Springtime berry tiramisu

Life is sweet in Umbria right now. Spring is here in all its over-the-top beauty. There are flowers everywhere, I can practically see the plants growing. In fact, it feels almost like summer, warm, bright and full of promise. We are busy at the moment. Planning an Olive Harvest celebration for next autumn. Planting rosemary bushes outside the new vacation rental which is almost ready (more news soon). Our B&B guests have returned to populate our house with laughter and stories. They often spend long evenings on the terrace around glasses of wine, gazing at the views until the stars start twinkling. Poppies have made their arrivals and so have the strawberries. I want to be like Google, taking naps in the sun, but I must run, there’s so much to do!

  • approx 30 Italian lady fingers
  • brown sugar for dusting
  • a pan or plate that can hold the cookies in two layers

for the mascarpone custard

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoon /75 gr. sugar
  • 1 tab dessert wine like Vinsanto, dry Marsala or moscato
  • 375 gr / 10 oz  mascarpone
  • 1 and 1/2 cup/ 375 gr. chilled heavy cream (whipping cream)

for the berries

  • 1 cup dessert wine
  • 600-700 gr (24 oz) mixed berries of your choice. Fresh is best, but good quality, organic, frozen berries are adequate if one is short of time or berries are out of season.

Berries: Prepare the berries up to 1 day before you need them. Place them in a glass or porcelain bowl, add 3-4 tablespoon sugar and 1 cup sweet wine. Let it macerate  a minimum of two hours so they release their lovely violet juice which you will need to soak the cookies (see below).

Make the tiramisu at least 4 hours before serving and up to one day ahead. I make  tiramisu with a zabaglione  instead of raw eggs, so it’s safe to keep it refrigerated for a little longer if needed.

Custard: Cream egg yolks and sugar in a metal bowl then set it over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Keep beating using a whisk or an electric mixer until very warm to the touch but not quite boiling. Ideally the mixture should reach 70° C/ 160 °F.  Add 1 tablespoon Marsala and whisk thoroughly for another minute or so. Remove bowl from heat, place it in an ice bath and let it cool. Add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth. Whip the cream in a separate bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Fold it gently into the mascarpone mixture.

Assemble tiramisu: Line the bottom of a  pan or serving dish with half of the ladyfingers in a single layer, making compact rows. Spread 1/2 of the berries on top with about half of their juices. Make sure to drizzle the juice evenly over the cookies so they will be soft but not soggy. Cover with  1/2 of  the mascarpone custard. Repeat with one additional layer of cookies, berries, juice and mascarpone custard. Cover the pan with clingfilm and chill for at least two hours and up to 1 day.

Dust with brown sugar before serving. Serves 12

you can make it with strawberry or raspberry but I prefer a mixture of berries
you can make i the berry-misu with strawberry, raspberry, blueberry or a mixture of other seasonal fruit



  1. How could one go wrong…. love tiramisu, any way I can get it – and I usually have to make it myself… but, it is not so difficult. Such a guilty pleasure… yet, the berries would add a little oomph to the mix and maybe counter balance that fatty luscious cream with the added nutrients. YUMMERS!

  2. Mmmm. . . I still remember the tiramisu you served us for breakfast (yes breakfast!!) when we were guests at your lovely B&B. It had been your daughter’s birthday the day before and we were lucky enough to sample the leftover cake!
    Yesterday while shopping at one of the stands in our local farmer’s market, I noticed that the vendor had a sign advertising a cooking class with Don Genova on the cooking of Umbria. I mentioned to her that I had been lucky enough to have taken a cooking class in Umbria. She said, “Oh, I did too, but I can’t remember the name of the B&B. It was something like Alla Madonna . . . ” Talk about a coincidence! I live less than a mile away from her and yet we shared an experience half a world away in your kitchen!

    • Elain this is quite amazing! I wonder if this must be the lady who wanted to start a fresh pasta business. I remember someone who wanted to make fresh pasta and yummy sauces and sell it on the market. The world really is very small!

      • Yes, that’s her. She and her husband run a small farm and sell vegetables and a wide variety of fresh pasta and sauces both from their home and at our local Saturday Farmer’s Market.

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