Authentic Tiramisu

Real tiramisu.  Authentic Italian tiramisu.  Y’all asked, I delivered.

Not only was this dessert highly requested by you, my fabulous readers, but also, when I made a redneck version of tiramisu with apple pie moonshine, you received it so well.  Thanks for not balking at my down-home version.  As a reward, I made you the real deal.  With brandy.  And zabaglione.   I even splurged on mascarpone for you.  However, I made it a few times with cream cheese and it was delicious.  I also made a batch with Frangelico (hazelnut liquor), and I dare say it was better than the version with brandy.  I’m now dreaming of making it with chocolate liquor.

Speaking of Frangelico, Giada has a version of tiramisu made with lemon, hazelnuts and Frangelico in one of her recent books, and it made me a believer in tiramisu.  I used to be lukewarm about it.  But now, I see the light—cookies soaked in alcohol and layered with creaminess is a zen state.  Perhaps this summer, I’ll work on that one for you.  I adore no-bake desserts for summer.

Real zabaglione requires you to stand over a double boiler with a hand mixer.  Check beforehand if your mixer cord reaches the stove.  I was scared of this step because I’ve only made real zabaglione one other time in my life, but I found the process so easy that I’m dreaming up a small batch of 7-minute frosting for you next.

So, put on a pot of espresso (or dissolve some of that instant espresso I’m always calling for in my recipes), grab some lady fingers, and get ready for this one.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Authentic Tiramisu
Makes 2 bowls.
For the dip:
  • ½ cup espresso (or 1 tablespoon espresso powder dissolved in ½ cup of boiling water)
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • 8-12 lady fingers (depends on your bowl size)
For the zabaglione:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • ¼ cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 3 ounces mascarpone (or cream cheese), softened
  • cocoa powder for dusting (optional)
  1. In a small, shallow dish stir together the espresso, powdered sugar and brandy. Set the lady fingers aside.
  2. Next, make the zabaglione: in a medium bowl that you can fit over a pan of simmering water (or the top part of a double boiler), add the egg yolks and granulated sugar. Beat with an electric hand mixer for 2 minutes, or until the mixture falls off the beaters in ribbons. Stir in the brandy, then set the bowl over barely simmering water (not boiling!) and beat continuously until it reaches 160 degrees. Once it's up to temperature, remove the zabaglione from the heat and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Have ready the mascarpone on the side.
  4. Once the zabaglione has cooled for 10 minutes, fold in the mascarpone gently. Finally, fold in the whipped cream.
  5. Have your serving dishes ready. Dip one lady finger in the espresso mixture and flip it over immediately so that it doesn't soak for more than 2 seconds per side. Fit it in the bottom of your bowl (you might have to cut it, depending on your serving dishes). Continue until the bottom of both serving dishes are covered. Scoop one-fourth of the zabaglione-cream mixture on top of each layer with cocoa powder, if desired. Then, do another layer of lady fingers in each dish. Divide the remaining zabaglione between the dishes, and dust with cocoa powder.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours before serving.
My serving dishes seen in the photo are 12-ounces each. They hold 1½ cups of water. Look for a similar size, or make the dessert in a 6 or 7" pie pan.


  1. says

    I’ve always been a bit scared of making zabaglione too but you make it sound so easy! I’ll definitely have to give this a try, it looks delicious!

  2. says

    YUMMYYY!!! That’s one of the things I never made at home, because we would have leftovers and nobody would eat it afterwards (we are not good with that!).

    This was a great way to start to week! I know what we’ll be having for dessert soon :)

  3. says

    They look wonderful. I think I’d be tempted to make it with the Frangelico only because I have a penchant for hazelnuts and love the taste of the liqueur.

  4. says

    What a dream, tiramisu is what my mom and I order every chance we get when we go out for dinner. scaled down, hmmm a perfect mom/daughter dinner idea. love it!

  5. says

    I’ve always wanted to try tiramisu. And this is the perfect recipe to give it a try! Especially since it doesn’t make a large proportion. (:

  6. says

    real tiramisu is one of my all time favorite desserts. I used to be scared of zabalgione too… I wish I would have never conquered my fear, I make it far too often now! Fold in some extra whipped cream and freeze it… ICE CREAM that tastes silkier than anything, ever!

  7. says

    Christina, I’ve been playing catch-up so I was clicking on your post titles in my e-mail inbox and this one stopped me in my tracks! Thank you for the “two person version” of Tiramisu! (Especially the zabaglione — have always wanted to make that, but not a huge batch.) You are authentically wonderful. :)

  8. Porcelain says

    I have never had tiramisu before and looking at how easy it is to make, I can’t wait to try it!! I don’t have a cooking thermometer, so i was wondering how long you’re supposed to cook the zabaglione for while beating. Is it even possible to make it without a using a thermometer?

  9. Meredith says

    i made this the other night and it was soooo delicious! I was surprised how simple the ingredients are and how easy it is to make. Where can I find a recipe that makes more servings? It was so good that I want to make it for my friends! Is Giada’s version as reliably good as yours?

    • says

      Hi Meredith,
      Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it :) I don’t have a recipe for a large version, because all I do is small desserts. But I can tell you that Giada’s recipe is to die for! It’s lemony, but OH SO GOOD :)

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