By Shiran

A recipe for traditional tiramisu – a dessert made of layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and a rich, velvety mascarpone cream. Read the full post to learn about different variations and substitutions for this Italian dessert.

Feel like you need a different recipe? Here’s a quicker one that contain no eggs or alcohol.

The Perfect Tiramisu | prettysimplesweet.com

It’s easy to tell if you’ve made a tiramisu just right. Each bite will have rich yet airy yellowish cream, a touch of alcohol, and dreamily soft (but not mushy) coffee-flavored ladyfingers. It should also have a subtle sweetness with just the right bitterness from the coffee and cocoa powder.

Although I like to go on and on about my stories in some of my posts, today I’m going to concentrate solely on the dessert because I have plenty to share with you about it!

In most traditional tiramisu recipes, you’ll find egg yolks. This is what gives the filling its yellowish color, decadent taste, and thick texture. While some recipes, such as the most classic ones, use raw eggs, it’s always best to cook them due to the risk of salmonella, so that’s what this recipe calls for.

The Perfect Tiramisu | prettysimplesweet.com

Let’s take a look at some of the other ingredient options:

Mascarpone, cream cheese, or both? For the best results, use only mascarpone. Cream cheese has a sourer taste than the sweet mascarpone. Some recipes combine these two, which does give a more complex flavor, but for the richest (and, in my opinion, best) taste, I use mascarpone only.

Egg whites or whipping cream (heavy cream)? The majority of recipes use one of these two. Both must be whipped in order to make a light filling, then folded into the egg yolks and mascarpone. However, each will contribute a different flavor. Egg whites will make the batter more airy, while heavy cream will add richness. One thing to consider is that egg whites are usually used raw.

In today’s recipe, I use whipping cream. Not only do I choose it because – let’s be honest – heavy cream and I are best friends, but I prefer my desserts to be as rich as possible.

In order to use egg whites instead of whipping cream, simply omit the cream and use 3 egg whites instead. Whisk them using an electric mixture until stiff peaks form, then fold them into the mascarpone-egg yolk mixture. Since the eggs are used raw, be sure to use the freshest eggs possible with intact shells.

Alcohol: Marsala is a sweet red wine traditionally used for tiramisu. If you’re looking for a substitution, then dark rum is my favorite, but brandy is another good option. You can also use coffee or almond liquor.

The Perfect Tiramisu | prettysimplesweet.com

Here is a basic overview of the steps in making this tiramisu recipe:

  1. Prepare the coffee and set aside to cool.
  2. Make a sabayon or zabaione, which is a custard made from egg yolks, sugar, and sweet wine (in our case, Marsala). Cook these 3 ingredients together over a bain marie – a pot of boiling water turned to low heat and over which you cook ingredients in a heatproof bowl. This method helps to cook the eggs slowly and in a way that they won’t scramble. You’ll need to constantly whisk the mixture while it’s on the bain marie, either by hand or with an electric mixer (easier), until the mixture is finger hot, has doubled in volume, and has a thick, foamy texture. Once done, remove from the heat and let it cool slightly (about 15 minutes).
  3. Using an electric mixer, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  4. Add mascarpone to the cooled egg yolk mixture and whisk by hand until smooth. Fold in the cream in 2 additions.
  5. Assemble the dessert. Dip each ladyfinger into the coffee syrup (do this quickly, less than a second) and place in the pan in a single layer. Add half of the mascarpone cream and smooth the top. Repeat with a second layer.

The Perfect Tiramisu | prettysimplesweet.com

Tiramisu should be served cold. Refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours in order to let the filling set properly. This will also give the ladyfingers enough time to absorb the liquids and soften to just the right texture.


5.0 from 1 reviews

Classic Tiramisu
Yields: 1 8-inch baking dish or 5-6 individual glasses (double the recipe for a 9×13-inch dish)

A recipe for traditional tiramisu – a dessert made of layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and a rich, velvety mascarpone cream. Read the full post to learn about different variations and substitutions for this Italian dessert.
Coffee Syrup:
  • 1 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee (made of 1 cup hot water mixed with 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules or espresso powder)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Marsala, dark rum, brandy, or coffee or almond liquor
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup (70g/2.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons Marsala wine, dark rum, or brandy
  • ¾ cup (180ml) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (227g/8 oz) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • about 200g/7 oz (20-24 units) ladyfingers or Savoiardi biscuits
  • Sifted cocoa powder or grated chocolate

