If you love ordering tiramisu when you’re out dining at a restaurant, then you will love this easy tiramisu recipe to make at home. This delicious tiramisu cake recipe is perfect for a small crowd or taking over to a friend’s house for a potluck.
As much as I love Italian tiramisu, I tend to pass up on ordering it when I’m pondering the dessert menu at a restaurant. My experience with restaurant tiramisu tends to be a wet, soggy cake rather than the scrumptious, coffee-flavored dessert it truly is.
Authentic Tiramisu Recipe
It wasn’t until I stopped by a patisserie in Paris, ironically, that I enjoyed a brilliant rendition of the Italian dessert. It renewed my faith in the tiramisu cake and everything it could be.
My idea of an authentic tiramisu recipe is one that has texture. While I wholeheartedly believe the flavors of vanilla, coffee, and rum should meld together, I can’t stand when the cake layers in tiramisu become just as wet as the mascarpone cream layers.
If you’ve had really mushy lady fingers, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. It ends up tasting like you’re just eating custard with soggy cake stuffed in between.
After trying several recipes, I learned that the key to preventing this is to use crisp lady fingers.
To provide some context first, let’s talk about all of the ingredients you’ll need to make this tiramisu dessert:
- Lady Fingers
- Freshly brewed coffee plus espresso powder
- Rum (although this is optional)
- Mascarpone cream
- Egg yolks
- Heavy whipping cream
- and Cocoa powder
The best tiramisu recipe will have you used toasted, or crisp, lady fingers. Now, depending on what brand of lady fingers you buy, you may or may not need to toast your lady fingers.
For example, if I purchase lady fingers from my local grocery store’s bakery section, the lady fingers are often very soft (much like pre-packaged angel cakes). When I’m using these kind of lady fingers, it’s very important to toast the lady fingers on each side for 5 minutes in a 250°F oven before I use them in a tiramisu recipe.
Other brands offer crisp, cookie-like ladyfingers that work perfectly for an easy tiramisu recipe like this. I find these cookie-type ones to be the best ladyfingers for tiramisu. The less prep we have to do, the better, right?
Now, if you look at any traditional tiramisu recipe, you’ll find that it requires mascarpone. I’m going to go ahead and warn you here that mascarpone cheese is not the easiest to find. You typically won’t find it next to the cream cheese at your average supermarket, even though it looks like the same thing.
Instead, try your local Trader Joe’s store, gourmet foods store, or the “fancier” cheese section of your grocery store. My local grocery store has two cheese sections: one where you’ll find your average cheddar cheese slices, cream cheese blocks, and bags of shredded cheese; then another section where you’ll find goat cheese, wheels of brie, and, fortunately, mascarpone.
If you’ve never had mascarpone, know that it’s a slightly sweeter version of cream cheese. When I say sweeter, don’t expect the cheese to taste sweet, but you should expect it to lack that bit of tang cream cheese tends to have.
For this easy tiramisu recipe, you need just about two tubs of mascarpone cheese to make the creamy component of the dessert.
Tiramisu Recipe Without Eggs
Another thing to note with traditional tiramisu is that it contains raw egg yolks. This means that if you’re pregnant or have a compromised immune system, you should probably avoid this dessert recipe or check with a health practitioner first.
While you could exclude the raw eggs and instead add more whipped cream to compensate the texture, I honestly don’t feel like it tastes the same.
Many bloggers claim that eggless tiramisu is the same as tiramisu made with eggs, but there is another level of decadence when you add the raw eggs that you just can’t replicate without them.
Tiramisu Recipe Without Alcohol
As strong of a proponent I am of using eggs in a tiramisu recipe, I’m much more lenient with the alcohol.
For this easy tiramisu recipe, you could make it with the classic rum addition or without it. In my opinion, the rum adds another dimension of flavor to this Italian dessert, and it is of course a staple in a classic tiramisu recipe, but your dessert won’t be compromised without it.
If you want to exclude the rum in this recipe, feel free to simply omit that ingredient.
Tiramisu Cake: the Tips to Know
I already mentioned that you should use crisp lady fingers when making any tiramisu recipe, but there are a few other tips to know:
- When you dip your lady fingers into the coffee-rum mixture, you want to make sure it’s a quick drop rather than a prolonged dip. This is integral to the lady fingers maintaining some of their texture in the finished tiramisu dessert.
- Not every tiramisu recipe uses heavy whipping cream, but this one does. I recommend using the small bit of cream that is suggested here to help lighten up the mascarpone mixture and give your finished tiramisu that luxuriously light bite that everyone adores.
- For best results, make sure your tiramisu rests in the fridge for at least 6 hours, or overnight if possible. This will allow all the flavors of this dessert to meld together and contribute to a more delectable taste once it’s served.
For a more impressive finish, you can spread a thin layer of the mascarpone cream on the top layer of lady fingers, then fill a pastry bag with the rest of the cream and pipe it out into mounds on the top of the cake.
A dusting of cocoa powder on top pairs well with the coffee notes in this dessert and is just the thing to make this tiramisu picture perfect.
Easy Tiramisu Recipe
An Italian dessert made up of spongecake and coffee and rum-flavored cream.
- 48 whole lady fingers (the crisp cookie kind) - you will end up with extra
- 2.25 cups brewed coffee
- 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
- 3 tbsp rum
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 12 oz mascarpone cheese
- 6 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- cocoa powder for dusting
In a medium bowl, mix the brewed coffee, instant espresso, and rum together until combined. Temporarily set aside.
In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer, add the egg yolks and sugar and beat on high speed until the eggs become pale yellow - a minute or two.
Add the mascarpone cheese to the egg batter and beat until the mixture is combined well and the batter is lump-free. Temporarily set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy whipping cream on high speed for about 1 minute until soft peaks are formed. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone batter using a rubber spatula, until there are no white streaks of whipped cream apparent in the batter.
Lay out all of your ingredients and materials in front of you: a 9"x13" baking dish, the lady fingers, the coffee-rum mixture, the mascarpone batter, and the cocoa for dusting.
Quickly drop a lady finger into your coffee-rum mixture and just as quickly flip it over to wet the other side. Place the lady finger along one edge of the pan. Repeat this step until you've covered the bottom of the pan with lady fingers, sitting side-by-side snugly inside the pan. You may need to trim or squish in some of the lady fingers depending on their layout in the pan. Remember, dipping the lady fingers in the coffee-rum mixture should be a 1 second step for each lady finger. You do not want to hold your lady fingers down in the coffee-rum liquid because they will become mushy. Instead, drop them in so that they kind of float before flipping them over in the liquid and taking them out.
Once you’ve wet each lady finger and placed them in your pan, spread half of your mascarpone batter onto the lady fingers with your spatula. Generously dust the top of your batter with cocoa.
Again, create another layer of lady fingers by repeating the dipping process, then transferring to the pan, placing these lady fingers on top of the mascarpone batter. Spread the remaining mascarpone batter in the bowl on top and dust the top with cocoa.
Cover the pan with a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight is best.
-- Note: the photographs above show another variation of this cake made in a smaller pan with more layers . --