When creating this summer dessert, I was transported back in time to last summer in Italy. The dreamy days spent in Sorrento with my mother were filled with sipping on endless cordials of limoncello as we traversed the Amalfi Coast in a surreal state of unencumbered happiness. It was a special trip to have this mother/daughter time together after surpassing so many of life’s hurdles. It was special beyond words.
All along the steep and jagged coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea, huge lemons are harvested. Amalfi lemons possess a unique sweetness that results from a combination of the volcanic soil, year-round warm temperatures, and a perfect amount of rain. Enter ingredient #1- lemons (and limoncello)! For those that are not familiar with limoncello here’s the quick overview: it originated in the Gulf of Naples, utilizing the abundant lemons from this famous region. It’s usually served chilled as a digestivo after dinner however in this recipe it adds a lot to the flavor of this dessert.
This dessert brings to fruition ‘special’. When I close my eyes and take a bite I see visions of the fruit stalls in Italy bursting with lemons. My inaugural tasting of an alternative tiramisu was in 2008 with my good friends Luca and Loredana. Loredana’s mother made me my very first non-coffee tiramisu and I was hooked. There are many variations I’ve created over the years. This recipe provides a good base to play with the array of delicious summer fruits.
Let’s imagine for a moment, delicious amaretto flavored soft cookies layered on top of a fluffy mascarpone cream mixed with tangy lemon curd. This dessert is perfect for those that are not coffee lovers. It is fairly simple to make, it is light and refreshing, and it tastes even better if you pair it with freshly picked strawberries, raspberries or other summer fruits.
Note: Before you layer the mascarpone check the sponge fingers are soft enough and don’t need another dip in the limoncello. This is a great dish to make in the morning and leave until you’re ready to serve.
Noli Style Limoncello Tiramisu
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 egg yolks
6 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 lemons, zested
1 lb mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup limoncello
1/2 cup water
60 ladyfingers cookies
fresh lemon slices for decorating
In a bowl, whisk the 3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks together and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan combine the sugar, lemon zest, juice and egg mixture together and whisk on medium-low heat until mixture thickens and can coat the back of a spoon. About 10-15 minutes. Stir in butter and then remove from heat when it’s melted.
Pour the lemon curd through a fine-mesh strainer into another bowl straining out any lumps. Press plastic wrap directly into the lemon curd and cool to room temperature before using.
Set aside 1/4 cup of the cooled lemon curd.
In a large mixing bowl combine the remaining cooled lemon curd with the softened mascarpone cheese. Mix with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Set aside.
Using clean beaters in a separate bowl combine the heavy cream and confectioners sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Then, fold half of the whipped cream into the mascarpone/lemon curd mixture until well combined. Set aside.
In a shallow dish with high sides combine the limoncello and water.
Lovingly, dip each ladyfinger cookie into the limoncello mixture and lay them into a 9×13 glass pyrex. Break the cookies to fit them in if necessary. I did two rows of 7 cookies vertically and two rows of 2 cookies horizontally, but just make sure the cookies fit nicely together.
Spoon 1/2 of the lemon filling over the first layer of cookies. Add another layer of cookies and spread the remaining lemon filling over them. Add a third layer of cookies and top with the remaining whipped cream.
Using the remaining 1/4 cup of lemon curd, spoon it over the top of the whipped cream and use the back of a small spoon to make swirly designs. Decorate with fresh lemon slices.