This is the authentic Italian tiramisu recipe – not just a dessert, but a testament to Italy’s rich culinary history.
From the vibrant streets of Venice to the rustic homes of Tuscany, tiramisu has become a beloved treat enjoyed by locals and global foodies alike.
Its name, which means “pick me up” in Italian, perfectly captures its essence, combining layers of delicate ladyfingers soaked in strong coffee with the velvety texture of mascarpone cheese, all dusted with a generous sprinkling of cocoa powder.
But like all iconic dishes, tiramisu has seen numerous variations over time, each claiming to be the “real deal”.
But for the purist, the search is always for the original, unadulterated, classic tiramisu that transports them to the heart of Italy with every bite.
This recipe is dedicated to that quest, unraveling the timeless charm and layered flavors of authentic Italian tiramisu.
The classic recipe for tiramisu calls for raw eggs, but we’ll give you even the version with cooked eggs. Just read the paragraph below “How to Pasteurize Eggs” or read “Mascarpone Cream recipe with Pasteurized Eggs”.
Meanwhile read how to make Coffee Mascarpone Cream without eggs. You can eat it in bowls or in little cups made of chocolate cookies, as explained in the recipe. Or you can use it for your tiramisu. It’s delicious!
Check out even this eggless tiramisu recipe!
Do you want to make a yummy, coffee-free and fruit-flavored Tiramisu? Check out our Strawberry Tiramisu recipe! So good and easy to make.
Finally read this recipe: tiramisu cake roll, an amazing dessert made with sponge cake instead of savoiardi.
Be prepared to be transported to a traditional Italian kitchen as we delve into the history, nuances, and treasured recipe of this iconic dolce!
How to Make Authentic Italian Tiramisu Recipe
- Prep Time: 30 Min
- Cooling Time: 3 H
- Servings: 8
- 300 g (about 30) Savoiardi (Ladyfingers). We recommend VICENZOVO SAVOIARDI LADYFINGERS by Matilde Vicenzi, or make homemade ladyfingers with our recipe, which are great!
- 500 g (1,1 lb = 2 1/4 cups) of mascarpone cheese. Try our recipe for homemade mascarpone cheese.
- 4 medium eggs (about 220 g/7,7 oz without shells)
- 100 g (1/2 cup) of granulated sugar
- 300 ml (1 ¼ cup) of espresso coffee
- 2 tablespoons of Marsala Wine
- unsweetened cocoa powder
Kitchen Tools and Equipment You May Need To Make Tiramisu
To make this fabulous Italian dessert you need a ceramic baking pan. For 8 people you need one of about 30 x 19 cm (12 x 8 inch), like the one we used in this recipe. There are several types but have a look at this set of Ceramic Baking Dish. They are perfect casseroles even for lasagna.
If you want to serve tiramisu in something more elegant, check out these Trifle Bowl with Pedestal
You absolutely need an electric stand mixer that really is a great help for making a perfect tiramisu. We opted for the KitchenAid Artisan Series 5 Quart Stand Mixer but there are other very good brands. For example, another excellent and less expensive stand mixer is this 5.5-Quart Stand Mixer by Cuisinart.
You can also prepare tiramisu recipe with an electric hand mixer: try KitchenAid Speed Digital Hand Mixer with Turbo.
Step 1) – First of all, make the coffee. For a quick and delicious Italian coffee, we used an Espresso Machine. Then add 2 tablespoons of Rum or Marsala wine.
This is optional. If you don’t like liqueurs or you are making Tiramisu for children, don’t use it. Your tiramisu is great all the same, even without liqueur.
Set aside and let cool.
Step 2) – Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Set aside the yolks and whip the egg whites until stiff: you will get at it when the the egg whites will not move if you turn the bowl over.
Remember that to whip egg whites to stiff peaks, there should be no trace of yolk.
Once ready, set aside.
If you want to cook the egg whites, read the paragraph further down “HOW TO COOK EGGS FOR TIRAMISU”
Step 3) – Now, in a bowl, beat the egg yolks with sugar until light and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
If you want to cook the yolks, read the paragraph further down “HOW TO COOK EGGS FOR TIRAMISU”
Step 4) – In the meantime, pour the mascarpone cheese into a bowl and work it with a spoon to make it softer.
Mascarpone cheese must be of excellent quality, creamy and thick. When the yolks are ready add the mascarpone cheese.
Step 5) – Using the flexible-edge k-beater, slowly whip the mascarpone cream for 2 to 3 minutes. Now add the stiffly beaten egg whites.
Step 6) – Mix with a wooden spoon, from bottom up. Mix slowly until smooth and creamy.
Step 7) – Now let’s prepare the layers of ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. You can make 2 or more layers, depending on the width and depth of your pan.
