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I have had a raging war with Tiramisu for a long time now. I have tried many times to recreate the Italian classic using recipes that dictate the authentic method and have always failed. Always. For those of you that are unfamiliar, I am referring to the authentic custard that is prepared using mascarpone cheese and egg yolks. I just can’t seem to make a good Tiramisu the traditional way. Granted, my standards for myself are pretty high, but I still know when something tastes good and when it doesn’t. It wasn’t until I made Tiramisu in a completely un-Italian manner that I was utterly satisfied. Yes, that is right, I have made a joke of the Italian’s infamous dish by completely Americanizing it. Well the joke is on them!! Because this Americanized Tiramisu is fantastic : D It is exactly what I was looking for in a Tiramisu… an espresso soaking that wasn’t straight liquor and a custard that was smooth and perfectly balanced with the dish. And as a bonus it is about a trillion times easier to prepare!! Here I go again though using pre-prepared materials like pudding again. Ugh, I hate it… I wish I didn’t have to condone it, but I just have to! When it’s good, it’s good. I can’t deny what pudding mix is capable of sometimes. However, the whipped topping in this recipe… I would looooove to substitute real whipped heavy cream instead, but I am afraid the consistency would actually be thrown off if I did. So, alas, two pre-prepared products in this recipe. I refuse to be ashamed though. This recipe has finally made my dreams of Tiramisu come true, boy has it ever. It’s really up to par with the authentic stuff, it truly is. The simplicity to the recipe is perfect for those that love Tiramisu, but don’t love the kitchen. And I forgot to mention the best part- I found this recipe in aCooking Light Cookbook. So, the original recipe actually reads “non-fat sweetened condensed milk”, “1/3 less fat cream cheese”, and “reduced fat whipped topping”. Obviously I left the sugar-free instant pudding the same in the recipe. You really have to because the weight for sugar-free pudding boxes is not equivalent to regular pudding boxes so they are not interchangeable in recipes. Everything else though I used full fat because I want full flavor. I have tried the low fat version though and the taste is about the same, the custard is just less thick. Whatever kind of diet you’re on, this recipe will certainly suite you.

Whenever I go to make tiramisu I always have trouble remembering what type of dish works best since I don’t own a trifle bowl. Well I finally found a good fit- 9″ springform pan. This allows for two layers, using only one package of ladyfingers perfectly. The only problem is that the espresso liquid will leak out of the bottom. However, I didn’t find that to be an issue, I just put tin foil around the bottom and set it on a plate in the fridge. The springform pan allowed me to take away the sides which made for a nice presentation. Whatever pan you use is really up to you and will ultimately dictate how many layers you will make so adjust the recipe accordingly.



  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (1.5 oz) package sugar-free vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8 oz) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed (I use “extra creamy made with real cream”)
  • 2 cup hot water
  • 1 cup Kahlua (coffee-flavored liquor)
  • 2 Tb instant espresso or 4 Tb instant coffee granules
  • 1 package crisp ladyfingers (I use 7.5 oz package Vicenzovo)
  • 2 Tb unsweetened cocoa, divided


Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Cover surface with plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes or until firm (More than 30 minutes and the mixture may be too thick and difficult to blend).

Beat cream cheese in mixer at medium speed to smooth. Add in the pudding mixture, mixing until well blended. Gently fold in whipped topping, set aside.

Combine hot water, Kahlua, and espresso. Dip enough of the ladyfingers into the Kahlua mixture to cover the bottom of a Trifle bowl or dish of choice. Spread half of the pudding mixture evenly over the ladyfingers, then sprinkle with 1 Tb cocoa. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers and pudding mixture. You will have two layers. Cover and chill at least 8 hours. Unmold the springform pan right before serving, using a knife that has been warmed under hot water to run around the edge of the pan.

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