Make this impressive tiramis-choux tower, then check out our Baileys tiramisu trifle, espresso martini tiramisu and more Christmas desserts.

Tiramisu meets profiterole tower in this addictive bake that guests won’t be able to resist. Nicola Lamb is known for her decadent bakes and this is no exception – balls of choux pastry are filled with coffee-soaked ladyfingers, boozy pastry cream and all stacked up with a brown butter coffee sauce. The built tower can be made 2-4 hours in advance but the choux buns will lose their crispness in the fridge. The buns can be made three days in advance and kept at room temperature but can be refreshed at 160C in the oven for 10 minutes before building. Choux can also be kept in the freezer for one month, well wrapped before using.



  • 400ml whole milk
  • 2 eggs (about 100g)
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 40g cornflour
  • 40ml amaretto, marsala or other liqueur of your choice (optional)
  • 350g mascarpone, softened


  • 35ml espresso shot
  • 8g espresso powder
  • 30g caster sugar


  • 100g salted butter
  • 100ml double cream
  • 30g dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 100g white chocolate


  • 90g light brown sugar
  • 70g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa
  • 90g unsalted butter, softened


  • 60ml whole milk
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 80g plain flour
  • ¾ tsp espresso powder
  • 2-3 eggs (about 120g), beaten


  • 8-10 ladyfingers


  • STEP 1

    To make the pastry cream, heat the milk for 3-4 mins or until simmering. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornflour. Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture to temper and return to the hob, cooking for 3-4 mins over a medium heat until boiling, whisking the whole time.

  • STEP 2

    Once thick, take off the heat and whisk in the alcohol, if using. Now, set aside until cold and firm – put some clingfilm on the surface so it doesn’t form a skin. Beat until smooth and no longer jelly-like – the easiest way to do this is in a stand mixer but doing so by hand will work, too. Fold in the mascarpone to make a very thick cream. Leave in the fridge until ready to use.

  • STEP 3

    Make the coffee syrup by putting all the ingredients plus 100ml of water in a pan over a low-medium heat. Stir to combine and, once the sugar has melted, set aside to cool completely.

  • STEP 4

    Start on the salted brown butter coffee sauce. Warm the butter in a pan over a medium heat for 2 mins until foaming, then continue cooking for 3-4 mins, stirring regularly, until the milk solids brown. Add the cream and whisk until combined, followed by the sugar and coffee powder, whisking well. Turn off the heat, then whisk in the chocolate and ½ tsp salt until melted and combined. Leave to cool completely.

  • STEP 5

    For the craquelin, mix together all the ingredients in a bowl until you get a crumbly, sandy mixture. Shape into a ball and put between two pieces of baking paper. Roll out to about 3mm thickness. Chill until needed.

  • STEP 6

    Now for the choux. Heat the milk, butter, sugar and ¾ tsp salt with 60ml water in a large pan over a low-medium heat. Once melted and gently simmering, add the flour and espresso powder all at once, then stir with a wooden spoon to form a thick dough ball. Dry out the paste for 1-2 mins or until you see a film on the pan. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and leave to cool slightly before beating in the eggs bit by bit – a smooth shiny paste should form.

  • STEP 7

    Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Line two or three large baking trays. Using a piping bag, pipe choux buns onto the trays about 3-4cm in diameter. Leave a 4cm gap between each bun to allow for expansion. You should get around 35-40 buns. Remove the craquelin from the fridge, cut into 3cm rounds and put on top of each profiterole. You will have more craquelin than you need so save what’s left for another recipe.

  • STEP 8

    Transfer to the oven, reduce the heat to 210C/190C fan/gas 6. After 10 mins, turn down the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 and bake for a further 10 mins. The shells should be crisp.

  • STEP 9

    To assemble, transfer the pastry cream to a piping bag with a star nozzle. Cut the ladyfingers into four pieces. Slice the top third off of each choux bun. Pipe a little cream into the bases, then around the edges of the buns, creating a border. Dip the ladyfinger pieces in the coffee syrup for 5-10 seconds until completely soaked, then put in the choux buns. Pipe more cream on top, then put the choux lids back on. Repeat for all the buns.

  • STEP 10

    Chill in the fridge for 1 hr or in the freezer for 20 mins to allow the cream to harden, ready to build the tower. Pipe the salted brown butter coffee sauce in a circle on the serving plate to help support the buns. Build each layer, piping a spiral of sauce to help the next layer stick. If desired, warm the leftover sauce slightly, then drizzle over the whole tower just before serving.

Check out more Christmas baking ideas

Eggnog custard tart topped with pastry stars


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