Italian recipe of the week: Strawberry and limoncello tiramisù

This fresh take on a classic tiramisù is perfect for the hot weather. Neapolitan food writer Silvana Lanzetta tells us how it's done

Italian recipe of the week: Strawberry and limoncello tiramisù
A southern Italian take on the classic tiramisù, with strawberries and limoncello. Photo: DepositPhotos

The best way to bring some Italian summer home is to make a strawberry and limoncello tiramisù.

I prefer this to the traditional chocolate and coffee tiramisù for many reasons: one of them is that it reminds me of a cake that my mum used to bake for my birthday. And with the freshness of the fruits, the tanginess of limoncello and the creamy sweetness of the mascarpone, this tiramisù feels like southern Italy – where I come from – much more than the classic one.

READ ALSO: The one dessert you have to try in each of Italy's regions

Photo: DepositPhotos

Try to make it this weekend, to surprise and delight your family or to serve at a party: I guarantee you that you will quickly become very popular. And your guests don’t need to know that it is actually very quick and easy to make – this secret stays between us!


If you don’t have the time to marinate the strawberries, don’t worry: you can make this tasty tiramisù by squeezing the juice of a couple of lemons and adding it to about 50 g of sugar. Then follow the recipe from here, by adding the water and the limoncello.

A little warning note: this tiramisu contains raw eggs. Please don’t give to small children and older people, as raw eggs have a small risk of carrying salmonella. If in doubt, use powdered eggs.

FOR MEMBERS: From football to tiramisù: A look at Italy's deepest rivalries

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP


For the cream:

6 egg yolks (very fresh)
60 g icing sugar
500 g mascarpone
60 g limoncello

For the liqueur:

250 ml strawberry marinade (see recipe)
100 ml water (warm)
12 tbsp limoncello

For the cake:

750 g strawberries
150 ml lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
400 g savoiardi biscuits (also called ladyfingers or sponge fingers)
100 g caster sugar



1. The evening before, prepare the strawberry marinade: wash and cut the strawberries in quarters (keep about 100 g aside to decorate the tiramisù), put them in a bowl together with the sugar and the lemon juice; stir thoroughly to coat all the strawberries well, cover with cling film and put in the fridge to rest overnight.

2. In the morning prepare the cream: beat the mascarpone with a wooden spoon until soft and set aside. Whisk all the egg yolks with 60 g of icing sugar until you obtain a clear and frothy cream (when you lift the whisk, the egg has to form a thick ribbon). Add the limoncello and keep whisking for a few more minutes, then add the mascarpone and beat until smooth and shiny. Cover with cling film and allow to chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, strain the strawberries and set them aside. Take 250 ml of the marinade, and pour it in a pot together with the water and 12 tbsps of limoncello. Boil the liqueur for a couple of minutes and then let it cool down.

4. Soak each savoiardi biscuit in the liqueur, and arrange them in a deep rectangular dish. Spread a layer of strawberries over the savoiardi, then cover it all with a layer of cream. Then add another layer of savoiardi, strawberries and cream. Carry on like this until all the ingredients are finished, terminating with a layer of cream.

5. Decorate the top with the strawberries kept aside, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge. Wait at least two hours before serving. Keep the tiramisù refrigerated at all times and consume within 48 hours.

Silvana Lanzetta. Photo: Private

Silvana Lanzetta was born into a family of pasta makers from Naples and spent 17 years as a part-time apprentice in her grandmother’s pasta factory. She specializes in making pasta entirely by hand and runs regular classes and workshops in London.

Find out more at her website,, including this recipe and others.

This article was originally published in 2019.


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OPINION: Michelin-starred cuisine is just not suited to Italy

Michelin-starred food has its merits but it doesn't fit with the Italian tradition of cuisine, argues Silvia Marchetti and some frustrated Italian chefs. There's nothing better than a plate of steaming lasagne, she says.

OPINION: Michelin-starred cuisine is just not suited to Italy

I’ve never been a great fan of sophisticated dishes, twisted recipes and extravagant concoctions that leave you wondering what is it you’re actually eating. T-bone steak with melted dark chocolate as topping, burrata cheese with apples, spaghetti with blueberry sauce aren’t my thing.

Hence, I never eat at Michelin-starred restaurants, and it’s not because of the exorbitant bill – paying €200 for a salad simply because it was grown in the private garden of a chef which he personally sprinkles with mountain water each morning, is a bit over the top.

I just don’t think such fancy food has anything to do with the real Italian tradition.

The ‘nouvelle cuisine’, as the name suggests, was invented in France by chef Paul Bocuse. And it’s ‘nouvelle’ – new – not anchored to past traditions.

The philosophy of serving small morsels of chic food on humongous plates as if they were works of art is the exact opposite of what Italian culinary tradition is all about.

We love to indulge in platefuls of pasta or gnocchi (and often go for a second round), and there are normally three courses (first, second, side dish, dessert and/or coffee), never a 9 or 12-course menu as served at Michelin establishments (unless, perhaps, it’s a wedding).

Too many bites of too many foods messes with flavours and numbs palates, and at the end of a long meal during which you’ve tasted so many creative twists you can hardly remember one, I always leave still feeling hungry and unsatisfied. 

So back home, I often prepare myself a dishful of spaghetti because Michelin pasta servings often consist in just one fork portion artistically curled and laid on the dish. In fact, in my view Michelin starred cuisine feeds more the eye than the stomach.

The way plates are composed, with so much attention to detail, colour, and their visual impact, seems as if they’re made to show-off how great a chef is, than as succulent meals to devour. I used to look at my dish flabbergasted, trying to make out what those de-constructed ingredients were and are now meant to be, and then perplexed,

I look at the chef, and feel as if I’m talking to an eclectic painter who has created a ‘masterpiece’ with my dinner. I’m not saying Michelin starred food is not good, there are some great chefs in Italy who have heightened a revisited Italian cuisine to the Olympus of food, but I just don’t like it nor understand it.

There’s nothing greater than seeing a plate of steaming lasagne being brought to the table and knowing beforehand that my taste buds will also recognise it as such, and enjoy it, rather than finding out it’s actually a sweet pudding instead.

More than once, after a 4-hour Michelin meal with a 20-minute presentation of each dish by the chef, the elaborate food tasted has given me a few digestion problems which lasted all night long.

Michelin-starred food has started to raise eyebrows in Italy among traditional chefs, and is now the focus of a controversy on whether it embodies the authentic Italian culinary experience. 

A Milanese born and bred, Cesare Battisti is the owner of restaurant Ratanà, considered the ‘temple’ of the real risotto alla Milanese.

He has launched a crusade to defend traditional Milanese recipes from what he deems the extravagance and “contamination” of Michelin-starred cuisine. “Michelin-starred experiments are mere culinary pornography. Those chefs see their own ego reflected in their dishes. Their cooking is a narcissistic, snob act meant to confuse, intimidate and disorientate eaters”. 

Arrigo Cipriani, food expert and owner of historical trattoria Harry’s Bar in Venice, says Michelin-starred cuisine is destroying Italy’s real food tradition, the one served inside the many trattorias and historical osterias scattered across the boot where old recipes, and cooking techniques, survive.

“Tasting menus are made so that clients are forced to eat what the chef wants, and reflect the narcissistic nature of such chefs. Italian Michelin-starred cuisine is just a bad copy cat of the French one”, says Cipriani.

I believe we should leave French-style cuisine to the French, who are great at this, and stick to how our grannies cook and have taught us to prepare simple, abundant dishes. At least, you’ll never feel hungry after dinner.