My friend…we need to talk about this here dessert. There are some things I’m really bad at: math is one of them. One thing I’m not bad at, though, is pastries. Tiramisu is one of my specialities and I’m not trying to be cocky. This berry tiramisu is a riff on my classic recipe. Something about coffee-doused desserts makes me think of cold months. This berry version is lighter and fresher, which, to me, makes it perfect for these hot summer months.
Let’s get started, because this one is comprised of many parts.
What is a Berry Tiramisu?
A classic tiramisu is made with espresso and marsala, hence the name tiramis, which means “pick me up”. While I’ve opted out of the espresso soak, I replace it here with a berry juice liquid, which I soak the sponge cake (or ladyfingers) in during assembly. The berry theme continues with a berry sabayon-mascarpone filling made with blackberry brandy. Finally, the whole lot of berry-goodness is smothered in lightly sweetened whipped cream.
Making your sponge from scratch is an option I’m showing you, but using store-bought ladyfingers may be more your flow. I’m totally on-board with that, by the way. You do you, Boo Boo.
If you do choose to use ladyfingers, skip the sponge cake-baking process that’s coming up. However, if you choose to make your sponge cake, start with having your ingredients at room temperature.
Make the Sponge Cake (If You’re Not Using Ladyfingers)
First things first, separate the egg yolks from the whites. Sponge cake is leavened by the volume obtained by the whipped egg whites being folded into the whipped yolks and flour. No other leavening agent (baking soda or baking powder) is used. As a result, it’s crucial to have fully whipped eggs to mix together.
Start by whipping the whites to stiff peaks using an electric mixer: here’s how to do that. Because fat inhibits the whites from whipping, I do this first, then move onto the yolks. That way I don’t have to clean off my mixer’s beaters. I’m not lazy, I’m efficient! In a separate stainless steel bowl, whip the yolks and sugar together on high speed.
When making sponge cake, the fluffier the eggs are, the better. With the egg yolks, you want the mixture to leave ribbons in the surface when you lift the beaters from bowl. The eggs should be light, lemony-yellow when you’re done.
How Do I Keep My Sponge Cake From Deflating?
BE GENTLE! That’s the only way you’ll prevent your whipped eggs from deflating.
Use a sifter to sift half of the cake flour onto the surface of the egg yolks. Fold the flour into the yolks using a rubber spatula. Remember, not to be overly aggressive while your folding in the flour. You don’t want to deflate the egg yolks any more than you have to.
Gently fold in half of the whites. Repeat this process- GENTLY- with the remaining flour and egg whites.
Now that you’ve incorporated all of the components, use an offset spatula to evenly spread the batter onto a lightly-greased sheet pan, lined with parchment paper. Gently rap the the sheet pan on the counter to dispel any air bubbles.
How Long do I Bake Sponge Cake?
Bake the sponge for fifteen minutes in your pre-heated 350°F oven. The sponge is finished when it pulls away from the sides of the sheet pan and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.
How Do You Macerate Berries for the Berry Tiramisu?
Macerating berries, or any fruit, allows you to extract as much of the fruit’s natural juices through the introduction of sugar and pulverization. In a mixing bowl combine the berries, sugar, and chopped mint. The mint is optional, but adds a beautiful bright flavor that cuts through the sugar. Use a potato masher or muddler, to squash the crap out of the berries.
Allow this mixture to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Macerating the berries can be done a day or two in advance, just be sure to keep it refrigerated if it’s going to macerate them longer than three hours.
Once your berries have been macerated, strain the juice into a separate bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press out as much juice as possible from the berries.
Once that’s done, don’t discard the berries! We’re going to use some of them when we assemble the berry-misu, but the rest are great for your morning shakes or parfaits!
Juice a lemon, then add the juice to the berry liquid and stir to combine. Set this berry dip aside for now.
Make the Sabayon
The making of the marsala-blackberry brandy sabayon (or zabaglione) is weirdly thrilling to me.
Use a whisk to beat the egg yolks, sugar, sweet marsala, and blackberry brandy together. Now, if you don’t have blackberry brandy or don’t like blackberry liqueur, you can use Chambord, or any other berry-flavored liqueur, instead. A last resort is to use plain brandy or cognac.
