Tiramisu was originally conceived in Veneto, a region in the northern east of Italy; it’s a soft dessert made of layers of spongy biscuits and fluffy mascarpone cream. As the ladyfingers (called ‘Savoiardi‘ in Italian) are dipped into coffee, a few spoonfuls of this delicious tiramisu are enough to wake you up after a particularly heavy meal – and that’s why the Tiramisu’s name literally means ‘pick-me-up‘.
There are many variations on how to prepare a proper Tiramisu, and some new takes on this recipe even suggest to use leftover Panettone or Pandoro (Italian Christmas sweets) instead of the ladyfingers. At My Pinch of Italy we’re all about not wasting food, so by all means – use what you have! And if you’re looking for a lighter, caffeine-free version of tiramisu, have a look at our Strawberry Tiramisù.
If you want to stick to the tradition, just follow the steps below for a perfect, classic Tiramisu.
Serves: 6 | Preparation time: 40 mins + 2 h to rest
- Mascarpone: 500 g
- Coffee: 150 ml
- Rum or cognac or marsala (optional): 45 ml
- Ladyfingers : about 20-25
- Eggs: 5
- Sugar: 5 tbsp
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: to taste
- A pinch of salt
Separate the egg yolks from the whites and place them in two different bowls; make sure that the yolks don’t break, and that the bowl in which you place the whites is spotlessly clean – otherwise, the whites won’t become stiff, no matter how much you beat them.
Add the sugar to the egg yolks and whisk them until the mixture becomes frothy and almost white. Use a spatula to delicately add the mascarpone to the yolk and sugar mixture, and whisk thoroughly to break any lumps.
Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat them until stiff with a clean whisk. Now add the whites to the yolk and mascarpone cream, in relatively small spoonfuls. Make sure to stir in the whites by moving the spoon exclusively upwards: if you press down on the whites with the spoon whilst stirring, the whites will deflate and won’t be able to use your mascarpone cream for the tiramisu.
Brew the coffee. You can follow our tips for a great Italian coffee: Stovetop Italian Coffee with Moka. It’s really important to not add any sugar into the coffee, as the mascarpone cream already makes up for the sweet component of your tiramisu. What you can do to counteract the bitterness of the coffee is to add some rum to it.
Tip: If you really cannot get your hands onto a moka, you can use some instant coffee – just be aware that this will slightly change the taste of your tiramisu.
Pour the coffee into a shallow plate and leave it to cool down at room temperature before proceeding any further. Hot coffee is not only hazardous, as you risk burning your fingertips – it’s also not recommended. The ladyfingers tend to soak up too much coffee when it is still scorching hot: you would end up with a soggy Tiramisu.
You’re ready to start assembling your Tiramisu. Take a fairly wide dessert dish with high edges and cover the bottom with ladyfingers soaked in coffee. Keep the ladyfingers in the coffee only for a couple of seconds – as just mentioned, the biscuits must not be soggy – and then place them in the dish in a tight layer.
Use a spatula or a tablespoon to spread some mascarpone cream on the ladyfingers, enough to evenly cover them. Cover the cream with another layer of soaked-up ladyfingers and proceed in this fashion until you’ve finished all of the ingredients. The topmost layer of the Tiramisu must be a generous coating of cream.
Put the Tiramisu in the fridge and leave it to rest for at least 2 hours; this step is necessary for the flavours to combine properly.
Garnish the tiramisu by sprinkling the cocoa powder on top, right before bringing it to the table.
Tip: Don’t garnish the Tiramisu in advance! The powder will become wet and it will look less fresh. Make also sure to use unsweetened cocoa powder: as we mentioned before, the mascarpone cream is sweet enough to give your Tiramisu its perfectly balanced taste.