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Basic Tiramisu

I’ve just returned from a short trip to Rome and the inspiration to post these recipes comes from there. Given Tiramisu (meaning  ‘pick-me-up’  in Italian as it contains coffee) comes from Italy, I had to try one in Rome. I’ll admit the sample size was one but I must say that I have eaten better Tiramisu outside of Italy. Usually, I see Tiramisu in a cake-like form where a piece is cut for you upon ordering. The Roman version was an individual serve in a glass bowl where the layers were very distinct and the egg-y, creamy, sugary layer  was just a big blob of whipped cream. I was a little bit disappointed but perhaps that is the real deal and what I’ve been eating all this while isn’t. I’ll leave you with these recipes and you can tell me what you think of these “fake” recipes.

Warning: This recipe contains raw eggs so please stay away from it if you are pregnant or have allergies. 

This basic recipe is from an Italian cooking class I went to a class about 6 years ago. My teacher back then  says in her notes that it’s a Sophia Loren recipe so thank you to Sophia. I have made it on several occasions including when I first met my partner’s parents and it is a hit every time!

Basic Tiramisu


3 eggs, separated

5 tablespoons sugar

200 gms mascarpone (I’m afraid cream cheese isn’t the greatest substitute for it as mascarpone has this light-ness that cream cheese doesn’t)

1 packet (24) savoiardi or ladyfinger biscuits (see images below)

1/2 cup rum, sherry or brandy (I use brandy)

1 cup fresh, strong black coffee

50 gms dark chocolate, grated

1-2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)


Sponge fingers or lady finger sponge (Images from : &


1. Beat egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until smooth ans shiny.

2. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.

3. Add mascarpone to the egg yolk and sugar mixture and combine until uniformly thick and shiny.

4. Finally, fold in the egg whites to make a well-combined, creamy mixture.

5. Steps 1-4 are the same for the second Tiramisu recipe.

6. Pour the coffee and brandy in two shallow dishes and place them side by side. Make sure the dishes are wide enough that a whole ladyfinger biscuit can be dunked in it.

7. Right next to the coffee and brandy dishes, place the dish (preferably glass so you can see the layers) that you are going to assemble the Tiramisu in.  It makes the process streamlined and reduces the mess :).

8. You will have to follow step 9 biscuit by biscuit and be really quick about it. Otherwise, the biscuits will go soggy and you won’t be able to pick them up with your fingers (Oh yes, do use your hands for assembly).

9. Dunk a ladyfinger in the coffee to cover both sides (less than 10 seconds), then dunk it in the brandy to cover both sides (less than 10 seconds) and finally, place it in the dish you’ve chosen for Tiramisu. Repeat this step until you’ve covered the bottom of the dish. Break some biscuits in half if you’ve got some gaping corners to fill and do the same.

10. Pour half the mascarpone-egg mixture over this layer and spread even using the back of a metal spoon.

11. Sprinkle cocoa powder (or grated chocolate if you’d prefer) over the cream layer.

12. Repeat 9-10 with the remaining biscuits and cream.

13. The final layer for me is always grated dark chocolate. You can use more than 50 gms if you like dark chocolate or sprinkle more cocoa powder if you don’t.

14. Your Tiramisu is now ready. Since you have assembled everything at room temperature,t he dessert will be warm and requires cooling overnight. I’ve never tried putting it in the freezer to help quick cooling so I can’t comment about that.

15. When you are ready to serve, cut a generous piece/slice out of the Tiramisu bowl onto a plate. Sprinkle with extra chocolate or cocoa powder to suit your taste.

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