If I closed my eyes tightly and clicked my heels three times I could almost smell the aroma………

Growing up, tiramisu was always made by my mum and aunties when all our families would come together to celebrate family birthdays and festive celebrations… On reflection a very special pudding indeed. On a standard week and as a normal family dessert mum would always make us trifle. Now when I say trifle I mean it loosely speaking….. ‘Trifle in a box’. Should I hold my head in shame when I tell you this? Absolutely not because in the mid 1980’s it was the highlight of my busy school week. I loved it so much. Mum would prepare the trifle in a 1970’s Pyrex dish, the one as I’m sure you’ll remember with the brown and orange flowers printed on the side, and as a bonus she would also sprinkle it with extra 100’s and 1000’s. This really makes me smile. Even now, if I close my eyes tightly and click my heels three times I could almost smell the aroma of the somewhat rich yet plastic jelly with soft sponge fingers, high-vis custard and perfectly white powdered cream on top. Food memories at their very best are just so comforting. And in all honesty I would eat this again with no problem at all. Simple and frugal. Anyone for jelly and tinned fruit, another fav of mine?
So instead of sharing the ‘trifle in a box recipe’ *sniggers, I thought I’d share with you my mamma’s recipe of tiramisu. If you fancy a pick-me up then you’ll love this dessert. This recipe was also included in my first cookery book ‘Southern Italian Family Cooking’ released November 2014. I choose to use amaretto liquor instead of the classic ‘Tia Maria’ or ‘Vin Santo’ so feel free to change the liquor to suit your preference with Frangelico or rum also being great alternatives. If alcohol isn’t your thing then just leave it out and if coffee is a put off then just use fruit juice and berries. The only clause I will place on my recipe is for you to NEVER under any circumstance use cream and please go steady with biscuit dipping as you don’t want to end up with a dense soggy pudding. As we are approaching the start of what hopes to be an amazing summer, why not crown the top with a selection of seasonal berries. So please enjoy and I do hope that my tiramisu will feature as a centrepiece at your family gatherings or at least alongside your trifle in a box!


Amaretto Tiramisu
Serves: 6-8 or more depending on greed!
300ml strong black espresso coffee
6 tbsp. amaretto
6 large eggs
5 tbsp. granulated sugar
500g mascarpone
750g savoiardi biscuits (known as ladies fingers)
100g amaretto biscuits, crushed
20g dark chocolate

Northampton based cook, Carmela Sereno Hayes, at Home cooking italian family meals.
Image Magazine.
Photos by Kelly Cooper

1. Make the espresso coffee and allow it to cool fully. Add the amaretto and set to one side.
2. Separate the eggs. Whites in one bowl and yolks in another. Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk for 2 minutes, until creamy.
3. Add the mascarpone cheese to the egg yolk mixture and combine. Stir with a wooden spoon and then whisk for 1 minute to remove any lumps.
4. Wash the whisk, then whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.
5. Gently fold in the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture, half the mixture at a time.
6. Take your trifle dish or individual glasses and start layering up the ingredients.
7. Quickly dip each biscuit into the coffee liquor mixture and place in your dish. Do not fully bathe the biscuits, only dip and tease them. Dip and out!
8. Complete one biscuit layer then spoon on a layer of the cream mixture and level. Sprinkle over a little of the crushed amaretto biscuits. Then return to dipping and layering the biscuits, add the cream and amaretto biscuits.
9. Continue until you have three sets of layers, finishing with the cream on top.
10. Chill in the fridge for at least 4–6 hours. If you use glasses or ramekins they will only need 2 hours to chill.
11. Serve with grated dark chocolate and a sprinkling of crushed amaretto biscuits.