Recipe Review

I Tried the Wildly Popular Recipe for Lemon Tiramisu, and It’s the Ultimate Summer Dessert

published May 21, 2023
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Whole lemon tiramisu in baking dish.
Credit: Lena Abraham

Tiramisu (which translates to “pick-me-up” in Italian) is one of my all-time favorite desserts to make and to eat. The contrast between the rich cream filling; the spongy, coffee-soaked cookies; and bittersweet cocoa powder is, in my eyes, ultimate dessert perfection. 

Needless to say that when Flouring Kitchen’s lemon tiramisu with lemon curd recipe popped up on my Instagram feed with almost 200,000 likes, I was more than just intrigued. I needed to know if this recipe could hold a candle to my favorite coffee-flavored sweet. (Not an easy task.) So, I got right to work. 

Credit: Lena Abraham

How to Make Lemon Tiramisu

This dessert certainly looks intimidating (and impressive!), but when broken down into different layers, it’s actually quite easy to prepare.

First, make your lemon curd. Combine large egg yolks, large eggs, sea salt, sugar, the zest of lemons, and 2/3 cup lemon juice (I used 3 whole lemons) in a medium saucepan, whisking well to combine. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to simmer and thicken. Continue cooking one minute more, whisking constantly. Next, strain this mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium non-metal heat-proof bowl. Add a stick of unsalted butter and let sit for one minute before stirring in, until melted and fully combined with the lemon curd. Cover, then transfer the curd to the refrigerator to thicken and cool completely.

Next, make your lemon syrup. In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, the peel and juice of a lemon, and, optionally, a sprig of fresh basil. Bring this mixture up to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from heat and let cool completely. If you’d like to add limoncello, let this mixture cool before adding 1/4 cup. 

To make the last component, the filling, use a hand mixer or whisk to whip heavy cream into stiff peaks. (Freezing the bowl you’re whipping in for 5 minutes in advance can help expedite this process.) In a large bowl, combine half of the cooled lemon curd with room-temperature mascarpone cheese. Whisk this mixture until smooth, then gently fold in the whipped cream until fully combined.

To build the dessert, first dip the ladyfinger cookies in the lemon syrup one at a time, then place them in tight rows in an 8×11-inch non-metal dish in a single layer. Next, spread half the filling into an even layer on top of the cookies, then add another layer of dipped ladyfinger cookies. Finally, add the remaining filling, smoothing into an even layer. Cover the tiramisu and refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to serve, top the tiramisu with remaining lemon curd, decorate with lemon slices and fresh basil, and serve.

Credit: Lena Abraham

My Honest Review of Lemon Tiramisu

With thick layers of spongy, cakelike cookies, ultra-rich mascarpone filling, and a velvety, sweet-tart lemon curd top, it’s hard not to love this zippy dessert. If you’re a fan of lemon bars, lemon icebox pie, or lemon meringue pie, there’s a very good chance you’ll love this take on tiramisu. And although it might not be a “pick-me-up” the same way coffee is, it’ll definitely provide a similar effect, thanks to all the punchy citrus flavor. Did it eclipse the original? No, not in my opinion, but it’s still incredibly delicious and perfect for spring.

I’d also note that if you prefer desserts that err on the not-super-sweet side, don’t let the amount of lemon juice and lemon zest in this recipe fool you — it’s still very sweet! To combat this, I ate my slice garnished with a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt, and a black coffee on the side. 

Credit: Lena Abraham

3 Tips for Making Lemon Tiramisu

  1. The curd and syrup can be made in advance. If you’d like to prep for this dessert in advance, you can easily knock out 2/3 of the work by making the lemon curd and lemon syrup in advance. These elements need to cool completely before assembly anyway, so it’s convenient to get them out of the way early. Both can be made up to a week in advance.
  2. You can build the dessert in any sort of container, and even in multiple containers. If you don’t have an 8×11-inch dish, do not fear! I used one 9×9-inch baking dish and one 9-inch pie pan, which perfectly fit all the elements of the recipe. The trick is finding containers that fit roughly the same volume as one 8×11-inch dish (which is around 11 cups). Anything from ramekins to vintage bowls to Mason jars can be used to build the dessert, and it’s perfect for two-person servings or to gift the goodness to neighbors and friends.
  3. The limoncello is totally worth adding. The subtle booziness of the limoncello really helped push this dessert into tiramisu territory, because it really isn’t tiramisu without that lingering liqueur flavor. But if you’d prefer to skip it, do! The final dessert will still be delicious.