  1. For the coffee syrup: In a small bowl, combine hot coffee, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1-2 tablespoons Marsala. Mix until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
  2. For the filling: Place egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala in a medium heatproof bowl and set over a bain marie (i.e., place the heatproof bowl over a saucepan of boiling water; the bowl should not touch the water). Reduce heat to low. Whisk constantly using a hand whisk, or preferably a handled electric mixer, until the mixture doubles in volume, is hot to the touch, and has a thick, foamy consistency (around 5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. In a different mixer bowl, whisk heavy cream using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Once egg yolk mixture has cooled, add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth. Then gently fold in the whipped cream in 2 additions until smooth.
  3. Assemble tiramisu: Dip ladyfingers very quickly (less than a second) into the coffee syrup and line them in one layer in an 8-inch baking dish (see note for individual glasses). If necessary, break a few ladyfingers to fit them in the dish. Spoon half of the filling over the ladyfingers and smooth the top. Repeat with a second layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers, then with the rest of the cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. I don’t suggest freezing tiramisu since it will ruin its texture.
  4. Serve cold. Right before serving, dust the top with cocoa powder or grated chocolate (or both!).
  5. For individual glasses: Spoon a dollop of the mascarpone cream mixture into the bottom of the glass. Break each ladyfinger into 4 pieces, soak in the coffee and place on top of the cream. You don’t have to use all 4 pieces at once; it depends on the size of the glass. Repeat with layering filling and ladyfingers, creating 2-3 layers in total. For each ladyfinger, add about 2-3 heaping tablespoons of cream. It doesn’t have to be exact – if you like more cream, go ahead and add more. For each serving, use 2-3 ladyfingers in total. For individual servings, you might need fewer ladyfingers than what the recipe suggests.


The Perfect Tiramisu | prettysimplesweet.com

40 Comments on Tiramisu

  1. Winnie
    September 23, 2014 at 6:50 am (3 years ago)

    יאווווו תמיד שאני נכנסת לבלוג שלך אני נעשית רעבה ברמות.
    התמונות תשלך נהדרות ואני מרגישה כאילו והמנה ממש לידי.
    הטירמיסו נראה פשוט מעלף!!

    מאחלת לך שנה נהדרת ופוריה בהרבה מתוקים
    ❤ ❤

    • Shiran
      September 24, 2014 at 5:07 am (3 years ago)

      Thank you Tiffany! 🙂

  2. Tash
    September 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm (3 years ago)

    The ultimate comfort food <3 Light yet utterly filling. Perfect perfect perfecttttt pictures too, Shiran!

    • Shiran
      September 24, 2014 at 5:07 am (3 years ago)

      Thanks Tash!

  3. Esther
    October 6, 2014 at 12:32 pm (2 years ago)

    We like your pictures of the tiramisu very much. Would you like to share it with us so we can print it in our Italian magazine? Hope to hear from you, ciao, Esther

  4. Diana
    October 10, 2014 at 3:16 am (2 years ago)

    Thank you for the tiramisu recipe! It’s simply laid out for what I usually consider a difficult dessert. I’ll be testing this or the chocolate lava cake for my next ambitious dessert night. 🙂

    • Shiran
      October 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you Diana! I promise that it’s not that hard to make! Just read all my tips and you’ll be fine 🙂 The fondant is very easy as well! It’s all about timing and taking it out of the oven on time, but don’t let it intimidate you, because it shouldn’t! 🙂

  5. Laura
    December 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm (2 years ago)

    Thanks for what looks to be a great recipe! I just made my first one (unfortunately, not this recipe) and now realized I goofed, thinking I should use each half of a lady finger for a layer, not the whole thing. Ugh…..guess anyone counting carbs will appreciate it? I haven’t tasted it yet, but hope it’s good regardless of the ladyfingers missing! 🙂

    • Shiran
      December 20, 2014 at 12:11 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Laura! How many ladyfingers in total did you use, and how many for each layer? Even if you mistakenly used less than the recipe suggested, it would still be delicious, and honestly, I think that the mascarpone filling is the best part!

  6. Char
    January 23, 2015 at 9:08 pm (2 years ago)

    Fantastic! Better than the restaurants.

    • Shiran
      January 24, 2015 at 12:45 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much!! 🙂

  7. CPJ
    March 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm (2 years ago)

    i made your recipe on Saturday and served it on Sunday and my fam cannot stop talking about it! Supremely delicious and pretty easy to make. Looking forward to trying another one of your recipes!!

    • Shiran
      March 17, 2015 at 1:36 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much! My family also LOVES this recipe!

  8. Renee
    April 9, 2015 at 1:46 pm (2 years ago)

    I have been looking for a good Tiramisu recipe that yours looks lovely. I have been looking and with no success for mascapone, would cream cheese be a good substitute???

    • Shiran
      April 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Renee! I wrote about it in the post, but also, Here’s a good answer to your question from nigella.com.

      • Renee
        April 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm (2 years ago)

        Oh thank you so much

  9. Lisa
    May 10, 2015 at 10:54 pm (2 years ago)

    The filling recipe is amazing! I was looking for a recipe that calls for cooked egg yolks and I am glad I stumbled upon yours…thanks for sharing!

