Tiramisu is a classic no-bake Italian dessert made from layers of espresso-dipped ladyfingers, rich mascarpone cream and a dusting of cocoa powder. The mascarpone cream is made from whipped egg yolks, fluffy mascarpone cheese and fresh whipped cream. A strawberry garnish adds a wonderful finishing touch to this classic Tiramisu recipe!
I fell in love with Tiramisu at an early age. Bet you didn’t know that one of my grandmothers is Italian! As cool as it would be to brag that this recipe was inspired by her homemade authentic version, it is not. You see my Nana is quite the modern woman. She’s a practicing attorney, drives a hybrid and eats out at least once a week. Of course she makes some home-cooked Italian meals here and there(she’s a very good cook) but she was hip to all the Italian spots in the Boston area!
Does Tiramisu contain uncooked eggs?
This tiramisu recipe contains uncooked (pasteurized) egg yolks. Some people are understandably uncomfortable with eating uncooked eggs. If this is the case, I suggest using a double boiler to cook the egg yolks and sugar until they reach 160°F. A quick YouTube search will show you exactly how to do this. Once the egg yolks have reached this temperature, you can proceed with beating them (using a stand or hand-mixer) until they become pale in color.
Does Tiramisu have alcohol in it?
Most versions of Tiramisu contain alcohol in some form, whether it’s dark rum, almond or hazelnut liqueur, or Marsala wine. Often I’ll use vanilla extract in place of rum because it’s a no-bake dessert and I usually share it with my kids. For grown-up versions I’ll use dark rum, although the other options I listed work well too.
What makes my classic Tiramisu recipe so great?
Personally, I don’t like Tiramisu that’s overly sweet. I only use ⅓ of a cup of granulated sugar to sweeten the mascarpone cream. I like to keep the sweetness to a minimum so that you can really taste the flavors of the mascarpone and fresh cream.
Also, I don’t know if this counts as part of the recipe, but I recommend garnishing each slice of tiramisu with sliced strawberries and a fresh mint leaf to add texture and to enhance the flavor.
Classic Tiramisu Recipe Ingredients
- 4 large egg yolks – make sure to use pasteurized eggs (most store-bought eggs in the U.S. are pasteurized)
- 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 18 store-bought lady fingers – Buy firm ones if you can find them. The soft ones won’t stand up to being dipped in espresso.
- 2-3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder (I prefer dark cocoa powder, but regular cocoa powder is fine)
- 12 ounces of espresso (this measures out to 1 and ½ cups), you can also use strong-brewed coffee
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons of dark rum or vanilla extract
- Sliced strawberries and a few mint leaves for garnishing
A few tips for making Tiramisu
- There are 2 types of store-bought lady fingers: firm and soft. Buy the firm ones. They’re better for dipping.
- Bring the espresso to room temperature before dipping the ladyfingers with your hands!
- Dip the ladyfingers quickly! If they sit in liquid for too long, they’ll fall apart!
- A stand or hand-mixer are needed to whip the egg yolks and heavy cream.
- An 8×8 glass baking dish, and either an offset or silicone spatula are recommended tools for this recipe
- Tiramisu needs to chill for 4 hours in the refrigerator prior to serving.
- Don’t dust the tiramisu with cocoa powder until you’re ready to serve it.
- Don’t ignore the garnish! Fresh strawberries with Tiramisu are a game-changer!
How to make this Classic Tiramisu Recipe
Step 1: Beat the egg yolks and sugar
You’ll need some sort of an electric mixer for this step, whether it’s a stand mixer or a hand-held mixer. Separate the egg yolks and discard the whites if you have not done so already. Place the yolks in a mixing bowl with the sugar and beat on high speed until the egg yolks are pale-yellow in color. This takes about 7 minutes of beating.
Step 2: Add the mascarpone cheese
For this step, you can either add the mascarpone cream to the egg yolk mixture and continue to beat on a slower speed or you can fold the mascarpone cheese in by hand, using a silicone spatula. Stir or mix until the mixture is smooth.
