This is the ultimate recipe for authentic Italian tiramisu, a dessert made of layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and rich, velvety mascarpone cream. It requires no baking and is incredibly simple to make!
The mascarpone cream is combined with whipped cream and a sabayon, a mixture of egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine. Egg yolks add richness and body while Marsala wine adds a lovely, delicate flavor.
It’s easy to tell if you’ve made a tiramisu just right. Each bite will be will filled with slightly sweet yet light and airy mascarpone cream and dreamily soft yet delicate coffee-flavored ladyfingers. A touch of cocoa powder adds a slight chocolatey flavor to the dessert. Tiramisu requires no baking and can be made in a pan, trifle dish, or individual ramekins.
What is in Authentic Italian Tiramisu?
In most traditional tiramisu recipes, you’ll find egg yolks. This adds richness and a decadent flavor to the mascarpone filling. While true classic tiramisu recipes use raw egg yolks, I prefer to cook them to eliminate the risk of salmonella, so that’s what this recipe calls for.
Egg whites or heavy cream?
The majority of recipes use one of these two. Both must be whipped in order to make a light filling, which is then folded into the egg yolks and whipped mascarpone. However, each will contribute a different flavor. Egg whites make the batter more airy, while heavy cream will add richness. One thing to consider is that egg whites are usually used raw, although some recipes do cook them.
In today’s recipe, I use heavy cream. Not only do I prefer it because – let’s be honest – heavy cream and I are best friends, but I prefer my desserts to be as rich as possible and I love the flavor heavy cream adds.
Pro tip: If you prefer to use egg whites instead of heavy 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.
If you use raw egg whites, be sure to use the freshest eggs possible with intact shells. You can also cook them over a double boiler, whisking the eggs constantly so they don’t scramble until they are hot. Then, transfer them to a mixer with a whisk attachment and whip until stiff peaks form.
Type of alcohol in tiramisu
Marsala is a sweet red wine traditionally used for tiramisu, and my favorite option. Do not use marsala cooking wine, typically found in your local grocery store. What can be used instead of Marsala? If you’re looking for a substitution, then dark rum is my favorite, but you can also use brandy, coffee liqueur or almond liqueur.
How to make authentic Italian tiramisu
- In a shallow bowl, combine hot coffee, 2 tablespoons sugar, and liqueur. Mix until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
- Make a sabayon, 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).
- Using an electric mixer, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
- Add mascarpone to the cooled egg yolk mixture and whisk by hand until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream in 2 additions.
- Assemble the dessert. Quickly dip each ladyfinger into the coffee syrup (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.
More delicious tiramisu recipes:
- Tiramisu Cake: Enjoy the classic flavors of tiramisu in cake form! Tender, vanilla cake soaked in coffee syrup is topped with sweetened whipped mascarpone cream and cocoa powder.
- Tiramisu Cupcakes: Tiramisu cupcakes are full of the same rich, decadent flavors as classic tiramisu.
- Chocolate Tiramisu: This one’s for the chocolate lovers out there. This recipe has added layers of smooth and creamy chocolate ganache and substitutes dipping ladyfingers in coffee syrup with dipping them in hot chocolate.
- Quick Tiramisu: This is a simpler version of my classic tiramisu recipe. It omits the eggs and Marsala wine but is just as rich, creamy, and delicious.
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- 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 coffee or almond liqueur, Marsala, dark rum, or brandy
- 3 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup (70 g/2.5 oz.) granulated sugar
- 2-3 tablespoons Marsala wine , dark rum, or brandy
- ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups (340 g/12 oz.) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 200g /7 oz (20-24 units) ladyfingers or Savoiardi biscuits (or less if making individual glasses)
- Sifted cocoa powder or grated chocolate
For the coffee syrup:
In a shallow bowl, combine hot coffee, 2 tablespoons sugar, and liqueur. Mix until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
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 simmering water on a low heat; the bowl should not touch the water). Whisk constantly using a whisk, or preferably a hand mixer, until the mixture doubles in volume, is hot to the touch, and has a thick, foamy consistency (around 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a 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.
Quickly dip ladyfingers (less than a second) into the coffee syrup and line them in one layer in an 8-inch baking dish. 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. Right before serving, dust the top with cocoa powder or grated chocolate. Serve cold.
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. The amount of ladyfingers you use is up to you. 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. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. Right before serving, dust the top with cocoa powder. Serve cold.