Dip the ladyfingers quickly (1 or 2 seconds) into the coffee. Then arrange the ladyfingers in the casserole of your liking.
IMPORTANT: The ladyfingers should not soak too much coffee, otherwise the tiramisu will be too rich in coffee and runny.
Step 8) – Arrange them so that they cover the bottom of the casserole. Then spread the mascarpone cream over the ladyfingers.
Step 9) – Add another layer of ladyfingers and then top with more mascarpone cream. If you are making the last layer, spread the mascarpone cream generously.
Step 10) – Finally, sprinkle with cocoa powder. You can even add dark chocolate chips, if you like.
Allow to rest 3 hours in the refrigerator before serving. Even better if you prepare the tiramisu the day before, letting it rest overnight.
How to Cook Eggs For Tiramisu (Egg Pasteurization)
Tiramisu in Italy has always been made with raw eggs and it’s well known that it would be a good idea to cook (pasteurize) the eggs before using them in the preparation of this dessert.
Below we are going to show you how to cook yolks and egg whites using a hot syrup made with water and sugar.
How to Cook the Yolks
Step 1) – First, place 50 g (¼ cup) of sugar with 25 ml (about 2 tablespoons) of water in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar as much as possible and then bring this syrup to a boil, stirring constantly.
The syrup will be ready when it reaches the temperature of 121°C (250°F).
It’s very important that the syrup does not exceed 121°C (250°F), temperature after which the sugar starts to caramelize (you will notice because it starts to darken).
So measure the temperature with a kitchen thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, the syrup will be ready when small white bubbles form on the surface.
Step 2) – Meanwhile, start whipping the egg yolks with a mixer at full speed. When the syrup is hot and ready, drizzle it over the yolks while continuing to whisk.
Process the cream until completely cool (about 10 minutes). To tell if the cream is cool enough, simply place your hands on the bowl. When the bowl is cold, the cream is ready.
This is the famous pate à bombe, a fluid, clear cream made from eggs, sugar and water that is the basis of many pastry preparations.
Now it’s time to add the mascarpone. But first let’s see how to pasteurize the egg whites.
How to Cook the Egg Whites
Step 3) – As for the egg whites, prepare a syrup with 50 g (¼ cup) of sugar and 25 ml (about 2 tablespoons) of water. Meanwhile, start whipping the egg whites with the mixer at full speed.
When you see that they are whipping well, slowly add the hot syrup in a trickle. Continue whipping the egg whites until stiff for another 10 minutes.
Now the stiffly beaten pasteurized egg whites are ready. Add them to the mascarpone cream and continue following the tiramisu recipe.
Individual Tiramisu Trifle
Suppose you have guests and want to serve authentic Italian tiramisu in very chic and elegant individual cups. First, you will need individual tiramisu trifles, whether they are glass or plastic.
Then Place a tablespoon or two of mascarpone cream in the bottom of the cup. Break a ladyfinger into 4 pieces and dunk them into the coffee.
Lay them on top of the cream. If necessary, use two ladyfinger cookies.
Top with plenty of mascarpone cream (3-4 tablespoons), level and sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder.
Your individual tiramisu trifle is ready. You are sure to impress your guests!
How to Store Tiramisu
After assembling the tiramisu, it’s a good practice to let it set in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together and the dessert to firm up.
If you made the tiramisu in a dish, cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. If you’re dealing with individual servings, they should be covered or placed in airtight containers.
Tiramisu contains dairy, so it needs to be stored in the refrigerator. It will usually keep well for up to 3-4 days.
Long-Term Storage (Freezing)
Place tiramisu in airtight food containers, preferably already portioned. Then place them in the freezer. It can be stored frozen for up to 2-3 weeks.
To enjoy your frozen tiramisu, transfer it to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. Avoid thawing it at room temperature as this can lead to condensation, affecting the texture and flavor.
What Can I Substitute for Mascarpone?
If you don’t have mascarpone cheese on hand or it’s hard to find in your area, you can use several alternatives to achieve a similar texture and flavor for your tiramisu.
Remember that while these alternatives may give you a similar texture to mascarpone, THE FLAVOR MAY SLIGHTLY CHANGE! However, given the strong flavors of coffee, cocoa, and liqueur commonly found in tiramisu, minor changes in the cream layer’s flavor might not be highly noticeable.
Here are some substitution options:
Cream Cheese Mixture
- 8 oz (227g) cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons of heavy cream or sour cream
Blend these ingredients together until smooth. Cream cheese has a tangier taste compared to mascarpone, but it offers a similar creamy consistency.
A Blend of Cream Cheese, Heavy Cream, and Butter
- 8 oz (227g) cream cheese
- 1/4 cup (60ml) heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
Mix these ingredients together until well-blended. This mixture tends to mimic the richness and consistency of mascarpone quite well.
