Skip The Ladyfingers And Try Hot Cross Buns For A Twist On Tiramisu

Tiramisu is an easy, no-bake, crowd-pleasing dessert. The name translates from Italian to "pick me up," referring to the coffee-soaked ladyfingers that separate layers of mascarpone custard. The pillar-shaped sponge cookies are traditionally used because they absorb the coffee beautifully while maintaining their form. But for an equally absorbent yet more flavorful twist on a classic tiramisu, you can swap the ladyfingers for hot cross buns. An iconic Christian culinary tradition to break the Good Friday fast and ring in Easter weekend, hot cross buns are fluffy, spiced sweet buns dotted with plump currants or raisins. Just like ladyfingers, they're available at bakeries and in packaged baked goods sections in grocery stores.

Your tiramisu will still be easy to assemble using store-bought buns to soak up the coffee and place between layers of cream. In fact, you can use the crosses carved into the tops of the buns as a reference for cutting them into large bite-sized pieces. Then, toast them in the oven while you prepare your mascarpone cream. Toasting the hot cross buns will dry them out, facilitating in the absorption of coffee or liqueur. The spices and fruit in the buns add depth of flavor and texture to the tiramisu, complementing the rich mascarpone custard with bright bursts of tangy dried fruit and a sweet and spicy finish from cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Other tiramisu ingredient swaps and flavor pairings

While hot cross buns are historically an Easter treat, they're available year-round in many countries including the U.K. and Australia. Plus, unlike ladyfingers, hot cross buns have been diversified into numerous flavors with different mix-ins. There are all sorts of variations, including chocolate chip, toffee, cranberry-orange, chocolate-cherry, coffee, butterscotch, white chocolate raspberry, and apple cinnamon. Given the wealth of different flavors, your hot cross bun tiramisu can take on an equally diverse range of flavors.

You can try soaking chocolate-cherry or chocolate chip hot cross buns in cherry liqueur instead of coffee. Soak cranberry-orange buns in Cointreau or triple sec, infuse orange zest into the mascarpone cream, and dust with cranberry-flavored sugar for a fruity tiramisu. For coffee lovers, soak coffee-flavored hot cross buns in coffee liqueur. Or, stir almond and vanilla extract into whipped cream and mascarpone to create white chocolate raspberry tiramisu. From there, swap the cocoa powder dusting for toasted, thinly sliced almonds and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

If you enjoy using an absorbent sweet bread, you don't have to limit yourself to hot cross buns, especially if you live in a country where they're seasonal sweets. Cinnamon raisin buns, nutty sticky buns, cardamom rolls, and pan de muerto are all perfect candidates for flavorful, spongy tiramisu layers. If you want to maintain an Italian-themed dessert, swap ladyfingers for panettone, a dried-fruit-laden spiced bread that is similar to hot cross buns.