This tiramisu recipe is quick and easy to make, and you only need 6 ingredients to make this no-bake espresso-flavored dessert. It's a readers' favorite and very popular with my family. The super creamy and smooth melt-in-your-mouth texture is just dreamy, and enjoying this classic Italian dessert will make you believe you are sitting in an authentic Italian cafe in Rome. By the way, have you tried my Panna Cotta?
Ingredients notes and substitutions
If you want to make this espresso-flavored dessert how Italians make it, you will want to use raw egg yolks. However, if you don't want to consume (raw, unpasteurized) eggs, you have a few options.
- Use pasteurized eggs - If you find pasteurized eggs in the store you can consume them raw safely because they have already been heated within the shells. It's hard to find them in the store though and are not widely available.
- Lightly cook the egg yolks and sugar - In this case, mix the mascarpone with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy, then set aside. To cook the egg yolks and sugar, you can use a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler, place a heat-proof bowl on top of a pot filled up 2 inches (5cm) high with simmering water. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar continuously until foamy and light for about 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat and add to the mascarpone cheese and mix until creamy and combined.
- Skip the eggs - If you don't want to use eggs at all, mix the mascarpone cheese until creamy for about 1-2 minutes. Then add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth, combined, and sugar is dissolved for about 2-3 minutes. Keep in mind that without the egg yolks, you have less cream. In this case, I recommend making just a two-layered Tiramisu or add ½ cup (120ml) of whipping cream to the mascarpone mixture and whisk until peaks form.
- I usually pick up espresso at my favorite coffee shop as I can't replicate the taste of a professional coffee machine at home. Espresso is the coffee of choice in authentic Italian Tiramisu. If you pick up espresso at a coffee shop, keep in mind to need about ½ - 1 cup to soak the ladyfingers in.
- However, if you have an awesome coffee machine at home, you can absolutely use your favorite strong-brewed coffee instead.
- Also, coffee granules or instant coffee dissolved in hot water work. Actually every type of coffee works for this recipe. Since coffee is such an integral part of this dessert, only use coffee that you like the taste of.
- If you want to serve this dessert to kids or people that are sensitive to caffeine, you can use either de-caffeinated coffee or use hot cocoa instead.
- For this authentic Tiramisu recipe, you need hard Italian ladyfingers (Savoiardi).
- Soft ladyfingers tend to get soggy because they soak much more coffee than hard ones. So, you would really need to be very fast in dipping the ladyfingers into the coffee that you, first, have enough coffee for all three layers of ladyfingers, and second, that you don't end up with a watery dessert at the end.
- I recommend using quality mascarpone. My favorites are BelGioioso and Galbani. Mascarpone can be tricky to work with as it can curdle very quickly within seconds.
Non-traditional ingredients variations
Though adding rum is not traditional, it's popular and common. You could also add Amaretto liquor or brandy. You can either add 2 tablespoon (30ml) to the coffee where you dip the ladyfingers in or add 1 tablespoon (15ml) to the mascarpone cream or both.
If you want to add whipping cream to your mascarpone cream, you can add ½ cup (120ml) heavy whipping cream after mixing the mascarpone mixture and mix on medium-high speed for about 2-3 minutes until peaks form.
Also, you can add whipped cream on top of the chilled Tiramisu before you dust it with cocoa. To recreate a beautiful top as shown in my pictures, just pipe little dollops of whipped cream on top. I used a Wilton 1A round tip with my piping bag.
First, start by mixing the egg yolks and sugar until white and creamy, and the sugar is completely dissolved. This takes about 2-3 minutes with a hand mixer on medium-high speed.
Then, add the mascarpone cheese and mix on medium-low speed just until smooth, creamy, and combined about 1 minute. Note: Use the mascarpone straight out of the fridge when adding it to the egg yolk mixture. Be careful not to overmix the mascarpone mixture.
When you are done mixing, the mascarpone cream should look like in the picture below. The consistency is smooth and creamy but not fluffy or airy like whipped cream.
Next, dip about 9-12 ladyfingers in espresso and arrange in the bottom of a 9x7x3 or 8x8x3 inches (23x18x8 or 20x20x8 cm) baking dish or casserole until fully covered. How many ladyfingers you need depends on the size of the ladyfingers as well as the dish used.
Then spread about ⅓ of the mascarpone mixture on top until evenly covered. You can do this with the back of a spoon or with an offset spatula.
