• Ooh baby. (Camellia Aebischer)Source: Camellia Aebischer
There are times when tradition is worth going against, and making Adam Liaw’s tiramisu recipe is one of them.
Camellia Ling Aebischer

21 May 2021 - 11:52 AM  UPDATED 22 Jun 2021 - 9:37 PM

--- Stream the coffee episode of The Cook Up with Adam Liaw free on SBS On Demand or catch the series weeknights on SBS Food at 7.00pm and 10.00pm. ---


Nonna’s cover your eyes, because somewhere there is a can of sweetened condensed milk being poured into a bowl of whipped mascarpone and cream.

Adam Liaw has combined two wonderful things that naturally go hand in hand: Vietnam’s famous condensed milk-based iced coffee and the Italian coffee-flavoured layered dessert, tiramisu.

Get the recipe
Vietnamese coffee tiramisu

It’s hard to imagine an easier dessert than this. Vietnamese coffee is known for its characteristic fragrance which pairs well with the mascarpone cream.

What makes Vietnamese iced coffee unique is the blend of dark roast beans with a little added cocoa, and butter or sugar present from the roasting process.

Vietnamese coffee is also mostly made with robusta beans which are stronger in flavour and caffeine content. They naturally contain a lot less fat and sugar than arabica beans which is why clarified butter and sugar are often added during the roasting process along with (sometimes) cocoa or vanilla. The beans are also roasted low and slow, giving the coffee its signature dark richness, high caffeine content and sweet scent.

Vietnamese coffee grounds can be found pretty readily at Asian grocers – lookout for the major export brand Trung Nguyen in red boxes. If you can’t find it, coffee with chicory or just regular brewed coffee will work just as well.

There's also pav
Vietnamese iced coffee pavlova

Vietnamese iced coffee is made with a delicious, chicory flavoured coffee, plenty of condensed milk, and ice – hugely refreshing in the humid Vietnamese climate. #BringBackTheClassics

In the US, a common substitute for the aromatic flavours of a Vietnamese blend is using coffee blended with chicory, the root of a plant in the dandelion family that’s roasted and ground. In politically tumultuous times it was used to stretch out coffee supply, particularly in New Orleans. You can find chicory coffee at health food stores and certain supermarkets in Australia and it will make a noble substitute.

If you can't find Vietnamese coffee just use the regular stuff, it'll still be just as delicious.

How to make Vietnamese coffee tiramisu

Place 450 ml thickened cream, one 250 g tub of mascarpone, and 200 ml of sweetened condensed milk in a bowl. Whip with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until firm like whipped cream.

Brew 2 cups Vietnamese coffee and add 2 tbsp rum. Set out your tiramisu tray, a medium-sized clean roasting pan will do. Set up your dipping station with 500 g savoiardi biscuits, your whipped cream and coffee.

Dip the biscuits in the coffee and place in a layer, top with half the cream, then repeat. Dust with cocoa powder and set aside in the fridge for two hours or overnight.

I did three layers instead of two and to be honest I regret it.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @cammienoodle

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