Lemony Limoncello Tiramisu ~ So Easy
If you google ‘what is the best Italian dessert?’ you would find that Tiramisu is the top dessert from Italy. Try it and let me know what pops up in your search!
Everyone by now has enjoyed tiramisu . . . known as a ‘pick me up’ in Italian. There are so many ways to prepare Tiramisu, as no Italian family has the same recipe, fiercely guarding their own ‘ricette’ to only pass down through generations of the family. Tiramisu is so famous and beloved that it has its very own academy that holds the claimed original recipe!
Limoncello Tiramisu is an easy dessert that you can make ahead . . . and that’s always so helpful for us working folks (whether in the home, with the kids, or in an office), isn’t it? Just as in the classic Tiramisu recipe, this lemon version includes the traditional ingredients of Italian mascarpone chees and ladyfinger cookies. The difference is that this Tiramisu is brightly citrus-flavored with Italian Limoncello liqueur and fresh lemons instead of coffee and cocoa.
Growing up in my Italian family in the U.S., I didn’t know how important lemons are to Italy and to Italians. It was my mother who loved “anything lemon”. Despite being from the North of Italy where the main crops are rice (risotto) and beans (pasta fagiole), Southern Italy is famous for lemons and vegetables, especially tomatoes (pomodoro). Yet both regions produce amazing olives and grapes. So as a northern Italian-American growing up in the Midwest, I had no idea about the importance of lemons to Italy when I was a child.
Lemons just scream ‘happy’ with their vivid yellow, sunny color, don’t they? It’s been a gloriously beautiful, SUNNY spring in South Carolina this year. And spring is perfect for recipes with lemons. So preparing an Italian dessert to match the aura of the season, I made a delightful and absolutely delicious Limoncello Tiramisu! It’s a perfect taste of sunshine for Mother’s Day, Easter, spring luncheons, summer picnics, book clubs, simple get-togethers with family and friends, or any occasion! And not to forget for you as well to enjoy as a sweet indulgence with an ice cold glass of tea on a warm and sunny afternoon. And in the South, you’d add a rocking chair on the porch with fans whirling above. Now, that’s bliss . . . sheer simple bliss!
Perfect for warmer days when we enjoy desserts on the lighter side, this refreshing Limoncello Tiramisu just bursts with layers of fresh lemony flavor and vivid colors that mirror sunny days! It’s rich and creamy, with a subtle amount of ‘tanginess’ (it isn’t sour or tart) and you don’t have to bake it at all!
Layers of lemon are created with ladyfingers dipped lightly in a sauce/syrup of Limoncello, sugar, and lemon juice for a hint of lemon flavor. Then a delightfully light, sweet, and creamy filling of lemon curd and Italian mascarpone is added. And all topped with more swirls of lemon curd and whipped cream . . . trust me, this is a sweet keeper that all of your guests will enjoy!
Why You Will Love Limoncello Tiramisu
- It’s an easy, make-ahead dessert! Preparing it at least one day ahead allows the flavors to marry and intensify! Perfect for the busy schedules we have!
- No baking is necessary! Great for not having to turn on an oven when it’s hot outside.
- It is ‘raw’ egg free to eliminate any concern for food poisoning.
- The combination of sweet and tangy flavors is enjoyed.
- It can be prepared with or with no alcohol.
- It’s a great dessert during the warmer months of spring and summer.
- It’s easy to make several dishes to serve larger gatherings.
Andiamo “let’s go” gather up the ingredients!
Ingredients You Need For Limoncello Tiramisu
For this Limoncello Tiramisu, you need to gather up some key ingredients from your pantry or visit the food market to purchase what you need:
- Mascarpone Cheese – This is an essential classic ingredient in any Tiramisu recipe that comes from the northern Italian province of Lombardy. This is a sweeter, creamier, and richer cheese with a softer, silky, spreadable texture than the American cream cheese. It is a double or triple cream cheese and tastes more like a thick whipped cream than cream cheese.
- Savoiardi Ladyfingers — These Italian cookies/biscuits that look like ‘fingers’ are always used in Tiramisu. They are as light as a feather and slightly sweet with a dusting of sugar. Yet they are a bit crispy but not like a hard cookie or biscotti. They are available in small or large sizes, and the larger ladyfingers work the best.
- Whipped Heavy Cream – The cream in Tiramisu must be able to ‘whip’ so it must be ‘heavy whipping cream’ and also ‘full fat’. Since there are no eggs in this recipe, the type of cream used is critical to add air and fluffiness to the filling. Make certain that the heavy whipped cream is extremely cold and whipped in a chilled metal or glass bowl.
- Lemon Curd — This is a critical ingredient in this Tiramisu recipe. For the best flavor, make your own lemon curd from scratch. But if time doesn’t permit this, than jarred store-bought lemon curd works nicely.
- Lemon Juice — Use freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
- Lemon Zest — Adds a little pop of zestiness to the cream filling and entire recipe.
- Sugar — You can use either granulated sugar or powdered sugar. Sugar is an essential ingredient. Don’t use lumps in the sugar.
- Limoncello — This recipe MUST include Limoncello, a lemon liqueur produced in Italy. It is used to soak the ladyfingers and to add to the mascarpone filling. For a non-alcoholic version, just use equal amounts of freshly-squeezed lemon juice.
- Vanilla extract –– For the topping, vanilla always enhances the flavor of whipped cream.
You can find the amounts and measurements for each of these ingredients, as well as instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Instead of mascarpone cheese, you can use cream cheese. Keep in mind that mascarpone cheese is what gives tiramisu its light texture. Cream cheese on the other hand is heavier than mascarpone cheese. So simply add another ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream.
