Italian tiramisu recipe

piece of tiramisu on plate with yellow roses

Italian tiramisu is made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese and flavored with cocoa.

Most accounts of the origin of Italian tiramisu date its invention to the 1960s in the region of Veneto, Italy, at the restaurant “Le Beccherie” in Treviso. Specifically, the dish is claimed to have first been created by a confectioner named Roberto Linguanotto, owner of “Le Beccherie” on December 24, 1969 but some debate remains.

Tiramisu comes in many forms, like mousse, cake, and layered cake; it has been flavored with rum, Galliano, coffee, and my favorite, Kahlua.  Almost all recipes have cocoa as a common ingredient. This recipe is a twist on one found in a package of Little Debbie’s Lady Fingers.

Ingredients for Italian tiramisu

  • ¾ cup of sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • ½ tablespoon of vanilla
  • ½ pint heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 package of ladyfingers (if you can’t find ladyfingers, substitute either angel food cake, pound cake, or plain cake donuts)
  • 1 bottle of Kahlua or another coffee-flavored liquor
  • 1 package of cream cheese, or Neufchatel cheese, or 4 ounces of Mascarpone cheese
  • ¼ cup sour cream (delete this if you use Mascarpone cheese)

Directions for Italian tiramisu

To prepare: bring cheese and sour cream to room temperature and chill two medium-sized mixing bowls

Separate the eggs discarding the whites and shells.

2. Add half the sugar to the eggs and whip thoroughly.

3. Place the mixture in a bain-marie or double boiler and continue whipping until it has a lemony color, the sugar is dissolved, and the mixture forms soft peaks. Do not let the eggs curdle.  This will take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes depending on what your mixing bowl is made of.  Once it has reached this stage, place the mixture in the refrigerator to cool.

4. In a chilled mixing bowl, add the whipping cream, the rest of the sugar, vanilla, and 1 heaping tablespoon of cocoa (this is optional).

5. Using a mixer or whisk whip the mixture until strong peaks form.

6. Place the mixture in the refrigerator to chill.

7. Mix the Mascarpone cheese into the egg mixture. If you are using a substitute, mix it with the sour cream prior to adding it to the egg mixture.

8. Gently fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture. It is OK if there are streaks in it. Set the mixture back in the refrigerator for now.

If you want your tiramisu to be a standing cake on a plate:

  • Line a small baking pan (2 ½ inches high, 4 inches wide and 8 inches long) with saran wrap leaving about 3 inches over each end.
  • Sprinkle cocoa powder over the bottom on top of the saran wrap.
  • Split the ladyfingers in half longitudinally.  Line up a layer of the split ladyfingers on the bottom of the pan.
  • Using a spatula, spread a thick layer of the custard over the ladyfingers.
  • Quickly dip the next layer of ladyfingers in a bowl full of Kahlua and place over the mixture.
  • Repeat layers until you are out of ladyfingers, mixture, or above the top of the pan.
  • Fold the saran wrap over the top of the pan and refrigerate for about 3 hours.  Then remove it from the refrigerator, open up the saran wrap, place a plate over the top the pan and quickly invert the pan and plate together.

If you want your tiramisu in a pan:

  • Follow the same steps without using saran wrap or cocoa powder on the bottom of the pan.
  • Cover pan with aluminum foil or saran wrap and refrigerate for three hours.