Espresso soaked ladyfingers are layered with a light and airy filling made from mascarpone cheese, egg yolks and cream. One of our favorite desserts, tiramisu is quite simple to make. You just need a little time.
We call for egg yolks, which are cooked over a double-boiler and heavy cream. Instead of using the cream, some recipes call for egg whites which are left uncooked and whipped. In the notes section below, we have shared directions for using egg whites instead of the cream. There is little difference in flavor. If anything, tiramisu made with egg whites will be a little lighter than with whipped cream.
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) brewed espresso or very strong coffee, at room temperature
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry Marsala wine, divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar, divided
- 8 ounces (225 grams) mascarpone cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy cream
- 18 to 20 Savoiardi Italian ladyfingers (from 7-ounce package)
- 1 ounce (30 grams) bittersweet chocolate or cocoa powder for dusting
- Combine espresso (or coffee), 2 tablespoons of the Marsala wine, vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of the sugar in a wide bowl.
- Vigorously whisk egg yolks, 2 tablespoons of Marsala, and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. To make this step easier, use a handheld electric mixer at medium speed. (Do not stop beating until removed from the heat).
- Remove the bowl from heat then beat in mascarpone cheese until just combined.
- Whip cream in a bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Once the yolk-mascarpone mixture has cooled a little, gently fold in half of the whipped cream into the yolk-mascarpone mixture, then the remaining half just until fully incorporated (the whipped cream will deflate a little).
- Dip half of the ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee, and line the bottom of a 9-inch square dish. (You might find that you need to break a few into pieces to fit them in the dish).
- Spoon half of the mascarpone filling over the ladyfingers and spread into an even layer. Grate half of the bittersweet chocolate over filling. Then dip the remaining ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee and arrange a second layer over filling.
- Spoon remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers. Grate more chocolate on top or dust with cocoa powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours.
- When ready to serve, dust with more grated chocolate or cocoa powder. Leave out at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving. (Tiramisu can be chilled up to 2 days, but no longer or else the ladyfingers will break down and become mushy).
- Using Egg Whites Instead of Cream: Simply replace heavy cream with 3 egg whites. Beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks then gently fold in half of the beaten egg whites into the yolk-mascarpone mixture, then the remaining half just until fully incorporated.
- Assemble tiramisu as stated above. If you have concerns about raw egg whites, be sure to use the freshest (and highest quality) eggs possible. Look for clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells.
- Substitutes for Marsala Wine: We love Marsala in tiramisu — it cuts the creaminess of the filling. For something a little different, try substituting dark rum, brandy or other liqueur. Since Marsala is less potent than something like rum, we suggest using about half the amount. For a non-alcoholic version, leave the Marsala out of the recipe all together or use rum extract.