Traditional Tiramisu Recipe (2024)

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Make this Traditional Tiramisu Recipe and prepare to swoon! It's creamy, light and airy, thanks to a delicious mascarpone filling made with zabaglione and beaten egg whites. Savoiardi ladyfingers dipped in espresso and Kahlúa provide a nice kick of flavor.

Don't miss my step-by-step photos and tips for this classic Italian dessert!

Tiramisu means "pick me up" in Italian.

It seems fitting. You might need someone to pick you up after you taste this and swoon in ecstasy!

Seriously, this is one of our favorite desserts ever! I tweaked the recipe to get it just the way we like it -- creamy, light, airy and a little boozy -- but most of all...delizioso!

I urge you to make this as soon as possible!

Tiramisu ingredients

Savoiardi (ladyfingers)

Traditional tiramisu calls for crispy ladyfinger cookies, known as Savoiardi in Italian. You can buy these online (affiliate link), in some grocery stores or at Italian import stores.

This recipe calls for 17.6 ounces of Savoiardi (60 cookies), which is enough for three full layers in a 9x13 pan.

Sometimes, these crunchy ladyfingers are sold in 14-ounce packages. If that’s what you have, you can use fewer cookies in the middle layer, but make sure to fully line the bottom and the top of the tiramisu with the Savoiardi.

This will give you a solid foundation at the bottom and a smooth surface on top.

Egg yolks and egg whites

Tiramisu's creamy filling starts with zabaglione, an Italian custard made from egg yolks and sugar. The zabaglione gets mixed with creamy mascarpone cheese, then beaten egg whites.

While many American versions of tiramisu use whipped cream in place of egg whites, we’re going with beaten egg whites used in authentic Italian tiramisu. The egg whites produce a lighter tiramisu without tasting eggy.

It's also convenient to use the entire egg and not have to worry about leftover whites.

Italians typically use raw yolks and raw egg whites.

But for food safety, I recommend using a double boiler to whisk the egg yolks and sugar over a pan of simmering hot water when making the zabaglione.

Yolks are a more likely breeding ground for bacteria than whites, according to the Egg Safety Center.

I feel comfortable using raw egg whites in my tiramisu because there is such a low possibility of salmonella.

However, if you prefer to be extra safe, you can use whites from pasteurized eggs and beat them with a little cream of tartar. You also could beat regular egg whites over simmering water in a double boiler. I’ve done that before, but the beaten egg whites turn out more soft than stiff.

Mascarpone

Mascarpone is simply Italian cream cheese. It's super creamy and rich, with up to 75% butterfat, which is more than double the amount in American cream cheese.

It's what I use in this Creamy Walnut Sauce that I serve over linguine.

Espresso

Espresso is used in a traditional tiramisu recipe, but you could substitute strong coffee, if needed. If you have an espresso maker, you can use that to brew some espresso.

Here’s how to make espresso in a Keurig coffee machine, which I do every morning. You’ll need a reusable filter cup (affiliate link) for ground coffee. Use espresso that’s not too finely ground, or it will clog your machine. Starbucks ground espresso (affiliate link), works perfectly.

Fill the basket with the ground espresso. Brew a small cup at a time for the tiramisu, so the coffee is strong.

By the way, you have to try my Espresso Smoothie recipe!

Alcohol

Classic tiramisu calls for Marsala wine in the yolk mixture (zabaglione), but I use a coffee liqueur (Kahúla), in my recipe. It adds wonderful flavor, but you can skip the alcohol if needed.

If you want to substitute a different liqueur, try Bailey’s, Amaretto or Frangelico. You also could use rum.

Making the tiramisu

See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.

Combine the filling

  1. Add the mascarpone to the zabaglione.
  2. Beat with a mixer to combine.
  3. Gently fold in half of the beaten egg whites at a time.
  4. Fold with a silicone spatula until you have a creamy filling.

Dip the Savoiardi

The Savoiardi cookies will soak up any liquid like a sponge. The cookies will become very soft and fall apart if left too long in the coffee mixture.

