Up until this week, I always thought the best Tiramisu I ever had was in Rome, at this sweet little restaurant right near the Spanish Steps. But after tasting my own version of this classic dessert, I’ve changed my mind.
My girls at school wanted to learn to make Tiramisu. I have made it at home for years and it was always very creamy and delicious, but I was never thrilled with how it held up.
So I started trolling for recipes to see what I might be doing wrong. And let me tell you there are as many different Tiramisu recipes as there are Italian grandmothers, each with their own little twist. Some which weren’t tiramisu at all.
What I did find was a recipe that took me back to a time when life was simpler. When food had become something almost magical to me, something that resonated deep down inside of me. Something that I knew I could do and be good at. Taping into this ability had been a gift from God and Mama Jeanette taught me how to use it.
What Ingredients to I need to Make Tiramisu?
I’ve had so many questions about the process of making my Tiramisu that I’ve added step by step pictures to help you along the way.
Let’s start by gathering our ingredients. In chef speak this is called a mise en place (everything in its place).
Chef Dennis Tip: Have the eggs and mascarpone at room temperature before making this recipe. That will help them mix together more smoothly
Is there a substitute for mascarpone when making Tiramisu?
There are two methods that you can use to make a faux mascarpone. You won’t get quite the same flavor but it will work.
Blend 8 ounces softened full-fat cream cheese with 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter OR – Blend 8 ounces softened cream cheese with 1/8 cup whipping cream and 1/8 cup sour cream.
Is it difficult to make Tiramisu?
It’s a lot easier than you might think to make tiramisu. Just follow my step by step instructions and you’ll be making tiramisu better than your favorite local restaurant!
The first step is whipping the egg yolks (approx. 1/2 cup) and the sugar until they are very thick. One of the mistakes people tend to make is under whipping the egg mixture. This is done using a double boiler method with a bowl over a pot of simmering water. I like using a bowl because there are no corners that I can’t get into. This is your Sabayon.
Chef Dennis Tip: Always use the freshest products available. If the eggs, cream or mascarpone are close to the expiration date, they can break down in the recipe.
My sabayon is grainy the sugar didn’t dissolve!
If you used regular sugar instead of superfine / castor sugar your finished sabayon may be grainy. That’s okay it will finish dissolving while your tiramisu is firming up.
*If you can’t find superfine sugar you can always pulse your sugar in a food processor to make the grains smaller.
Next, add the mascarpone and mix it together until fully incorporated and smooth.
Why did my Tiramisu cream curdle?
- Over whipping can cause the fat to separate, causing the mixture to curdle.
- Allowing the mascarpone to get too warm can wreak havoc with the fat in the mascarpone causing it to curdle
- Using mascarpone that is too cold can cause curdling. Let it sit out for 15-20 minutes before using.
- The brand Bel Gioso has been reported to cause curdling, although I have never experienced this.
Chef Dennis Tip:
Whipping your cream is also where some people make a mistake. The idea with whipped cream is to do it slowly. Using an electric mixer begin whipping the cream on low, increasing the speed over 10 minutes. This makes a whipped cream that will last for days in your fridge without the aid of gelatin.
*If you make whipped cream as a topping for desserts don’t forget to add the sugar and vanilla, for the tiramisu, we are not adding sugar or vanilla to the mixture.
The last step is gently folding in the whipped cream into the sabayon mixture. Do not hurry this step and use a spatula or large spoon to fold the whipped cream in.
You want to keep as much of the air in the whipped cream intact, so the tiramisu cream is light and fluffy.
The next step is assembling the tiramisu.
Chef Dennis Tip:
Soak the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture briefly. Don’t let them get soggy, it will ruin the dessert?
Brushing on the coffee mixture instead of dipping is a great way to control how much liquid gets on the ladyfingers.
Chef Dennis Tip:
Only use Crunchy SAVOIARDI (ITALIAN LADYFINGERS) Cake style ladyfingers will get too soft. You can find them on Amazon by following the link above.
Follow this link to find Superfine Castor Sugar on Amazon. It’s the only place I’ve been able to find it in Florida.
If you can’t Find Ladyfingers
You can use sponge cake, angel food cake or as a last choice pound cake. Cut the cake into 4-inch oblongs and dry them in a 250-degree oven before assembling the tiramisu.
Set your pan up with a layer of the coffee-soaked ladyfingers. (Standard 9″x 9″ pan)
Then add your first layer of tiramisu cream. Use half of your mixture and spread it evenly.
Add a second layer of prepared ladyfingers to the pan.
Add the remainder of the tiramisu cream and spread evenly. Dust the tiramisu with cocoa and you’re finished!
Now comes the hardest part. Let the tiramisu set up for at least 6 hours, overnight is best. This tiramisu can be made a day or two ahead of time and should last in your fridge for up to a week.
Can I Freeze Tiramisu?
Yes, you can freeze tiramisu. Use plastic wrap and place it directly against the surface (without cocoa) to prevent a skin from forming, cover tightly. Repeat the process with an additional layer of plastic wrap and then cover with tin foil and freeze. To defrost, let it sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. After it has defrosted, add the layer of cocoa and serve.
How Long Can I keep Tiramisu in the Refrigerator?
Personally, I have kept tiramisu for up to a week. The flavors actually get better after 2 days. If you don’t think you’re not going to finish it in a week, I would consider freezing part of it. (Or make your neighbors very happy by offering them some).
Can I Make the Tiramisu ahead of Time?
You can easily make the tiramisu up to 2 days before you need it.
How do I make enough for a 9 x 13 Pan?
To make a larger version of this recipe that will fit in a 9 x 13 pan simply multiply the ingredients by 1½ (one and a half). This will come very close leaving you with a little extra cream to snack on while you wait for the tiramisu to set.
Can I make the Tiramisu without Alcohol?
Yes you can. Leaving out the Kahlua is not a deal-breaker, just use more coffee when dipping the ladyfingers.
Chef Dennis Tip***
If for some reason your Tiramisu doesn’t firm up, don’t throw it away! You can freeze the cream and have an amazing frozen dessert. I have done this when testing new recipes. Use a springform pan and you can slice it. Add fruit or other toppings and you’ve got an amazing dessert.