Tiramisu and its Middle Eastern counterpart

Mascarpone is not very common in Iraq. The only way you can get it is to ask your friends coming from abroad to pick up some on their way here. Fortunately, there are local products that can successfully replace it.

Kaymak is a Middle Eastern clotted cream popular in Turkey, Iraq, Balkans and Iran. It is made from the milk of water buffaloes, cows, sheep or goats by boiling the milk slowly, then simmering it for two hours over the low heat. It has rich, thick consistency and contains usually about 60% of fat. Italian mascarpone  instead is a cheese, coagulated by the addition of certain acidic substances, such as lemon juice, vinegar, citric acid or acetic acid. It is less thick than kaymak and contains only 40% of fat. They are both extremely tasty. If you decide to make tiramisu using kaymak you’ve got to remember to add more whisked whites to maintain lightness and fluffiness of the original recipe.


I always thought tiramisu was a traditional, Italian dessert. After doing a little bit of a research I discovered that the majority of sources date it to 1960s, which is not really that long time ago. It was supposedly invented by Roberto Linguanatto, owner of “La Beccherie” restaurant in Treviso, Italy and his apprentice, Franscesca Valori, whose maiden name was Tiramisu. Some sources mention it originated in the end of 17th century in Siena in honor of Grand Duke Cosimo III. Interestingly, recipe named “tiramisu” was unknown in cookbooks before the 1960s, and the Italian-language dictionary Sabatini Colletti traces the first printed version of the word to 1980.

My Italian neighbor has very strong feelings about it and definitely considers it to be a part of Italian culture, which undoubtedly is.

Few days ago, we conducted a little experiment and prepared tiramisu with the Middle Eastern kaymak. Outcome: very satisfying. (Of course if mascarpone is available in your country, refer to the original recipe.)

Here comes the recipe for the tiramisu she always makes at home or actually every country she currently lives in, and where the mascarpone is available. Below you will find two recipes, one using original mascarpone, one Middle Eastern kaymak.


Tiramisu and its Middle Eastern counterpart

Tiramisu (basic recipe); form 20x20cm, 3 layers

30 savoiardi (ladyfinger cookies)

500 g mascarpone

5 eggs

8 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 cup espresso

cocoa for sprinkling


  1. Beat the sugar and the egg yolks in a bowl until they become fluffy and light.
  2. Beat the whites until they become fluffy and thick.
  3. Combine mascarpone with egg yolks, stir well. Gently stir in whites to add some air to your cheese.Spread a thin layer in the bottom of your dish.
  4. Brew strong espresso. Dip savoiardi in espresso and arrange the first layer on cheese.
  5. Spread another layer of mascarpone, and arrange another layer of savoiardi. Repeat until you run out of the ingredients. Sprinkle with cocoa powder and refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. If you’re in hurry, keep it in the freezer for half an hour, and then serve.

My Italian neighbor mentioned a valid point. Whenever you combine eggs with any other dough you should always stir it in one direction: either left or right. This will ensure the right consistency of the final product and that’s what you want, correct?

Also, stick to the order of adding ingredients and original measurements. It really matters in baking.

While making tiramisu use high dish, as the more layers you arrange, the tastier it will be.

Last thing is that you have to be fast while dipping savoiard in espresso. If they absorb too much of a brewery they will become very mushy. Imagine that the coffee is really hot and you’re dipping your fingers in it. That’s how fast it should be. If you’re not very imaginative, just use hot coffee.

Tiramisu with kaymak

The only difference is that instead of 5 eggs you use 7, and instead of 8 tbsp of sugar you add 12. Beside that everything is quite similar.



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