CH tiram

As with fashion, food trends seem to be recycled over time.

And as we see styles from the 70s and 80s back with a vengeance, we also see the decadent dishes from that time back in favor with chefs.

Desserts usually highlight the pulse of food trends. I recently dusted off a dessert I had not made for decades as the finale for a Supper Club dinner and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Tiramisu was the darling of Italian restaurant menus back in the day and it is worth reviving, especially with the twist of chocolate. I like to add Kahlua as well, but to be more family friendly that can be omitted because the liqueur does not cook off and the alcohol remains.

Tiramisu is said to have originated in the Tuscan region of Italy in the early 1800s as an after-dinner aphrodisiac. Food historians debate its actual creator, which is in dispute between a Duke or a lady of ill repute.

Tiramisu literally means “pick me up.” This rich, creamy dessert always has an espresso or coffee component which offers that kick after a large meal. Crisp Italian biscuits or ladyfinger cookies are dipped in espresso or coffee and then layered with an eggy zabaglione cream and dusted with espresso powder. I like to use powdered Ghirardelli chocolate to dust my chocolate tiramisu for a sweeter dessert.

This week I have included my recipe for Chocolate Tiramisu. It does take a bit of time to assemble and chill, but it’s a great way to please a crowd with a creamy, rich dessert with a blast from the past.


If you have a cooking question contact me at and I’d be happy to assist!

Cheryl Orr is the chef and owner of The Cotton Gin Inn in Edenton.

Chocolate Tiramisu

Serves 12


• 12 egg yolks, at room temperature

• 1 cup dry Marsala wine

• 1 cup sugar

• ½ teaspoon salt

• 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

• ¾ cup dark chocolate, chopped

• 18 ounces mascarpone, room temperature

• 2 cups heavy whipping cream

• 3 tablespoons vanilla

• 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, divided

• 2 cups brewed and cooled coffee

• 1 cup Kahlua

• ¼ cup vanilla coffee syrup such as Torani

• 2 7-ounce packages crisp ladyfinger cookies such as Savoiardi

• Cocoa powder or Ghirardelli powdered chocolate


• In a microwave on a low setting, or over a water bath on the stove, combine the cream and chocolate and melt until smooth in a glass bowl. Set aside, keeping warm.

• In a large glass bowl whisk together the egg yolks, Marsala, salt, and sugar until smooth. Place the egg yolk mixture over a barely simmering pot of water and continue beating, until the mixture is thick and creamy, and falls back on itself in thick ribbons when the whisk is lifted, about 8 minutes. Be careful to whisk continuously so the egg yolks do not become scrambled eggs. This step creates a zabaglione. Remove the zabaglione from the heat and immediately add the melted chocolate, stirring until fully incorporated. Cover and refrigerate until cooled.

• Whip the cream, ½ cup powdered sugar, and 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

• Whip the Mascarpone, remaining 1 cup powdered sugar, and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla until creamy. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture with a spatula.

• When zabaglione is cool, fold in half of the mascarpone mixture, reserving the other half, and chilling in the refrigerator.

• Prepare a 9 x 12-inch pan with plastic wrap. Line and overlap the wrap to extend over the sides to easily remove the dessert after it is chilled. Dust cocoa powder over the bottom of the plastic wrap-prepared pan.

• In a large shallow dish combine the coffee, Kahlua, and vanilla syrup. Begin dipping the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and align them side by side, filling the bottom layer of the pan. Carefully spread half of the zabaglione mixture over the ladyfingers. Dust with cocoa or chocolate. Repeat with another layer of coffee-mixture dipped ladyfingers, and spread with the remaining zabaglione, and dust with cocoa. Freeze uncovered a few hours until firm to the touch. Once firm, spread the final layer of the reserved mascarpone mixture over the top of the tiramisu, and sprinkle with a final dusting of cocoa powder. Return to the freezer uncovered until firmly set, about 3 hours.

• When ready to serve, gently lift firm tiramisu from pan and set on a large cutting board. Slice into squares. Garnish with a drizzle of chocolate ganache or syrup and mint. Leftover tiramisu can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. This dessert can be made the day before and refrigerated once set in the freezer.

Thadd White can be reached via email at