by Eddy Van Damme on November 16, 2009


How to make Tiramisu

Some desserts are simply crowd pleasers and Tiramisu falls exactly into this category. If you need to prepare a dessert for six, twelve or 300 people, Tiramisu is a great choice because 99% percent of the guest will simply love it. Just as nearly everyone cares for warm apple pie with ice cream, nearly everybody adores Tiramisu. It’s why so many restaurants have it on their dessert menu.

Tiramisu is somewhat related to cheesecake, which by the way is another gift from the Italians. But while cheesecake is very much country, Tiramisu is more City. Hip city I might add. Around the world, every country seems to have their own version of cheesecake, some use ricotta, Neufchatel, cream cheese, quark cheese and others. But when it comes down to Tiramisu, most pastry chefs agree that Tiramisu should be made with Mascarpone cheese. Is there a substitute for mascarpone cheese? Not in my judgment, to save a couple of dollars on a dessert for six people? That would be silly. Flavor wise there simply is no better cheese for dessert applications than mascarpone.

Tiramisu plated dessert

Just like anything else, people have different opinions on what a true tiramisu is, but most would agree that Tiramisu is composed of Mascarpone cream, ladyfingers moistened with a pure espresso or coffee liquor syrup and finished with cocoa powder and or chocolate. About the preparation of mascarpone cream, in my book, food safety is always my first concern and this cream should never be prepared with raw eggs.  What kind of sense would that make?

tiramisu in silicone mold-silform

People often disagree on whether to soak the ladyfingers in pure espresso or in coffee liquor syrup.  It depends on several factors. If you can get hold of some good espresso, (One of my favorites is Kimbo), one with buttery and chocolaty notes, then dipping a good quality lady finger in such can be great. However, good lady fingers certainly do not include sugarcoated Styrofoam sticks available everywhere. The good news is that you can always make your own ladyfingers. Homemade ladyfingers have a perfect sweetness level and are delicious when moistened with delicate liquor syrup.

Getting it all together!

Whether you make a modern version of Tiramisu or a classic version assembled in a dish, it will be delicious either way. Check out the perfect ladyfingers recipe on this site and quickly whip up a batch, ladyfingers can be frozen well wrapped for at least 2 weeks so you can always make these ahead. Tiramisu itself can be made a day before your party and in fact if you like you can also freeze it. You can go many ways with Tiramisu, serve it in a modern glass to give it a fresh look or make it in a silicone dome shapes as shown in the pictures for an elegant look.

Before you start on the mascarpone cream make certain that you have the ladyfingers and moistening syrup ready and the vessel you will assemble the tiramisu in. Once the mascarpone cream is made it needs to be immediately used. It’s kind of like working with cement, once it is ready it needs to be poured!  Be creative and use something hip to make your Tiramisu. Remember if you are working in silicone forms, the Tiramisu will have to be frozen for many hours before it can be removed from the mold.

tiramisu for plated dessert

Mascarpone cream for Tiramisu

Yield: 4-6 servings

4 (4 ) Egg yolks 4
¼ Cup (2 oz) Water 60 ml
6 Tablespoon (3 oz) Extra fine granulated sugar 90 g
2 (2) Gelatin leaves 2
8 oz (8 oz) Mascarpone cheese 240 g
1 teaspoon (1 tsp) Vanilla extract (Optional) 5 ml
¾ Cup (6 oz) Whipping cream (34-36% fat) 180 g
  1. Place the gelatin leaves in very cold water and set aside.
  2. In a cold bowl whisk the whipping cream to very soft ribbon consistency. Absolutely do not whip to a peak! Set aside.
  3. Fill a saucepan with a small amount of water and bring to a boil and then turn to a low simmer.  In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks and measured water. Add the sugar and whisk well. Place the bowl over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the yolk mixture reaches at least 165°F (74°C). Remove from heat.
  4. Remove the gelatin leaves from the water and squeeze well to remove excess water. Whisk the gelatin into the yolk mixture. Add the mascarpone cheese and vanilla extract and whisk smooth.
  5. Add the soft whipped cream and gently fold into the above using a spatula. Fill into the mold immediately.


Moistening syrup for Tiramisu

½ Cup (4 oz) Extra fine granulated sugar 120 g
½ Cup (4 oz) Water 120 ml
2 teaspoons (2 tsp) Instant coffee 10 ml
3 Tbsp (1.5 oz) Amaretto 45 ml
  1. In a non reactive saucepan bring to a boil the sugar and water. Remove from heat and add instant coffee. Let cool.
  2. Add the liquor.
  3. Brush the syrup heavily on the ladyfingers, they should be thoroughly moistened.

