Tiramisu

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Tiramisu is a coffee-infused Italian dessert made with ladyfingers dipped in coffee and layered with a whipped mascarpone and egg mixture. Tiramisu is topped with cocoa and is an absolutely stunning dessert!

Image of Tiramisu on a plate

The Perfect Tiramisu Recipe

I’ve shared quite a few recipes from our time in Italy and from the cooking classes we took, yet I’ve failed to share one of the most iconic desserts — Tiramisu. This dessert is one of my all-time favorites and I ordered it at every chance in Italy. And finally, it’s getting the spotlight today!

While this recipe is fairly authentic (and closely based off a recipe we were given in a cooking class), I have adapted it a bit by adding in some whipped cream (which isn’t in the traditional recipe). The cream adds just a bit more to the mascarpone-egg mixture in ways of flavor and texture. You can certainly leave it out for a more traditional recipe, but now that I’ve had it, I can’t make it without this addition!

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Browse through some of the Italian recipes we made in the cooking classes while visiting — this BruschettaApple Fennel SaladPepperoni SaporitiGelato, and Beef Ragu.

Ingredient shot-- images of the ingredients used in this dessert

Let’s start with concerns about eating this dessert since it does contain raw eggs:

Is Tiramisu Safe To Eat?

Authentic Tiramisu has always been made with raw eggs (and in our cooking class, Nonna Ciana dramatically shook her rolling pin when asked if the eggs needed to be tempered — “Never!” She insisted).

However, as the recipe migrated across the world in years past, concerns of safety arose and many people started to adapt the recipe by tempering the eggs over a water bath.

With the safety standards of most of today’s mainstream stores, raw pasteurized eggs aren’t a huge risk or concern for most people*. In fact, if you’ve ever enjoyed tiramisu or chocolate mousse in a restaurant, a spoonful of raw cookie dough, or perhaps a homemade creamy sauce or mayo, you’ve consumed raw eggs.

*The risk to healthy adults is fairly low, but it is recommended that pregnant women, individuals with health concerns, or young children avoid foods made with raw eggs.

Process shots of making Tiramisu-- images of the egg yolks and sugar being beat together and then mascarpone and vanilla being added

What Is Tiramisu Supposed To Taste Like?

There are so many contrasting, yet beautifully complementary flavors going on in this dessert–which is probably why it is such a unique and popular dessert!

We’ve got the dark unsweetened cocoa, rum, and black coffee, all contrasted with a light, creamy, and sweet mascarpone cream layer. The sponge-like texture of the ladyfingers allow the cookies to absorb the coffee and infuse a lovely flavor throughout.

Overall, you get a sweet and creamy coffee flavor: the cream has an ultra-smooth mouthfeel and the coffee-infused ladyfingers soften to the perfect cake-like consistency (just like an icebox cake!).

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Is Tiramisu supposed to be soggy? No, it is not intended to taste at all soggy, but the cookies are supposed to soften to a cake-like consistency. The coffee dip and cream layers soften the cookies replacing the crispness with a sponge-like cake texture.

Process shots-- images of the cream mixture being transferred to a bowl

Several ingredients worth discussing in further detail below:

What Is In Tiramisu?

  • Espresso powder: We love using this espresso powder to get the strong flavor we dip the cookies in. Add leftover powder (a teaspoon or two) into your favorite chocolate dessert recipes (like this Chocolate Cake Recipe or Brownie Recipe) to enhance the chocolate flavor without it tasting like coffee!
  • Ladyfingers: Your local grocery store may carry these cookies, but I’ve never had any luck! We order them online — we’ve tried these, these, and these.
  • Mascarpone cheese: It’s similar to cream cheese but uses a base of whole cream rather than milk (so you know this is going to be good!). There isn’t a substitute that will work here. Avoid any low-fat versions which are likely to make the cream layer runny.
  • Heavy cream: As mentioned earlier, I like to add whipped cream to the egg + mascarpone mixture. Admittedly this is not in an Italian classic Tiramisu recipe. This recipe is still delicious without the cream, so you can leave it out if desired. So why do I add it in? I’ve made it both ways and tasted side by side. I personally love what the cream adds. It delivers a slightly thicker layer with a rich creamy sweetness that only further emphasizes the richness of the egg + mascarpone mix. The cream makes this dessert deeply indulgent tasting!

