This is your complete guide to the Best Classic Italian Tiramisu. The Tiramisu has the perfect ratio of ladyfingers to mascarpone cream, is creamy while still being light, and lets the coffee flavor shine without being too sweet. I have perfected this recipe after countless tries and variations to achieve the best flavor and texture, and will share several tips and tricks, as well as variations for you to customize the recipe to your preferences.
In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know to make the best classic Italian tiramisu, including:
- Egg whites vs whipped cream
- Raw vs cooked eggs
- Alcohol free vs alcoholic versions
- INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR TIRAMISU
- VIDEO TUTORIAL
- HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CLASSIC ITALIAN TIRAMISU
- HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU USING EGG WHITES
- HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU USING WHIPPED CREAM INSTEAD OF EGG WHITES
- HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU WITHOUT RAW EGGS
- HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU WITH OR WITHOUT ALCOHOL
- TROULBESHOOTING AND FAQS
- RELATED RECIPES
- BEST CLASSIC ITALIAN TIRAMISU RECIPE
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INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR TIRAMISU
All quantities are shared in the brown recipe card at the bottom of this post, but let's quickly go over the ingredients you will need.
- Mascarpone cheese. It is really important to find good quality mascarpone, as lower quality brands can often turn grainy easily. I recommend BelGioioso, Galbani, and Vermont Creamery. Many people ask for substitutes for mascarpone, but I strongly believe mascarpone is what gives tiramisu its signature flavor. If you really cannot find it, you can use full fat ricotta or cream cheese, but the result is not the same
- Eggs. Yes, you do need eggs to make authentic Italian tiramisu. They add creaminess to the mascarpone cream, and the egg whites can be whipped into a meringue to add fluffiness. Eggs can be added raw (if pasteurized), or cooked with a double boiler ("bain marie")
- Note: If you want to make the mascarpone cream without any eggs, you can use the recipe from my Easy Chocolate Tiramisu, which only uses heavy cream
- Sugar. You can use granulated or caster sugar
- Ladyfingers (or savoiardi / sponge fingers). These are long oval shaped biscuits made from a sponge cake batter, which become like cake when dipped in a liquid like coffee. If you can't find them at a grocery store, you can make them at home as well
- Coffee. You need strong black coffee to soak the ladyfingers. The strength depends on how much you like the flavor of coffee (some people use espresso), but my general guidance is to make the coffee twice as strong as you usually would. It can be brewed coffee, French press coffee, or you can use instant coffee mixed in hot water
- Cocoa powder. This is dusted on top of the tiramisu right before serving for a delicious chocolate flavor
The three optional ingredients are:
- Rum. For those who prefer the alcoholic version, you can add up to ¼ cup rum, divided between the mascarpone cream and the coffee soak
Here's a short video tutorial I recommend watching for this recipe:
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST CLASSIC ITALIAN TIRAMISU
Let's go over all the components and steps one by one:
Make the mascarpone cream
The mascarpone cream comes together in 5 steps:
Step 1: First, whisk the mascarpone cream for just 30-60 seconds until it looks creamy. I have found no significant difference if the cream is straight from the fridge or room temperature, so you can just use cold mascarpone cream. Avoid overmixing as it can split
Step 2: Secondly, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture becomes light in color and ribbony in consistency. I do this over a double boiler so the eggs are not raw
Step 3: Pour the egg yolk and sugar mixture onto the whipped mascarpone. Add vanilla and salt, then whisk on medium speed until just combined. Once again, don't over mix, this should only take about 30-60 seconds
Step 4: In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites or heavy cream until stiff peaks (I will go into more detail about the two variations below)
Step 5: Lastly, fold the whipped egg whites or whipped heavy cream into the mascarpone mixture in 2-3 batches, mixing very gently between each addition so as to not knock out the air. This will result in a fluffy and light mascarpone cream
For this, you need to dip the ladyfingers in coffee. Ladyfingers soak coffee quickly, and become more soggy the longer they sit. Due to this, I personally find that you just need to dip quickly on both sides without holding the ladyfinger inside the coffee. The coffee may not penetrate all the way through, but this way the tiramisu does not become soggy. However, this is up to your preference. If you want the coffee to fully penetrate the ladyfingers, you can dip them for 1-2 second per side.
Once dipped, add a layer of the ladyfingers into the dish you are serving in. I like to use a 7x11" rectangular dish or a 9" square dish as they allow very easy layering of ladyfingers (compared to circular or oval dishes in which you need to cut ladyfingers into smaller pieces).
Cover with half of the mascarpone cream and spread out, then repeat so you have 4 total layers: ladyfingers, mascarpone cream, ladyfingers, mascarpone cream.
For the final layer, you can either spread the mascarpone cream into a flat surface, or pipe it in dollops using a ½" round piping tip (you can also use a French star tip).
