Traditional Tiramisu

Traditional tiramisu has to be one of the most irresistible coffee desserts. It’s an excellent option for dinner parties or Christmas as it’s best assembled a day or so ahead to allow the flavours to infuse. This leaves you nothing to do on the day except enjoy.

Traditional Tiramisu


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 300ml cream whipped
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 2/3cup Masala/Kahlua/Baileys or Frangelico * (optional)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups strong black coffee
  • 400g pack of thin Savoiardi biscuits (fatter biscuits are often hard to soak properly)
  • Cocoa to dust
  • Strawberries to serve


  1. In a bowl, beat egg yolks until creamy, and add the caster sugar a little at a time. The goal is to have the sugar dissolve. This can happen with patience, but if not, the rest will dissolve in the next step.
  2. Add the mascarpone cheese to the egg yolk mixture and beat until the sugar dissolves.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form.
  4. Fold cream into the mascarpone mix.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the strong black coffee with the liqueur and vanilla essence. (To make  strong coffee, use 1/2 cup of espresso mixed with 1 1/2 cups of water or alternatively, use 1/2 cup of instant coffee mixed with 2 1/2 cups of hot water.)

To assemble

Use individual glasses or a large trifle/salad bowl.

  1. Dip sponge finger biscuits into the coffee mix and line the bottom of the glass or bowl. (As the coffee mixture cools the sponge fingers will require more soaking. It’s nice for them to have a little of the sponge unsoaked inside each one).
  2. Layer with half the cream mixture, then another layer of soaked sponge fingers and repeat until all of the sponge fingers have been used.
  3. Dust with cocoa, cover and allow to set in the fridge for at least four hours. Overnight is better.


  • Traditional: Masala is the cheapest liqueur version and used many traditional Italian recipes. Kahlua is the next most commonly used.
  • Chocolate tiramisu: Use Baileys for the liqueur and layer the sponge fingers with added chocolate shavings.
  • Hazelnut Tiramisu: spread the sponge fingers with Nutella before soaking them, use Frangelico as the liqueur and sprinkle with roasted hazelnuts.
  • Cheats version.  For the filling, beat Philadelphia cream cheese with whipped cream, 1tsp vanilla and 1/2 cup caster sugar, then layer between the soaked biscuits as normal.
  • Healthy & quick for a super easy version use a quality Greek vanilla bean yoghurt to layer between the soaked biscuits.

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