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.
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!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The mixture should coat the back of a spoon as shown above.
- Allow the zabaglione to cool for a few minutes, then slowly add the yolk mixture to the whipped mascarpone.
- Whisk the mixture together until combined.
- 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.
- Fold half of the whipped cream mixture into the mascarpone mixture.
- Add the remaining whipped cream mixture and gently whisk until just incorporated.
- Once the whipped cream, zabaglione, and mascarpone mixture is combined, set it aside and begin the assembly process.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spoon half the mascarpone cream mixture smoothly over the ladyfingers and using a sifter, dust with a layer of cocoa powder.
- Build your second layer with the espresso-dipped lady fingers taking care to follow the same pattern you did on the first layer.
- 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.
- 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!
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!
If you’ve enjoyed this tiramisu recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.
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
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!
- 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 information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.