Place the bowl over a double-boiler: a saucepan filled with a 1 1/2 cups of water. Heating the sabayon over a double-boiler allows you to cook the eggs in the sabayon without scrambling them. Make sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. The steam produced by the boiling water will cook the eggs in the sabayon.
Whisk the mixture continually, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally so it’s cooked evenly. Don’t. Stop. Whisking. Your sabayon will go from a chestnut brown color…
…to a thick, lemony-yellow color. As with the egg yolks in our sponge mixture, the whisk will leave a ribbon-like trail in the cooked sabayon.
Now remove the bowl from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap. Place the bowl into the fridge and allow it to cool for three to four hours (or overnight).
How to Avoid or Fix Curdled Mascarpone
Once the sabayon is cold, whip the mascarpone for 1 minute to loosen it up a bit. You must whip the mascarpone while it is cold because it can be fickle- it’s a full-fat cheese, after all. Full fat means over-whipping it can cause curdling or graininess.
However, allowing the cheese to come to room temperature will makes over-whipping easy, as well. Whip the cold mascarpone with your electric hand mixer until it’s smooth. If you do so happen to curdle it, melting it slightly (while whisking continuously) over the double-boiler will bring it back together. You’ll need to refrigerate it again until it is stone cold before proceeding, though.
Make the Berry Tiramisu Mascarpone Filling
Add a quarter of the chilled sabayon to the cheese and blend on low speed for a few seconds. This helps to lighten the mixture before adding the rest of the sabayon. Add the rest of the sabayon after the first batch is mixed in, then mix on low until it is fully blended. It’s better to under-mix than overdo it and risk curdling the cheese. You can also use your rubber spatula to hand fold it.
Cover the mascarpone bowl and refrigerate or use it right away to assemble the Berry Tiramisu.
How do I Assemble My Berry Tiramisu?
Use a 9×13 baking dish to assemble your Berry Tiramisu.
If you’re using store bought ladyfingers, you’ll need a total of thirty. That turned out to be 1 1/2 seven ounce packages for me. Use crisp, “tiramisu style” ladyfingers because those will soak up the berry mixture without becoming soggy.
One sheet of sponge cake is more than enough, if you’re using it. You need to cut it into two sheets of equal sizes. Just use your baking dish as a template. Snuggle one of the sponge sheets into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour half of the berry juice onto the surface of the sponge and allow it to soak in for 3-4 minutes.
If you’re using ladyfingers, dip each cookie into the berry mixture and arrange them in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Break up the cookies as needed to fit them into the corner section of the baking dish.
Spoon half of the mascarpone cream onto the ladyfingers. Use an offset spatula to spread the cream into an even layer, so that it’s completely covering the ladyfingers.
Take a cup of the reserved berries and spread them onto the surface of the mascarpone cream.
Now repeat the ladyfinger layer. Don’t worry about shaking off excess juice, you actually want to place them while they’re still dripping. That way they’ll soak up the juice as the dessert sits.
Finally, add the remaining mascarpone cream and spread it in an even layer. Depending on how deep your dish is, you may be right at the top of the dish when you’re done assembling. Because you want a nice deep berry-misu, that’s a good thing.
Decorate the Berry Tiramisu with Fresh Berries
Top the mascarpone with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries, if desired.
Allow the berry-misu to sit for at least two hours before serving. Overnight is ideal, but you need at least two hours to make sure the ladyfingers have soaked up as much of that berry juice as possible.
How do I store Tiramisu?
This dessert will keep for two days in the fridge. Once you cut it, be sure to wrap the dish in plastic to keep it from drying out. All that’s left is for you to grab your berries and mascarpone and make this for your Independence Day cookouts. No one will turn their nose up at this dessert, I guarantee it.
Pin this recipe for all of your summer pastry needs and be sure to share it with friends and family!