- In place of Limoncello, you can use an equal measurement of lemon juice plus 2 tablespoons of sugar . . . if you prefer not to have any alcohol in the recipe or you can’t get a bottle of Limoncello near you. Frozen lemonade concentrate will also work using equal measurements. There are also ‘lemon syrups’ available on the market. Torani makes a high-quality lemon syrup.
Tools That You’ll Need
- Several sizes of mixing bowls
- Electric handheld mixer
- Silicone spatulas
- Offset spatula
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Small saucepan
- 11 x 8″ glass baking dish or 9 x 9″ square glass baking dish
- Medium-sized Ziploc bag or a piping bag with a star piping tip
Tips for Making the Best Limoncello Tiramisu
- Allow lemons to be at room temperature.
- Keep the mascarpone cheese and the heavy cream cold in the frig until the moment that you are ready to whip!
- Chill a metal mixing bowl (or glass if good too) to whip the cream in.
- When mixing the mascarpone, use a larger mixing bowl.
- Do not overwhip either the mascarpone cheese or the heavy whipping cream.
- Dip the Ladyfinger cookies into the limoncello syrup VERY QUICKLY (just a quick dip as in: in and out!) so the cookies are not soaked or they will become soggy mush. Do not let them soak.
- For a better presentation and ease in cutting pieces: When layering the Ladyfinger cookies, lay one layer in one direction and then switch direction for the next layer, etc. so it looks similar to a criss-crossed pie crust. Tiramisu is less likely to fall over when you layer the ladyfingers this way plus it’s easier to slice into.
- Refrigerate the Limoncello Tiramisu for at least 4 – 6 hours or overnight so that it sets firmly.
- Pop the entire dessert in the freezer for about an hour before serving to give it extra firmness and it’s much easier to cut nice clean servings. It’s not long enough to freeze and will soften very quickly once sliced.
- It’s optional to add that extra layer of lemon-zest-enhanced whipped cream, but it is worth the extra step.
- If you want to remove the entire dessert and serve it out of the baking pan, then first line it with parchment paper before refrigerating so that you can easily lift the dessert out of the pan at the time of serving.
- Try other flavors such as: raspberries and raspberry jam with Chombard, or cherries and cherry jam with amaretto. How about bananas and banana pudding with rum?
How to Store Limoncello Tiramisu
- Always tightly cover Limoncello Tiramisu with plastic cling wrap or a lid if your baking pan has one. Limoncello Tiramisu will keep nicely in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- It is not advisable to freeze Limoncello Tiramisu due to the freezing temperatures breaking down the texture of the cream.
Other Lemon Recipes You Might Enjoy:Print
This delicious, citrusy, lemon version of the beloved classic Italian dessert, Tiramisu (“pick me up” in Italian) will have everyone dreaming of the lemon tree-covered Amalfi Coast intertwined with Northern Italy where Tiramisu originated. This is the best of “la dolce vita” (“the sweet life” in Italian). The only difficult element required for this recipe is the patience you need while waiting the 6 hours to chill and set before serving!
- 1/3 cup lemon juice, freshly-squeezed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
- 1/2 cup cup of Italian Limoncello liqueur
- 16 oz. (2 cups/2 cartons) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup lemon curd
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly-squeezed
- 1/3 cup Italian Limoncello liqueur
- 2 Tbsp. lemon zest
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Optional Lemon Cream Topping
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 cups powdered sugar (you can use granulated sugar if you prefer)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- zest of 1 lemon
For the Assembly:
For the Limoncello Syrup
- In a small saucepan, set on medium-high heat, combine the lemon juice, sugar, and lemon zest. Cook until it comes to a boil and when the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat off and remove it from the stove heat.
- Add the Limoncello liqueur to the mixture and stir until well combined. Set aside and allow the syrup to cool down. It doesn’t thicken.
For the Limoncello Filling
- In a large mixing bowl, using an electric hand-held mixer, mix together the mascarpone, lemon curd, lemon juice, Limoncello Liqueur, and lemon zest.
- In another large mixing bowl, using an electric hand-held mixer, mix together the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.
- Add the whipped cream and sugar mixture to the mascarpone mixture, gently folding in until combined.
For the (Optional) Lemon Cream Topping
- In a medium mixing bowl, with an electric handheld mixer beat the cream, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon zest until stiff peaks form.
To Assemble the Limoncello Tiramisu
- Dip the ladyfinger cookies, one at a time and very quickly into the Limoncello soaking syrup (a few seconds only so that the cookies don’t get mushy; you want a little bit of a crunchy texture to compliment the creamy textures).
- As soon as the ladyfingers are dipped into the syrup, immediately place them in a layer that covers the bottom of an 11″ x 8″ pan.
- Spread this layer of ladyfingers with half of the Limoncello filling, spreading evenly on the top.
- Continue dipping the next layer of ladyfinger cookies into the Limoncello soaking syrup and immediately place this second layer of ladyfinger cookies on top of the Limoncello filling.
- Spread the remaining Limoncello filling on top of the second layer of ladyfinger cookies.
- Dollop lemon curd all over the top of the Lemon Cream Topping and with a butter knife, make curvy swirls.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, snip off a corner of a Ziploc bag or use a pastry bag and pipe the Lemon Cream Topping around the edges of the top of the tiramisu.
- Place the Tiramisu in the freezer to get a bit firmer for about 30 minutes.
- Garnish with sliced lemons and sprigs of mint.
Keywords: Tiramisu, Italian, Dessert, Lemon, Limoncello