50 comments on “Tiramisu

  1. Diana Wallace on said:

    Chef Eddy it looks soooo good! Will try for the holiday’s! Beautiful as always!

  2. I love this interpretation! Tiramisu was the first “fancy” dessert I made at home, about a year ago, and it started an obsession that’s led to a new career path. I don’t care if some people think it’s outdated and cheesy, it’s SO DARN DELICIOUS.

  3. Myra De La Cruz on said:

    What are Gelatin leaves? Where can I buy them?


  4. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Myra,

    Gelatin leaves or sheets are available in better stocked grocery stores and specialty baking suppliers. Professional chefs and people worldwide prefer this type over powdered gelatin since it is easier to work with and is more exact.
    All the best Myra and thank you for your question.

  5. I have your “on baking” and I made this tiramisu a couple of times, everybody loved it, super good tiramisu. Thanks for the recipe.

    Do you know any pastry shop in Houston that makes everything from scratch? I’m graduating from culinary school this week and I’m looking to do some kind of externship in a good place.


  6. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Thank you for your kind remarks about the Tiramisu. How about checking out pastry shop Andre’s?
    All the best to you!

  7. I will check that one, thanks. Any opinion about croissant-brioche at rice village?

  8. I finally got the leaves at an Italian restaurant. I made 6 Lego blocks shapes using a silicone mold. It was the “cake” for my Son’ s birthday. His 2 favorite things, Tiramisu and Lego. No alcohol, just amaretto coffee flavor instead!
    It is an awesome recipe. I assembled the layers in the mold and froze it. The Mascarpone cream molded and released well. I think it was so much better than cake!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe!

  9. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    This is fantastic! Mascarpone cream is one of my favorites and I like it in countless ways.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and your kind words.

  10. Chaitali on said:

    Beautiful presentation!
    Approximately how many tablespoons of powdered gelatin do I need do substitute for 2 leaves of gelatin?

  11. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Chaitali,

    For each gelatin leaf, use one teaspoon of powdered gelatin. Using more than a teaspoon per leaf would make the cream too rubbery.
    All the best,

  12. Hector Rey on said:

    Hello Chef Eddy Van Damme ; Hoo Hoo Hoo . Happy Holly Days . Cooking at the house of my nice .
    made apple tort lemon curd Italian merengue (fresh cherrys carameled no seeds) on top of merengue have small tourch and flamed . we making the Tiramisu on larch portion and the ladyfingers recepie from your signature will be on the Tiramisu this New Years MENU like up side down pine apple , penut butter cherry cogac Truffles . Cancun Banana lives chiken mole tamales . If we can see your students praktising what you COUCH US . Tank youy chef Eddy Van Damme .

  13. michael on said:

    did u serve the desserts from frozen or leave it to soften to serve and how long for

  14. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Michael,
    It needs to be served completely defrosted. If you remove the Tiramisu from the freezer place it in the refrigerator to thaw for at least 4 hours. Tiramisu tasted great if you remove it from the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.
    All the best, Eddy.

  15. Wanda Lopez on said:

    Hello Chef Eddy Van Damme: I have been studying your recipe for the Tiramisu (This will be my first attempt at this so I pray I get it right). I do have some questions if you can please clarify for me: (1) How do I heat the egg yolks so they will be food-safe? (2) When using a glass mold —I need to spray the pan first, right? (3) Is it alright for me to use unflavored gelatin instead of the gelatin leaves? (I am not sure where I can get them) —Should I place 2 teaspoons of the gelatin in the yolk mixture or dissolve it in water first? (If so, how much water for 2 teaspoons?). Thanks again for your help.

  16. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Wanda,
    In step 3 of the recipe you will heat the yolk mixture to 165F. This will make it food safe. You can certainly use a glass to fill the mascarpone cream into, but I would not recommend you use a glass as a mold. Sprayed or not, or coated with oil and sugar, it may still give you much unwanted issues. If you decide to use a glass or ramekin as your vessel, and are not planning to unmold, then you will not have to use gelatin at all. The mascarpone cream will set perfectly without. (However, if you want to unmold this cream, you will have to use gelatin). In this article I used silicone molds which are perfect for unmolding creams of this sort-provided they have been frozen. Wanda, I am not a fan of powdered gelatin at all. It simply does not provide the same consistent results sheet or leaf gelatin provides. If you stop at a good restaurant or bakery-or on line, you will certainly find it. All the best, Eddy.

  17. Wanda Lopez on said:

    Thank you for your quick response, Chef Eddy: Now I understand that step 3 is actually the instructions on how to make the egg yolk mixture food-safe (Duh!).

