– Words and images by Monica Luna

After a busy day up in London, during the Olympics too no less, all we wanted to do today was stay in and wallow in domesticity. Being the typical poster couple of such,  Leon DIY’d and cleaned the bay windows while I retreated into the kitchen to make some Tiramisu. We had planned on making risotto for dinner, so turns out we’re in for an Italian night.

Since being married to a Coeliac, baking has taken a challenging turn yet has definitely become more interesting and fun, plus it  yields a bigger sense of accomplishment. You don’t only need one or two flours – plain or self-raising? Nope, sorry, I need me some sorghum, tapioca, corn, potato, rice, millet, or buckwheat, and that’s not even half of it. Rice? Is that brown, white or glutinous? I had never heard of Xanthan and Guar Gum before.

In the beginning I thought the vows of ‘in sickness and in health’ should have included liner notes: “Gone are your days of indulging in your favorite pastries and cakes, or popping into a bakery and buying a fresh loaf of bread, or whipping up your usual souped-up veg sandwiches for lunch”. And gone were those days indeed up until we found the book of a woman who could be considered an angel of salvation for the Coeliac Disease community. Karen Morgan and her Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free book brought those good ol’ glutened days back for Leon, well sans the gluten of course. Those days of popping into a bakery are still a thing of the past because now that fresh loaf of bread comes out of our own oven. Gluten free of course, unless I intentionally want to make Leon sick. Though still no sliced bread for sandwiches, but who cares if you can have your veg with homemade crackers instead.

There are heaps of food websites now for the gluten-free diet as more and more people are being diagnosed with Coeliacs, plus it seems like the new health rave (like veganism or the macrobiotic/raw diet) as studies show that gluten can actually be bad for you.  So Leon is surely a happier camper since this diet breakthrough, is packing in more pounds, and so am I.

This Tiramisu is not my recipe so don’t expect one to follow. It is Karen Morgan’s. The first recipe from her book we tried was for Chocolate Chip Cookies and I wonder if you can imagine the utter joy we felt when they were done. I know right, something as simple as choc chip cookies. But heck, it took Ms. Morgan a whopping 87 times to perfect the recipe; and that’s why I think she is a rockstar in her own right.  Our first ambitious attempt was to make her Cream Puffs. Leon was the one who made them, kicked me out of the kitchen, and when done there were shrieks and high-fives in the kitchen.

So here is a quick run-through of the classic Italian dessert with a gluten-free twist…

Freshly baked ladyfinger biscuits, more like blobs in this case, before they are transferred to a wire rack to cool completely. These are mainly made out of sorghum, tapioca and corn flour, eggs, sugar, and guar gum.

Some coffee beans to be ground and brewed, then mixed with Calvados.

Egg yolks are whisked with sugar, followed by vanilla extract and mascarpone cheese.

The egg whites get a beating of their own, after which gets folded in with the yolk-cheese mixture.

Assemble the dessert by dunking the biscuits into the coffee-Calvados, then layering them with the cheese mixture.

Grate semisweet chocolate over the top.  For this I used some raw chocolate from the Philippines, which we found forgotten in our cupboard.

After two hours covered and refrigerated, indulge.


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  • That is one big dish of Tiramisu for 2 people. How long did it last?

  • Leon Steber wrote:

    It’s still going – it compliments the three-ingredient icecream Monica made the night before!

  • Hey Monica! Thank you so much for sharing your story! I’m so glad you have been enjoying my cookbook so much and nothing give me more joy than knowing that people are high fiv-ing in the kitchen when it’s all said and done! You guys rock! For the ladyfingers—try a ladyfingers pan so they keep their shape— if you can get your hands on one! In the meantime, happy baking!!!


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