Process shots of Tiramisu-- the heavy cream being whipped and then the whipped cream being added to the mascarpone mixture

There are four main parts of this recipe to prepare and then it’s all about assembly! Here’s a quick breakdown:

How To Make Tiramisu

  1. Prepare the egg yolks + mascarpone mixture. We’ll be using the stand mixer for these three mixtures, starting with beating together the egg yolks and sugar. Once this mixture is thickened, gently fold in the mascarpone and vanilla.
  2. Prepare the cream layer. Use the stand mixer again to beat the cream to medium peaks. This means the peaks aren’t fully stiff, but aren’t falling over completely either. Here’s a helpful graphic!
  3. Whip the egg whites. Last, but not least, whip the egg whites with some salt until foamy. Fold this mixture gently (to retain the air) into the cream mixture.
  4. Prepare the coffee + ladyfinger layer. Use a wide shallow bowl that can fit the full ladyfinger in the bowl for optimal dipping. The cookie gets a very quick dunk and is then layered into the pan and topped with the cream layer.

Process shots-- images of egg whites being whipped and then the lady fingers being dipped in the coffee

Recipe Tips

  • Dip the cookies very briefly — we don’t want to soak them at all or it will make the entire Tiramisu soggy.
  • Mascarpone temperature. If it is too warm, the marscapone will likely curdle in this recipe. On the flip side, if it is too cold it won’t integrate as nicely. I take it out of the fridge when starting to work on this recipe so that it reaches the proper temperature.
  • Don’t over-beat the cream. Medium peaks are defined as not soft peaks, but not stiff. It’s right in between which will yield the perfect consistency.

Process shots-- images of the layers being created for the Tiramisu

Tiramisu FAQs

What is Tiramisu?

Tiramisu is an Italian, coffee-flavored dessert layered with coffee-soaked cookies (ladyfingers) and a creamy mascarpone mixture.

Will Tiramisu keep you awake?

One slice of tiramisu is most likely not enough caffeine to keep you up at night. Tiramisu is spiked with just a touch of espresso, and especially if you’re only enjoying one slice, it’s not very much.

Does all Tiramisu have coffee?

Yes, coffee gives tiramisu its signature flavor. The name ‘tiramisu’ actually means ‘cheer me up,’ which is exactly what the espresso-soaked ladyfingers are meant to do!

Why is Tiramisu so soft?

The cookies are supposed to soften fully to a cake-like consistency.

That said, if it is runny or liquid, it’s likely due to one of the following reasons:

  • Using low-fat or low-quality mascarpone cheese
  • Over-beating the mixtures, which can create separation and seepage
  • Over-saturating the ladyfingers

Process shots-- images of the cream layer being added on top and it all being chilled

STORAGE

Storage

Tiramisu is a moist dish that is particularly sensitive to temperature because of the cream layer. Promptly return any leftovers, tightly covered, to the fridge consume within 3-4 days. You can freeze it, but because of the dairy in it it is prone to weeping or separation upon being thawed.

Image of a slice of Tiramisu on a plate with a bite out of it

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Serving up Tiramisu

Use a sharp knife for cutting slices. I like to run the knife under hot water, quickly dry it off, and then make a cut. Repeat for each cut.

