Tiramisù – the perfect make ahead dessert

tiramisuTiramisù is a very easy, very forgiving dessert to make and as it improves over a few days is the perfect make-ahead dessert. There are hundreds of slightly different recipes for tiramisù out there but this one came from a friend in Italy when I was there as part of my degree in 1991. I have made it a couple of times recently since getting a taste for tiramisù, after my slightly disastrous Cappuccino Cake reminded me just how delicious it is. It literally means “pick me up” and the coffee and brandy in this will do just that. If you are going to be eating it late at night you could use decaffeinated coffee if you prefer, although a portion won’t give you too much of a caffeine hit. My kids love it.

It’s just as easy to make individual pots as one large bowl; it really depends on how many you are serving and how you would like to serve it. The number of eggs can be varied depending on how much you are making without significantly changing the taste. I used two eggs and just less than a 175g packet of savoiardi (also known as boudoir biscuits and just as bizarrely as lady fingers) and ended up with four individual tiramisù pots, but made a bowlful with three eggs and just over a packet of savoiardi. Any more eggs than that and I would use 500g mascarpone and some extra icing sugar. And of course a lot more biscuits.

homemade tiramisuI always worry that I will make my tiramisù either too wet or too dry but I think it is pretty much foolproof. Make sure the biscuits get wet but not soaked through: if they start to turn to mush before you get them out of the coffee they are too wet so take them out more quickly. I put them in the coffee mixture, turn them over and take them out. It’s a good idea to use a smaller amount of coffee and brandy to start with and refill your dish if necessary than to overfill it from the start. I made a small cafetière of strong coffee (but didn’t use the whole amount) and how much brandy or marsala you put in is of course up to you: I used between two and three tablespoons of marsala, rather than brandy, as it is less strong and I knew the kids would be eating it.



250g mascarpone

2 or 3 large eggs, separated

3 heaped tablespoons icing sugar

Strong coffee, cooled

A few tablespoons Marsala or brandy

Around 175g Savoiardi biscuits

Cocoa powder to decorate


Put the mascarpone, egg yolks and sieved icing sugar into a large bowl.

making tiramisuBeat well until smooth and creamy.

Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and add to the mascarpone mixture.

making tiramisuStart by folding in carefully with a metal spoon and then beat to combine. You want a smooth, creamy, fully combined mixture:

making tiramisu

Mascarpone mixture with the egg whites mixed in

Pour some of the cooled coffee into a flat dish and add the brandy or marsala.

coffee for tiramisu

A flat dish makes it easier to dip the biscuits

You can start with a very thin layer of mascarpone mixture, or just start with the biscuits: traditionally you start with the biscuits. One at a time, put a biscuit into the coffee mixture, turn it over and take it out. Arrange in your dish or glass:

making tiramisu

Base layer of coffee-soaked biscuits on a very thin layer of mascarpone mixture

making individual tiramisu

For individual tiramisù pots, break up the biscuits to form a layer

Cover with a layer of the mascarpone mixture:

making tiramisu

Cover the biscuits with a layer of mascarpone mixture

Then add the next layer of biscuits in the same way, by dipping them in the coffee mixture and arranging them on top, either in the dish or individual pots:

making tiramisu

making tiramisu

Keep layering them up until you reach the top or run out of mixture…

Finish with a layer of the mascarpone mixture and dust liberally with cocoa powder.

homemade tiramisuTiramisù really does taste better about two days after it is made as the flavours develop: if you can make it ahead it will be even more delicious. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until serving either chilled or at room termperature.

Enjoy with friends and family. Buon Appetito!

Categories: Baking, Desserts, Recipes

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. I love tiramisu and the idea of making it in individual portions for my small family is more appealing to me than making a large dish of it – my waistline thanks you!

  2. Tiramisu is my favorite dessert! What a wonderful recipe and your photographs are beautiful.

  3. Gorgeous – my favourite. Though I do cheat and don’t use eggs 😦

  4. This is just the best dessert, and yours looks perfect! It is handy that it can be made a day ahead!

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