Give Your Tiramisu Neapolitan Flair With Strawberries And Vanilla

Tiramisu, if you close your eyes as you take a bite, is one of those desserts that will transport you straight to Italy. Its flavorful combination of boozy ladyfingers, coffee, and cream is an unmistakable classic that serves as a great base for experimentation. Mashed recipe developer Jamie Monkkonen, for instance, took inspiration from a childhood favorite when creating her upgraded variation of Giada De Laurentiis' tiramisu.

"I wanted to incorporate fresh berries in Giada's recipe and realized that with strawberries and chocolate, it nearly mimicked Neapolitan ice cream," Monkkonen tells us. She decided to go all-in by adding vanilla extract to the mascarpone cream and extra chocolate shavings to the top. Monkkonen describes her version as the "perfect blend of my adult and childhood favorite desserts." 

The sweet tang of strawberries complements both the rich chocolate and light mascarpone, and it also elevates the appearance, as berries are the secret ingredient to add a pop of vibrancy to tiramisu. This dish is a perfect combination of nostalgia and sophistication, conjuring the vision of spooning ice cream from a tub of Neapolitan as a child while also creating a colorful and delicious plate for an adult.

Can you use other berries in your Neapolitan tiramisu?

Jamie Monnaken's recipe doesn't just incorporate strawberries between the layers of cream, but it also finishes with a layer of sliced berries on top. "In this version," she says, "the chocolate shavings layer nicely over the top layer of fruit. Every bite tastes like a chocolate-covered strawberry." Because the strawberries are such an important — and visible — element of the dessert, be sure to find the freshest and prettiest strawberries available.

If you don't have any strawberries handy, you can achieve the same effect with other red berries. Monkkonen tells Mashed, "Raspberries would be delicious too, and you could layer any soft fruit that pairs well with chocolate in place of the strawberries." Luckily, just about any fruit pairs well with both vanilla and chocolate, which makes the possibilities nearly endless.

Raspberries are the most obvious choice for preserving the Neapolitan ice cream appearance. Their flavor is more subtle than the slight zing you get from strawberries, which will call more attention to the vanilla-infused creaminess of the tiramisu. Chocolate and cherries are a timeless combination that would work well here — just make sure you remove the pits first! You could put even more emphasis on the berry by using cranberries, which are slightly bitter. If you're serving tiramisu during colder weather, using this traditionally wintry fruit can help reframe a dessert that is typically associated with sultry Mediterranean climates.