May 17, 2022

A la Carte: Time to Celebrate, Time for Tiramisu!

Lee White

Christmas has become a quiet day for me.

My own daughter, Darcy, is in California with her husband. Stepchildren are all over the country and their children are, too. My stepson and his wife, whom I adore, are divorced and my daughter-in-law will spend her day with her parents, who are quite old and don’t drive the nearly two hours to get to Newburyport. 

I won’t be alone, though.

Noank friends, who are not very religious and don’t have children, have invited me with their relatives to their house for Christmas Eve dinner. This year their new tradition is go to give a book as a Secret Santa. This is may be my favorite Christmas Eve:  good conversation, excellent food, good wine and a book to read after I get home.

I will take a few bottles of wine. I used to buy three cases—two red and one white—for the year; now it is two white and one red, but it lasts for a couple of years!

I will take also take dessert. Christmas is like its cousin the month before, Thanksgiving, and is not a day for dieting so I will make a tirasmisu cheesecake. It is beyond delicious, purely hedonistic and will leave lots of extra for Judy and Dick.

Tiramisu Cheesecake
Adapted from a recipe given to me by Aimee Pezzello from New London
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Photo by Victoria Alexandrova on Unsplash.

2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or regular ground espresso)
1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs

3 8-ounce packages cream cheese (or light or Neufchatel cheese) at room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 and 2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (or regular ground espresso)
1 tablespoon hot water
2 tablespoons brandy or Cognac
1 square (one-ounce) semisweet chocolate, grated


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter an 8-inch spring form pan.
Stir butter and espresso powder in small bowl until combined.
Stir in crumbs until crumbs are evenly moistened.
Pat evenly over bottom of prepared pan.
Bake 10 minutes.
Cool on wire rack.
Keep oven on.
Tightly cover outside bottom and sides of spring form pan with heavy-duty foil.


Meanwhile, beat cream cheese and mascarpone in large mixer bowl at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
Gradually beat in sugar, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula, until completely smooth, 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium and beat in vanilla and salt.
Add eggs one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
Pour 4four cups of filling over crust in prepared pan and place pan in larger roasting pan. (This will avoid extra filling messing up the oven/)
Dissolve espresso powder into hot water.
Fold into remaining filling with brandy and grated chocolate.
Pour over filling in prepared pan.
Place roasting pan into the oven and bake for around 1 and ¼ hours.
Turn oven off and let cheesecake coast in the oven with the door ajar by at least 4 to 6 inches.
Remove on a wire rack and let cool.
Serve cool or refrigerate for a day or two, bringing up to room temperature before serving. 

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years but now lives in Groton, Conn.
Contact Lee at

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