This three-layer tiramisu is a holiday variation of the traditional tiramisu, using pumpkin, chocolate and amaretto instead of espresso and rum. Based on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe, and inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe, the mascarpone layers are flavored with pumpkin puree, with the middle layer additionally flavored with melted chocolate. The ladyfingers are brushed/dipped with cocoa and amaretto. The top is dusted with cocoa and cinnamon, with chocolate decorations.

This recipe creates a very light and soft mascarpone layer. For a denser, thicker cake, use less whipping cream.

Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu
Serves 10-12


* 9 tablespoons amaretto
* 6 large egg yolks
* 2/3 cup sugar
* 1/3 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 lbs mascarpone cheese (about 3 8-oz. tubs)
* 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 36-48 ladyfingers
* 1 to 1 1/2 cans pumpkin puree (15-22 oz.)
* 6 oz. semisweet chocolate
* 3 tablespoons cocoa + 1 tablespoon for dusting
* 1 cup hot water
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon for dusting


  1. Stir hot water, cocoa and 5 tablespoons amaretto in bowl until cocoa dissolves; set aside.
  2. Beat egg yolks in a standing mixer (whisk attachment) until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow (1.5-2 minutes), scraping down the sides. Add remaining 4 tablespoons amaretto and beat until just combined (20-30 seconds). Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until smooth (30-45 seconds). Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. In the same mixer bowl, beat 3/4 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into mascarpone mixture. Fold in pumpkin puree.
  4. Combine chocolate and remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream, and microwave until chocolate is melted. Stir until smooth. Transfer 1/3 of the pumpkin mixture into a separate medium bowl, and fold in chocolate mixture.
  5. Cover bottom of pan or baking dish with ladyfingers dipped in cocoa-amaretto mixture (dip each side very quickly). Top with pumpkin mixture. Add another layer of ladyfingers, and top with pumpkin-chocolate mixture. Add another layer of ladyfingers and finish with remaining pumpkin mixture. Combine 1 tablespoon cocoa with cinnamon and dust over top.

Unfortunately, the tiramisu did not survive heavy Thanksgiving road traffic and accidents. Fortunately, we made pumpkin cookies with brown butter icing as back-up!

UPDATE: I’ve been asked about my pumpkin cookie recipe, so here it is. I arrived at this recipe through experimentation after tweaking a couple other recipes. Hope it works well for you all!

Rolled Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
20-24 cookies


* 2 3/4 cup flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 teaspoon ginger
* 1/2 teaspoon cloves
* 1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
* 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
* 2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
* 1 teaspoon vanilla
* 1 egg

For the icing (makes 1 cup) – from Martha Stewart:

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
* 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 tablespoons milk


  1. Beat together butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add egg and continue beating until incorporated.
  2. Sift/whisk dry ingredients together in medium bowl. Then add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture in two to three portions, beating after each addition until just incorporated.
  3. Fold in pumpkin puree. The cookie dough should still be thick.
  4. Divide the dough into two portions, wrap in plastic wrap, and flatten into discs. Chill dough overnight or place in freezer for at least a couple hours.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Remove chilled dough from fridge/freezer, roll out to 1/8-1/4 inch thickness, cut into desired shape with cookie cutter, and place on lined, non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookie will not brown much at all, but should spring back slightly when pressed with finger.
  7. As the cookies are cooling, prepare the brown butter icing: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally until nut-brown in color (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat, pour butter into bowl, leaving any burned sediment behind. Add sugar, vanilla and milk to brown butter, stirring until smooth.
  8. After the cookies have cooled, dip and twist the surface into the icing. Allow the icing to set — it won’t quite harden, but it will develop a dry surface.

Tips for success:

  • Work quickly, and keep the unused half of the cookie dough chilled while working with the first half. 
  • When rolling out the dough, place the dough between two sheets of waxed paper dusted with flour. Sandwiching between wax sheets helps prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and otherwise making a mess. I would also suggest dusting the dough disc with flour. Also, consider taping the bottom sheet of wax paper to the table to avoid slipping and sliding. 
  • Use non-stick foil (my recommendation) or parchment paper to line the baking sheet.
  • Be liberal with the spices.
  • Consider doubling the icing recipe to make the icing dipping process easier.
  • The icing may separate — stir to re-emulsify, and add a little extra milk if necessary to thin the consistency.
1 Comment

1 Comment on Pumpkin Chocolate Tiramisu – Happy Thanksgiving!

  1. Vickee
    December 9, 2011 at 11:40 pm (12 years ago)

    drool… 😀


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