Tiramisu Recipe

  • by Nonna Box January 18, 2016
  • |
  • Last Updated on June 23, 2022
classic tiramisu recipe

When I start talking about food, my mother somehow always ends up in the conversation, because her cooking made me love food in the first place. She wishes it would have made me love making food as well, but I guess you can’t have everything in life.

The reason why I am once again talking about my mom is that her desserts were (and still are!) out of this world. For a long time, as a child, I didn’t even like chocolate or cakes or any of that. Shocking, right? But mom eventually won me over with her recipes, and one of my personal favorites will always be her tiramisu. It’s just ridiculous and, in my humble opinion, the best tiramisu recipe around.

I’ve tried tiramisu at many restaurants, but not even the best one can compare to my mom’s. I think in part it’s because she always follows a traditional recipe, and most of the time, “traditional” stands for “the way it’s supposed to be.” But before I reluctantly share my mother’s step-by-step recipe to make tiramisu, let’s go a little bit through its history and what exactly is at the heart of one of the most popular classic Italian desserts.

WHAT IS TIRAMISU?

One of Italy’s most popular desserts, tiramisu is an elegant, rich layering of bold espresso and cocoa, creamy mascarpone, sweet Marsala wine, and delicate ladyfingers, a low-density sponge cake-like cookie. The ladyfingers, which are themselves classic Italian treats, are briefly soaked in an espresso and sugar mixture to soften them.

These are layered with a mixture of mascarpone cheese and zabaione, also called zabaglione, a traditional custard made with Marsala wine, egg, and sugar, all of which come together to create a creamy filling. Some people may use whipped cream in place of mascarpone, but the latter provides a more authentic flavor and texture.

Finally, cocoa powder dusts the top of these layers for additional flavor and to top off tiramisu’s classic appearance. As an added bonus, this delicious recipe is also an absolutely delicious no-bake dessert!

WHAT DOES TIRAMISU MEAN?

You might be surprised that this classic Italian dessert’s history has a lot to do with … love. Tiramisu, in Italian, stands for “pick me up,” but its meaning takes various shapes, as it can also be interpreted as “cheer me up.”

classic italian tiramisu

AND WHAT’S THE HISTORY BEHIND IT?

Tiramisu is another one of those confusing recipes that we don’t know whom to attribute to. A consensus seems to be that it was born in Treviso in 1970, first starting out as a “sbatudin,” which is like tiramisu in its first undeveloped and unlayered form.

Eventually, sbatudin turned into the authentic Italian tiramisu recipe we all love, through influences from other Italian regions.

In the late ’60s, a gastronome and actor named Giuseppe Maffioli published a book about Treviso cuisine. In the book, he talks about eating zabaione cream and biscuits with the whole family and mentions it being a Venetian tradition.

“Tiramesù,” as it was called in the beginning, was served for the very first time at a restaurant called Le Beccherie by a pastry chef named Loly Linguanotto, who was just returning to Italy after perfecting his baking skills in Germany. The tiramesù was an instant hit, and not only was it served in the province of Treviso, but also throughout Veneto and even all of Italy.

And as many good things do, it became famous worldwide and developed into several variations, like this pistachio tiramisu recipe.

italian tiramisu recipe

HOW IS TIRAMISU SERVED?

Tiramisu is a dessert served semifreddo — which means it’s not ice cream, but it’s not lava cake either. It’s perfect to eat just as you take it out of the fridge, and it actually tastes better if you leave it to sit overnight and even after a few days.

Although, honestly, when it comes to such a dessert, it’s quite a challenge to let it sit for too long. I guess that’s the Italian charm of food, where anything as basic as a salad dressing or pasta will be eaten on the spot, with no leftovers.

classic tiramisu recipe

Classic Tiramisu Recipe

Tiramisu is one of the most famous Italian desserts around the world. Learn the secrets of making tiramisu at home.
4.34 from 62 votes
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Course: Dessert
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12 portions
Calories: 342kcal
Author: Nonna Box

Ingredients

For the Coffee Dip

  • 350 ml (1.48 cups) strong coffee espresso

For the Zabaione Filling

  • 4 (4 ) raw eggs
  • 100 gr (0.5 cups) granulated sugar
  • 500 gr (1.1 lbs) mascarpone cream cheese