Ricotta is another Italian cheese and can be used as a substitute. If you opt for this, choose a whole milk ricotta for a richer flavor. To make it smoother and closer to the texture of mascarpone, you might want to mix it with a bit of heavy cream or beat it to eliminate any graininess.
It’s a bit tangier and less thick than mascarpone, but in many recipes, it can work as a decent substitute.
Another alternative to mascarpone cheese could be the Chantilly cream, which you can make it very easily at home. Use heavy cream (cold, taken directly from the fridge) and icing sugar (even better if vanilla flavoured).
The acing sugar can be chosen, according to taste, in a dose that can vary between 125 g (1 cup) and 250 g (2 cups) per liter (4 cups) of cream. Whip the cream with an electric mixer. Add the sugar and mix. Proceed by following the recipe above without adding 100 g of granulated sugar, because the chantilly cream is already sweet.
You can make Tiramisu layered with delicious diplomat cream.
Diplomat cream is a popular sweet cream in Italy used to fill so many desserts. It’s made by combining Crema Pasticcera (Italian pastry cream) with Chantilly cream in a ratio of 2 to 1.
Diplomat cream can easily replace the mascarpone cream in your tiramisu.
For more information and suggestions, read our recipe for diplomat cream.
How do You Keep Tiramisu from Getting Soggy?
To avoid a soggy Tiramisu, here are some key tips to consider:
- Don’t Soak, Just Dip: Instead of soaking the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture, quickly dip them. Immerse each side for about 1-2 seconds so they absorb the coffee flavor without becoming overly saturated.
- Use Cold Espresso: Hot coffee will make the ladyfingers soften too quickly. Ensure that your coffee or espresso has cooled to room temperature or colder before dipping the ladyfingers.
- Strong Espresso: Ensure your coffee or espresso is strong enough to impart flavor with a quick dip.
- Consider Alcohol Content: Traditional tiramisu recipes include alcohol, like Marsala wine. If you’re adding alcohol, adjust the amount so it doesn’t contribute too much additional liquid.
- Quality of Ladyfingers: Purchase good-quality, crisp ladyfingers. Sometimes, pre-packaged ones can be a bit stale or too soft to begin with. If they are soft, you can toast them lightly in the oven to dry them out a bit.
- Mascarpone Cream: Make sure that your mascarpone is of high quality, creamy but thick. If your mascarpone is to soft and runny, your tiramisu will be soft and runny! Remove excess liquid from your mascarpone by simply placing it for a few hours in a sieve, in the refrigerator.
- Refrigeration: Allow the tiramisu to set in the refrigerator for several hours before serving, at least three. This helps the layers meld together and firm up.
- Assembly: As you layer, gently press down on the ladyfingers to ensure there are no air gaps between the layers, but don’t press so hard that you force out the coffee.
- Adjustments: Different brands and types of ladyfingers might absorb liquid at different rates. It’s okay to adjust your method depending on your experience with the specific ingredients you’re using.
Finally, while you want to avoid a soggy tiramisu, you also don’t want it to be too dry. Striking the right balance is key. With practice, you’ll get a feel for how long to dip the ladyfingers and how much liquid they should absorb. Enjoy your dessert-making!
What is the Difference Between Italian and American Tiramisu?
Here are the primary differences between the traditional Italian tiramisu and the common American adaptations:
Italian Tiramisu: The main ingredients are typically Savoiardi Cookies (ladyfingers), mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar, coffee, and cocoa powder. It can include a touch of liquor like Marsala wine.
American Tiramisu: While the core ingredients remain the same, American versions might incorporate heavy cream or whipped cream to make it even richer, sometimes substituting the eggs. Cream cheese or sour cream can sometimes be used as a substitute or addition to mascarpone, especially if the latter is hard to find or expensive. The use of different types of alcohol, like Rum or Kahlúa, might also be more prevalent.
Origin of Tiramisu
The origins of Tiramisu are not certain. Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia are the Italian regions fighting for the paternity of this wonderful dessert.
We make our own the authoritative conclusions of the Tiramisu Academy The Academy places the origins of this dessert in the Treviso area (a city in Veneto), between the second half of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century.
Tiramisù is certainly the evolution of a very simple dessert called “sbatutin” (beaten). It was a cream based on beaten egg yolks and sugar, served together with crumbly biscuits, specially prepared for children’s snacks.
For this reason, the use of liqueur does not appear in the official recipe.
Subsequently and gradually they began to add coffee, mascarpone and cocoa, giving rise to the wonderful dessert that we all know.
The people from Treviso who emigrated abroad were the first to export and spread the traditional Italian Tiramisu recipe to the world.