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Tiramisu

5 from 1 vote
Tiramisu is a coffee-infused Italian dessert made with ladyfingers dipped in coffee and layered with a whipped mascarpone and egg mixture. Tiramisu is topped with cocoa and is an absolutely stunning dessert!
Print Recipe

Tiramisu

5 from 1 vote
Tiramisu is a coffee-infused Italian dessert made with ladyfingers dipped in coffee and layered with a whipped mascarpone and egg mixture. Tiramisu is topped with cocoa and is an absolutely stunning dessert!
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Tiramisu
Prep Time 35 minutes
Chilling Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 35 minutes
Servings 12 -16 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 280kcal
Cost $7.45

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder (Note 1)
  • 3 large pasteurized eggs, separated (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 container (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese (Note 2)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste)
  • 3/4 cups cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum, brandy, or coffee liqueur (skip for alcohol-free)
  • 1 package (7 oz.) ladyfingers (savoiardi or pavesini -- Note 3)
  • 1 tablespoon dutch-process cocoa powder, separated

Instructions

  • PREP: See Note 1. Set coffee mixture aside in a shallow bowl that has plenty of room to dip the entire cookie at once. Lightly grease an 8x8-inch pan with cooking spray, set aside for now. Separate 3 eggs -- yolks from whites. Add yolks to a bowl attached to a stand mixer and whites to a separate bowl for now. Take the mascarpone out of the fridge.
  • EGG YOLKS: Pour sugar on top of the egg yolks. Attach whisk attachment and beat at high speed for 6 for 10 minutes or until it color changes to a very light (almost white) yellow and becomes quite thick. Scrape sides occasionally as needed. Turn off mixer then use a spatula to scrape in all of the mascarpone. Add in vanilla paste or extract. Beat on low speed just until combined and smooth. Use a spatula to scrape all of this mixture to a separate very large bowl.
  • CREAM: No need to clean out stand mixer bowl or whisk yet. To the stand mixer bowl, add in heavy cream (cold--straight from the fridge) and beat, still with whisk attachment, at high speed 6 for 3 minutes or until medium peaks form (not soft, but not stiff/hard -- here's a helpful graphic). Be careful to not over-beat. Use a spatula to gently mix the cream into the egg yolk mixture. Now wash out the stand mixer bowl and whisk being sure to thoroughly dry both.
  • EGG WHITES: Add egg whites and salt to stand mixer bowl. Beat on high speed 6 until eggs are stiff, bright white, and foamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 of the egg whites to the cream mixture and very gently fold into the mixture with a spatula. When mostly incorporated, add the rest of the egg whites and again very gently fold the egg whites into the mixture to combine.
  • DIP COOKIES: If using, add in the liquor to the coffee and stir. Very quickly dip one cookie at a time in the mixture (don't soak at all!) and then place in the pan. Line the base of the pan, breaking cookies apart to fit if needed.
  • ARRANGE: Spread half the cream mixture on top. Through a fine mesh sieve, sprinkle Sift 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder through a fine-mesh sieve onto the top. Then repeat -- cookies dipped in coffee followed by the remaining cream mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
  • ENJOY: Right before serving, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder on top through a fine mesh sieve. Cut into pieces, serve, and enjoy! (To get clean cuts: use a sharp knife. Run the knife under hot water, quickly dry it off, and then make a cut. Repeat for each cut.)

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Espresso: Boil 1-1/4 cups water; whisk in 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder. Set aside to cool to room temperature. (This is much stronger than brewed espresso which is what we are going after for this dessert. An okay substitute: very strongly brewed coffee).
Note 2: Mascarpone: Avoid any low-fat/low-quality versions which are likely to make the cream layer runny. Typically you can find mascarpone in the dairy case. It's best the eggs and mascarpone is at room temperature, but it shouldn't sit out longer than 15-20 minutes or it could get too warm and break.
Note 3: Ladyfingers: Your local grocery store may carry these cookies, but I've never had any luck! We order them online -- we've tried these, these, and these. Only use the crunchy ladyfingers, cake-style ladyfingers will get too soft.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.004g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 81mg | Potassium: 273mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 635IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 1mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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