If I told you that you could serve up a pumpkin spice dessert for Thanksgiving that was creamy, indulgent, no-bake, no-cook and easy to prepare ahead with no special tools—well, you’d probably think I was lying or, at least, overpromising, right? But the proof is right there in the picture, and this tiramisu achieves all of that and then some.
As I surmised when I made the chocolate-cherry tiramisu at Valentine’s Day this year, the classic Italian dessert is basically a dressed-up version of an ice-box cake. Layers of sweetened mascarpone cream and espresso-soaked delicate ladyfingers are accented with a hint of rum or brandy, and dusted with pure cocoa for a chocolate-y finish. I am a huge fan of tiramisu, and I enjoyed it most recently in its traditional Italian style when my friend, Peg, and I traveled up to West Virginia and Ohio for the Fiesta Factory tent sale.
But I came home thinking, “why couldn’t I give this scrumptious dessert a little Thanksgiving twist?” And so I did. Note that I have made several substitutions from a typical tiramisu recipe:
The recipe is made with raw egg yolks, so if you have health concerns about that, I’d encourage you to seek out an eggless or cooked egg recipe, or perhaps consider using pasteurized eggs. Also, planning ahead is more of a requirement than a convenience, as tiramisu improves after a 24-hour setup time. If you’re going to try the recipe for Thanksgiving, you might want to make it a couple of evenings ahead.
Ingredients (6 generous servings)
3 egg yolks, room temperature*
2 Tbsp. maple sugar (or use superfine if you can’t find maple)
8 oz. tub mascarpone, room temperature
5 Tbsp. Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter*
1 tsp. real vanilla extract
4 Tbsp. Pumking whiskey, divided* (see notes)
1 1/2 cups brewed light roast cacao with cinnamon*
7 oz. package ladyfingers (this might be labeled as biscotti savoiardi)
2 Tbsp. maple sugar, mixed with 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon and 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
The egg yolks should be room temperature for this recipe, but it is easier to separate the eggs when they are cold from the fridge. Save the whites for your weekend omelet.
If you don’t have access to a Trader Joe’s store, any other brand of pumpkin butter will work just fine. Homemade would be even better!
I found the Pumking Whiskey completely by chance when my husband and I traveled through New Jersey and Connecticut at the end of summer, and it’s a real treat. Distribution from this craft distillery is limited, but readers in the northeast U.S. should have little trouble finding it. Otherwise, go with spiced light rum, or perhaps even Frangelico.
My first impressions of the Crio Bru brewed cacao were only so-so, but I’ve grown to really enjoy this as an occasional alternative to coffee. Since the time I first discovered the company, it has added an array of new seasonal flavors, and the cinnamon is one of my favorites. It’s a limited edition that is currently only available in a sample pack, but the company just added another flavor—you guessed it, pumpkin spice!
I made this in a Pyrex dish that measures 8 ½ x 7” inches, but I’m sure you could also make this recipe work in an 8 x 8” dish. Or double the recipe and use a 9 x 13.
It helps to have an electric mixer (either stand or handheld) to make this dessert, but it can also be done with a whisk and a good strong arm. 🙂
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whip eggs until they are smooth. Gradually add maple sugar and continue whipping until all sugar is dissolved into the yolks.
- Add mascarpone into the bowl and blend on low speed until the mixture is evenly mixed, smooth and glossy. Fold in 2 Tbsp. of the Pumking whiskey, plus the pumpkin butter and vanilla extract.
- Using a mesh sifter, sprinkle about half of the maple-spice mixture into the baking dish.
- Combine brewed cacao and remaining Pumking whiskey in a flat bowl. Carefully dip the ladyfingers, one at a time, into the liquid. Turn only twice before arranging the cookies in the dessert dish. I have learned that it is very easy to make the ladyfingers soggy, so err on the conservative side. Repeat until you have a complete single layer of ladyfingers in the dish.
- Carefully spread half of the pumpkin-mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers, smoothing it all the way to the edges of the dish.
- Repeat with the next layer of ladyfingers, top with the remaining mascarpone mixture, and sprinkle the top with the remaining maple-spice mixture. Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving.