Cream Cheese Tiramisu

Well, time to take a different approach to my desserts and return to my roots.  Tiramisu was probably the second or third dessert I made when I moved to my new apartment last year (around Valentine’s day).  It isn’t exactly “baking”, but it still requires much of the similar preparation.  However, without the baking time included, it’s much faster to prepare than several other desserts, so it’s something to consider if you are short on time.  Just remember that it tastes best after it chills in the refrigerator overnight.

Tiramisu is a funny beast: it’s a traditional Italian dessert, yet there are so many permutations allowed for it.  Normally, it is made with lady fingers soaked in espresso, layered with a cream made of mascarpone cheese and egg yolks.  It did not originally have any liquor, but most modern recipes have some type of coffee or chocolate liquor added into the cream.  The first tiramisu I ever made consisted of the normal mascarpone cheese + egg yolk mixture, with lady fingers that I purchased from the local Kroger’s.  At this point, I didn’t have any kitchen utensils (no stand mixer, food processor, electric beater, etc), so as you can imagine, whipping heavy cream to stiff peaks was a complete hassle.  In fact, I probably stood there beating by hand for a good 15 minutes before Daniel and Sherry showed up at my door, kindly offering to whip it in my stead.  It still took another good 15 minutes before we achieved peaks… this was the exact moment I decided to buy an electric beater 🙂

Cream cheese tiramisu

Cream cheese tiramisu

Since then, I’ve made Tiramisu 3 other times, trying out many other recipes and lady fingers.  The lady fingers from Kroger’s and HEB are too flimsy to really add any texture to tiramisu.  The lady fingers I purchased from my Whole Foods were quite the opposite: so completely hard and brittle, even when soaked with the espresso syrup.  I finally found my favorite lady fingers at Central Market, which can be seen in the following picture.

My favorite recipe also happens to be the cheapest: instead of mascarpone cheese, I use cream cheese for the added tang and I use a couple egg whites for a meringue instead of egg yolks.  I also normally use Bailey’s for the liquor portion, though this time I went out and purchased a bottle of Godiva chocolate liquor.  Although many of the components are different from a traditional tiramisu, I dare say that it tastes BETTER and is still just as easy to make.

An extra shoutout to my friends Tony, Becky, Denver, Sandra and Carlos for getting me a great baptism gift!  It’s a kitchen stand that I can move around in my tiny kitchen, giving me extra counter space to work with when cooking and baking 🙂

On to the recipe!

Cream Cheese Tiramisu


  • 4-48 lady fingers
  • cocoa powder (dutch processed)

For the syrup: (I only used about 1/2 of this, so feel free to half the amounts listed)

  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup whole milk  ( 1 cup whole milk = 1.5 TBSP heavy cream + 1 cup (-1.5 tbsp) skim milk)
  • ½ cup liquor… cocoa or coffee
  • ¼ cup rum  (instead of liquor + rum, you can use Bailey’s for both)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons melted chocolate

For the cream:

  • 16 oz cream cheese or mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 egg whites (optional) NOTE: If you don’t use the egg whites divide the sugar half for the cheese and half for the whip cream.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons liquor… cocoa or coffee (or Bailey’s)


1.  Use a baking tray that holds 22-24 laid down lady fingers.  I used a standard 9×13 pyrex casserole dish.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2.  Beat the egg whites and 1/3 cup sugar until it is a meringue and holds soft peaks.  Beat the heavy cream and 1/3 cup sugar until it holds soft peaks (do not overbeat).  Beat the cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar until it is dissolved and smooth (about 3-4 minutes).

mernigue, whipped cream and cream cheese

mernigue, whipped cream and cream cheese

3.  Combine all three mixtures, carefully folding in the lighter meringue and whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.  Add the vanilla and the liquor and fold until well distributed.  Place the cream mixture into the refrigerator.

combined cream mixture

combined cream mixture

4.  While the cream is chilling, bake the lady fingers in the oven for 5 minutes.

5.  Make the syrup by placing all the ingredients into a measuring cup or microwave-safe bowl and stirring.  Microwave for about 30 seconds until it is just warm.

syrup and baked lady fingers

syrup and baked lady fingers

6.  To assemble the cake, place a layer of 22-24 lady fingers on the bottom of your baking pan, cutting the pieces to make them fit better if necessary.  Distribute 1/2 of the syrup evenly onto the lady fingers.  Sprinkle generously with a layer of cocoa powder.

first layer

first layer

7.  Take 1/3-1/2 of the cream mixture and carefully layer it on top of the lady fingers.  Cover the lady fingers completely, then add the remaining 22-24 lady fingers on top of the cream.

8.  Distribute the remaining 1/2 syrup evenly onto the lady fingers, then again sprinkle with cocoa powder.  Place the remaining cream on top of the lady fingers and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with more cocoa powder, then let chill overnight.

2 layers of lady fingers and 2 layers of cream mixture

2 layers of lady fingers and 2 layers of cream mixture

more cocoa powder!

more cocoa powder!


2 Responses to “Cream Cheese Tiramisu”

  1. 1 Patrick
    April 23, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    man looks so good

  2. 2 denver
    April 23, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    nice! the pictures look better already! 🙂

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