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Taste test: Tiramisu

Tiramisu is an Italian term that translates to "pick me up," as in "make me happy." These days, the delicate dessert of liquor- or espresso-soaked ladyfingers, mascarpone, custard and cocoa is easy to pick up in local grocery stores. Taster's Choice found four on a recent shopping trip, and judges said at least three of the treats would put them in a good mood.

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Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score (out of 100) GFS Marketplace/ 75 Publix/65 Mazzaro's Italian Market/50 Albertsons/42
How'd it look? Very inviting. The cake slices were large wedges with attractive dots of cocoa powder on top. On a nice plate, it could be served in any upscale restaurant.

The slices had a pretty design on top with pieces of chocolate. The dessert had a wide layer of mascarpone. Homemade and a little messy. Not especially appetizing, the desserts came in tiny, individual cups.
Judges' comments "This is very light and dreamylike," said one panelist. "It has a nice balance of mascarpone and whipped cream," said another. "I can taste the espresso ­— very nice. It really melts on your tongue like a cheesy chocolate cloud."

Judges described the flavor of the store-baked tiramisu as "excellent." They especially liked the creamy texture and the richness. "It has a good coffee flavor and a hint of maple," said one taster. The cake was soft and moist with a rich mascarpone flavor and a "slight booze edge." The flavor was a lot like instant pudding, judges said.
Would they buy? All four of the judges said yes.

All four of the judges said yes. Three of the four judges said yes. None of the judges would buy this brand.
Shopping information $17.49 for a 38-ounce cake at Gordon Food Service stores.

$5.49 at Publix bakeries. Available at the bakery of the St. Petersburg Italian market. $4 a slice. $4.99 for two 6-ounce servings.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Times Food Critic Laura Reiley. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Taste test: Tiramisu 07/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 4:30am]
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