Place the coffee mixture in a small bowl or container. Simply dip each end of the ladyfinger in the liquid, then place the cookie into the coffee mixture to wet the first side.

Immediately flip over the cookie to dampen the other side, then take it out and line it up in your tiramisu pan.

When you’re done dipping all the cookies, you’ll probably have some espresso mixture left. You can brush some onto the top layer of ladyfingers (before adding the mascarpone cream).

Reserve any extra espresso mixture in the refrigerator so you can brush more onto the sides of the tiramisu slices the following day before serving them, if desired. You can even pour some of the extra coffee into the bottom of your pan the next day, after removing a couple slices.

Assemble it

  1. Line the bottom of the pan with a layer of espresso-dipped Savoiardi.
  2. Top with a third of the filling and 1 ½ teaspoons of cocoa. (Place the cocoa in a fine-mesh strainer and sprinkle it on, so it won't be clumpy.)
  3. Add a second layer of the ladyfingers, filling and cocoa.
  4. For the third layer, line the top of the tiramisu with the remaining dipped Savoiardi. Brush on some extra espresso mixture, then top with the rest of the filling and cocoa. Cover and chill overnight.

Recipe Tips

  • Make the tiramisu 1-2 days before serving it. It needs time to chill in the refrigerator overnight to achieve the best taste and texture. The tiramisu will be too crunchy on the first day.
  • To cover the tiramisu without disturbing the topping, you can insert toothpicks around the border and center before adding foil. If you have a 9x13 cake carrier (affiliate link), that's even better for storing the tiramisu in the refrigerator.

Frequently asked questions

Can you freeze tiramisu?

Yes, but it's best to freeze it before sprinkling the cocoa on top, so it doesn't look messy. Cover with two layers of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or for 20 minutes at room temperature, then sprinkle on the cocoa before serving.

Can you make a smaller batch?

Yes, you can halve the recipe and use an 8x8 pan. Use three eggs.

More desserts you'll love

  • Torta Caprese
  • Creamy Cheesecake with Sour Cream Topping (9x13)
  • Lemon Lush from Scratch
  • Orange Cake with Whipped Cream

Enjoy!

If you make this Traditional Tiramisu Recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and a rating!

Traditional Tiramisu Recipe (9)

Traditional Tiramisu Recipe

This Traditional Tiramisu Recipe is creamy, light and airy, thanks to a delicious mascarpone filling made with zabaglione and beaten egg whites. Savoiardi ladyfingers dipped in espresso and Kahlúa provide a nice kick of flavor. Make this 1-2 days before serving, so it has time to soften.

4.92 from 12 votes

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Course: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian

Prep Time: 40 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes minutes

Servings: 20

Calories: 317kcal

Author: Mamma C

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces brewed espresso (or strong coffee)
  • 6 ounces Kahlua (or rum, Marsala wine or Frangelico)
  • 24 ounces mascarpone
  • 5 extra-large eggs (see notes)
  • cup sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 17.6 ounces Savoiardi (60 crisp ladyfingers)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder (divided use) (unsweetened)

Instructions

Espresso Mixture

  • Make the espresso in an espresso maker (or see notes for using ground Starbucks espresso in a refillable coffee filter for the Keurig machine.) You also could brew strong coffee instead.

  • Add the 12 ounces of brewed espresso to a small bowl and stir in the Kahlua.

Tiramisu Filling

  • Separate the egg yolks from the whites. It's best to place one egg white at a time into a liquid measuring cup and then add that one egg white to a medium mixing bowl (or use a stand mixer bowl, if you have one.) There must not be any yolk or shell in your whites, so you will need to replace the egg white if that happens. Place the yolks into a stainless steel bowl that will fit the top of a double boiler or fit over a medium pot.

  • Add an inch of hot water to the bottom of the double boiler or your medium pot. Set the pot on the stove over medium heat. You want the water to simmer, not boil.

