Date and Cardamom Coffee Tiramisu - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

Date and Cardamom Coffee Tiramisu

A glorious recipe from Reem Kassis’ cookbook, The Arabesque Table.

“I’m usually of the mindset, especially when it comes to such iconic dishes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ ” writes Reem Kassis in her book, The Arabesque Table, which showcases modern recipes while sharing the history of Arab cuisine. The Palestinian writer and James Beard-nominated cookbook author reasons that the tiramisu recipe included in her latest release “is in no way a better version of the classic. Rather, it is a variation of it that uses traditional Arabic cardamom coffee (because that’s what we usually drink at home), adds a bit more texture to the cream with chopped dates, and tops it with bright green crushed pistachios instead of cocoa powder.”

Built off a base of strong-brewed coffee blended with rum or Cognac and spiced with cardamom, Kassis’  beautiful re-envisioning of the Italian classic is a picturesque delight. “It’s indeed a pick-me-up dessert—Arabian style—not only for the coffee but for the vividness of the colors and flavors as well.”


Yield:Serves 6-10
  • 2 cups freshly brewed strong, dark coffee
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp. rum or Cognac, to taste
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • 16 oz. mascarpone cheese
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
  • 10 ½ oz. ladyfingers (sponge fingers) or savoiardi (about 36)
  • ½ cup pistachios, finely ground
  • Tools:bowl, stand mixer or hand mixer, 9 x 7-inch rectangular dish


In a bowl, stir together the coffee and rum (or Cognac), using as little or as much as you like. Stir in the cardamom and set aside to cool as you prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), combine the mascarpone, cream, sugar, and vanilla and whip on medium-high speed until the cream has thickened and the whisk leaves behind tracks that don’t disappear, 2–3 minutes. Gently fold in the chopped dates until evenly combined and set aside.

To assemble the cake, briefly dip the ladyfingers (sponge fingers), one at a time, into the coffee mixture until just soaked but not soggy. Line the bottom of a 9 × 7-inch rectangular dish with two rows of 6 ladyfingers each. Spread one-third of the mascarpone/cream mixture over the ladyfingers. Repeat with a second layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers and top with another third of the cream mixture. Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers and top with the final layer of remaining cream. Sprinkle with the crushed pistachios. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight before serving.

Note: I most often use a deep 6-cup glass dish that measures 9 × 7 inches and end up with exactly three layers. However, you can use a round 9- or 10-inch cake pan, individual serving bowls, or a larger square or rectangular dish for a thinner cake. If you plan to remove the cake from the dish it is assembled in to serve, line the dish with plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang on all sides. You can then invert a plate over the tiramisu, flip it and remove the wrap, then invert your serving platter and flip back, pistachio-side up, and serve.

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