How to Make Tiramisu

Tiramisu means "pick me up" in Italian, but to most of us it means an amazing dessert that layers espresso, ladyfingers, chocolate, and creamy mascarpone cheese. Here's how to make it.


A staple on restaurant menus, Tiramisu is a quintessential Italian dessert that is also easy to make at home. It can be layered up to 24 hours ahead and chilled until serving time.

See Triple Chocolate Tiramisu Recipe

Tiramisu Ingredients

  • Ladyfingers: Sponge cake piped into fingerlike shapes. You can make your own ladyfingers or purchase two 3-ounce packages at a supermarket or bakery.
  • Espresso: Strong Italian coffee made by forcing steam or hot water through finely ground Italian-roast (or espresso-grind) coffee. Brew it with an espresso machine or make it from instant espresso granules, which are available in supermarkets and specialty food markets. Or use brewed espresso from a coffee shop or substitute strong coffee.
  • Mascarpone Cheese: A double- or triple-cream cow's milk cheese that is mild in flavor and similar to creamy room-temperature butter in texture. Purchase it at a supermarket, cheese shop, or specialty food market.
  • Chocolate Liqueur: This sweet alcoholic beverage is made with chocolate and usually served as a dessert drink. You can also use creme de cacao or substitute coffee or hazelnut liqueur.

Lay Out the Ladyfingers

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Split the ladyfingers in half with a serrated knife. Line the bottom of an 8x8x2-inch baking pan with some of the ladyfingers, cut sides down, trimming as needed to fit into the pan. Drizzle or brush ladyfingers with 2 tablespoons brewed espresso or strong coffee (it can be hot or cold). Set the pan aside.

Grate the Chocolate

Using a box grater or handheld grater, carefully pull a 1-ounce white chocolate baking square or white baking bar across the grater panel repeatedly until it is completely grated; set aside. Repeat to grate a 1-ounce piece of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and set aside.

Whip Together a Fluffy Filling

In a medium mixing bowl combine mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, beat the mixture just until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight when the beaters are lifted). Add chocolate liqueur and beat just until combined.

How to Layer Tiramisu

  1. Spoon half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers in the pan and spread evenly.
  2. Sprinkle with the grated white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate.
  3. Top with another layer of ladyfingers. Reserve any remaining ladyfingers for another use. They freeze well.
  4. Layer with the remaining 2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee and mascarpone mixture.

How to Chill Tiramisu

Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap or foil, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. This chill time allows the flavors to meld and creates a better texture.

How to Garnish Tiramisu

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Just before serving, remove the tiramisu from the refrigerator and uncover. Place a couple of spoonfuls of unsweetened cocoa powder in a small mesh strainer or sifter, and dust the top of the tiramisu with the cocoa. Cut the dessert into 12 squares. If desired, coarsely chop chocolate-covered coffee beans with a large sharp knife and garnish each square with some of the beans.

How to Store Leftover Tiramisu

Cover and store leftover tiramisu in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Our Favorite Tiramisu Recipes

Try these tasty twists on the classic Italian dessert.

Tiramisu Bread Puddings

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Chocolaty Tiramisu Parfaits

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