    • Shiran
      May 11, 2015 at 2:50 pm (2 years ago)

      Thank you so much, Lisa! 🙂

  10. sk
    May 14, 2015 at 2:07 am (2 years ago)

    hi shiran!! is there any sustitute to ladyfinger??? i dint get any from my store… plzzz tell a suitable replacement as my mascarpone will be expired after a week…:(

    • Shiran
      May 14, 2015 at 3:41 am (2 years ago)

      Hi 🙂 You can use pound cake (or sponge cake) and cut it into similar sized slices. It would soak up the liquid fairly well.

  11. Lisa
    June 27, 2015 at 8:00 pm (2 years ago)

    This was awesome the first time I made it – but this time the filling separated….?
    Maybe I didn’t cook it enough? It still tastes ok, but I’m bummed because it doesn’t have the correct texture. The only difference was that I used coffee instead of the wine/brandy because I was planning to take it to a potluck. Could that have made the difference? Thanks!

    • Shiran
      June 28, 2015 at 3:32 am (2 years ago)

      Hi Lisa! Using coffee instead of wine didn’t cause it. Did the filling separate after refrigeration or during preparation? Did you cook it over a bain marie? There are two possible ways why it would separate: (1) if it wasn’t cooked gently. High heat causes the eggs to scramble. (2) Over whipping the whipped cream, which causes it to separate. Hope this helps!

  12. Klydie G
    September 4, 2015 at 11:14 am (2 years ago)

    Can I use both egg whites and heavy cream? If yes, how much the measurements should be? Thanks a lot x

    • Shiran
      September 5, 2015 at 5:52 am (2 years ago)

      Hi Klydie! If you want to use egg whites instead of heavy cream, use 3 egg whites and whisk them using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form, then fold it into the egg yolk-mascarpone mixture. Use either just heavy cream or egg whites. Enjoy 🙂

  13. Emilie
    December 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you Shiran! This recipe has now become a treat and a must at any party that I go to! Your blog has been a lifesaver especially for a novice and so easy to follow! Messed it up once cause.. I’m bad at following recipes but if I do it step by step, it is AMAZING!

    Keep up the amazing work! You’re doing a great thing for the world here !!! 🙂


    • Shiran
      December 22, 2015 at 5:09 am (1 year ago)

      What a sweet comment Emilie, thank you so much! It really means a lot to me! I hope you continue to enjoy my recipes 🙂

  14. katie
    December 21, 2015 at 11:02 pm (1 year ago)

    Can this be made a day ahead? Want to make it for the holidays but because of timing of events, it would be wonderful if I could make it the day before instead of the day of. Thank you!

    • Shiran
      December 22, 2015 at 4:36 am (1 year ago)

      Sure! I always make it a day ahead and keep the leftovers in the fridge for 2 more days. Happy holidays, Katie!

  15. Cheryl Haywood
    January 1, 2016 at 10:16 pm (1 year ago)

    Shiran, I made this dessert last night. It was a HUGE hit. Compliments received from friends that will eat Italian desserts only from top notch Italian restaurants or genuine Italian pastry shops.

    • Shiran
      January 4, 2016 at 10:11 am (1 year ago)

      This recipe is actually a result of my attempt to impress my Italian friend 🙂 So happy you like it, and thank you for your comment Cheryl!

  16. juli
    March 22, 2016 at 11:36 am (1 year ago)

    Was vanilla extract intentionally left out? Can I add it in?

    • Shiran
      March 22, 2016 at 5:47 pm (1 year ago)

      You can add it in if you want, I just don’t find it necessary because the filling has plenty of flavor. In my other recipe there are no eggs or alcohol so I used it to add a nice flavor.

  17. Name*
    June 15, 2016 at 3:57 pm (10 months ago)

    Hi shiran
    I tried your recipe more than three times it turns out awesome and delicious but I have little issue when I make the zabaione it looks less thicker and slightly runny I don’t know why?
    For information I use egg whites for whipped cream .
    I’ll be happy if you can give me a tips for this problem.

    • Shiran
      June 16, 2016 at 9:09 am (10 months ago)

      The zabione thickens slightly while cooking, but the consistency should be like a thick sauce. With the mascarpone and whipped cream the filling should be stable after refrigeration. Is your filling runny? It should be quite soft but not runny.

  18. Kate
    August 18, 2016 at 5:30 pm (7 months ago)

    I love this recipe. One issue I had and I’m not sure if maybe it’s because I didn’t allow my egg mixture to cool before adding the mascarpone – my mixture slightly curdled when I put in the cheese. Is it because it was not cool enough or because I over beat the eggs in the double boiler? Would love some feedback to help me improve!

    • Shiran
      August 22, 2016 at 6:16 am (7 months ago)

      Hi Kate! If the egg mixture and mascarpone were smooth before you combined them together, then the difference in temperature was probably the issue. Next time, let the mixture cool before adding the mascarpone.

  19. Miri
    December 20, 2016 at 12:21 pm (3 months ago)

    I’ve done this desert with Irish cream. It delicious! Thank you ?

    • Shiran
      December 21, 2016 at 7:56 am (3 months ago)

      Thank you Miri! 🙂

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