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Traditional tiramisù

Traditional tiramisu

This recipe for tiramisù comes from combining traditional family recipes from a couple of sources, then testing out the recipe to adjust the proportions and the level of sweetness. My friends confirm that this recipe gets it right.

Authentic tiramisu is made with raw eggs, not cream. If you are squeamish about eating raw eggs (like my mother) then you can search for variations on the traditional recipe that use whipped cream instead.

The alcohol isn’t essential to the recipe – I personally like it, but it doesn’t detract too much overall if you leave it out. If you use marsala wine you can mix a little in with the egg yolks to make a proper zabaglione custard that you then mix with the whipped egg whites and mascarpone. If you use a coffee-flavoured liquor or rum simply mix it together with the coffee that you dip the biscuits into.

You will usually see tiramisù topped with cocoa powder or fine chocolate shavings. If you would like to try a Tuscan twist, top instead with crushed amaretto biscuits.


200g of savoiardi biscuits (“lady finger” or “sponge finger” biscuits)

4 shots of espresso

60ml Kahlua, Tia Maria, dark rum or marsala wine

Another 30ml marsala wine for the cream (optional)

4 eggs

6 tsp sugar

450g mascarpone

2 tbsp cocoa powder OR ~8 amaretto biscuits, crumbled


Make the espresso (preferably with a bialetti stovetop coffee maker, if you don’t have one make 3/4 of a cup of very strong coffee instead), mix together with the liquor and set aside to cool.

Separate the eggs, set the whites aside. In a double broiler or heat-proof bowl over simmering water, mix the yolks together with the sugar and marsala wine over low heat and whisk until pale and doubled in volume. The mixture will thicken just before it boils, but don’t let it boil. Set aside to cool.

With clean beaters in a new large bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Gently fold the mascarpone through the egg yolk mixture one spoonful at a time until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and have the consistency of thickly whipped cream.

Gently fold the mascarpone mixture through the egg whites one spoonful at a time with a large metal spoon, being careful to knock as little air out as possible.

Get a 20x24cm serving dish ready. Dip the savoiardi biscuits one at a time into the coffee mixture, turning them very quickly so that they don’t become too soggy then lay them in the serving dish. Once the first layer of biscuits is complete, spread half of the mascarpone cream on top (about 1 inch thick). Make another layer of coffee-dipped cookies, and another layer of cream on top.

Cover with cling film and put the tiramisu in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It is best prepared at least 6 hours prior to serving (can also be prepared the night before). When you are ready to serve, either dust the top with a generous about of cocoa, or sprinkle the crushed amaretto biscuits over the top. You could also top with chocolate shavings if you prefer.

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