Tiramisu is a creamy, no-bake Italian dessert that is easier to make than you might think!
Hi Everyone – It’s Jack. Even an old dog (like me) can learn new tricks…and this nice Italian boy has finally learned how to make a traditional Tiramisu.
Tiramisu is a rich, coffee-infused dessert made with ladyfingers that have been dipped in espresso, and a creamy, egg-mascarpone cheese layer in between. A generous sprinkle of cocoa on top finishes things off.
Tiramisu translates to “pick me up” in Italian – and after one delicious taste, the nice jolt of caffeine in this dessert will definitely perk you up!
Since this was my first time making a traditional Tiramisu, I wanted to make sure I got it right. I read through dozens of recipes online and in all of the Italian cookbooks we own. For this recipe today, I ended up referring most to the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook and wanted to give them credit here.
Tips for making the perfect Tiramisu
I learned that a classic Tiramisu recipe is actually easy to make, and as long as you follow a few basic rules you’ll see great results:
First: Buy the Savoiardi ladyfingers for Tiramisu which is a light and airy biscuit made from a sponge cake batter. (Savoiardi refers to a type of biscuit – not a specific brand.)
There are other ladyfinger-shaped biscuits sold, but look specifically for the word Savoiardi on the label – their light and airy texture is necessary to achieve the perfect Tiramisu texture. A well-stocked supermarket will carry them (we found them in the cookie aisle of our local market) or you can buy them online here.
Second: When assembling your Tiramisu, be aware of exactly how long to dip the Savoiardi ladyfingers in the coffee mixture. Dip for too long, and the ladyfinger gets too soggy. Dipped not long enough and the biscuits will be crunchy and you won’t achieve that intense coffee flavor.
One easy way to gauge your dipping technique is, after dipping 12 of the cookies, measure the liquid to make sure you have three-quarters of it left in the bowl. You don’t want the liquid used up before you get to the last cookie, so adjust your dipping accordingly as you go.
Third: We added rum to our espresso for an additional ‘pick me up’ as well as flavor. Choose a dark rum, not white rum or spiced rum. (Note: Some recipes use Madeira, Marsala, port, brandy, Irish cream, amaretto-flavored Disaronno, or coffee flavored liqueurs such as Kahlua. The choice is yours.)
Lastly: Use Dutch process cocoa for your Tiramisu topping. Dutch process cocoa is processed using an alkalizing agent which makes the cocoa milder in flavor, as opposed to a natural cocoa powder processed using broma. Just look for the word Dutch on the package of cocoa. (Note: Hershey’s brand found in supermarkets is NOT Dutch processed cocoa powder – looks for Ghiardelli instead.)
Tiramisu is a special dessert for any special meal!
You may enjoy these other decadent desserts:
- Chocolate Nutella Toffee Icebox Cake
- Crème Brûlée (for Two)
- Tapioca Pudding
- Nanny’s Black Midnight Cake
- No-Bake Amaretto Truffles
2 ½ cups strong coffee, room temperature
9 tablespoons dark rum, divided
1 ½ tablespoons espresso powder
½ cup egg yolks (6–7 yolks) – buy pasteurized eggs if you are nervous about consuming raw eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
3 8-ounce packages mascarpone cheese
¾ cup heavy cream, chilled
2 7-ounce packages Savoiardi lady fingers, any brand (total 48 pieces)
3 ½ tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder (such as Ghiardelli)
Mix the strong coffee with 5 tablespoons of the rum and espresso powder and place in a small wide bowl or dish large enough for you to hold a lady finger as you dip it flat. Set the liquid aside for now.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle, beat the egg yolks to combine.
Add the sugar and salt and beat until pale, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beat to mix.
Add the mascarpone cheese and the remaining four tablespoons of rum and beat to combine. Scrape the bowl and beat again to mix.
Pour this mixture into a large bowl and clean the mixer bowl and the whisk. Dry thoroughly.
Add the heavy cream to the mixer bowl and whisk on low for one minute then move to high and whisk to stiff peaks, 1-2 more minutes.
Fold this whipped cream into the cheese mixture one third at a time to combine.
Have a 9X13-inch pan or baking dish ready.
One at a time, dip 12 cookies for 1-2 seconds each in the coffee mixture and lay in the pan all in a row up one side. This step is very important to get right. Left in the liquid too long, and they will become too soggy and you will run out of liquid.
Stop here and measure your liquid. One quarter of the liquid should be gone. Adjust your dipping time so you use one quarter of the liquid for each 12 cookies.
Continue with another 12 cookies laying them next to the first row. At this point, half the liquid should be gone.
Spread on half the cheese filling mixture, spreading it evenly across the surface.
Take a small sifter and sift half the cocoa powder over the top.
Dip the remaining 24 cookies, laying them in two rows. You should have used all of the liquid.
Top with the remaining cheese mixture and dust the top with the remaining cocoa powder.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap without letting the plastic touch the top surface and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, carefully cut 3X4 into 12 pieces and serve. (note, if there is condensation under the plastic, have someone help you lift off the plastic without letting the moisture drip over the cocoa top. You can always dust the top with a little more cocoa powder before serving if you need to.