Once assembled, cover and refrigerate the Tiramisu for at least 4 hours, or overnight. This will allow the cream to set and the ladyfingers to get fully soft.
Dust with cocoa powder and serve
When you are ready to serve, dust a generous amount of cocoa powder on top of the tiramisu using a sifter. Slice in, serve and enjoy!
HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU USING EGG WHITES
Authentic Tiramisu recipes use egg whites to add air and lightness to the mascarpone cream1. The benefit to this method is that you use the whole egg instead of just the egg yolks, and egg whites result in a very light, lower calories version. The con of this method is that it is more time consuming and technical, as meringues can easily go wrong, and some people are sensitive to the flavor of egg whites.
Important note: If using egg whites, do not add all the sugar to the egg yolks in step 2. Divide the sugar into 2 parts, one of which will be whisked with the egg yolks, and the second with the egg whites.
Making sure to use a clean bowl and whisks, whisk the egg whites on medium speed, slowly adding the sugar, until they form a glossy and stiff meringue. This can take several minutes. Once the meringue is done, fold it into the mascarpone mixture as instructed in step 5 above.
HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU USING WHIPPED CREAM INSTEAD OF EGG WHITES
If you don't want to use egg whites, you can use whipped cream instead. This version is easier and quicker, and results in a more creamy tiramisu which I personally like. The downside is potentially wasting egg whites.
1 egg white results in about ¾ to 1 cup of meringue, so 4 egg whites will yield almost 4 cups. In order to get the same volume in whipped cream, you will need 1.5 cups of heavy cream (cream roughly triples when whipped).
If using heavy cream, you don't need to add sugar to it (all the sugar goes into the egg yolks in step 2). Just make sure it is chilled, and whip until it reaches stiff peaks. Be very careful not to overmix. Fold it into the mascarpone mixture as instructed in step 5 above.
HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU WITHOUT RAW EGGS
If you are comfortable consuming raw eggs, you can whisk the egg yolks with sugar, and make the meringue (if using egg whites) on the counter top. This is only safe is your eggs are pasteurized and safe to be eaten raw.
However, if you are not comfortable consuming raw eggs, you can whisk the egg yolks and sugar, as well as a meringue (if using egg whites), over a double boiler. Boil 1-2" of water in a saucepan, then turn the heat to the lowest setting.
Place the bowl with sugar and egg yolks on top of the saucepan (the bowl should be larger than the saucepan and the bottom should not touch the water). Whisk on medium-high speed for exactly 2 minutes; I have found going over 2 minutes starts to cook the egg yolks and the mixture becomes grainy. The mixture should be warm but not hot.
Similarly, if using egg whites, start by whisking the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until it reaches about 160F, and finish on the counter top (this is called a "Swiss Meringue").
HOW TO MAKE TIRAMISU WITH OR WITHOUT ALCOHOL
I don't consume alcohol so I don't add any to Tiramisu. However, if you do and like the flavor, you can add rum to Tiramisu. For this recipe, you can add up to ¼ cup, split between the coffee soak and the mascarpone cream. I recommend starting with a small amount and tasting so you don't end up with too strong of a flavor.
TROULBESHOOTING AND FAQS
This can happen due to a few reasons:
1. Low quality mascarpone cheese. Make sure to use full fat, high quality mascarpone; I recommend Galbani, BelGioioso, and Vermont Creamery.
2. Overmixing the mascarpone cheese. Only whisk until creamy and combined
3. Overmixing the egg yolks and sugar over a double boiler. If the mixture becomes too hot, it will become grainy. Only whisk for 2 minutes over a double boiler.
4. Overwhipping the cream. If using heavy cream, make sure not to overwhip as cream can become grainy when overwhipped.
It depends on your preference:
If you want the coffee to fully penetrate the ladyfinger, dip for 1-2 seconds per side. But keep in mind over time the tiramisu will become soggy / watery.
if you want to make sure the tiramisu does not become soggy, give a quick dip on both side.
You can make the mascarpone cream without eggs (see this recipe), but ladyfingers have eggs in them.
This is likely due to fully soaking ladyfingers. Also, tiramisu always becomes soggy with time, it is best consumed within 2-3 days.
I recommend using a 7x11 rectangular dish, or a 9x9 square pan for this recipe. Pans with straight edges allow easily stacking the ladyfingers. You can also use a round or oval dish of comparable size. You can even use individual dessert cups to make Tiramisu, you will just have to trim the ladyfingers accordingly.
Yes, you can prepare tiramisu 1 day in advance and dust with cocoa powder before serving.
Keep tiramisu in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days (although it is best in the first 2-3 days).
I am a big fan of Tiramisu, and have a lot of popular Tiramisu recipes! Check these out:Print