The first time I had tiramisu was at a friend's house some years back. I had been thoroughly intrigued, yet somewhat afraid to try it, for a very long time at that point.

Growing up, I had never been a big fan of coffee. Even the flavor of coffee in desserts or other foods was a real turn-off for me. As a teenager, I kept trying coffee-flavored things, even coffee itself, every so often - just to test my tastebuds. It wasn't until late in college, and a few trips to Starbucks, that I finally learned to enjoy the taste of coffee.

Enter Tiramisu. Heaven on a plate. If you want my personal opinion. Which, you wouldn't be here if you didn't. The way my girlfriend made it...well...let's just say it had been "marinating" for more than a few hours. More likely a few days. 
It. Was. Incredible. 
Nuff said.

Thus began my love affair with the delicate, delightful, delicious Italian dessert that has become increasingly more common - particularly in Italian restaurants - over recent years.

The first time I made Tiramisu, a couple years back, I used Brandy as the alcohol of choice. This time, I decided to shake things up a bit. 

Enter Patrón XO Cafe. Ever heard of it? If you haven't, consider yourself missing out my friend. According to the genius minds behind this delightful libation, it is a "coffee liquer made with tequila". These are a few of my favorite things...ahem. What could possibly be better? So, when it came time to whip up this version of Tiramisu, choosing this particular liquor was no contest.

I made my own gluten-free lady fingers for this recipe. You can find the recipe I used (by Celiac Teen) here: Gluten-free Ladyfingers. I followed this recipe exactly, leaving off the additional sprinkling of sugar. It made precisely enough lady fingers for the following Tiramisu recipe. They are a bit more cake-like than your average store-bought ladyfinger, but they soak up the coffee and liquor mixture quite nicely and make for a very light Tiramisu. You can also buy them - if you can find them, that is. Schar makes gluten-free lady fingers, but they can prove difficult to find. If you're lucky enough to be in the vicinity of a local Whole Foods, you might just strike gold. And also, I am officially jealous of you. If you live in a place that Whole Foods dares not tread, as I do, I would recommend ordering them online via Vitacost or another reliable gluten-free grocer. 

Feel free to substitute any type of alcohol you like in this recipe: Rum (a silver rum, not spiced), Brandy, etc. You could also make your own mascarpone if you're feeling really dedicated - trust me, it's easy. This recipe can also easily be doubled to serve a larger crowd. As is, it will serve 6-8 people easily, depending on how big you like your servings. Also feel free to decorate this little beauty any way you like, or not at all. Just promise you won't forgo the dusting of cocoa powder on top!

Gluten-free Tiramisu

Prep Time: 15 minutes + chill time & assembly
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
  • 3 large Egg Yolks
  • 1/3 cup White Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Skim Milk
  • 1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1/3 cup Coffee or Espresso, strong-brewed
  • 3 Tbsp Patrón XO Cafe
  • 3 oz Gluten-free Ladyfingers (or one complete recipe from above)
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, for dusting
  • 4 oz Dark Chocolate Chips + Heavy Cream, optional
  1. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a small saucepan until well blended, on the countertop please. Place saucepan over burner set to medium heat and slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Once mixture reaches a boil, allow to boil gently for 1 minute, continuing to whisk. Remove saucepan from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer to a mixing bowl, cover tightly, and chill in refrigerator for at least one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, combine coffee and liquor. Layer lady fingers in a dish or bowl and drizzle with liquid until soaked. Allow to sit until yolk mixture has finished cooling in fridge.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, beat heavy cream and vanilla extract with a mixer until stiff peaks form (a few minutes).
  4. When yolk mixture has finished cooling, remove from refrigerator and combine with mascarpone until smooth and well blended.
  5. In an 8x8" dish, arrange half of soaked ladyfingers. Spread half of mascarpone mixture on top of ladyfingers. Then spread half of whipped cream on top of the mascarpone. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, cheese mixture, and whipped cream. Dust with cocoa powder
  6. OPTIONAL: Drizzle with Chocolate Ganache - Place 4 oz dark chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Add enough heavy cream until you can just barely see it peeking out from the chocolate pieces (probably a few tablespoons). Microwave on High for 1 minute; remove and stir. Repeat in 20 second intervals until chocolate mixture has melted and is well combined. No lumps! Allow to cool ever so slightly and transfer to a plastic zip-top bag. Snip a very tiny bit off the corner and use the bag to pipe or drizzle the ganache in any pattern/design that suits your fancy.

*Adapted from Allrecipes.com Tiramisu II*

Happy gluten-free cooking!

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