemons as it only uses the lemon skins. I make home-made limoncello and it's very easy-all it requires is time. I use unsprayed lemons from my friend Valentina so try making it if you have access to unsprayed lemons. You can of course easily buy limoncello. The addition of sweetened condensed milk to the limoncello gives the limoncello a lemon cream ice cream flavour that I preferred a lot more to straight limoncello.
Lemon curd: If you're lucky enough to have an abundance of lemons then you can easily make your own lemon curd. With my recipe you only use the egg yolks eschewing the wispy egg whites that cook at a different temperature and produce a streaky, less beauteous version. Using just yolks means that you get a gloriously sunny and naturally golden coloured lemon curd. Worlds away than some of the ones that you at the shop that are thickened with cornflour and artificially coloured yellow with very little lemon in them at all (seriously, check the labels next time, I was shook).
I delivered this Limoncello Tiramisu to Valentina one weekend (back when we were permitted to travel freely). I like to give food to my friends and they do the same and we're all feeders and eaters really. At the start of lockdown 2021 Valentina was kind enough to send me some lemons and baking powder back when baking powder was scarcer than a bargain Sydney property at my local supermarkets.
I never forget when people are kind to me (nor do I forget when people are mean). The Jones's are located in one of the LGAs of concern but their actual suburb hasn't had many cases and it's a terrible feeling to be in a targeted area. For 24 hours the Eastern Suburbs was under lockdown and I felt a deep sense of shame, like I was a social leper.
To cheer her up I sent her a box of my favourite frozen pizza delivery Hank's Hot Box and this limoncello tiramisu was for dessert. There were three pizzas: one for her, her husband Pete and son Will. Pete has a love for pineapple pizzas that nobody else in the family really understands so I made sure there was one in there for him.
I basically dropped the tiramisu off and she had left me a box and we didn't even see each other. I think I set foot in her suburb for a total of 2 minutes. She had left me an enormous box of her home grown citrus, some freshly laid eggs and some Cypriot pastries even though I told her not to give me anything. The Jones family really makes me laugh. By the time I had gotten home Will had already cooked one of the pizzas and she said that Pete was in heaven that evening with his pineapple pizza which he eats along with Tiny Teddies and popper drinks (I haven't seen those in decades and didn't realise that they still made them)!
"You guys should have your own tv show," I said to Valentina. "You'd have the best name too - Keeping Up With the Joneses!"
So tell me Dear Reader, are you feeder and/or eater? Do you remember when people are kind to you (or not so kind!)? Are you a tiramisu or limoncello fan?
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Rated 5.0 out of 5 by 4 readers
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus overnight setting time
Cooking time: 0 minutes
Serves: 10-12 people
For the cream filling
- 700ml/24flozs. cream
- 120g/4ozs. caster or superfine sugar
- 500g/1.1lbs mascarpone
- 170g/6ozs. lemon curd (see recipe for home made lemon curd)
- 250ml/8.8flozs. limoncello (see recipe for home made limoncello here)
- 200g/7ozs. sweetened condensed milk
- 400g/14ozs. savoiardi biscuits (48 biscuits)
- 100g/3.5ozs lemon curd
These quantities are for a large, deep dish 23x33x8cms or 9x13x3.1 inches
Step 1 - Whip the cream with the sugar in a bowl until you get firm peaks. Place in the fridge. In another bowl whip the mascarpone with the lemon curd. Fold into the whipped cream mixture. Spread across the base of the dish and smooth with an angled spatula.
Step 2 - In a shallow wide-ish bowl whisk the limoncello with the condensed milk. Cut open the sponge finger packets and dip the sponge fingers in the limoncello mixture making sure to have it drip off the excess. Place a layer of sponge fingers on the mascarpone cream base and then spoon a third of the cream mixture. Repeat twice ending with the last of the mascarpone cream.
Step 3 - Place the lemon curd in a piping bag and pipe stripes down the top of the cream. Use a skewer to go back and forth perpendicular to the lines to feather the lemon curd. I did this the next day so you can see that the cream dried out a little as the sponge fingers absorbed the moisture from it so I would recommend doing the lemon curd as soon as you finish smoothing the cream over the top and not waiting until the next day.