Classic Tiramisu

If I had to rank my all-time favorite desserts, I think Tiramisu would be very near the top if not my ultimate favorite.  It’s creamy, and boozy, and rich…all the things that make up a delicious dessert, in my eyes.

I have made this recipe 4 or 5 times now, and I can say without any hesitation, that it’s by far the best classic Tiramisu I’ve ever had.  I swear…I’m not trying to be an ego-maniac.  I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was absolutely true.

The best part…no baking involved! (and it’s got booze in it!)

Ladyfingers can sometimes be difficult to track down.  It’s VERY important that you use dried ladyfingers, not the fluffy, fresh, doughy ladyfingers.  Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very mushy tiramisu.  The dried ladyfingers can be found in various places in your supermarket, but I’ve always had the most amount of luck in either the bakery section or the Italian foods aisle.  Ironically, not usually much luck in the cookie aisle (but it doesn’t hurt to look…).  Fortunately, mascarpone is now readily available in pretty much all grocery stores in the cheese area.

Start by stirring the coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons of the rum in a wide bowl or baking dish until the espresso dissolves.  I can never seem to find espresso granules, so I substitute dried coffee and it tastes just fine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks at low-speed until just combined.  Add the sugar and salt and beat at medium-high heat until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of rum and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape the bowl.  Add the mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds.  It’s important to keep the mascarpone in the fridge until you need it – it has a tendency to break up if allowed to warm.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

In the now-empty mixer (no need to clean the bowl out), beat the cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer.

Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.

Set the mascarpone mixture aside.

Working one at a time, drop enough ladyfingers into the coffee mixture to cover the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch pan.  You will likely need to trim one row of the ladyfingers to have them fit snugly into the pan.

I can not STRESS enough how fast you need to drop each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture.   It’s a drop, roll, remove motion, completed in about 1-2 seconds.  You just want the outer layer of the cookie to be saturated with the booze (this is why you want the dried ladyfingers).  If you let the cookie sit in the mixture for too long, the entire cookie will get wet and then it gets mushy (and way too coffee/booze flavored).  Trust me on this one.

Arrange the soaked cookies in a single layer in the baking dish.

Note that the left row of cookies has been trimmed down to fit - don't worry, no one will be able to see this (nor will they care!)

Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and spread evenly into the sides using a rubber spatula.  Place 2 tablespoons of cocoa in a fine mesh strainer and dust the cocoa over the mascarpone.

Repeat the dipping and and arrangement of the ladyfingers; spread the remaining mascarpone over the ladyfingers and dust with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of cocoa.

Wipe the edges of the dish with a dry paper towel to clean up any mascarpone/cocoa.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours.  We’ve had it after 6 and we’ve had it after 24 and we can say that it’s definitely better the next day (although still delicious the first day).

To serve, sprinkle with grated chocolate.  I use a potato peeler along the sides of a chocolate bar to make the chocolate shavings – it works!  Cut into pieces and serve chilled.

This recipe is part of my “Cook Your Cover” Challenge.   I still hope that many of you will choose to participate because you could win cookies made by moi!  Just under one month left to submit your entry(ies)!

Special thanks to my in-laws and brother-in-law for making this cover recipe special - the tulip was a nice touch, guys....


  • 2 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee granules
  • 9 tablespoons of dark rum (you could also use brandy or whiskey, but I prefer Myers dark rum)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds mascarpone (keep cold until you need it!)
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • 14 oz dried ladyfingers (about 42 to 60)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, shaved (optional)

Serves 10 to 12

Original Recipe, The Best of America’s Test Kitchen – 2009


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Categories: Recipes, Sweets

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