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I can’t stop thinking about this Tiramisu recipe.
After I nailed this recipe, I couldn’t stop eating the final batch sitting in my fridge. It gives me such warm, cozy feelings and makes me feel like I’ve stepped out of my kitchen and right into a charming Italian restaurant!
This classic Italian dessert combines a silky, creamy mascarpone filling with soft, coffee-dipped ladyfingers, and the perfect amount of boozy flavor from the Kahlua. My version cooks the eggs before using so there’s no food safety concern.
This Tiramisu is so light and packs so much flavor without being too rich or too sweet, so it’s the perfect dessert to enjoy after a large meal.
It makes for an impressive centerpiece, especially for a holiday potluck, dinner party, or even for Christmas dessert.
I included a few substitutions in case you wish to use a different alcohol or skip it entirely, so be sure to read through all my tips below.
How to Make Tiramisu
What is Tiramisu?
Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert, combining layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers with layers of sweetened mascarpone cream, finished with a generous dusting of cocoa powder. My version of Tiramisu uses Kahlua to further enhance the coffee flavor, and a custard-like cooked egg mixture combined with mascarpone and heavy cream, to create a beautifully silky-smooth heavenly layer of creaminess.
What are Ladyfingers?
Ladyfingers are somewhere between cake and cookie in consistency and are piped into long “fingers” before baking. You can make them yourself or simply buy them to make this recipe nice and easy. The typical choice for tiramisu recipes and trifles, ladyfingers are perfect for soaking up the alcoholic coffee mixture without becoming soggy or disintegrating.
Where to Find Ladyfingers for Tiramisu
- I found ladyfingers in my local supermarket (Fry’s / Kroger) as well as Whole Foods and Sprouts. Some of my team, who test every recipe and are spread across the U.S., had trouble finding ladyfingers in their local supermarkets so you may want to check inventory online in advance, if possible.
- Some commercially available ladyfingers are very small and thin, even cakey, resulting in a much thinner Tiramisu. Thinner ladyfingers are more likely to disintegrate, even with a quick dip in the coffee, so avoid those if possible. Also avoid the cakey ladyfingers.
- Be sure to check the weight over the numeric number of ladyfingers in the package, since shape and size vary by brand. I always buy two packages just in case!
- Amazon sells two of my favorite brands: Alessi or Savoiardi.
- I also like the DeLallo brand if you can find that in-store!
Do I Have to Use Kahlua? Can I Use Other Alcohols in Tiramisu?
I used Kahlua because I wanted to deepen the coffee flavor. You can alternatively use dark rum in its place, which is what I did when I made this for my Dominican dad (Brugal rum for the win).
Amaretto is another favorite choice. Chocolate liqueur would be tasty, too!
Can I Make Tiramisu Alcohol-Free?
Yes – feel free to use a splash of vanilla extract in the filling and replace the amount of alcohol used for assembly with extra coffee.
Does Tiramisu Contain Raw Eggs?
This Tiramisu recipe does not contain raw eggs. Though many traditional recipes do often include the use of raw egg yolks, these are instead gently cooked on the stovetop over a double boiler, so it’s safe to consume. I love the beautiful smooth texture this method yields.
What Pan Do I Need to Make This Easy Tiramisu Recipe?
- Because this Tiramisu recipe isn’t baked, it’s not vital to use a metal baking pan, like I recommend for most baked recipes (read more about Glass vs. Metal Baking Pans here).
- Ceramic or glass will work just fine – but make sure it’s an 8×8-inch square for best presentation and pretty layers. We can’t seem to find the pan used in the photos here, but this pan is very similar.
- A 9×9-inch pan works well, too. You just may need to break up some of the ladyfingers to layer them evenly.
Can I Double This Tiramisu Recipe?
Yes! Simply double all the ingredients and use a 9×13-inch pan.
How to Store Tiramisu?
Store Tiramisu covered, or inside an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 2 days.
Can You Freeze Tiramisu?
We haven’t tried that, but it should work fine – just be sure to add the cocoa powder dusting after thawing in the fridge overnight for best results. Wrap well in plastic wrap and store inside an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 1 month.
More Recipes You’ll Love:
- Peppermint Mocha Bundt Cake
- Chocolate Coffee Toffee Crunch Muffins
- Flourless Chocolate Cake
- French Silk Pie
- Oreo Cheesecake
For the filling:
- 4 large egg yolks, cold
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons (35 grams) Kahlua or rum*
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 8-ounce container (227 grams) mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 cup (119 grams) heavy cream, cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 1 1/2 cups (356 grams) strongly brewed coffee or espresso, at room temperature
- ¼ cup Kahlua liqueur or rum (70 grams)*
- 1 7-ounce package (about 24 cookies)
- 1 teaspoon
Dutch-process cocoa powder,or unsweetened cocoa powder
- Dark chocolate, shaved
Make the filling:
- Make an ice bath by filling a large mixing bowl with ice cubes and a little water.
- In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, alcohol, and salt. Set the bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl isn’t touching the water. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture lightens in color and thickens in texture, about 6 to 7 minutes. Carefully remove the hot bowl from the pot and place into the ice bath, being careful not to splash water inside. Let cool completely, whisking occasionally. Mixture will thicken as it cools.
- While the mixture cools, combine the mascarpone, heavy cream, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until medium peaks form. Gently fold the cooled egg yolk mixture into the whipped cream mixture until just combined.
Assemble the tiramisu:
- In a small bowl, combine the coffee and alcohol. Quickly dip each ladyfinger into the mixture (don’t allow to soak) then place in an even layer on the bottom of an 8 by 8-inch baking dish. Push in and break up any ladyfingers as necessary to create an even layer.
- Spoon half of the filling mixture across the ladyfingers, smoothing with a spatula. Repeat with a second layer of ladyfingers and remaining mascarpone cream.
- Cover and chill for at least 8 hours but preferably overnight.
- When ready to serve, dust the tiramisu with cocoa powder. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
This post was originally published in 2009 and has been updated with recipe improvements, additional baking tips, and new photos. Photos by Joanie Simon.