Tiramisu, the coffee-flavoured, finger-biscuit dessert with layers of mascarpone has long been a favourite of many South African restaurants and aspiring chefs. The name – “pick me up” or “lift me up” in Italian – is quite a fitting one for anyone with a sweet tooth needing a bit of a boost after a long week of meetings and mails.

Mercedez Karelse, a chef at the Taj Hotel in Cape Town, recently created the winning dessert recipe in the 2015 Inter Hotel Challenge with her version of a ginger tiramisu, without the signature finger-biscuits. Saying that the biscuits are a bit too sweet for her taste, Mercedez serves olive oil ice cream and an olive oil and strawberry coulis with the dessert. However, you can simplify matters at home by serving it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream without the coulis, paired with a glass of the Zonnebloem Pinotage.

This wine is known for its full-bodied chocolate, plum and coffee notes, which pairs perfectly with the ginger and coffee flavours of the tiramisu. So there is no need to change to a dessert wine at your next dinner party; merely keep the Pinotage on the table throughout your main course and into dessert. The 2014 Zonnebloem Pinotage retails for about R55 at most liquor outlets.


Ginger Tiramisu

Tiramisu cream

Shot (30ml) of espresso coffee
200g mascarpone
180g cream
4 gelatine leaves
75g castor sugar
4 eggs

1. Beat the sugar and eggs together until it is light and creamy.
2. Melt the gelatine in 200ml ice water and add to the egg mixture. Keep aside.
3. Whip the cream until it forms a soft peak, add the mascarpone and whip until smooth.
4. Slowly fold the egg mixture into the mascarpone cream.
5. Remove one half the mixtures and keep it aside; add the espresso to the other half.

Ginger base

185g self-raising flour
120g brown sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g butter
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp golden syrup
1 egg
Garnish: 400g dark or milk chocolate

1. Place all ingredients except the butter in a mixing bowl.
2. Melt the butter and add it to the mixture.
3. Mix it at high speed in mixer until crumbs are formed.
4. Place them on a tray lined with silicone paper.
5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 180˚C.


1. Line a deep dish with plastic wrap
2. Line the bottom with a thin layer of ginger crumbs.
3. Place the plain tiramisu cream on top of the crumbs.
4. Add the espresso cream as the next layer and grate the chocolate on top and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
5. Cut the tiramisu in neat slices and place them on a plate with the remaining crumbs and scoops of ice-cream.

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Image credit: Franz Lauinger, the photographer of Showcook.com, and the Inter Hotel Challenge 2015 for the image of the ginger tiramisu from Mercedez Karelse.