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Classic Tiramisu with Marsala and Mascarpone

Classic Tiramisu

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This recipe for Tiramisu consists of soaking ladyfingers in espresso and sweet marsala wine, and layering a marsala custard and cocoa powder between them. You can create any shape you like using individual cookies, or you can cut your own shapes if you make your own lady fingers with biscuit cutters. 


Units Scale

For the Marsala Mascarpone Filling (makes 1qt): 

  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin (~3g)
  • 2/3 cup sweet Marsala Wine (150mL)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 ounces white sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz Mascarpone Cheese, room temperature

For Assembly

  • Ladyfingers – 2 Packages, or 1x my recipe for homemade ladyfingers
  • 1.5 cups Espresso or Strong Black Coffee
  • 1 cup Marsala Wine
  • Unsweeted Cocoa Powder for Dusting between the layers


Mascarpone Filling: 

  1. Bloom gelatin in a very small sauce pot or microwave safe bowl by sprinkling over 1/8 cup of the sweet Marsala wine. Set aside. 
  2. Whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. If using the bowl of your stand mixer to do this, place whipped cream into a new bowl, scraping as much whipped cream out as possible, and set aside in fridge. You can now re-use this mixer bowl for your egg yolks in the next step without washing if desired. 
  3. In the bowl for a stand mixer (metal or glass), add the egg yolks, sugar, and the rest of the marsala wine. Set over a pot of simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl) to create a double broiler.
  4. Whisk together until the mixture has thickened to the point where the whisk leaves a trail (or ribbon) behind it for a second or two. This will take about 5-8 minutes. The mixture will be hot to the touch, but not burn your finger. 
  5. Remove the egg yolk mixture from heat and continue whisking with whisk attachment on stand mixer until the yolks have come down to room temperature and continued to thicken. About 5-8 more minutes. Place in fridge and continue to chill for 20 minutes.*
  6. Add the softened mascarpone cheese to the egg yolk mixture. Once all mixed in, fold in the whipped cream gently. When halfway mixed, remove 1/2 cup of the mixture to a small bowl. 
  7. Heat the gelatin mixture gently over the stove or in the microwave in 5 second intervals, stirring with a whisk until gelatin is fully dissolved. Once fully dissolved, whisk in with the reserved 1/2 cup of the filling mixture. When fully combined, fold into the rest of the filling and continue to fold the filling until it’s a cohesive color and texture. Now you’re ready to use for the tiramisu assembly. 

Assembly of Classic Tiramisu

You have two options for coating your ladyfinger layer – if using a large single round from a cake pan, or large rectangle, I suggest pouring a small amount in the bottom of your serving plate/dish and setting the cake on top, then use a pastry brush to brush more espresso and marsala on top. Alternatively, you can take individual ladyfinger cookies and dip them briefly in the mixture and then set in your serving dish.

Serving Dish Ideas: Individual Cups (as photographed above), 9″ Cake Pan, 13×9 Casserole Dish, Trifle Dish, Ramekins, Large Souffle Dish, etc. 

  1. Mix the espresso, or coffee, with the marsala wine into a wide bowl or cup and dip according to the method that best suits your serving method. For the photographed individual cups, I chose to dip both top and bottom of my squares into the coffee/marsala mixture. If you prefer to brush the liquid over, use that method. 
  2. Spread your mascarpone mixture on top of the soaked ladyfinger layer. 
  3. Dust with cocoa powder. 
  4. Top with a second layer of ladyfingers. If only using two ladyfinger layers, feel free to more liberally pour some or all of the remaining espresso/marsala mixture over this layer to liberally saturate. 
  5. Again top with marsala mascarpone filling and then dust with cocoa powder. 
  6. Cover your cake and let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or better yet, overnight. The cake will keep well for 3-5 days if covered in the fridge. 


*If the egg yolk mixture is too warm, it will soften the whipped cream and the mascarpone too much resulting in a very liquidy filling. I prefer to make sure the egg yolk mixture is well chilled before adding in the whipped cream and mascarpone. 

Keywords: Dessert, Italian, Tiramisu, Cocoa Powder, Chocolate, Coffee, Espresso, Make ahead Desserts, Make ahead

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