Tiramisú literally means “pick me up” in Italian, so it’s a great dessert for special occasions, or when you just need a little pick-me-up! It’s usually made in a large baking dish, but I think personal size tiramisú dishes in a ramekin or glass really elevate the presentation.
All tiramisú recipes use mascarpone cheese, espresso, eggs, sugar, ladyfinger cookies, topped with cocoa or grated chocolate. Most will include a liqueur. The ratios will vary by recipe, especially the amount of sugar. Some recipes will also include whipped cream.
I prefer a tiramisú with a with a good mascarpone cheese flavour, so I never use whipped cream. Mascarpone is a very mild cheese, so I don’t want anything getting in the way of that flavour. I also try to limit the amount of sugar, because I don’t want it too sweet.
For liqueurs, I’ll use whatever I have on-hand that I think will work. Marsala, an Italian fortified wine is classic. Coffee liqueurs will obviously go well with the coffee flavour of the dessert. Anything that gets commonly added to coffee will also go well, including amaretto, brandy and rum. Or just use some vanilla extract!
- 500g mascarpone cheese (the best quality you can find)
- 1.5 – 2 cups espresso or strong coffee
- 6 eggs, separated
- 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 350 – 400g ladyfinger (savoiardi) cookies
- 1 oz liqueur of your choice or vanilla extract (optional)
- cocoa or grated chocolate for garnish
- Whisk egg whites to stiff peaks. Set aside.
- Beat egg yolks and sugar until creamy and it lightens in colour slightly.
- Add mascarpone cheese and liqueur, and continue beating until completely smooth with no mascarpone lumps.
- Gently fold egg whites into mascarpone mixture.
- One by one, dip ladyfinger cookies very briefly in the espresso and line the bottom of a baking dish.
- Cover with cheese mixture.
- Add another layer of coffee-soaked ladyfinger cookies, and another layer of cheese mixture.
- Garnish with sifted cocoa or grated chocolate.
- Refrigerate 4-6 hours (or overnight) to set. Can also be frozen.
Tiramisú tips and tricks
INSTANT ESPRESSO. Tiramisú recipes call for espresso so you get a strong coffee flavour in the ladyfingers. Since you need a lot of espresso, and since most of us don’t have an espresso maker, the best solution is a good quality instant espresso, like Nescafé Gold Espresso. If you can’t find instant espresso, use the regular Nescafé Gold instant coffee and make it very strong (2 Tbsp per cup of water).
MAKE YOUR OWN LADYFINGERS. Can’t find ladyfinger cookies? Make your own! Best of all, you don’t need to pipe them into the traditional ladyfinger shape. You can bake the batter more like a cake in a sheet pan, then cut it to fit in your tiramisú baking dish.
FREEZING TIRAMISÚ. Fresh tiramisú is always best, but if you won’t go through a full recipe, it can be frozen. Omit the cocoa or chocolate topping, wrap very well with 2 layers of plastic wrap and freeze. If you’ll be freezing it for a long period (up to 3 months), add an additional layer of aluminum foil. Thaw overnight in the fridge, still wrapped. Before serving, garnish with cocoa or grated chocolate.