Lemon Tiramisu is a refreshing twist on the classic Italian dessert. Mascarpone cream and zesty lemon curd are layered between citrus-soaked ladyfingers for a bright-tasting pick-me up!
Here comes the sun – in dessert form! This citrusy twist on classic tiramisu uses familiar ingredients such as mascarpone cheese and crisp lady fingers. But that’s where the similarities end. Instead of coffee, this confection has a double dose of lemony goodness with lemon syrup and tart lemon curd. It’s a different kind of pick-me-up!
Make the Mascarpone Cream
Start with sugar, milk and a bunch of egg yolks all whisked together in a bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook the while beating with a hand mixer. Cook until thickened and a thermometer registers 160°F. Making this custardy mixture takes about 7-10 minutes – more or less depending on your range (a constant gas flame may get the job done quicker). And it’s the most intensive work you’ll do for this recipe! Remove the bowl from the pot, and let it cool completely.
Speaking of hand mixer… the cordless hand mixer I’m using in the photos (and video!) has pretty much changed my kitchen life. It’s given me a whole new freedom as a baker and food blogger who is constantly fighting/hiding/dragging cords as I work. My mom got it for me for my birthday in 2022, and it’s been such a great tool and a pleasure to use. This is not a sponsored post, but here is an affiliate link to the KitchenAid Cordless 7 Speed Hand Mixer that I’m crazy about. If you have the same issues with being tethered in the kitchen, then you may want to invest in one!
I digress. Back to the lemony goodness!
This recipe uses prepackaged crisp lady fingers, mascarpone cheese, and prepared lemon curd. If you have homemade lemon curd on hand, then by all means use it! While the bowl of custard cools, give the mascarpone cheese a stir and leave it at room temperature to soften. Also stir the lemon curd. If the lemon curd seems particularly stiff-set, microwave it a little so that it loosens to a pourable consistency.
Add half of the softened mascarpone cheese to the cooled custard mixture and beat well to combine.
Add the second half of the mascarpone and beat together until fluffy and no lumps of mascarpone remain. Set the bowl aside while you prepare the lemon syrup.
Make the Lemon Syrup
The syrup is a mixture of simple syrup and fresh lemon juice. Super easy! I added just a touch of lemon extract also, but this is optional. You can find my Homemade Lemon Extract recipe right here.
Assemble the Lemon Tiramisu
Dip crisp lady fingers in the lemon syrup briefly, then line the bottom of a 7×11-inch dish. You could also use an 8×8-inch square dish or baking pan.
Cover the lady fingers using half of the mascarpone cream. Then, cover the cream with half of the lemon curd. Evenly spread the lemon curd over the cream. If the two swirl together a little – that’s totally fine!
Next, dollop whipped cream over the lemon curd. Spread it evenly. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just do the best you can. Then, repeat the layers all over again: soaked lady fingers, mascarpone cream, lemon curd, and whipped cream.
The final layer of whipped cream doesn’t have to be spread all the way to the edges. Spread it within 2-ish inches of the sides. Refrigerate the tiramisu for 6 hours (or overnight) so the lady fingers have time to soften, the cream sets, and the flavors all marry together. Much like classic tiramisu, I think it improves over time!
Just before serving, add lemon wheels and lemon zest for garnish. These are totally optional, but it makes a pretty presentation.
Do you spoon or slice your tiramisu? I do both! However, it’s nice to admire a cross section slice of tiramisu, where you can clearly see all the layers stacked together.
I almost didn’t get a picture of the interior before we ate it all! It’s such a light-tasting dessert, good at any time of year, but I could see it being right at home at spring and summer gatherings. However, right now, in the bleak midwinter, it tastes/feels like a much needed dose of sunshine!
If you’d like more visuals on how to make this Lemon Tiramisu, then check out the video below to guide you along. Enjoy!
- stainless steel bowl
- Hand mixer
- Candy thermometer
- 11×7 baking dish or 8×8 square dish
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 16 oz. mascarpone cheese room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract optional
- 24 crisp lady fingers one 7 oz. package
- 12 oz. lemon curd 1 jar
- 6-8 round lemon slices optional
- Zest of 1 lemon optional
- Fill a saucepot 1/3 full with water and bring to a simmer. Place a heat-proof bowl on top of the pot and add the milk, sugar, and egg yolks. Beat together with a hand mixer on medium speed until the mixture is thick and foamy, and a thermometer registers 160°F (approximately 7-10 minutes). Remove from the heat and cool completely.
- Add half of the mascarpone cheese to the cooled mixture and beat with a hand mixer until thoroughly incorporated. Add the second half and beat again until thickened and smooth. Cover and set aside.
- Beat the heavy cream in a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla extract and beat until just combined. Cover and refrigerate while you make the lemon syrup.
- Place the water and sugar in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute 30 seconds. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. (You can also do this in a small saucepan on the stove top.) Add the lemon juice. Stir well. Stir in the lemon extract, if using. Stir and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Dip crisp lady fingers into the lemon syrup one at a time and place an even layer into the bottom of a 7×11-inch baking dish. Cover the lady fingers with half of the mascarpone cream, spreading it evenly to the edges of the pan.
- Stir the lemon curd until loosened and pourable. Pour half of the lemon curd over the mascarpone cream. If the curd is too thick to pour, microwave it for 20 seconds to loosen and stir again. Alternatively, dollop firm lemon curd on top of the cream and spread as evenly as possible to the edges of the pan. It is okay if the mascarpone cream and lemon curd swirl together a little.
- Using a spatula, dollop half of the whipped cream on top of the lemon curd layer. Spread as evenly as possible to the edges of the pan.
- Repeat the layers of soaked lady fingers, mascarpone cream, and lemon curd. Dollop the remaining whipped cream in the center of the dessert and spread within 2 inches of the edges.
- Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving, add lemon wheels and zest for garnish, if using. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.
- Thermometer: If you don’t have a kitchen/candy thermometer, you can judge the done-ness by the texture of the egg yolk/milk mixture. It’s ready to use when the the mixture is thick enough to fall in a ribbon back into the bowl when picked up with a whisk.
- Lemon Curd Brands: There are many wonderful prepared lemon curds to choose from at the grocery store. I recommend Bonne Maman as well as McKay’s.
- Fresh v/s Bottled: Fresh lemon juice will yield the best tasting results in this recipe, but you can also use bottled.
- Lemon Liqueur: Limoncello liqueur can be used in place of the fresh lemon juice in the lemon syrup for an authentically Italian experience, and a boozy note.
- Cream Cheese Variation: Regular cream cheese could be used in equal amounts for the mascarpone cheese in the mascarpone cream, but the end result won’t be quite as nice in texture.
- Make Ahead: This dessert can be made a couple of days ahead. Like classic tiramisu, it gets better over time in the refrigerator!