Tiramisu 101

tips n tricks

If you google ‘tiramisu tutorials’, I’m sure you will hit a lot of entries, good ones with detailed pics and all. Even more so with recipes. So I wouldn’t even go there. This will be about assembling the tiramisu itself, and some pointers for beginners. All of you experts.. feel free to correct me or leave a comment or two on how you do it. This is just simply my way.

There certainly isn’t a right or wrong way of making tiramisu (of course, if your tiramisu didn’t turn out like a tiramisu should, you surely would’ve messed up somewhere, right?). Just follow your recipe to a T if it is your first time, and go slow to get things right. One thing I learned was to never rush tiramisu. They don’t particularly like it.

Tips and steps are tried and tested by yours truly, through the learning curve of making a few tiramisu 🙂 I’ve also done quite a number of research as are my habit before embarking on something new, and I’d like to share my findings. Hopefully it will help that someone who’s having a tiramisu crisis right now.

The egg mixture:

– Always use a double boiler. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the top boiler containing the eggs, or it will be too hot and you’ll end up with scrambled egg instead. The water should be simmering, heat should be turned down low once it starts to boil. Don’t let it boil over.

– Gently combine the eggs and sugar BEFORE you put them on the double boiler. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a lumpy, grainy mixture, and your sugar will not dissolve completely.

– Keep on whisking the mixture while on the double boiler to ensure a smooth and creamy mixture, and to prevent the eggs from scrambling.

– How do you know when the egg is done? It will be thick and heavy on the whisk, but still fluid. Think custard.

– When done, remove from heat, put it in a water bath to speed up the cooling process, stirring occasionally. Then stick it in the fridge while you prepare the rest.

The Mascarpone cheese:

Mascarpone cheese is quite expensive, about RM27 for a 500g tub, and that’s the price at specialty baking supplies store such as Bake With Yen. That would be the price at Cold Storage for 250g tub. Go figure. Tiramisu IS an expensive dessert to make, so if you are just feeding for 1 or 2, just go ahead and buy ready made ones 🙂 BUT, the self-made satisfaction won’t be there, plus you don’t even know what preservatives they put in comercial cakes.

– The cheese should be added into the egg mixture. NEVER mix it into the hot egg mixture, or warm, or even lukewarm. It WILL melt and you’ll end up with a runny egg cheese mixture which is yummy but useless unless you want tiramisu pudding. So make sure you totally let the egg mixture cool first, and in our heat, the fridge is best. Don’t freeze though. That would be a different disaster alltogether, I think.

– The Mascarpone should be slightly softened, not to be used directly out from the fridge, and not melting either. If you leave it too long at our room temperature, which can be somewhere in the 90+ degrees F during the day, the cheese will be too soft and watery. Make sure it is chilled, but softened. That makes sense? You’ll know what I’m talking about when you are actually making it.

– Depending on your recipe, you’ll either beat this in, or fold it into the cooled egg mixture. I’m lazy , so I just folded it in 🙂 

The whipped cream:

Some recipe may call for whipped cream added into the egg cheese mixture. Some may not. Some may call for egg whites beaten to stiff peaks. Follow your recipe. The only thing to keep in mind when mixing these in is to not overbeat. You’ll want to keep the air as much as possible for the mixture to be light and fluffy.

Consistency of the final batter should be thick and not runny. Think of soft served ice-cream, slightly lighter. If your batter is too runny, it will not set up and your ladyfingers will float up. One way to fix this is to add more cheese, but you’ll have to adjust the taste accordingly once you alter original amount the recipe calls for.

Layering the tiramisu

Now that you have all your ingredients ready, lay them out nicely, its just good practice and not having to run around the kitchen looking for things at the last moment.


First, if you are unsure about the size of your dish, try laying out the ladyfingers in it so you get an idea of how to arrange them later. This will also give you and idea of how much you’ll be using, or if you’ll run out of ladyfingers midway. You may also need to cut and adjust a few of the ladyfingers to fill in those gaps. Do it now. Usually a recipe will tell you what size of dish to use, but you can never be too sure, right?

Dipping the ladyfingers

This is where its tricky. This is what makes the Tiramisu. The dilemma was always how long to soak ’em ladyfingers. I use Saviordi ladyfingers, they are the hard type of ladyfingers. I understand that there are soft ones, but maybe not around here. Even with these hard little cakes, they soak up liquid pretty fast and will get soggy quickly.

It is a matter of personal choice; for a soft, melt-in-your-mouth tiramisu, soak ’em good. For a drier and crunchier tiramisu, then just a drizzle of liquid on them (don’t soak). A word of caution: Don’t get carried away with soaking though, or you will get mush.

– Put the coffee liquid in a bowl that is wide enough for the ladyfingers to be dipped in laying flat. If you are making 2 layers of ladyfingers, it is best to just pour half of that liquid into the bowl, saving the other half for the second layer. This is just to avoid on making more in the middle of layering if you run out of liquid, and you will if you oversoak those biscuits.

-Dip each ladyfingers 1 second on each side. Kinda roll them in the bowl like I do here.


– Let excess liquid drip out of the ladyfinger. Quickly put them in the dish before they squish out of your fingers.


– Sometimes, eventhough all sides were equally dipped into liquid, the middle part stays dry. So, after the layer is done, take a teaspoon and simply drizzle some liquid on each ladyfingers that looked suspiciously undersoaked.


For kids friendly tiramisu, replace the coffee with some hot cocoa. Just mix some cocoa powder with hot water. No milk or creamer or sugar needed, but I guess you could add them if you’d prefer.

Assembling the tiramisu

First layer should be the dipped ladyfingers. Or for a dryer and crunchier tiramisu, first arrange the ladyfingers in the dish, and drizzle the liquid on it.

Second layer would be the egg cheese mixture (what ever do we call this?). Spread it evenly. How? Use a measuring cup or ice cream scoop or any soup ladle will do. This is so that you know you are measuring the same amount of cream on each layer. Me, I just eyeballed it.

Simply repeat until your dish is full or you run out cream/ladyfingers – whichever comes first. And you are done!

For extra umph, I sprinkled some cocoa powder and chocolate shavings on top of each cream mixture, before layering the second layer of ladyfingers. There is a world of difference in taste!

Top layer can be sprinkled some cocoa powder – do this through a sift and you’ll get a nice even coating. The cocoa powder will darken when you refrigerate the tiramisu. Alternatively, omit this step, and sift just before serving. That way, you’ll have a nice fresh looking tiramisu.

Decorate with chocolate shavings just before serving.

Setting up the tiramisu *IMPORTANT*

Wrap the dish with cling wrap or foil, and pop it into the fridge. And stop peeking every hour or so! It should be refrigerated to set for at least 24 hours. WHY? I know, I was impatient on my first try, and HAD to try it just after a couple of hours in the fridge. Yummy! But after 24 hours, or even two days (if you can wait that long), it will be mind blowing super delicious!  This resting period will give the cream time to set, and the flavors to blend.

Try and plan to make 1 night ahead, that way you won’t be kept waiting long. make tonight, eat tomorrow night.


DISCLAIMER: That’s all there is to making a tiramisu. If you are really adventurous (or stubborn?), disregard all advice and discover the joys of making it yourself. Its fun! This is just a shortcut through that journey.
This entry was posted in Cakes, Tutorials and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Tiramisu 101

  1. Elzr says:

    Bestnya!thanks for sharing..hehe..pasni ley cuba guna tips2 ni 🙂 .harap2 rupa nye nanti cantek lah..ahaks.

  2. Lisa says:

    Great advice! Thank you. Made our first Tiramisu tonight.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s