Sponge Cake (See Recipe Instructions for Ladyfingers)
- 6 large eggs room temperature
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar separated
- 1 cup cake flour
Berry Juice Dip
- 1 lb strawberries hulled, plus more for garnish
- 6 oz raspberries plus more for garnish
- 6 oz blackberries plus more for garnish
- 1 pint blueberries plus more for garnish
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 4 mint leaves chopped, optional
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice from 1 large lemon
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup sweet marsala wine
- 1/4 cup blackberry brandy or brandy
- 2 lbs mascarpone cheese
- 2 cups sweetened whipped cream
Bake the Sponge Cake (Skip if Using Ladyfingers)
- Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a half-sheet pan and line it with parchment paper. Set this aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whip the whites to stiff peaks on high speed using an electric mixer.In a separate stainless steel bowl, whip the yolks and sugar together on high speed until the beaters leave ribbons in the surface of the eggs. The eggs should be light, lemony-yellow when you're done.
- Sift half of the cake flour onto the surface of the egg yolks. Gently fold the flour into the yolks using a rubber spatula. Once the flour is folded in, fold in half of the whites. Repeat this process- GENTLY- with the remaining flour and egg whites.
- Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the batter into the prepare sheet pan. Gently rap the the sheet pan on the counter to dispel any air bubbles.Bake the sponge for 15 minutes, or it pulls away from the sides of the sheet pan and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack. Remove the paper and leave the cake to cool completely.
Macerate the Fruit and Prepare the Berry Dip
- Allow the berry mixture to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes*. Once the berries have released their liquids, strain the juice into a separate bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press out as much juice as possible from the berries.
- Reserve one cup of the berries for adding to the tiramisu later. Store the remaining berries in the fridge for up to 2 days to stir into parfaits or blend in smoothies. Stir the lemon juice into the berry liquid. Set aside.
Mix the Berry Sabayon
- In a heat-safe mixing bowl beat the egg yolks, sugar, sweet marsala, and blackberry brandy together. Place the bowl over a double-boiler, or a saucepan filled with a 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring the water in the bottom pot to a simmer.Heat the sabayon in the double-boiler, stirring the mixture continually. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally so the sabayon on the sides doesn't curdle.
- Once the sabayon goes from a chestnut brown color to a thick, lemony-yellow color remove it from the heat, this should take 3-4 minutes. The sabayon will have thickened and the whisk will leave a ribbon-like trail in the cooked sabayon.
- Allow the sabayon to room temperature before covering the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the mixture until completely chilled- anywhere from 3-4 hours, but preferably overnight.
Combine the Sabayon and Mascarpone
- Once the sabayon is cold, blend the mascarpone on low speed for 1 minute, or until smooth.Add a quarter of the chilled sabayon to the cheese and blend on low speed for a few seconds.
- Add the rest of the sabayon to the mascarpone in the bowl and blend on low until it is fully blended. Don't whip the mascarpone or it will curdle. You can also use your rubber spatula to hand-fold it.
- Cover the mascarpone bowl and refrigerate it, or use it right away to assemble the Berry Tiramisu.
Assemble and Decorate the Berry Tiramisu
- Use a 9x13 baking dish in which to assemble your Berry Tiramisu.Using store bought ladyfingers, of which you'll need 30: dip each cookie into the berry juice mixture and arrange them in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish. Break up the cookies as needed to fit them into the corner section of the baking dish.To assemble using the baked sponge cake: Use the bottom of your baking dish as a template to cut the sponge cake into two sheets of equal sizes. Press one of the sponge sheets into the bottom of the baking dish. Pour half of the berry juice onto the surface of the sponge and allow it to soak in for 3-4 minutes.
- Spoon half of the mascarpone cream onto the ladyfingers. Use an offset spatula to spread the cream into an even layer, so that it's completely covering the ladyfingers.Take a cup of the reserved berries and spread them onto the surface of the mascarpone cream.
- Now repeat the cake/ladyfinger layer. It's okay to arrange the lady fingers while they're still dripping. Discard the rest of the berry juice or strain it to use in cocktails. If you're using sponge cake, pour the remaining berry juice over this second layer.
- Spread the remaining mascarpone cream over the cake in an even layer.Top the mascarpone with sweetened whipped cream and fresh berries, if desired.
- This dessert will keep for up to two days in the fridge.
- Allow the berry tiramisu to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Overnight is ideal, but you need at least 2 hours to make sure the ladyfingers have soaked up as much of that berry juice as possible.
- This dessert will keep for 2 days in the fridge. Once cut, be sure to wrap the dish in plastic to keep it from drying out.
Try out these other recipes for a great Independence Day: