Tiramisu, Lightened Up

In honor of Italian week, we’re lightening up this all-time favorite dessert. Find out how you can enjoy this delectable classic without all the guilt.

In honor of Italian week, we’re lightening up an all-time favorite dessert: tiramisu! Find out how you can enjoy this delectable classic with fewer calories and less fat.

The Problem: High-Calorie Ingredients

One slice of this Italian classic can rack up over 600 calories and 46 grams fat -- one and a half times the recommended daily amount of fat.  The high-fat culprits in this dish? Lots of whipping cream, boatloads of mascarpone cheese and the cake-like ladyfingers cookies.

Some recipes call for several cups of whipping cream, but just one cup contains a whopping 414 calories and 44 grams of fat (28 of them saturated.) The mascarpone cheese is not much lighter in calories and fat;  1 ounce contains 124 calories and 13 grams of fat (7 of them saturated.) Some recipes call for an entire 16-ounce containerm adding close to 2000 calories and over 200 grams of fat! As for the ladyfingers, a serving typically contains around 4, adding 160 calories and 4 grams of fat.  And the final calorie culprit: Booze! Traditional versions include soaking the ladyfingers in rum or liqueur, which adds another few hundred calories to the recipe.

Simple Substitutions

Cut down on the high-fat ingredients without sacrificing taste. A simple fix: make thinner layers of the creamy ingredients by using one-third less filling than the recipe calls for. To lighten it up even further, use light cream cheese or low-fat ricotta cheese in place of half of the mascarpone cheese.

You can cut calories a little further by swapping out out the alcohol-bathed ladyfingers for ones dipped in nearly calorie-free plain brewed coffee. Many recipes also call for tons of chocolate shavings; cut the amount by sprinkling about 1 to 2 teaspoons of shavings per serving or use a sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa powder.

Downsize

So you don’t want to give up any of the classic ingredients in this to-die-for dessert? Slim down the portion. To bulk up the dessert without adding fat, serve with fresh fruit or a delicious skim-milk cappuccino.

Another way to downsize: Create single-serving mini tiramisu bites with a touch of filling and two ladyfingers.   This lightens up the dessert and makes it perfect for circulating on a cocktail-party platter.

Lighter tiramisu recipes to try:

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby's full bio >>

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