Lemon Tiramisu

I was earnestly anticipating our trip to Italy last summer.  I was excited to explore a new country, see it's beautiful landscapes, and of course taste it's food!  I was thrilled to find out that during our week long cooking adventure in Positano we would learn how to make lemon tiramisu!  Did you know that tiramisu literally means "pick me up" in Italian?  I often think of that when my energy is running low in the middle of the day and I need a little pick me up {yummmm-my}.  

I've made the traditional espresso/cocoa version with lady finger cookies before, but never this variation with homemade sponge cake.  Even if you are not a lemon lover like me, I think you will enjoy this dessert.  The lemon is delicate and refreshing.  The Pan Di Spagna,"bread of Spain", aka Sponge cake is dense and eggy to start, but once soaked in the Limoncello/sugar mixture the cake softens nicely.  I do have to warn you, this recipe is time consuming, but is worth it, especially for a special occasion...like our fourth wedding anniversary.   You might be wondering what would be a perfect drink to pair with lemon tiramisu?  Moscato, of course!  Salute!

This recipe was courtesy of Filamina and Fortunata, the wonderful owners/chefs at La Taverna del Leone in Positano, Italy.   Check out their website; you'll drool over the food and long to live along Amalfi coastline {http://www.latavernadelleone.com}.  

*The recipe stated that the 9-inch pan of cake would serve 6, but I only got 4 servings.  I guess I cut the cake into thicker slices then when I was in Italy.  


For a printer friendly recipe, click here. 

Ingredients for Lemon Tiramisu

For the Pan di Spagna

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1.5 cups of granulated sugar (300 grams) 
  • 1.5 cups of cake flour (187.5 grams); if using cups vs grams be sure to presift
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

 For the lemon cream

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 150 grams of Mascarpone Cheese
  • 60 grams of granulated sugar  
  • 60 grams of lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 150 grams of whipping cream
  • gelatin (1/2 of strip; can purchase gelatin strips in specialty cooking stores)

For the dipping mixture

  • 200 mL of water
  • 100 grams of granulated sugar
  • Large strips of lemon zest
  • 3-4 tablespoons of Limoncello

 Directions to make Lemon Tiramisu


    A)  Preparing the cake {Pan di Spagna}:  (preheat oven = 340-350 degree F)

    • In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar with a mixer until fluffy (about 1 min)
    • Whisk egg whites & cream of tartar until they form stiff peaks (2-3 min with mixer); adding cream of tartar will improve stiffness of egg whites
    • Gently fold alternating amounts of egg whites and flour into yolk/sugar mixture.   
    • Add vanilla
    • Pour cake batter into a greased and floured 9-inch cake pan.  
    • Bake for 25-35 min at 340-350 degrees F (80 degrees C)
    • Allow the cake to cool completely, then cut into 4 horizontal slices. Lay slice flat, then use a wine glass or cookie cutter to make 12 disks.

    B) Making the Lemon Cream

    • In a heat resistant mixing bowl, beat 3 egg yolks and sugar until the color lightens.  
    • Add the lemon juice to the egg mixture and whip about 10 minutes. 
    • Add lemon zest to the egg mixture.  Cook over a double boiler about 3 minutes until a thermometer reads 176 degrees F.  Remove from the heat/ set aside.
    • Soften the gelatin strip in water, then add to the hot egg/lemon mixture.  Mix until gelatin strip is dissolved.  Allow mixture to cool. 
    • Gently fold in the Mascarpone to the cooled egg/lemon mixture. {place in fridge to stay cool while going onto the next step below}
    • In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream until fluffy. Fold into the Mascarpone mixture. {place back into the fridge while making the dipping mixture}

    C) Dipping mixture for the cake layers

    • Heat water, sugar, large strips of lemon zest in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil to ensure sugar dissolves.  Remove from the heat.
    • Allow to cool, then remove lemon zest.  Add Limoncello.  

    D) Prepare the tiramisu

    • In the bottom of a small serving dish {truffle dish, wine glass, or even bowls will work} place a disk of the Pan di Spagna.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the Limoncello dipping mixture onto the disk. 
    • Spoon in about 1-2 tablespoons of lemon cream onto cake disk {or place cream in piping bag and pipe over the cake, cover completely}.  Lemon cream handles better when slightly chilled.
    • Repeat {2-3 layers}: another layer of cake, spoon over Limoncello mixture, then lemon cream.
    • Chill in the refrigerator at least 3 hours, over night preferred
    • Garnish top layer with springs of mint, candied lemon peel, and powdered sugar