For the Layers

  • 300 gr (0.66 lbs) ladyfingers cookies
  • 2 tablespoons (2 tablespoons) Marsala wine or dark Rum optional
  • 30 gr (6 tbsp) cocoa powder unsweetened cocoa powder is preferred

Equipment

  • 1 oven-safe dish, approximately 8" x 8"

Instructions

  • To begin, take out the mascarpone cheese and the raw eggs from the fridge and leave them at room temperature for about 10 minutes (use a mascarpone mixture in place of whipped cream or heavy cream for a more authentic texture flavor).
    ingredients for tiramisu
  • In the meantime, prepare the espresso coffee. Once ready, pour into a shallow bowl or into a bowl large enough to be able to lay a ladyfinger cookie fully. Optional: Add the marsala or rum and mix.
    If you make the recipe for children or you don't want to use alchol, don't use it. Your tiramisù will be equally delicious!
  • Then, using two medium-large mixing bowls, separate the egg whites from the raw egg yolks. In the mixing bowl with the egg yolks, combine the yolks and sugar and whip the yolks with a kitchen mixer or an electric hand mixer until the mixture becomes creamy.
    How to make tiramisu
  • Add the mascarpone cheese to the egg yolk mixture and with the help of a spatula mix gently until all the ingredients have been incorporated. 
    how to incorporate mascarpone in tiramisu
  • In the second mixing bowl with the egg whites, whip the egg to form stiff peaks using an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer. Then, with a spatula, take a bit of the stiff peaks of the egg white mixture and fold slowly into the yolk mixture. Gently bring the egg mixture up and turn it over back into the bowl.
    Repeat this folding action turning the bowl a bit as you go until the egg white mixture is fully incorporated and the resulting mixture is light and airy.
    how to incorporate egg whites in mascarpone
  • Cover the bottom of your baking dish with a layer of the cream mixture.
  • Now is the time to quickly dip a couple of lady fingers in the bowl with the coffee. Dip both sides of the cookie. This action should be quick enough to avoid soaking the cookies too much. If it’s your first time, start with just one lady finger first before proceeding with the others to get a sense of the timing.
  • Lay the coffee-soaked lady fingers on top of the first layer of the mixture in the baking pan. Repeat until the cookies cover the mixture entirely. Do not overlap the cookies.
  • Spread another layer of the mixture on top of the cookies.
    spread tiramisu on ladyfingers
  • Lay another layer of coffee-dipped lady fingers and cover the cookies with another layer of the mixture. Level the mixture with the spatula.
    lay another layer of ladyfingers cookies
  • Place the tiramisu in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
    refrigerate tiramisu
  • Before serving, dust with cocoa powder. To do this, use a fine strainer sprinkle the cocoa powder on top of the tiramisu cake and serve.
    sprinkle cocoa powder on tiramisu

Video

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Recipe Notes

How to store tiramisu?

The best way to store this Italian dessert is in the fridge, where it will last for up to four days covered with plastic film.

What can be used instead of mascarpone?

If you’re unable to obtain mascarpone cream, whipping cream or double cream can be used in a pinch.

What type of coffee is best for tiramisu?

This recipe calls for espresso (concentrated black coffee) traditionally.

Can you freeze tiramisu?

It is possible to freeze tiramisu provided you use a full-fat mascarpone cheese mixture. To freeze, wrap the dessert in a layer of plastic wrap, then cover with a layer of foil and freeze for up to three months.

Other Italian Traditional Desserts:

3 Responses to “Tiramisu Recipe”

  1. Catherine says:

    Made this tonight. Waiting for my husband to come home tomorrow to eat it but wished there were some more instructions in this recipe or some pictures of the process. I wasn’t sure about the egg mixture what it was supposed to look like and wanted more details on how soft the lady fingers are supposed to be when I dipped them. Not hard overall though!

    • Nonna Box says:

      Ciao Catherine – great, did you guys enjoy it? I hope so! Will add pictures of the process, thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Carmen says:

    Wonderful tiramisu, at home we make it constantly, it is an easy recipe to make and the result is excellent. Thank you very much for sharing
    Cheers

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