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portuguese tiramisu ice cream

The Portuguese have a version of Tiramisu called Bolo de Bolacha. It’s simple: layers of coffee-dipped biscuit and thickened cream with grated chocolate on top. Typical Portuguese – they do away with the marscapone and the savioardi biscuits in the italian tiramisu recipe and replace them with inexpensive and more readily available ingedients. So unpretentious. So cool. I love this recipe because it’s a cake you don’t bake (and I don’t have a normal oven) and it’s pathetically easy and quick to make. I know it doesn’t sound that exciting; but believe me, it adds up to much more than the sum of its parts.

Here’s my version. I make it as a semi-frio/icecream. This is so yummy that I can easily eat a whole litre in one sitting. As a result I will not be wearing a bikini this year.


A packet of Maria Biscuits (these are the most basic sweet biscuits there are.  Here they cost 35c per pack. In Australia the equivalent would be Arnott’ s Milk Arrowroot. Except Marias are round and not as thick. )
A litre of Vanilla Ice Cream
Caramel sauce: equal quantities butter and brown sugar, cooked slowly until sugar is completely dissolved and colour altered slightly. Add shot of moscatel or brandy or whatever if it’s for grown-ups.
A cupful of espresso coffee.

Dip the biscuits in the coffee briefly and make a layer of them in an ice cream or plastic container (I line the container with plastic to make serving easier) then plop on a layer of ice cream, then a drizzle of caramel sauce and repeat until you’ve filled the container. Try to freeze it for 24 hours before eating, if you can wait that long. You have to slice it to get the full effect.



  1. mores July 24, 2009 8:10 pm Reply

    Mmmmmh, looks delicious!
    How do you “add a layer of ice cream” … do you soften it up, first?

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 3rd, 2009 at 7:29 am

    Hi mr mores. Or is it ms? I guess every time I’ve made it, I’ve come straight from the supermarket, so the icecream is already softish. Also my freezer is crap. And if it was hard to start with then the warm caramel sauce will melt it anyway. But, yes indeed, “adding a layer” will be much easier if the icecream is soft. Although having the icecream firm helps with the height (and therefore the final appearance on slicing), I’ve found a sloppy icecream doesn’t hurt the flavour. Oh god, I want some now…

    [Reply to comment]

  2. Elvira July 24, 2009 10:37 pm Reply

    One of my favorite portuguese dessert… 🙂

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 3rd, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Oh really? But I thought you were so classy! I’m so happy for the bola de bolacha to be on your list. As I said to someone else, I think it’s dinner-party worthy because it looks so lovely (well it would be in sydney because they’ve never seen bolabolacha before…

    [Reply to comment]

  3. Derek July 25, 2009 12:20 am Reply

    I’ll give it a try tonight,…thanks

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 3rd, 2009 at 7:30 am

    Go Derek. hope it went well. hope you’re not addicted.

    [Reply to comment]

  4. Flor de sal July 25, 2009 1:00 am Reply

    Hi there Emma!
    I must confess : I love bolo de bolacha, it’s something very ordinary here im Portugal. I have several diferent versions from the recipe … but i didn’t know yours, with ice-cream. I simple loved the idea!

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 3rd, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Hello! I find it very hard to make favourites of the sweet things here. I have to divide them into pastelaria and sobremesa (although bolabolacha is both). I find bola de bolacha impossible to ignore when it’s on a menu. But Doce de Casa! Baba de Camelo! The portuguese understand chocolate pudding/cakey/saucey/torta thing too. Bliss!

    [Reply to comment]

  5. Fiona July 25, 2009 1:55 am Reply

    Hmmm….will have to try this one day when I can go to the gym for 3 hours afterwards! Or…I could invite a dozen friends around to share it and that way I wouldn’t eat the lot. The Maria biscuits you mention would be the same as our Marie biscuits in Australia – they are thin and round and I used them crushed up for my cheesecake base.

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 3rd, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Hi fiona! Maries, of course… I forgot, or maybe I’d never noticed them before. I think the trick to the icecream is to have a few kids around, and it disappears faster. But you know, the slices look so nice, I think it’s dinner party worthy, but obviously you don’t tell them that you didn’t make it all from scratch, exactly.

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  6. Tessa July 25, 2009 9:33 pm Reply

    I particularly like the fact that one of the Google ads that came up on this page was for a colon cleansing kit? Is there something you are not telling us about this desert?

    [Reply to comment]

  7. Isabel July 26, 2009 11:08 am Reply

    You might enjoy this very beautiful blog (it has an English version, too):


    (and your version of bolo de bolacha, one of my brother’s standard birthday cake, sounds excellent!)

    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: August 3rd, 2009 at 7:08 am

    Oh yeah… yummy photography…

    [Reply to comment]

  8. tNb August 1, 2009 1:20 am Reply

    First time here, looking forward to exploring your blog! And looking forward to the countless calories from your Bolo de Bolacha, will definitely try it soon … goodbye bikini 😉

    [Reply to comment]

  9. mores September 7, 2009 12:48 am Reply

    Hehe, Emma, it’s Mr. Mores, even though I frequent your site and commenting in a non-typical guy fashion.

    I guess I’ll get one of these ice cream “bars” that’s wrapped in cardboard paper, it slices well. But first I need to find an austrian equivalent for these maria biscuits … my research on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_biscuit) leads me to think that over here in german-speaking Europe it might be called “butterkekse”.

    Will report back 🙂

    [Reply to comment]


  10. mores September 7, 2009 12:49 am Reply

    whoa, I should double-check my comments. That first sentence is supposed to go
    “… even though I frequent your site and comment in a non-typical guy fashion.”

    [Reply to comment]

  11. TROUXA REAL, Lda. February 9, 2010 8:48 am Reply


    Trouxa Real (PORTUGAL)


    [Reply to comment]

    Emma   Reply: February 17th, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Doces conventuais deve ser Patrimonio Nacional… nao UNESCO Patrimonio Mundial!!!

    [Reply to comment]

  12. Michel Haussi April 30, 2011 5:05 pm Reply

    Its make me hungry. Really its very attractive dish. I will sure made it at home. I just love sweet. So I am very happy to see your Blog. Thanks for your blog ,nice post.

    Food Packaging

    [Reply to comment]

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