Tiramisu is an iconic Italian dessert made with layers of espresso-dipped ladyfingers and a whipped mascarpone-zabaglione cream that’s topped with cocoa powder. Perfectly sweet, with a hint of coffee flavor from the espresso, this Tiramisu recipe is one you’ll want to bookmark and make time and time again.

Slice of tiramisu on plate with fork going through it.

 

Tiramisu is a dessert whose preparation varies greatly.

You may find recipes with uncooked egg yolks and egg whites, and other recipes that use rum, or other liquor.  

When we created our version of the recipe we combined a variety of different flavors and techniques (none of them difficult) yielding the best-tasting Tiramisu we’ve ever had.

The biggest challenge with Tiramisu is having to wait until it sets up in the refrigerator because you will want to eat it right away!

Enjoy your Tiramisu with a cup of coffee, espresso, or an after-dinner drink, like an espresso martini!

Ingredients shown: espresso, egg yolks, vanilla, marsalla, masacarpone, cocoa powder, kahlua, heavy cream, sugar, and lady fingers cookies.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. In a shallow bowl combine 6 ounces (150g) of espresso and 3 ounces (80g) of coffee liqueur.  Add 16 ounces of room-temperature mascarpone cheese to a large bowl and whisk until light (about 30 seconds) and set aside. Note: you can use coffee in place of espresso.
  2. Fill a saucepan with a little bit of water and bring to a simmer. Add 6 large room-temperature egg yolks, 1/4 cup (55g) of sweet Marsala wine, and 2/3 cup (165g) granulated sugar to a glass bowl and lay the bowl to rest over the saucepan taking care to not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Whisk the yolk mixture over the heat stirring constantly to make the zabaglione.

Tiramisu recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Continue whisking until the zabaglione has thickened and can hold a ribbon (about 10 minutes).  If you have an instant-read thermometer, the mixture will thicken at ~160f.  
  2. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon as shown above.
  3. Allow the zabaglione to cool for a few minutes, then slowly add the yolk mixture to the whipped mascarpone.
  4. Whisk the mixture together until combined.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add 2 cups (475g) of heavy whipping cream and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, beating on low and gradually moving up to high until the whipped cream has medium-stiff peaks taking care to not overmix.
  2. Fold half of the whipped cream mixture into the mascarpone mixture.
  3. Add the remaining whipped cream mixture and gently whisk until just incorporated.
  4. Once the whipped cream, zabaglione, and mascarpone mixture is combined, set it aside and begin the assembly process.

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Remove 40 ladyfingers from their package and begin to gently dip each side into the espresso mixture and place them in a 9×13 baking dish.  Note: it’s very important to not submerge the ladyfingers.  They need 1-second per side max in the espresso mixture.  
  2. Continue with this process to create your first layer.  You may need to cut a few of the ladyfingers to make them fit as we did here.  Note: Look at pic 12 above and notice how there is no liquid in the baking dish.  If the dish has liquid in it, you have soaked the lady fingers for too long.
  3. Spoon half the mascarpone cream mixture smoothly over the ladyfingers and using a sifter, dust with a layer of cocoa powder.  
  4. Build your second layer with the espresso-dipped lady fingers taking care to follow the same pattern you did on the first layer.

Recipe process shot collage group number four.

  1. Spread the remaining mascarpone cream mixture on the second ladyfinger layer and smooth out using a spoon or offset spatula. Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours but ideally overnight.
  2. After the tiramisu has chilled and set up, remove it from the refrigerator and heavily dust the top with the unsweetened cocoa.  Using a sharp knife, slice into squares and serve.  Enjoy!

Tiramisu in white baking dish with piece cut out of it.

Top tips for Tiramisu

  • The zabaglione. Zabaglione is a dessert unto itself so this tiramisu is like a few desserts rolled into one! The trick with zabaglione is to continuously whisk the mixture without stopping while it gently cooks over the double boiler.  As mentioned above, be careful to not let the simmering water touch the bottom of the mixing bowl. This process takes about 10 minutes so if you prefer to use a handheld mixer on low speed it may save you some hand cramping!
  • Don’t oversoak the ladyfingers. One of the most crucial steps to a great tiramisu is to avoid is oversoaking the ladyfingers.  They require a quick dip in the espresso mixture, nothing more.  They should be dipped for 1 second per side, max.  Anything more than that will yield soggy ladyfingers that will be overly mushy once layered with the cream.
  • Espresso vs. Coffee. We used espresso for our tiramisu recipe but you can definitely use strongly brewed coffee.  If you’re sensitive to caffeine, just use decaf. 
  • Alcohol.  We used a combination of alcohol in this recipe.  Sweet Marsala wine for the zabaglione, and a coffee liqueur for the espresso mixture.  You can omit the alcohol entirely if you prefer. If you want to substitute, you can use rum in place of both the marsala and the coffee liqueur.
  • Let it chill.  We know how tempting it is to want to eat Tiramisu right away.  But it really does require time to chill and set up in the refrigerator.  The ladyfingers will absorb the flavor of the cream and continue to soften.  It will be worth the wait, we promise!
  • The cocoa powder.  While you can dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa powder before chilling, we prefer to wait until it’s ready to serve as the cocoa will absorb into the cream mixture and not look as fresh.
  • When to serve? We can create any reason to eat Tiramisu but it’s especially great for the holidays since it can be made ahead of time.  Create a dessert buffet table with other desserts like an apple crostata, lemon ricotta cookies, or orange olive oil cake!

