Chow Town

When it comes to desserts, let it be easy


My bakery team is full of fun, funny, strong, creative, thorough and energetic individuals.

We spend long hours together keeping the pastry cases full and baking for custom orders. Sometimes, completing the day’s orders is quick and easy, and some days we hustle from before sunup to sundown!

There is quite a variety of items leaving the shop: iced sugar cookies for a company’s event, cinnamon rolls and scones for our local Whole Foods Markets, and as many as eight wedding cakes in one weekend. On top of all of that, we are baking constantly to maintain the chocolate chunk cookie stack in the case.

To keep the chaos under control, we have to stay organized. It’s definitely a learned behavior for me. I am wired and easily start too many things at a time. Well over half of the bakery team is naturally gifted to be more structured … the rest of us rely on the systems we’ve created to keep us reigned in.

Recently, one of my bakers/decorators returned from a solo wedding delivery. She was on time, had every tool she needed, and found ease in setting up the cakes. After the cakes were in place, she began to feel unsure and question herself: Had she forgotten something? Was she in the right place at the right time? That was just too easy.

Finally, she realized, it is easy because I/we thoroughly prepare. Sweet. I love that some things can just be easy. Do you let things just be easy?

My tiramisu is so easy. I have more traditional Italian versions, but I this one is simple, quick to assemble, and delicious. You can even put this together the day before you plan to serve it.


Makes 8 servings


4 ounces coffee liqueur

6 ounces espresso, cooled


12 ounces mascarpone

12 ounces heavy cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


10 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

6 ounces heavy cream

24 ladyfingers

To prepare the syrup: Mix the coffee liqueur and espresso together and set aside. If you have a plastic squeeze bottle, funnel the syrup mixture into it (this will help with even distribution later.)

To prepare the cream: Place mascarpone in a large mixing bowl and add half of the heavy cream. Whisk to combine. Add the rest of the cream and whisk until smooth. While whisking, stream in 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until mixture is light and fluffy. (You can use a stand mixer with a whip attachment, but take it slow so you don’t redecorate your kitchen or overmix the cream. I tend to like to feel the volume change in my hands.)

To prepare the ganache: Place the cream — the 6-ounce portion — and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until completely smooth. Remove from heat.

To assemble: Line the inside of a 10-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Be sure that sides are all completely covered. Place a layer of ladyfingers, sugar side down, in the bottom of your loaf pan. Since these loaf pans have slanted sides, sometimes I can only fit seven biscuits on the bottom layer.

Soak the ladyfingers with approximately a third of the syrup. Top with half of the cream mixture. Smooth with a spatula. Top the cream with another layer of ladyfingers. This time you should be able to fit eight. Soak the ladyfingers with approximately a third of the syrup.

Top with the other half of the cream mixture. Smooth with a spatula. Finish with another row of 8 ladyfingers, and soak them with the syrup.

Wrap the plastic over to cover the pan and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Carefully invert tiramisu onto a serving platter. Re-warm the ganache and pour over the top of the tiramisu. Enjoy.

Note: You will have some leftover ganache. My husband thinks some of this should be used in one of the middle layers — go for it!

Erin Brown is a passionate and energetic wife, mother, pastry chef and proprietor of Dolce Bakery in Prairie Village.