Repeat the process of dipping the ladyfingers, arranging them in the casserole, and spreading mascarpone on top two more times and even the top.
Wrap the casserole with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 8-12 hours. Before you serve it, dust it with cocoa.
I finished my Tiramisu dessert with a layer of whipped cream that I piped on top of the chilled dessert and then dusted it with cocoa. It's not part of the recipe, and I did it just out of decoration purposes. From the taste point of view, it doesn't really matter if the whipped cream is on top or not.
Top tips for success
- Use a large mixing bowl for mixing the mascarpone mixture. This makes it less likely to overmix the mascarpone.
- I recommend using only fresh eggs. If an egg doesn't look or smell fresh, please don't use it.
- I don't recommend soaking the ladyfingers in coffee for too long. It makes the dessert watery. Just dip them on both sides quickly.
- Wrap the casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap so that no air or odors from the fridge can get inside the Tiramisu.
- It is best eaten on the second day. The taste is getting better and the consistency creamier when you give it time to rest in the fridge overnight.
Italian tiramisu is a no-bake espresso-flavored dessert. It's made of coffee-dipped ladyfingers with sweetened mascarpone cream and dusted with cocoa before serving.
Mascarpone may curdle and looks like cottage cheese within a couple of seconds after starting mixing. It can be very quickly overmixed because of its high-fat content. So, if this ever happened to you, you are not alone. This can happen to everybody and is not related to this recipe, particularly.
Here are my top tips to either avoid or fix curdled mascarpone:
1. Buy mascarpone cream that contains nothing but (milk,) cream, and citric acid and has a high-fat content - around 42g out of 100g. Don't buy any low-light or substitute product.
2. Mascarpone should be used cold and straight out of the fridge.
3. Use a large mixing bowl that you have enough place to mix the mascarpone.
4. Mix the cream on medium speed and just long enough until smooth and combined.
5. If your mascarpone did curdle, you still can save it by transferring the mixture to a microwave-safe bowl and carefully warm it up or by using a double boiler and whisk until smooth. I read some more excellent tips on the Food52 website on that topic.
The reason why it can be watery is when the ladyfingers are soaked for too long and are already soggy when arranged in the baking dish. As the dessert cools, the excess coffee in the ladyfingers will run into the cream and make the dessert watery.
My recommendations to either avoid a watery dessert or fix it:
1. Please make sure that you dip them on both sides quickly that just the outside of the ladyfingers is soft but the inside still solid when you arrange them in the pan.
2. If your dessert is watery, you can just try to transfer the Tiramisu to a clean and dry container and remove the excess liquid.
Storing and freezing instructions
You can store leftovers in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Please be sure to wrap the baking dish very tightly with plastic wrap, that no air or odors from the fridge can go inside the Tiramisu.
If you want to freeze it, prepare as described, wrap tightly and chill for 4 hours in the fridge. Then transfer to the freezer and freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, transfer to the fridge for 24 hours. Dust with cocoa before serving.
More European desserts to try
If you are looking for European desserts, you've come to the right place. Here are some of my favorite European classics.
Authentic Italian Tiramisu Recipe
- 3 large egg yolks, cold
- 1 cup unpacked powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 ¼ cups full-fat mascarpone, cold
- 27-36 Italian ladyfingers (hard ones)
- ½ cup cooled brewed espresso or strong coffee
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until creamy and the sugar is completely dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the mascarpone and mix on medium speed just until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.
- Quickly dip both sides of the ladyfingers into the coffee, 1 to 2 seconds per side, and arrange 9 to 12 ladyfingers on the bottom of a 9 x 7 x 3–inch (23 x 18 x 8 cm) or 8 x 8 x 3–inch (20 x 20 x 8 cm) casserole dish. The necessary amount of ladyfingers will depend on the size of the ladyfingers as well as that of the casserole dish. The required amount of coffee depends on how long you dip the ladyfingers and how much they soak up. I don’t recommend soaking the ladyfingers for too long; otherwise, the Tiramisu will end up very watery.
- Spread about one-third of the mascarpone cream on top of the ladyfingers. Repeat twice more, so that the Tiramisu is assembled as follows from bottom to top: ladyfingers + cream, ladyfingers + cream, ladyfingers + cream.
- Wrap the casserole dish tightly with plastic wrap so that no air or odors from the fridge can get inside the tiramisu. Refrigerate overnight for about 8-12 hours. Before serving, dust the top lightly with cocoa powder. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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