MY MOTHER’S RECIPE #3 – Giselle’s Top Secret Tiramisu Recipe

“In my South, the most treasured things passed down from generation to generation are the family recipes.”  Robert St. John

Hi there,

Years ago I had the pleasure of getting to know my friend Diana’s mother Giselle. Giselle was a very beautiful woman, very elegant, and cooked like a master chef. After marrying a G.I. on the Piazza de Campo in Sienna, Gisela Oretti came to the United States with her new husband. Diana told me that in this picture of her wedding, her dress is made from her husband’s parachute.

Giselle made the most heavenly Tiramisu and she guarded the recipe with ferocity. I was like a Border Collie constantly nipping at her heals of this poor woman for the recipe to absolutely no avail. After she died, Diana who watched my recipe begging go on for several years, gave it to me. And I am going to share it with you. I made the Tiramisu with my granddaughter, Maya. I am hoping that the sweetness of sharing it with another generation will overcome her irritation with Diana for giving me the top secret and much coveted recipe and with me for sharing it with all of you.

Here are her handwritten recipe cards:

Giselle’s Top Secret Tiramisu


  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 teaspoons for espresso
  • 1 lb. marscapone cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 6 tablespoons of Cool Whip or 6 tablespoons of whipped cream
  • 2 cups of espresso
  • 2 packages of soft lady fingers or 1 and 1/2 packages of Bell ‘Amore Champagne Biscuits
  • 3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate


  1. Separate Eggs
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff
  3. Mix egg yolks with sugar until smooth
  4. Mix marscapone cheese with cool whip or whipped cream until smooth
  5. Mix the egg yolk and sugar mixture into the marscapone mixture
  6. Fold egg whites into the mixture and fold until smooth and fluffy
  7. Make the espresso and combine with 3 teaspoons of sugar
  8. Layer the bottom of your container with lady fingers and sprinkle with espresso
  9. Add a layer of the cream mixture and then top with shaved chocolate
  10. Continue making layers until finished with cream and put shaved chocolate on top of the last layer

Special Note: As you can see I made my Tiramisu free form but Giselle liked to use a glass English Trifle bowl so that you could “view the elegance of the dessert”. Enjoy!

Talk soon, ❤️💕 Bernadette

39 responses to “MY MOTHER’S RECIPE #3 – Giselle’s Top Secret Tiramisu Recipe”

  1. Thank you Bern!!! Tom love’sTiramisu so I’m happy to see this!!!
    As always, thank you for sharing! Love love this blog 💕

    • Rita, I think I am repeating myself but I would love for you to participate in this project. Let me know if you are interested. You can private text or email me.

  2. Thank you so much Rita. Do you have a family recipe that you would like to share? I would very much like you to participate in this project.

  3. wow…a wedding dress made from a parachute…that’s just something! And you have a super kitchen sous chef, Bernadette, Maya looks super happy with the piece of work that you two have created. The tiramisu looks truly amazing!

  4. My daughter loves tiramisu so much she served it at her wedding rather than cake! I’ve never seen it made “free form” like yours, it looks fabulous! Maya is adorable, a looks like a happy helper! The parachute dress is quite amazing, as is the story of you begging for the recipe, thanks for sharing it!

  5. Maya looks so proud!! I don’t think Giselle would be upset that you shared it. Tiramisu is hubby’s favourite dessert after trifle. (I had to marry him to get the family trifle recipe) Thanks for sharing.

  6. Bern, Maya looks so happy after creating such a beautiful masterpiece!! My mother is looking down and so joyful that Maya has her secret recipe… I can taste the memories now! Oh btw, she made my brother’s christening gown out of her wedding gown! Love your blog … great recipes!🥰

  7. Everyone loves tiramisu and there are so many versions. I see cream cheese is listed as an ingredient (not a traditional ingredient) and it’s not mentioned as to what to do with it. I’m sure it’s softened and you just mix it in with the mascarpone?

  8. Yes, that is what I did. I copied Giselle’s recipe card and didn’t realize that some of the directions were fuzzy. She used Cool Whip also, which I know is definitely not traditional.

  9. You know, I am not sure. It seems like it has always been in the freezer at the supermarket. Those two recipes sound very interesting. If I go to your blog will I find them?

  10. It is always fun to savor a “family” recipe and to covet one that everyone loves and no one but Mom or Gramma makes. My husbands mother used to make the yummiest Molasses cake, I have her recipe but it never turns out like hers. Maybe someday I will get it right.

    • That sounds like a delicious recipe. If you send me a picture of your mother in law, a story and the recipe, I will do a post on it.

  11. I have never seen a “free form” tiramisu before…it’s beautiful, like I want to dig a spoon right into it! And that granddaughter, she is just adorable, 🥰

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. If you like this recipe, please give it to your friends.

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