Large piece of tiramisu in blue plate.

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Tiramisu

5 from 9 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 6 hours
Total: 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12 slices
Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert with espresso and coffee liqueur-dipped lady fingers, marsala zabaglione, whipped cream, and cocoa.

Ingredients 

For the espresso mixture

  • 6 ounces (150g) espresso may not need it all
  • 2 ounces (80g) coffee liqueur may not need it all

For the mascarpone filling

  • 16 ounces (453g) mascarpone room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Marsala wine dolce
  • 6 large egg yolks room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (165g) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (475g) heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the tiramisu assembly

  • 1/4 cup (22g) cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 40 savoiardi ladyfingers

Instructions 

For the espresso mixture

  • In a shallow bowl combine the espresso and coffee liqueur and set aside.

For the mascarpone filling

  • Add the mascarpone to a large bowl, whisk until light and set aside (about 30 seconds).
  • Add the egg yolks, marsala, and sugar to a double boiler or glass bowl and whisk over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water to create a zabaglione. Be careful to not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Whisk the yolks and sugar over the heat until the combination has thickened and coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). The temperature of the yolks should reach ~160f.
  • Allow the zabaglione (yolk mixture) to cool for a few minutes, then add to the mascarpone and whisk until just combined.
  • In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract, beating on slow and gradually moving to high until the whipped cream has medium-stiff peaks taking care to not overmix.
  • Fold half the whipped cream mixture into the mascarpone-zabaglione mixture, then add the remaining and gently whisk until just incorporated.

For the tiramisu assembly

  • Dip both sides of the ladyfingers into the espresso mixture taking care to not oversoak and place them side by side in a 9x13 baking dish until 1 layer is formed. If needed, cut a few to fit so there are no gaps.
  • Spoon half the mascarpone mixture onto the ladyfingers and smooth using a spatula. Sprinkle with a dusting of cocoa powder.
  • Continue to the next layer, dipping and arranging the ladyfingers side by side. Once finishes, spoon and smooth the remaining mascarpone mixture on top, cover and set in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, but overnight if possible.
  • Right before serving, dust the tiramisu with the remaining cocoa powder. Using a sharp knife, slice into squares and serve. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Take care to not oversoak the ladyfingers.  They need 1 second per side, max.  You will most likely have leftover espresso/coffee liqueur.  
  • You can omit the alcohol from both the coffee mixture and the zabaglione.
  • We used a 9x13 baking dish for this recipe and had to cut a few of our ladyfingers to fit.  Depending on the size of the pan you're using, you may need fewer/more ladyfingers.
  • Tiramisu needs at least 6 hours in the refrigerator but is even better if it sits overnight.  
  • You can sprinkle the cocoa on top before you place it into the fridge, but the top layer of filling may absorb some of it, changing the color slightly.  We prefer to use a fresh dusting of cocoa right before you slice and serve the tiramisu.

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 445kcal | Carbohydrates: 59g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 202mg | Sodium: 88mg | Potassium: 116mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 34g | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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32 Comments

  1. Hello Jim/Tara,

    I don’t have enough kahlua at home, and marsala is difficult to get where i live.

    Do you reckon I can substitute the alcohol required in this recipe with cherry wine or even rum?

  2. I want to make this today but I don’t know what coffee liqueur to get…can you make a suggestion?
    Thank you!!!! I’m so excited to make it!

  3. 5 stars
    My daughter and I made this last week for her birthday. It was the best tiramisu recipe I have ever tried. It was pretty easy and absolutely delicious! I appreciate that the eggs were cooked not raw like most recipes. We found that it makes 16 generous servings. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this yesterday for our family Christmas today. Mainly for my 50 plus yr old son. This was definitely a labor of love. But was not an easy project but worth every dollar absolute perfection. Highly recommend!

  5. I want to make this for an upcoming neighborhood party. I have this awesome chocolate liquor from Curaçao. Do you think I could substitute this for the coffee liquor? I know that’s not traditional but I bought this liquor on a whim and don’t know how I’m going to use it. Lol

    1. Hi Sheila, I’m sure it would be great with the chocolate liqueur. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out!

      1. Wanted to let you know that the Tiramisu made with chocolate liquor was amazing. I also made your arancini and baked ziti with meatballs. All were a big hit. Thank you

        1. Thanks for reporting back with the chocolate liquor – I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Great to hear you liked the arancini and baked ziti as well!

  6. I made the Tiramisu, and have a question, on the egg yolk, mixture over a double broiler, you say it takes 10 minutes and has to reach 160, I whisked for close to 20 minutes, but it did not get to 160, but it was very thick. I did not wait for it to go 160. Will there be a problem with it?

    1. Hi Grace, thanks for the comment. It should be ok, especially if it was thick. If you were whisking over a double boiler for that long it’s likely it did reach that temperature. I’m not sure what type of thermometer you were using but sometimes the laser ones aren’t entirely accurate.