It’s sure as hell not going to be me. Besides, we don’t even own a vacuum.

I assume there will be confetti when I hit the “publish” button, because this? Is Thursday Night Smackdown’s 1000th post.

(Coincidentally, this week also saw TNS’s 15,000th comment, from ErinG! Y’all are a wordy bunch! I love it!)

I was getting ready to post some Loose Links Sink Ships but paused. Surely, the occasion merits more than that; you know how sentimental I get about crap like this. Thus, in the spirit of celebration, I bring you the tiramisu that caused people to eat until they felt sick and had to go lie down.

I had tiramisu on the brain after it popped up twice in a week. First, my MIL raved about a tiramisu she’d eaten while out celebrating her wedding anniversary with my FIL* at an Italian restaurant. Second, I caught an episode of Barefoot Contessa wherein she “turned up the volume” on tiramisu, where “turning up the volume” meant “ruining everything with rum raisins.”

*Thirty-nine years and still adorable, holla!


Frankly, I’ve eaten enough shitty tiramisu to feel that the U.S., as a nation, needs to get a handle on classic tiramisu before we pump up the jams, you dig?

Tiramisu is NOT layers of cookies and whipped cream; that’s icebox cake. It’s also not layers of cookies and frosting; that’s disgusting. It’s layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers called savoiardi paired with enriched mascarpone. It shouldn’t beat you over the head with coffee or booze or sugar and it shouldn’t be too light or too dense.

That may sound like a lot of lines to toe, but if you use the right ingredients in the right proportions good tiramisu is pretty much a matter of basic assembly.


Creamy layer first: It’s a mixture of mascarpone cheese, zabaglione and a touch of whipped cream. Or, in English-speak, Italian cream cheese, egg yolks whipped with marsala and sugar and a touch of whipped cream.

Generally, I toss salmonella to the wind and whip up the egg yolks raw the way my ma taught me. For this batch, I whipped the eggs over a hot water bath because the end product was to be consumed by the very young and the very old and my goal is never to kill babies.

The elderly, unfortunately, are often collateral damage.


Kidding! Kidding! I don’t want to kill senior citizens, not even the ones who could potentially leave me money. Choose life! Down with Death Panels! Everyone deserves delicious dessert regardless of age!

To wrap up on the creamy filling: lots of recipes I saw had way too many steps that wasted way too much time by bringing the mascarpone to room temp and letting the zabaglione cool. Who has time for that shit? Beat it all up with a mixer (or just get hardcore with a whisk) and you’ll be able to shovel tiramisu into your maw that much sooner.


The whole ladyfinger part is sadly undocumented because my back was screaming at me and all I wanted to do was finish the damn tiramisu and get off my feet.

Savoiardi are crisp, dry, sweet ladyfingers that act like little sponges; you can get them in some better-stocked grocery stores, although I usually find myself at an Italian specialty store where I then spend way too much money on cheese, salumi and bread. For tiramisu, you dunk them quickly in espresso (to which I add a touch of amaretto) before layering them in your serving vessel of choice.

“Quickly” is the key word, because you don’t want a liquidy tiramisu or for your ladyfingers to disintegrate entirely. Or maybe you do, because you’re used to crappy tiramisu.

further nomming

Once everything is layered, the tiramisu goes into a fridge overnight so everything can meld together (if you’ve made one large tiramisu, it will also help firm it up and make it easier to serve). To serve, sprinkle with a dusting of cocoa powder and maybe a little lemon zest if you’re feeling really koo-koo-kachoo.

I know that some people use shaved chocolate on top, or put cocoa/chocolate in between the layers of cookies and cream. Some people layer in raspberries or other fruit. Some people also think it’s appropriate to beat their pets or tart up their toddlers for pageants, so I could give a flying eff what other people do. There are some things with which one should not fuck.


The final product is heavenly, and I may have eaten the test sample pictured here for breakfast. It’s rich but not overpowering, just sweet enough and with just enough zip from the espresso and alcohol and melts in the mouth. You will probably eat yourself ill and need a nap as well.

I wish I had some more right now but I’m out of ladyfingers, so I’ll probably spread some sweetened mascarpone on toast and feel sorry for myself.


6 large egg yolks
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. marsala
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
7 oz. savoiardi cookies (about 25 cookies)
1 1/2 c. brewed espresso
1/4 c. amaretto
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar and marsala and whip until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and has tripled in volume, 5-7 minutes; you can do this with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, with a hand mixer or, if you’re really hardcore, by hand with a whisk. Voila: zabaglione!

(If you’re concerned about the raw egg, whip the eggs in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of just-simmering water until they hit 170 degrees.)

Whip the zabaglione into the mascarpone.

Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold it into the mascarpone mixture.

Pour the espresso and amaretto into a shallow bowl or pie plate. Have your savoiardi at the ready.

Haul out a 9-inch casserole dish with high sides and get to assembling:

  • Spread a thin layer of mascarpone on the bottom of the dish.
  • Lay down a cookie layer: dip each cookie into the espresso, holding each side down for a one-count, and lay them into the dish until the bottom of the dish is completely covered.
  • Spread 1/3 of the remaining mascarpone over the cookies.
  • Another layer of cookies.
  • Another 1/3 of the mascarpone.
  • Another layer of cookies.
  • The remaining mascarpone.

Store the finished tiramisu in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to serve, put the cocoa in a mesh sieve and dust it over the top.