Tiramisu: How Does the Classic Dessert Succeed?

For a classic tiramisu you need ladyfingers, mascarpone, eggs, cooled strong espresso, sugar and cocoa powder. The traditional recipe also includes Marsala, alternatively Amaretto or brandy. Tiramisu means “pull me up” in Italian. This describes the preparation technique in which you alternately layer ladyfingers and mascarpone cream on top of each other in a tall form until you can’t go any further.

Separate the eggs for the mascarpone cream. Beat the egg whites until stiff and the yolks together with the sugar until fluffy. Be sure to only use very fresh eggs, as they go into the tiramisu raw. Mix the mascarpone with the egg yolk and sugar mixture and carefully fold in the egg white.

Mix some Marsala, brandy or amaretto into the cold espresso. Dip the ladyfingers very briefly in this mixture and lay the first layer for the tiramisu. For example, use a large casserole dish or portion the tiramisu into matching dessert bowls. This is followed by a layer of mascarpone cream alternating with the ladyfingers. The end of the Italian dessert is always a layer of cream, which you sprinkle with cocoa powder just before serving.

There are numerous modifications and variants of tiramisu. For example, in many recipes, the beaten egg white is omitted and only the yolk is used. The eggs serve to loosen the mascarpone cream. If you have a food intolerance, you can replace them with whipped cream, yoghurt, quark or vanilla pudding. The mascarpone cream can also be flavored with vanilla sugar or vanilla pulp.

For non-alcoholic tiramisu versions, simply skip the marsala, amaretto, or brandy and just use the espresso. Alternatively, this can be refined with syrup or fruit juice. If the dessert is for children, you can also use decaffeinated espresso without sacrificing taste. Because many children do not like the taste of coffee, cocoa is also a good alternative.

Finally, you can supplement the basic recipe with strawberries, raspberries, cherries, peaches, apricots, mangoes, and other fruits. Just put a layer of chopped fruit on top of the mascarpone cream before the next layer of sponge cake. As a further variation, instead of ladyfingers you can also use cake leftovers, butter, or chocolate biscuits or speculoos, as in our speculoos tiramisu recipe. You can also replace the cocoa powder with some cinnamon.

In order for the tiramisu to set, it has to sit in the fridge for several hours. Four hours is the minimum, the dessert can easily be left covered in the fridge overnight. This is an excellent way to prepare.

In order to prevent health risks from eating unheated eggs, it is particularly important with tiramisu that the cold chain is not interrupted. The dessert should therefore be eaten the next day at the latest and then not kept any longer.

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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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