Tiramisu: the ultimate Italian dessert

This authentic tiramisu recipe is easily made at home and tastes fantastic; the perfect follow-up to any Italian-style meal

Tiramisu
(Image credit: Getty)

Tiramisu is easily on the greatest culinary gifts Italy has given us, on a par with pasta and Prosecco. Its delectable and grown-up coffee-and-cream flavour rounds off any meal beautifully, but it's particularly satisfying after savoury pasta dishes. For making an authentic tiramisu, one ingredient is non-negotiable – mascarpone cheese. Everything else can be substituted with close-enough alternatives, but the mascarpone is what will make or break your tiramisu, so it's worth buying the real thing. Then, follow this authentic recipe below.

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How to make tiramisu

Tiramisu

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Ingredients:

  • Mascarpone cheese, 500g (or two tubs)
  • Two large fresh eggs
  • Caster sugar, half a cup
  • Sponge fingers, a.k.a savoiardi biscuits, pack of 12 (or more, depending on how many layers you want to make). You can use any similar baked sponge, but the savoiardi are quite dry to begin with, so absorb the coffee best.
  • Coca powder, for dusting
  • A cup of strong coffee or espresso, cooled

Method:

1. Break the eggs and separate the white and yolks. The tiramisu dessert only uses the yolks; you can freeze the egg whites if you don't want to waste them. 

2. Mix the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl, either with a whisk or hand blender. Add the mascarpone and beat or blend together until smooth and creamy. 

3. Dip the sponge fingers in the coffee until soaked through and moist. Line the bottom of a baking dish or Pyrex dish with the coffee-soaked biscuits. 

4. Scoop out some of the mascarpone cream and cover the biscuits with it. Repeat with another layer of biscuits and cream.

5. To make the top layer of your cream prettier, you can pipe it out using a piping bag, but just smoothing it over with a spatula is fine. Dust over with cocoa powder.

6. Put in the fridge and chill for a couple of hours before serving. 

Tiramisu variations

That's the basic tiramisu recipe, but some people like making it with booze – rum and marsala wine are often used to flavour both the cream and the coffee. Or, for an almond flavour, try adding Disaronno. 

If you're not confident using raw egg, you can blend your mascarpone with double cream instead. You can also whip some of the cream and use on top of the cocoa powder.

Finally, the cream itself can be flavoured – try fresh blackcurrants for a tangy, berry flavour, or passion fruit. Some people also like flavouring their cream with vanilla extract for a bit more sweetness.