    I just had a thought: Why should I spray the pan if I am not going to bake the Tiramisu? In regards to the mold, should I use a springform pan, then?

    I have another question (Might be dumb, too): Can I place lady fingers around the pan? Will they remain freestanding when I unmold or should I wrap them up with a ribbon?

  18. Edward on said:

    Can you give the recipe for that thing on top of that tiramisu dome?
    And also the recipe for that burger beside the tiramisu.

  19. Edward on said:

    What’s that round disk you placed inside the mascarpone?

  20. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Edward,
    The “burger” next to the Tiramisu dome is actually a gerbet macaroon. http://www.eddyvandammeusa.com/2010/01/gerbet-macaroons-gerbet-macarons/. On top of the dome sits a tuile cookie. Pretty soon I will do an article on this type of tuile.
    All the best, Eddy

  21. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    The disk inside the tiramisu is moistened lady fingers. http://www.eddyvandammeusa.com/2009/11/how-to-make-ladyfingers/

  22. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    You can use a spring form pan. You can brush the mold or use vegetable spray and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. This will make it easier to demold the Tiramisu. If you place the ladyfingers around the side of the pan, they will remain standing once unmolded. However, you can use a ribbon for decorative purposes.
    All the best, Eddy.

  23. tasos on said:

    Excellent! I first tried to make the recipe without gelatin and it was a failure! I think i shouldnt have used any water while pasteurizing the eggs. Is this right Chef?

  24. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hmmm, Using water in the egg yolk helps to pasteurize the yolks and basically keeps them from scortching. Tasos, make sure you are using a small bowl which sits over a double boiler-but the bowl should NOT touch the water. Also, if you are using gas, make sure that the dry heat of the flames do not reach the sides of the bowl- to prevent scorching.
    Another option is to double the bombe batter, this way you will have more batter in the bowl and this will make it easier to reach the temperature without scorching problems. However, then you will have to discard half of the bombe batter once you made it.

  25. tasos on said:

    Thanks a lot! I am sure it was not about double boiler but i whould never think of using double bombe… I just read what you had said: <> and i used the same quantities. However making this recipe with gelatin was more than perfect! Thank you for sharing your recipes and knowledge with us Chef!

  26. Me again chef! I have 1 question.After having melted gelatin into the yolk mixture, is the mixture being whipped to thick ribbons till lukewarm and then cheese is added or just whisking in the hot mixture the mascarpone immediately? Thanks a lot!

  27. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Tasos,
    Good question!
    In many preparations when making a bombe batter we do indeed whip the bombe batter to a cooler temperature. However, here I prefer to add it as soon when the gelatin is dissolved. The reason being is that this will prevent the cheese from curdling. If the mixture is too cold the cheese will curdle. By the way, make sure you whip the whipping cream ONLY to a soft consistency. (Soft peaks is almost too much)

  28. At least I think, after three times i have trried to make this one, i have understood what you mean about whipping cream chef :-p So is cheese being melted in the yolk mixture? After this step is the yolk mixture being whipped with the mixer to ribbon consistency or not? I have been confused a bit. My tiramisu has never had a smooth texture. Thanks for your patience chef!

  29. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    I am very sorry you are having trouble.
    Yes indeed, you add the cheese to the yolk mixture and you stir until blended, it will melt away. Once you do this you cannot whip it, if you do it will become curdled.
    A big mistake people also make is to whip the whipping cream too firm. If the cream is whipped too stiff, it will not want to be incorporated into the other ingredients and it will curdle.
    It may be that you are trying to over-think the recipe a little… I know that usually when we make a bombe batter that we whip it lukewarm or until cool. Not here… just follow it and it will work for you. If I had a picture of very softly whipped cream here I would sent it to you, because that is also very important.

  30. It’s true that i usually overthink when i have to make a dessert! Thank you very much again! 🙂

  31. Julie Ann Yabes on said:

    I must say, you have a new fan! 🙂 Me!

  32. What an awesome presentation! It’s like looking at a piece of art! Usually when I think of “tiramsu”, I think of a simple rectangular serving of cake. This is such a beautiful way of presenting your tiramsu, thanks for the idea!

