This Italian Tiramisu recipe consists of a sweet creamy mascarpone filling layered with espresso-dipped lady fingers and topped with a thick dusting of cocoa powder. Serve this no-bake dessert following a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and a crisp caesar salad.
A few years ago I went to Northern Italy and every single restaurant I went to, I tried the tiramisu. I wanted to compare and contrast various types of tiramisu. I had it in Verona, Bologna and Milan.
It was on this trip that realized that I like my tiramisu more of a scoop-able variety vs. a sliceable one. I like it to be creamy, a bit messy and topped with such a thick layer of cocoa that have to be sure to not inhale when you take a bite. This recipe is award-winning and won a bake-off with the Pancake Princess for Best Tiramisu!
Ingredients for Tiramisu
- Mascarpone – An Italian soft cheese that is absolutely delicious in tiramisu.
- Lady fingers – You can make them homemade or simply buy them from the store. I find that Italian markets have the best quality lady fingers.
- Heavy Cream – This is essential for a light and airy tiramisu. The heavy cream is whipped with the mascarpone.
- Liqueur – Sweet marsala wine is typically used. For this recipe, I used rum but feel free to use sweet marsala wine, Bailey’s or amaretto.
- Eggs – Egg yolks are used to give the filling a very light, whipped and creamy texture.
What is Tiramisu
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert that consists of lady fingers dipped in espresso and layered with a sweet, fluffy mascarpone cheese and topped with a thick layer of cocoa powder.
Listen, I’m also not a total classic girl. I love some variations on this recipe. I have one with earl grey tea tiramisu, matcha tiramisu and chai tiramisu. All use this base recipe and are absolutely delicious!
How to Make Tiramisu
- Make the filling. You can do this in the bowl of a stand-up mixer OR you can do this in a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer. I like using the paddle attachment. You want all of the ingredients to be cold.
- Beat all of the filling ingredients together until nice and fluffy. I set my timer to 1 minutes. I then scraped down the sides and then beat it again for an additional minute. As a result, everything was silky smooth.
- Grab your espresso (mixed with water) or strongly brewed coffee. You have choices! Either will work.
- Dip your lady fingers into the coffee. And then immediately transfer it to a baking dish. I used an 8×8 baking dish, but any comparable one will do.
- Add half of the mascarpone mixture, spreading it out, creating an even, smooth layer.
- Top it with the rest of the dipped lady fingers.
- And then finish with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
- Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top, pressed onto the surface. And then transfer it to the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours, I like to leave it overnight.
- When you unwrap it and are ready to serve, you may have to smooth out the top a bit.
- And then dust it with a thick coating of cocoa powder.
- Scoop and serve!
Can You Freeze Tiramisu
Yes, you can freeze tiramisu. But I would advise putting it in a freezer safe dish. Pyrex says that freezing their products are absolutely fine. I say go for it. It can be frozen for up to 3 months. And thawed in the fridge. I would recommend to leave off the cocoa powder topping and then add that just before serving.
Tips and Tricks
- Temperature of ingredients is key – Tiramisu is seriously the EASIEST recipe to make. It doesn’t take much skill or cooking/baking experience. But I will say that every time I’ve come into a problem with tiramisu it’s because the filling ingredients are at various different temperatures.
- Everything should be cold – In order to achieve a nice, smooth filling EVERYTHING needs to be cold. That way it all emulsifies well together. Not room temperature whatever you do. Straight from the fridge. Cold.
- Not all mascarpone is good for this – DO NOT use Whole Foods brand mascarpone cheese for this recipe. It’s incredibly thin and will yield a watery-like result. If you do use it (say you bought it before you read this part), completely skip the rum and reduce the heavy cream to 1 tablespoon.
How to make tiramisu non-alcoholic
Whether you don’t drink alcohol, don’t have it in your house OR you simply don’t like the flavor, no worries. I would suggest replacing it with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or leaving it out together.
Can I substitute mascarpone?
Unfortunately mascarpone is an essential ingredient in tiramisu and there is no substitute.
What to serve with Tiramisu
- Meatball Pasta Bake
- Tallarines Verdes
- Best Caesar Salad
- Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Lobster Mac and Cheese
- Cacio e Pepe Mac and Cheese
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- 4 large egg yolks cold straight from the fridge
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- 1/4 cup heavy cream cold straight from the fridge (see note below for the brand)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (100g)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 ounces mascarpone (from 2 containers) cold straight from the fridge (see below for note on the brand you're using)
- 1 3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee*
- 24 lady fingers (from a 7-ounce package)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder sifted for topping
- You’ll need an 8×8-inch baking dish or a 2 quart dish of some kind.
To Make the Filling:
- In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fixed with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with an electric hand mixer), add all of the ingredients.
- Beat all of the ingredients together for 1 minute; scrape down the sides and then beat again for an additional minute, being sure NOT to over beat it. Stick to the two minutes total.
To Assemble the Tiramisu:
- Grab your baking dish. Transfer the strongly brewed coffee to a medium and or small bowl. Working one at a time, quickly dip each lady finger into the coffee. Be sure to not over saturate the ladyfinger with the coffee because then they’ll get a bit too soggy. All you need is a quick dip into the coffee. Arrange the dipped ladyfingers in the baking dish, side by side. I ended up filling up the empty spaces by snapping some of the lady fingers into different lengths.
- Add a few scoops of the filling on top and spread into a 1/4-inch thick layer. Add more filling if you need to.
- Dip the remaining lady fingers in the coffee and arrange them so there are no gaps. Add the remaining filling on top and spread it into a nice and neat final layer. Cover the dish with plastic wrap so it hits the surface of the tiramisu; transfer to the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours, ideally overnight.
- Remove the plastic wrap and discard. If the plastic wrap has left any indentations in the topping, you can always smooth it out with an offset spatula. Sift the cocoa powder on top, applying a generous coating of it. Wipe the rim of the baking dish and serve.
- This isn’t the type of tiramisu that gives you perfect slices. It’s more of a scoopable type tiramisu.
- if covered, this tiramisu lasts in the fridge for up to 4 days.