  • For the zabaglione (Italian custard), add the sugar and salt to the egg yolks in the bowl. Whisk briefly to combine before placing the bowl on top of the pot of simmering water. Continue whisking, using a figure 8 motion, for 10 minutes. Periodically check the water underneath to make sure it's not boiling. Lower the heat if you need to, so the water stays simmering. The yolk mixture should now be pale yellow, like a lemon. Remove the zabaglione from the heat and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.

  • Beat the egg whites in a stainless steel bowl with clean beaters, starting on low and increasing to high speed. The whites will become foamy, then will start to stiffen. Beat them until you see stiff peaks when you lift the beaters out of the whites. It will look like meringue. (See photos in post.) If the peaks fall over, beat the whites a little more.

  • Add the mascarpone to the bowl with the zabaglione and beat with a mixer just until combined. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold in half of the beaten egg whites until blended. Fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate the whites.

Assemble the Tiramisu (3 layers)

  • Dip one Savoiardi ladyfinger at a time into the espresso mixture, being careful not to let it soak for long, or it will fall apart. It's best to dip each end of the cookie into the liquid, then place the ladyfinger into the coffee mixture, immediately flip it over, then immediately transfer the ladyfinger to the 9x13 pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a layer of the dipped cookies. (See photo in the post.)

  • Add a third of the filling on top of the cookie layer and spread it on with a spatula. Sprinkle on 1 ½ teaspoons of cocoa (add the cocoa to a fine-mesh strainer and tap the strainer to dust on the cocoa evenly.)

  • Repeat with another layer of dipped Savoiardi, a third of the filling, and 1 ½ teaspoons of cocoa.

  • For the final layer, add the dipped Savoiardi to the top of the tiramisu. Brush on some extra espresso mixture. (Reserve the rest of the coffee mixture for the next day by storing it in the refrigerator.) Spread on the remaining filling, then top with 1 ½ teaspoons of cocoa.

  • Cover and chill the tiramisu overnight in the refrigerator. This is important to allow the tiramisu dessert to soften. If you have a 9x13 cake carrier, you can store it in that. Otherwise, place some toothpicks into the tiramisu, then add foil so the top won't be disturbed.

  • When you're ready to serve the tiramisu, slice it into portions. You can brush on some of the reserved espresso mixture onto the sides of the tiramisu slices for extra flavor and moisture, if desired. You can even pour some of the extra coffee mixture into the bottom of the pan after you've removed a few slices.

  • Store leftover tiramisu in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you want to freeze the tiramisu, it's best to do so before adding the top layer of cocoa. Add double layers of plastic wrap, then foil before freezing the tiramisu. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with cocoa before serving.

Notes

Egg Safety:

  • This recipe calls for cooking egg yolks over simmering water for food safety purposes, although traditional tiramisu calls for raw eggs.
  • This recipe does call for raw egg whites, since there is less chance of bacteria there.
  • However, if you prefer to be extra safe, you can use whites from pasteurized eggs and beat them with a little cream of tartar. You also could beat regular egg whites over simmering water in a double boiler. I’ve done that before for this tiramisu, but the beaten egg whites turn out more soft than stiff.

Tips

  • Don't use soft ladyfingers in this recipe. Buy the crisp Italian ones, known as Savoiardi.
  • Make the tiramisu 1-2 days before serving it. It needs time to chill in the refrigerator overnight to achieve the best taste and texture. The tiramisu will be too crunchy on the first day.
  • You can halve the recipe and use an 8x8 pan. Use three eggs.

Here’s how to make espresso in a Keurig coffee machine (affiliate link), which I do every morning:

  • You’ll need a reusable filter cup (affiliate link) for ground coffee.
  • Use espresso that’s not too finely ground, or it will clog your machine. Starbucks ground espresso (affiliate link), works perfectly.
  • Fill the basket with the ground espresso. Brew a small cup at a time for the tiramisu, so the coffee is strong.

If you need to omit the alcohol, you can make extra espresso instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 317kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 76mg | Potassium: 69mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 674IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 1mg

Tried this Recipe? Mention @cookingwithmammac or tag #CookingWithMammaC!

(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C. Adapted from multiple recipe versions.)

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Traditional Tiramisu Recipe (2024)
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