Tiramisu-Inspired Strawberries and Cream with Elderflower Liqueur St-Germain

So pretty. So tasty. So simple…and with a secret ingredient that knocks the socks off everyone who tastes it. What else could you want from a summer dessert?

All I’ve done here is layer some syrup-soaked ladyfingers (Fossier Biscuits Roses de Reims because I so love their pink color, but any ladyfingers or savoyardi biscuits will do) with fresh strawberries and a mascarpone whipped cream, let the stacks sit in the fridge for a few hours (four is best, but overnight also works), and … Voilà! Total work time, about 20 minutes.

The secret ingredient is a little elderflower liqueur in the syrup. Elderflower liqueur is one of the darlings of the mixology craze with its old-school chic bottles—St-Germain is the brand you’re most likely to come across—and its delicately floral flavor that is deliciously haunting…and unfamiliar to most imbibers. (Elderflower is nothing new, though. Home cooks have been making cordials and syrups with it for ages. Heck, in her book, Forgotten Skills of Cooking, Irish cookbook author Darina Allen lists eight recipes for elderflowers in the index.)

In cocktail land, a drop or two of elderflower liqueur can turn a plain ol’ glass of white wine into a pricey aperitif. And, after springing for a bottle at my local liquor store, I’m finding it has that same wow factor with desserts, like this one.

Strawberries and Cream Tiramisu

1½ cups (300 ml.) water
¾ cup (150 g) plus 3 Tbs. (40 g.) sugar, divided
2 long lemon zests, optional
1 cup (250 g.) mascarpone cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml.) whipping cream
2 pints (500 g.) strawberries
2 Tbs. (30 ml.) elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain
24 pink biscuits roses de Reims or ladyfingers or savoyardi

Bring water, ¾ cup (150 g.) sugar, and lemon zests to a boil in a medium saucepan. Boil 1 minute, then pour into a medium baking dish. Set aside to cool.

Beat mascarpone, vanilla extract, and remaining 3 Tbs. sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually beat in the whipping cream until combined. Increase the mixer speed, and beat the cream mixture until firm peaks form.

Cut 1/3 of the strawberries into 1/3-inch thick rounds.

Stir the elderflower liqueur into the cooled sugar syrup.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Dip each biscuit or ladyfinger in the syrup 10 to 15 seconds, or until soaked through (but not falling apart). Place the soaked biscuits/ladyfingers two by two on the prepared baking sheet.

Spread each biscuit pair with the whipped cream. Place the strawberry rounds around the sides of the cream-topped biscuits, filling in the center with the pointed tips and less-perfect bits.

Dip the remaining biscuits/ladyfingers in the syrup, and place on top of the strawberries. Spread with the remaining whipped cream.

Refrigerate the desserts 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Halve the remaining strawberries. Transfer each individual serving to a plate with a spatula, and sprinkle with strawberries.

(Note, you can also assemble the dessert in one single, long cake that can be sliced.)