Saffron, Cardamom, and Rosewater Tiramisu

Last September my family spent about a month in Italy and while we were there, I took a private cooking lesson when we were in Rome. During that lesson, chef Claudio Guggeri had us make a traditional Tiramisu for dessert. Since we’ve been back, I’ve made that same Tiramisu a few times, though I always end up with leftover ladyfingers. I know, I know, left over ladyfingers, what’s that? Usually I save them to make another Tiramisu later on, but this time I figured there must be something else I can make with them, so I went searching.

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I finally came across a recipe for a Saffron, Cardamom, and Rosewater Tiramisu by Sophie & Xenia Von Oswald of Rocket & Basil posted by Molly Yeh of My Name is Yeh. If you’re not following either of them, do. They are fantastic. Now I know this is another Tiramisu, but this was no ordinary Tiramisu, this sounded a bit exotic. I had to give it a try. I had everything I needed to make this luscious dessert except for rosewater. Where the heck was I gonna find rosewater? I sent out a message through social media knowing that someone out there knew where I could find some quickly without having to order it online and I was in luck. My girlfriend, Isabelle Benziane, the keeper of all exotic spices and ingredients, had some. But of course she did, why wouldn’t she? She’s from Morocco. Okay, I shouldn’t stereotype, but she DOES have some pretty awesome stuff that she has sent to her from home.

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I was so excited to make this dessert. It doesn’t call for the usual espresso you would use in a classic Tiramisu, but strong Earl Grey Tea mixed with vanilla liqueur. Yum! As I made the cream portion with the eggs, sugar, and Mascarpone, I added saffron, rosewater and of course, some more vanilla liqueur. It tasted divine. The rosewater comes through your nose and it’s everything I imagined it would be.  I couldn’t wait to share it with others, though I would have to wait overnight because it needs to set after being assembled. Oh, the wait! I shared this dessert with both friends and family and it was a success! It was enjoyed even by my husband and brother who aren’t usually fans of floral notes in food. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Besides, it sounds so fancy when you’re telling people that Saffron, Cardamom, and Rosewater Tiramisu’s for dessert. Thanks Sophie and Xenia Von Oswald and thank you for bringing it to the masses, Molly Yeh.

Saffron, Cardamom, and Rosewater Tiramisu

serves 6



300 ml very strong earl grey tea

2 tb simple syrup

4 tb vanilla liqueur

6 large eggs

150 g caster sugar

500 g Mascarpone

a healthy pinch of saffron

1 tb rose water

10-15 ladyfingers

1 tsp ground cardamom

rose petals and pistachios, for serving



  1. Make the tea, allowing it to brew for at least 15-20 minutes [using about 4 tea bags]. You want it to have a really strong earl grey flavor, almost to the point of being bitter. Sweeten with simple sugar syrup and 2 tablespoons of the vanilla liqueur, then allow to cool.
  2. Make saffron essence: use a mortar and pestle to grind the saffron (saving a few strands) into a super fine powder (adding a pinch of sugar to the mortar will help this along), pour over 50 ml of just boiled water and cool.
  3. Separate the eggs, then whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the eggs are frothy, creamy, doubled in size and all the sugar has dissolved.
  4. With the mixer on slow speed, add the Mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture and beat until smooth, then add 3-4 teaspoons of saffron essence (the color of the mixture should be a deep yellow), the remaining liqueur, rose water and saffron strands.
  5. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold them gently into the egg yolk mixture, taking care to knock out as little air as possible. check the mixture for sweetness and add more liqueur/saffron essence if needed.

To assemble

  1. Dip the ladyfingers quickly in the cooled down tea, top with the cream and some ground cardamom. Repeat with a second layer, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours to overnight. Decorate with chopped pistachios and rose petals before serving and enjoy!!

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