Tiramisu is a no-bake dessert made with ladyfinger cookies dipped in a coffee and Kahlua mixture and layered with mascarpone custard and whipped cream, topped with cocoa powder. For another layered, no-bake dessert, try my Banana Cream Pie.
Tiramisu, which translates to ‘pick me up’, is a coffee-flavored dessert with rich and fluffy layers. It is a no-bake dessert that is best after being chilled for at least a day if not two days. Each bite should be flavored with a hint of coffee from the ladyfingers and the Kahlua (a coffee-flavored liqueur). This recipe does not contain any raw eggs, so no need to worry about that. And, if preferred, you can leave out the alcohol.
Eggs: Only the yolks of the eggs are used. They will be cooked for about 10 minutes, so you don’t have to worry about consuming raw eggs in this particular tiramisu recipe.
Heavy Cream: The heavy cream will be used to make the whipped topping which is one of the layers of the dessert.
Mascarpone Cheese: Mascarpone cheese is Italian cream cheese. It is well-known because of its use in tiramisu. Its high-fat content gives it a smooth and creamy texture. Look for it in the dairy or cheese section of your local grocery store.
Coffee: You will use 1/2 cup of brewed coffee (the stronger, the better). Enjoy sipping the rest of it!
Kahlua: Kahlua is a coffee-flavored liqueur that gives this dessert even more coffee flavor. Some common substitutes are marsala (a fortified wine used in dishes like Chicken Marsala), dark rum, or brandy. You can also leave out the alcohol entirely and simply use more coffee.
Ladyfingers: Ladyfingers are sponge cake cookies that are also known as“savoiardi” or “sponge fingers”. I used about 2/3 of the package I bought (about 27 cookies). So, you will have some extra ladyfingers on hand to dip in your morning coffee or enjoy plain!
Cocoa Powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder is sprinkled on top of the dessert. You could use grated chocolate as a substitute.
Preparing the Mascarpone Custard
The first thing to do in this recipe is to make the creamy custard layer. To get started, first, add egg yolks and sugar to a medium saucepan and whisk to combine the two ingredients. Next, place the saucepan over medium heat and add milk, whisking constantly, for 8-10 minutes, or until it reaches a gentle boil. Let it boil for about a minute before removing it from the heat to let it cool slightly.
Once the eggs have cooled a bit, cover the saucepan with plastic wrap. Be sure the plastic wrap touches the top of the mixture to avoid a film from forming. Place the pan in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.
How to Make the Whipped Cream Layer
I made a homemade whipped topping as a layer in this tiramisu recipe. To make the whipped cream layer, use a hand mixer to slowly mix the heavy cream until it gets thicker. Be patient; if you crank up the mixing speed too high, be prepared to get sprayed!
Once the cream starts to thicken, stop the mixer and add the vanilla. Begin mixing again at a low speed; then increase to medium. Finally, increase the mixing speed to high speed until you get stiff peaks. Stiff peaks are sharp peaks that can stand on their own even after the beater has been removed. Place the whipped topping in the refrigerator until ready to use on the tiramisu (for up to 10 hours).
How to Make Tiramisu
After the egg mixture has chilled for an hour, remove it from the refrigerator and whisk in the mascarpone until smooth. Then, in a small bowl, combine the brewed coffee and Kahlua. Finally, it’s time to get the dessert assembled.
The first layer of this dessert is the ladyfingers that have been dipped or drizzled with the coffee and Kahlua mixture. You can do this in a couple of different ways. One way is to place the cookies in a single layer in a deep pan or baking sheet and drizzle the coffee and Kahlua mixture over top.
Another way to get the cookies flavored in coffee is by dipping each cookie in the coffee and Kahlua mixture. But, if doing this, be sure to QUICKLY dunk each cookie in the liquid. If they are too saturated, the cookies will get soggy. Once the cookies have been drizzled or dipped in the coffee, place a single layer of the cookies in an 11×7-inch baking dish.
Top the bottom layer of cookies with half of the mascarpone mixture and half the whipped topping. Add another layer of the ladyfingers and the remaining mascarpone mixture and whipped topping. Finally, dust with cocoa powder or chocolate shavings.
Place the dessert in the refrigerator to chill overnight, up to two days before serving. Tiramisu will be good for up to 4 days when kept in the refrigerator.
Can I Freeze Tiramisu?
Yes, you can freeze Tiramisu. But, freeze it before sprinkling the cocoa powder on top. To freeze tiramisu, double wrap the dessert in plastic wrap. I suggest cutting it into smaller pieces or sections to freeze. After double-wrapping the dessert, wrap it with a layer of aluminum foil. This dessert will last up to 3 months in the freezer. When ready to enjoy, let the tiramisu thaw in the refrigerator overnight, still fully wrapped.
Looking for More No-Bake Desserts?
Tiramisu is a no-bake dessert made with ladyfinger cookies dipped in a coffee and Kahlua mixture and layered with mascarpone custard and whipped cream, topped with cocoa powder.
- 6 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
- ⅔ cup (163g) whole milk
- 1 ¼ cups (297.5g) heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup (118g) strong brewed coffee, room temperature
- ¼ cup (57g) Kahlua coffee liqueur
- 1 package (14 ounces) ladyfinger cookies, we used about ⅔ of the package (27 cookies)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
In a medium saucepan, add egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until well blended.
Place the pan over medium heat and add milk, whisking constantly until it reaches a gentle boil (8-10 minutes). Continue boiling for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat to cool slightly.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap with the plastic wrap touching the top of the mixture. (This will prevent a film from forming on top.) Transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely (about 1 hour).
Add heavy cream to a mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, start mixing at the lowest speed, and then gradually increase speed to medium until the cream starts to get thicker. (The gradual progression prevents you from spraying yourself with cream.)
When the cream starts to thicken, stop the mixer. Slowly add vanilla and then resume mixing again, starting with low speed and increasing to medium speed and eventually moving to a high speed.
The cream will thicken and start to peak. Mix on high until the cream is thick and stiff. This happens quickly, the stage between soft and stiff peaks, so watch it closely.
When ready, remove the chilled egg mixture from the refrigerator. Add mascarpone and whisk until smooth.
In a small bowl combine coffee and Kahlua. Mix until combined.
In a deep pan or baking sheet, add ladyfingers in a single layer. Drizzle evenly with the coffee mixture. (You could also very quickly dip the cookies in the coffee mixture if preferred.)
Arrange one even layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of a 7x11-inch dish. Top with half of the mascarpone mixture and half of the whipped topping. Top with the remaining ladyfingers, mascarpone, and whipped topping.
Dust the top of the dish with cocoa powder.
Refrigerate overnight, up to 48 hours, before slicing and serving. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.