A few years ago, our friend Moya told us a story about her Tuscan mother-in-law, who used this phrase in a sentence when her husband told a bit of gossip. She would say, “Tiramisu le calze!! Well, pick up my stockings!”

Tiramisu is a rich dessert, yet light as a feather. Spooning into the cream and scooping up a bit of coffee and liquor-soaked biscuit at the same time is certainly a spirit lifter. You can top it off with a sprinkle of chocolate shavings or fancy fruit or both. Chef Piero from our Culinary Adventure in Tuscany always gives it a touch of flair. I’m surprised he doesn’t put a monogrammed gold leaf on each one. Now that’s a good idea. It’s the most elegant dessert and always pleases.


3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) container mascarpone cheese (1 scant cup)
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
2 cups very strong brewed coffee or brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
2 tablespoons sweet Vin Santo (more traditionally Tuscan) or Marsala wine
18 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers, 6 oz)
1/4 cup fine-quality bittersweet chocolate shavings or 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
8 wine glasses


Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat whites with a pinch of salt in another bowl with cleaned beaters until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, then continue to beat whites until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat cream in another bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds soft peaks. Fold cream into mascarpone mixture gently but thoroughly, then fold in whites.

Stir together coffee and Vin Santo in a shallow bowl. Dip 1 ladyfinger in coffee mixture, soaking it about 2 seconds on each side, break it into with your fingers and transfer to the wine glass. Pipe the mascarpone mixture into the glass with an icing pipe bag and layer with another soaked ladyfinger. Top it off with another swirl of mascarpone mixture. Fill the glass only half full. Fill your other wine glasses.

Chill tiramisu, covered, at least a couple of hours. Just before serving, sprinkle with cocoa or shaved chocolate.