Tiramisu: A boozy, coffee-soaked dessert

  • Joe Keller/America's Test Kitchen via AP Joe Keller/America's Test Kitchen via AP

Published: 3/22/2019 3:38:02 PM

With its boozy, coffee-soaked ladyfingers and sweet, creamy filling, it’s no wonder tiramisu is Italian for “pick me up.”

Instead of making a custard filling, we simply whipped egg yolks, sugar, salt, rum and mascarpone together and lightened it with whipped cream. We briefly moistened the ladyfingers in a mixture of coffee, espresso powder, and more rum.

We prefer a tiramisu with a pronounced rum flavor; for a less potent rum flavor, reduce the amount of rum in the coffee mixture. Brandy or whiskey can be substituted for the rum.

Don’t let the mascarpone warm to room temperature before whipping. Dried ladyfingers are also called savoiardi; you will need between 42 and 60, depending on their size and the brand.


Servings: 10-12

Start to finish: 1 hour, plus cooling time

2½ cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature

1½ tablespoons instant espresso powder

9 tablespoons dark rum

6 large egg yolks

⅔ cup (4 ⅔ ounces) sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1½ pounds (3 cups) mascarpone cheese, chilled

¾ cup heavy cream, chilled

14 ounces dried ladyfingers

3½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

¼ cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)

Combine coffee, espresso powder, and 5 tablespoons rum in wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves.

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, mix egg yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and mix at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1½ to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to medium, add remaining ¼ cup rum, and mix at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and mix until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to large bowl.

In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean mixer bowl), whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Using rubber spatula, fold ⅓ whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.

Working with one ladyfinger at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to 13 by 9-inch baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.

Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, spreading it to sides and into corners of dish, and smooth top. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, mascarpone, and 1 ½ tablespoons cocoa to make second layer. Clean edges of dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set, at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. Before serving, sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using.


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