  33. How much does 1 sheet of leaf gelatine weigh?
    I’ve bought various different sizes in the past and I’m not sure how much to use. Thanks

  34. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi John,
    Gelatin can be a very confusing subject even to seasoned Pastry Chefs. Some use powder, some sheets, some first bloom the gelatin and then weigh and before you know it, it becomes a whole lot of hocus pocus.
    The fact is that gelatin manufacturers have standardized sheet/leaf gelatin. What this means for us is that,lets say 5 sheets of any type of sheet gelatin (bronze, silver, gold, platinum), will set the same amount of liquid. No matter the weight of each sheet. (Bronze sheets will weigh more then a platinum sheet). Now I am talking here about professional sheet gelatin, it could be that some local grocery store has some odd type of sheet gelatin specifically manufactured for them.
    Why would one use bronze or platinum? Bronze sheet gelatin is less refined, less expensive and will have slight odor compared to highly refined platinum gelatin. Platinum (more expensive) will also set your product much faster compared to a product where bronze gelatin sheets are used. After 15-16 hours no matter what gelatin is used the product will be fully set.
    If you have any more questions on this John, send me a note.
    My best, Eddy.

  35. Kris Schoofs on said:

    Hi Eddy,

    I was wondering how you give the Tiramisu that wonderful appearance? It looks as if you airbrushed it with some colour before sprinkling a small amount of cacao on it?



  36. Siegfried on said:

    “food safety is always my first concern and this cream should never be prepared with raw eggs.  What kind of sense would that make?”

    I guess it makes sense to some because I’d say 90% of the recipes I’ve found for Tiramisu use raw eggs. I almost always make it with raw eggs (either supermarket organic or, preferably, from the farmers market). The risk of salmonella is likely less than getting hit by a bus picking up the eggs.

    But I’m going to try your version but cut back the sugar which is too much for me for a 4 egg recipe. More like 60g works for me.

    I usually use both whipped cream and whipped egg whites. But using the whites here would, I assume, defeat the purpose of heating the yolks to 165F since there is a risk the whites cold be contaminated, correct ?


  37. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    If you cut back on sugar you will have to add a little more water to the yolks. The reason for this is that sugar is essentially moisture. Reducing moisture to the yolks would make them curdle at the required temperature. Therefore add some water.
    I feel that heating eggs to 165F is very smart as it assures you that if there was bacteria in the egg it is killed. Very important for pregnant woman, elderly etc. Hope it works to your satisfaction.
    My best, Eddy.

  38. Marla Garren on said:

    Hello Eddy, How long can tiramisu be kept in the freezer? Thank you for your tips! Marla

  39. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi there Maria,
    You certainly can freeze tiramisu.

  40. shaun fenton on said:

    This work out for me cuz my mom has amaretto of all kind.

  41. shaun fenton on said:

    its hard to make without mascarpone so i’ll hold off this for now

  42. “I was wondering how you give the Tiramisu that wonderful appearance? It looks as if you airbrushed it with some colour before sprinkling a small amount of cacao on it?”

    i was wondering that same thing too

  43. What benefit do you find using the whipped cream over egg whites. You can heat the egg whites the same way you do the yolks. Adding more cream to cream (which is what the cheese is made from) it does add quite a few calories compared to the whites of the egg so curious what other benefits whipped cream has?

  44. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Good question. Certainly cream will provide more stability, creaminess and also lends a traditional flair. If Tiramisu required lots of sugar then we could make an Italian meringue and use instead of cream. Remember that Italian meringue is a very stable and is excellent at increasing volume, but it is naturally sweet. Using simply whipped egg whites will not give us professional results, however for home use it may do.

  45. Mary Lee on said:

    I am most excited about attempting this, do you have any experience with making this recipe in foil heart shapes?

  46. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Using foil heart shapes will work. Make certain that you first coat the foil with a thin layer of oil and then sprinkle with granulated sugar. This way the set cream will glide out nicely.
    My best, Eddy.

  47. Renae Holman Murti on said:

    If you wanted to change the coffee flavor to green tea or chai do you recommend changing the soaking syrup or adding the flavor to the mascarpone cream? I was thinking it might be nice to steep the tea in the whipping cream before adding it to the mascarpone.

  48. Hi, I’m wondering in constructing the tiramisu, do you alternate layer between mascarpone and moistened lady fingers or only placing a single disc of lady finger near to the base of the domed silicone mould? many thanks

  49. luis betancourt on said:

    chef i loved tiramisu. i dont know if the ones i had before where baked or made the right way, but they had a huge kick on the cofee, but this one perfect balance not to strong bot to sweet perfect recipe.

  50. Jenny Dzoba on said:

    Our tiramisu turned out pretty well. Something to be aware of the next time I make this is to pay more attention to the ladyfinger to mascarpone mixture ratio. It’s easy to overdo either one of these things, so maintaining the flavor balance is a delicate procedure. The chocolate curl decor we used on top definitely helped add some drama and height to the presentation, as did the edible gold leaf.

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