Tiramisu is one of the most popular desserts on an Italian restaurant menu, and home cooks enjoy serving it, too. Original versions specify ladyfingers, but suitable substitutes are readily available.
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Sponge and Other Cakes
Ladyfingers are sponge cakes made in finger-shaped pieces. The texture is just right for absorbing espresso, and the shapes are easy to work with. One substitution is to make or purchase a whole, plain sponge cake and cut it into finger-shaped pieces. Another is to cut angel or pound cake into pieces and to dry them in a 250-degree oven before dipping them in espresso.
The Italian Pantry
Biscotti are twice-baked cookies that are dunked into coffee before being eaten and are a good stand-in for ladyfingers, though a longer dipping time is needed. Panettone is often soaked in liqueur or espresso in other desserts and is a good substitute.
A survey of tiramisu recipes shows a great deal of ingenuity: vanilla wafers, Twinkies, chocolate wafers, graham crackers and glazed or cake doughnuts have all been used. Experiment with these options to see if they suit your taste.
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