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November 10, 2008

Yummy (Non-Alcoholic) Tiramisu

When I was growing up, my mom worked as a waitress in several family owned Italian restaurants. From the age of about ten, I'd tag along with her on the weekends and work in the kitchen washing dishes, busing tables or doing any odd job that needed to be done. In the early afternoons I used to watch the cooks make tray after tray of Tiramisu, but never understood its appeal. This was in large part due to the fact that it was drenched in alcohol, something to this day I've never been much of a fan.
A few years ago, I discovered either this Tiramisu recipe (or one that was very similar to it) and made it several times with lots of success. No one noticed that I had substituted white cake for ladyfingers. Considering that a small package of them can go for $4 each and most tiramisu recipes need at least three, this was a great way to save a few pennies without sacrificing much in taste or texture.

When I made this dessert for Vinny, I challenged myself to make it without alcohol. If I could swap out the ladyfingers for boxed cake mix, then perhaps a coffee flavored espresso drink would work for the coffee liquor? I decided to use Starbucks Doubleshot as my coffee drink of choice and I have to say that it really worked well. It gave the dessert a great coffee flavor without making it too sweet. And, the best part about this dessert was that my coworker Stephanie, who is very pregnant, was grateful to not have been excluded from our bithday celebration. I'll definately make this one again!

Non-Alcoholic Tiramisu
Yield: 8 to 16 servings, depending on how you cut it

1 package moist white cake mix

8 ounces mascarpone cheese  (let it sit out of the fridge for 30 minutes before using)
1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1 can mocha flavored espresso drink, such as Starbucks DoubleShot

Whipped Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons mocha flavored espresso drink

1-2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa

Cake: Prepare the cake mix according to package directions in a 9x13" pan. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Using a serrated knife, slice the cake in half horizontally, so you have two large pieces. If this is too difficult, try cutting the cake in half or in fourth first and then separate into top and bottom layers. Set aside.

Filling: In a small bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, combine mascarpone, 1/2 cup confectioners sugar and 2 tablespoons of the espresso beverage; beat just until smooth - about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Whipped Cream: In a cold metal bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the cream and 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until stiff. Then add the coffee beverage and mix on low just until it's combined. Fold 1/2 cup of whipped cream into the filling mixture.

Assemble the cake: Place one layers of cake a cutting board and cut the cake in half lengthwise (so you have two long rectangle pieces). Then cut the cake into strips or smaller rectangles (that sort of resemble ladyfinger shapes). Place a complete layer of strips, white crumby side up into the bottom of a serving dish. There can be some spaces in between pieces, but you want to avoid any large gaps. If you're using a glass serving dish, use the prettier pieces of cake towards the edge. This will make it look prettier when you serve it.
Using a pastry brush, paint the surface of the cake with the coffee flavored beverage, covering one cake strip at a time. If you don't have a pastry brush, use a teaspoon and dribble the coffee instead. Don't worry about how it looks at this point, just go for even coverage.

Spread half the filling mixture over the drenched cake.
Then spread half the whipped cream mixture.
Repeat steps one, two and three again. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour before serving, but I strongly recommend waiting a minimum of 4 hours before servings. When you're ready to serve, smooth out the whipped cream and lightly dust the surface with cocoa.


  1. i tend to prefer mine without alcohol, either. my family always makes it with khalua for that sorta mocha-y taste, but i just mixed espresso with hershey's chocolate syrup. it's heaven!! have you ever tried a lemon raspberry one? I thin lemon curd with lemonade, and then sub that for the coffee. i use raspberries, too, an top with powdered sugar. mmmmm. it's a good summer twist :)

  2. I LOVE tiramisu! What a great idea to use Starbucks Double Shot! You are so smart!!!

  3. I am making tiramisu tomorrow! However mine will have Marsala wine in it. I like your suggestion for the mocha flavored coffe drink. I thought about using a Starbucks Double Shot as the coffee, but I realized it is already sweetened and has cream in it, so I will stick to very strong coffee.

  4. Hi, I was searching for a non alcoholic recipe and came accross this. I wanted to ask you, can I use ladyfingers instead of making the cake. Also, what other drink/coffee can I substitute instead of the Starbucks drink? I dont drink coffee so dont have much idea about it.

  5. Hi Sana! You can most certainly use ladyfingers and it will taste even better if you use them. As for the substuting the Starbucks Double Shot? Well, I'm not sure where you live and what kind of products are available to you, but almost every grocery store in my area has some sort of canned or bottle coffee drink. Look for one that's a latte or even a mocha if you want to add a little more chocolate flavor. If that's not available to you, you could use General Foods International Coffee. It is a powder that comes in a tin (usually sold where you'd find ground coffee in the store) and in a variety of flavors. Look for the Italian Cappuccino flavor and that should work pretty well. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

  6. Hi Julia, wow that was a quick reply :) I live in Dubai in the middle east and do have easy access to a lot of products. Will surely try this and let you know the outcome. Thanks!!btw I love your blog!! You have great talent in the decorating dept!!

  7. Some supermarkets carry instant expresso - less expensive than buying a double shot at Starbucks. You essentially need strong coffee - some other sites have said you can use extra strength coffee. I was able to find the instant expresso at World Class Shoprite's and they also had the marscopone cheese in the cheese section - not the dairy section (with the philly cream cheese.)

  8. So I've nver made tiramis before and a decided to get into baking and a friend of mine in france recommended tiramisu. Okay this may sound stupid but when putting on the can of coffee. Is it liquid? Sorry I thought it was liquid coffee and then I got confused by the picture.

  9. has anyone tried doing this with decaff?

  10. Sarah, decaf would work fine. Just make sure the coffee is good quality and tastes really good.


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