Italian Recipe Series: Tiramisu

By Gina Fabbro

I love tiramisú. I will unabashedly admit that until my dying day, or until I don’t enjoy the appeal of coffee, cocoa, and smooth, light cream joining forces in one dessert. The name itself, meaning “pick me up,” promises an experience that will leave your day better than it was before.

As such, I would like to share with you my recipe for tiramisu. This is by no means the end-all, be-all for tiramisu, but it will provide you a delicious base that you can experiment with and make your own.


16oz mascarpone cheese

6 large egg yolks

½ C sugar

2 C heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 ½ C coffee

¼ C amaretto or dark rum

2 packages of ladyfingers

Cocoa powder (for dusting)

Shaved dark chocolate (optional)

Necessary Equipment:

11 x 13” pan

3 medium-large bowls

Electric mixer

Double boiler (or a medium-sized pot and heat-resistant bowl that fits on top)

**A quick note**

As you may have noticed (and I hope you have, because that means you were paying attention), this recipe includes the use of either amaretto or a dark rum. An Italian friend of mine shook his finger at this, saying that the addition of alcohol in tiramisu was done to keep it fresh longer, so restaurants didn’t have to throw it out so often if it wasn’t all sold (I can’t imagine this being a reality, but here we are). The idea is that the dessert isn’t meant to be kept for long periods of time, as it contains a lot of fresh ingredients. Fair enough. However, I like the flavor that the liquor adds; and with or without it, I wouldn’t want to keep this sitting around for more than 5 days. To add or not to add – the choice is yours.


In one bowl, empty the mascarpone cheese and beat with a spatula until smooth and creamy. Set aside to allow it to warm to room temperature.

In another bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla, and whisk until blended. Transfer this bowl to a double boiler (or put the bowl on top of a pot, filled at least 2 inches with simmering water). With a whisk or handheld electric mixer, beat the mixture until it triples in volume, about 5 mins.

Remove the mixture from heat, cover tightly, and put in refrigerator to chill completely.

In the third bowl, combine heavy cream and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.

© Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro

When the mascarpone cheese is at room temperature, gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

Take out the egg mixture and the mascarpone mixture. Gently fold the egg mixture into the mascarpone mixture, until it is smooth and creamy. Be gentle during this step to keep the texture light! 

© Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro


Using a spatula, spread a small amount of the filling onto the bottom of the 11 x 13” pan. This helps anchor the ladyfingers into the pan.

© Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro

Pour coffee and liquor into a shallow dish, such as a pie dish.

Taking 1 ladyfinger at a time, dip each side into the coffee and gently press into the pan.

**Interlude about dipping the ladyfingers**

If you’ve never seen/heard of a ladyfinger, be advised: these are dry, oblong, and porous sponge cookies. Don’t dip them in the coffee for more than a second on each side, otherwise you’re going to end up with a soggy mess; remember that there is also liquid in the mascarpone mixture, and those ladyfingers will absorb a little of that, too.

© Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro

After you’ve filled the entire pan with a layer of ladyfingers,

© Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro

spread a layer of the mascarpone mixture on top. Put enough on so you can’t see the ladyfingers.

Repeat the same steps with dipping the ladyfingers, but when you place them, do so in the opposite way as the layer underneath (for example: one layer should go lengthwise, the other widthwise; or just look at the handy photos for reference).

© Gina Fabbro

© Gina Fabbro

Spread the rest of the mascarpone mixture on top of the ladyfingers. Dust with cocoa powder and (optional) shaved dark chocolate.

Please excuse the quality of this picture. The quality of the tiramisu was so much better than this picture represents!

Please excuse the quality of this picture. The quality of the tiramisu was so much better than this picture represents!

Let it set in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy. Share with friends/neighbors, if you’re feeling particularly nice.

If you’re interested in Italian food and trying this dessert out in real life, join us on October 21st where we will be hosting an Italian Cooking night! We will be making risotto and this tiramisu. Check out our Facebook page for more information, and send an e-mail to to reserve a spot!  *Cost: $10, cash or check at door, more details on our calendar page*



What do you think?