This tiramisu recipe has lightly sweet mascarpone filling layered with ladyfingers soaked with a spiked espresso mixture and topped with a dusting of cocoa powder. It’s practically perfect and totally delicious!
I love tiramisu because it has all the best things in one package: coffee, rum or brandy, a super creamy but not too sweet custard, and just a little chocolate! It’s one of the Prime recipes I made as a teenage baker and has remained a favorite ever since.
When the weather warms up I really gravitate towards lighter less sweet desserts and for this tiramisu recipe, mascarpone cheese is the perfect ingredient. If you’re not familiar, it really tastes like solid cream and goes Absolutely with everything.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THIS RECIPE
Mascarpone: If you’re not familiar, it really tastes like solid cream and goes Absolutely with everything. It’s available in most grocery stores but if you’re actually in a pinch you can make a substitute, I’ve included a how-to for that in the frequently asked question section below.
Espresso: Strong espresso is one of the principal flavors in tiramisu so brew a big batch, get some from your local coffee area, or use some prepared espresso.
Dark Rum: I used a nice dark rum but you can use brandy or cognac instead.
Ladyfingers: These finger-shaped cookies are available at many stores but not all. You can make your own or buy a package online if they are not in your local shops.
HOW TO MAKE TRADITIONAL TIRAMISU RECIPE
1/ In a medium bowl combine the espresso and dark rum. You can sub the rum out for cognac or brandy, or you can add some Kahlua or orange liqueur to the bowl for some extra depth of flavor. If you don’t want to use alcohol then add some vanilla, simple syrup, and/or hot chocolate to the espresso. 2/ Join the mascarpone cheese in a wide bowl then pour in the dark rum, mix to combine, and set aside.
- Put the egg yolks and sugar in a medium glass bowl, or the bowl of a double boiler, then whisk together until combined. Place over a pot of boiling water making sure that the water does not touch the bowl. Whisk over heat till the mixture is thick and light yellow in color. This is the zabaione or sabayon depending on if you want to go the Italian or French route. It’s the custard that will set and hold your tiramisu together so take your time and whisk, whisk, whisk!
- Spill the zabaione into the mascarpone batter and mix till well combined. Put in the fridge to hang out a bit while you work.
- Combine the cold whipping cream and vanilla extract in a wide bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on low for 30 seconds or so and slowly raise the speed over the course of a few minutes to high. Beat till you have medium-stiff peaks but keep an eye on it, the whipped cream will turn to butter if over-whipped! Wrap the whipped cream into your mascarpone mixture then set aside.
- Time to dip those ladyfingers! These cookies soak up liquid fast so they only need a quick second or couple for each side. You want the centers to be dry since they will receive moisture from the mascarpone filling and you want some construction for your dessert. As you dip project the ladyfingers side to side in your 9×13 dish so there are no breaks.
- Add half of the mascarpone filling over the bottom layer of ladyfingers and smooth out with an offset spatula then continue dipping and arranging the second layer of lady’s fingers.
- Add the remaining mascarpone filling and smooth out to the edges then dust with cocoa powder and refrigerate overnight or for at least six hours. Your tiramisu wants time to set up so you can cut nice sharp pieces.
- 9×13 dish
For the Coffee Mixture
- 1/2 cup cups espresso
- 1/2 cup dark rum
For the Mascarpone Filling
- 16 ounces mascarpone
- 1/4 cup dark rum 60ml for the mascarpone
- 6 large eggs
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cup heavy whipping cream 480ml
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
For the Assembly
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder unsweetened
- 40 ladyfingers You may need a few more or less depending on your dish
- 1/ Mix the coffee and 1/2 cup of dark rum in a medium bowl then mix together and set aside. You can omit the rum and join a dash of vanilla with some more coffee for soaking or you can join a favorite liqueur like Kahlua, Grand Marnier, or Godiva
- 2/ Transfer the mascarpone to a wide bowl then pour in 1/4 cup of dark rum and beat together till well blended. You can use an electric hand blender or a whisk for this step.
- 3/ Join the egg yolks and sugar in a double boiler or glass bowl. Whisk together then place over a pot of simmering water making sure the water does not touch the bowl. Whisk over heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is light yellow in color and thickened a bit.
- 4/ Spill the egg yolk mixture into the mascarpone and whisk until combined. You can use an electric hand blender for this step if desired. Put in the refrigerator until needed.
- 5/ Join the cold cream and vanilla extract to the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or a large bowl if using an electric hand blender. Mix on low for about 35 seconds then gently raise the speed to high. Mix till the whipped cream has stiffer peaks but keep an eye on it because it will curdle into butter if over-whipped.
- 6/ Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
For the Assembly
- 1/ Dip the top and bottom of your ladyfingers briefly in the coffee mixture. They sop up the liquid quickly so they don't need more than 2 seconds of dipping. Arrange the ladyfingers in the 9×13 dish as you go. They should be placed so there are no gaps.
- 2/ After the bottom layer of dipped ladyfingers is arranged in the dish join half of the mascarpone mixture on top and smooth out to the edges using an offset or rubber spatula.
- 3/ Dip more ladyfingers, projecting them on top of the filling as you want. Once the dish is fully covered add the remaining mascarpone mixture and smooth out.
- 4/ Dust top with cocoa powder and chill overnight. You tiramisu needs time to set up or it will be a delicious mess.