Limoncello Tiramisu

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On a very warm spring day what could be nicer than a lovely, creamy, dessert flavoured with lemon?  Not being a lover of traditional Tiramisu, since I don’t like coffee, I decided to make a lemon version.  As I had bought a bottle of Limocello, which is an Italian lemon liqueur, for a previous recipe I thought I would use that as the basis for my syrup.

The dessert is made with that lemon flavour, Italian style sponge fingers, more lemon flavour in the form of lemon curd and then with cream and mascarpone.  Having read up on tiramisu it seems that it is important, and I can see why, to use the Italian type of sponge fingers, that are hard and coated with sugar.  Using soft sponge fingers, which I saw in a couple of recipes, results in a very soggy sponge in the tiramisu.

Luckily the hard Italian type are readily available, so that wasn’t a problem. The next decision was on lemon curd. I could easily make my own and have done several times.  But since I wanted this to be a quick and easy dessert I opted to use a shop bought curd.  I did, though, buy a good quality one.

The recipe is very simple and doesn’t take long to make.  In fact it can all be done in less that 30 minutes.  Then it has to be refrigerated for between 4 to 8 hours.  I would recommend as long as possible, even overnight, to let everything firm up nicely before serving.

Serving is likely to be a little messy, but that is no great problem, just put a serving in a bowl and that will be fine.

Since the dessert looks quite plain it can be dressed on top anyway you wish. For mine I just opted for crushed sponge fingers mixed with some chopped roasted hazelnuts, which worked very well.

I really enjoyed how mine turned out, it tasted so good and I could easily have eaten much more.  Ideal for a hot day.

I actually used a few more of the sponge fingers than I expected to fit into my dish, so I have adjusted the recipe below to reflect that.

I may actually make another version, using an almond based sponge, just brushed with some syrup I think that would be quite good.

Limoncello Tiramisu

Limoncello Tiramisu – Video

For the cream and sponge:

  • 320g/11 oz Italian Sponge Fingers(hard not soft)
  • 450g/16 oz mascarpone
  • zest from one lemon(optional)
  • 15ml/1 tbsp lemon juice(optional)
  • 65g/ 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 225g/8 oz lemon curd
  • 360ml/1 1/2 cups double cream(heavy cream is ok)

For the syrup:

  • 240ml/1 cup limoncello(if you don’t want the alcohol use lemon juice instead).
  • 300ml/ 1 1/4cups water
  • 150g/ 3/4 cup caster sugar(granulated is fine)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 15ml/1 tbsp lemon juice

For the top, if you wish:

  • A few extra sponge fingers
  • 15g roasted chopped hazelnuts


  1. Place the water, limoncello, lemon zest, lemon juice and caster sugar into a saucepan and heat until the sugar has fully dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and pour into a small, shallow container to cool for a while.
  3. Place the cream into a bowl and whisk until it has thickened well.  Don’t mix until it turns into a buttery consistency.
  4. In a large bowl place the mascarpone, lemon curd, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice and whisk until all is well mixed together and quite airy.
  5. Gently fold the double cream into the mascarpone mixture and set aside. 
  6. Dip half the italian fingers, quickly for each one, into the syrup.  Don’t leave the fingers in long enough to go soggy, just dip, turn and remove.
  7. Place the fingers into  a rectangular dish, about 8×12 inches(20x30cm), a little larger will be fine too. Create a single layer all over the base of the dish, breaking the sponge fingers to fit in necessary.
  8. Take half of the mascarpone mixture and spread evenly all over those sponge fingers.
  9. Dip the remaining sponge fingers, quickly as before, into the syrup and layer on top of the first layer of mascarpone.
  10. Cover with the remaining mascarpone and spread all over making it level and smooth on top.
  11. If using a topping place that on top.  For mine I crushed the sponge fingers in a ziplock bag, to almost crumbs and then mixed in the chopped hazelnut, and sprinkled all over the top.
  12. Carefully cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until the filling has set well.  This will take at least 4 hours and may take up to 8 hours.
  13. Then you can remove and cut and serve. 


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