Step 3: Add the heavy cream
Turn your mixer up to high speed and slowly add the heavy cream to the mascarpone cheese mixture. Beat until stiff peaks form (about 3 minutes). Be sure not to over-beat as this will cause the whipped cream to separate and collapse which you don’t want!
Steps 4 and 5: First layer of ladyfingers
Combine the espresso and vanilla extract (or rum) in a wide, shallow bowl. The espresso should be cooled to room temperature. Set your baking dish in front of you and separate the lady fingers into two groups of 9. Quickly dip the first set of lady fingers in the espresso and arrange them so that they line the bottom of the glass baking dish. You’ll need to break a few of them apart to make them fit.
Step 6: Add a layer of Mascarpone Cream
Top the first layer of espresso-dipped ladyfingers with half of the mascarpone cream mixture. Gently spread the mascarpone cream out in an even layer. Use an offset or silicone spatula to assist with this step. Try to be gentle so that you don’t disturb the layer of ladyfingers underneath.
Steps 7 and 8: Add a second layer of lady fingers and cream
Dip the remaining ladyfingers into the espresso and arrange them on top of the mascarpone cream layer. Then add the top layer of mascarpone cream and spread it out so the ladyfingers are completely covered.
Steps 9 and 10: Chill and serve
Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Prior to serving, unwrap the tiramisu and top it with a dusting of cocoa powder.
Don’t be intimidated by slicing the tiramisu! It doesn’t need to look perfect! You can cut it into squares or just scoop it out of the dish using a serving spoon. Garnish with sliced strawberries and fresh mint leaves.
Storing leftover Tiramisu:
Leftover tiramisu can be covered in plastic wrap and stored right in its dish in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you only have a small amount left, you can transfer the leftover tiramisu to a plastic food-container with a lid, instead of keeping it in the baking dish.
Did you love this Classic tiramisu recipe? Check these out!
- Best Ever Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
- Pudim de Leite – Cape Verdean Style Flan
- Key-Lime Pie with Butter-Pecan Crust
- Cinnamon Rolls Soaked in Tres Leches
- Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
Classic Tiramisu Recipe
- 4 large egg yolks*
- 8 ounce container mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 18 store-bought lady fingers
- 2-3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
- 12 ounces espresso* 1 ½ cups
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons dark rum or vanilla extract
- sliced strawberries and fresh mint leaves for garnishing
- Separate the egg yolks from the whites if you haven't done this already. Discard the whites. Using a stand or electric hand mixer, beat the egg yolks and sugar together on high speed until pale-yellow in color, about 7 minutes.
- Fold the mascarpone cheese into the egg yolk mixture by hand using a silicone spatula or you can use your mixer on a medium-setting to combine the mascarpone with the egg yolks and sugar.
- Turn the mixer speed-setting up and slowly add the heavy cream to the mascarpone/egg yolk mixture. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes. Be very careful not to over-beat as this can cause the whipped cream to collapse and separate.
- Pour the espresso and rum (or vanilla) into a shallow bowl, and get your 8x8-inch glass baking dish ready. Separate the lady-fingers into 2 groups of 9.
- Quickly dip the first set of lady fingers one by one in the espresso, and arrange them in a single layer on the bottom of the glass baking dish. You'll need to break some of the ladyfingers in half so they all fit.
- Top the first layer dipped ladyfingers with half of the mascarpone cream mixture. Gently spread the mascarpone cream out in an even layer using an offset or silicone spatula. Spread gently so that you don't disturb the layer of ladyfingers underneath.
- Dip remaining ladyfingers into the espresso and arrange them on top of the mascarpone layer.
- Spread the top layer of mascarpone over the second layer of lady fingers
- Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours.
- Once the tiramisu has chilled, unwrap it and top it with a dusting of cocoa powder prior to serving.
- Cut the tiramisu, or just scoop it out with a large spoon. Garnish with sliced strawberries and fresh mint leaves.