This Traditional Tiramisu Recipe is creamy, light and airy, thanks to a delicious mascarpone filling made with zabaglione and beaten egg whites. Savoiardi ladyfingers dipped in espresso and Kahlúa provide a nice kick of flavor. Make this 1-2 days before serving, so it has time to soften.
Make the espresso in an espresso maker (or see notes for using ground Starbucks espresso in a refillable coffee filter for the Keurig machine.) You also could brew strong coffee instead.
Add the 12 ounces of brewed espresso to a small bowl and stir in the Kahlua.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. It's best to place one egg white at a time into a liquid measuring cup and then add that one egg white to a medium mixing bowl (or use a stand mixer bowl, if you have one.) There must not be any yolk or shell in your whites, so you will need to replace the egg white if that happens. Place the yolks into a stainless steel bowl that will fit the top of a double boiler or fit over a medium pot.
Add an inch of hot water to the bottom of the double boiler or your medium pot. Set the pot on the stove over medium heat. You want the water to simmer, not boil.
For the zabaglione (Italian custard), add the sugar and salt to the egg yolks in the bowl. Whisk briefly to combine before placing the bowl on top of the pot of simmering water. Continue whisking, using a figure 8 motion, for 10 minutes. Periodically check the water underneath to make sure it's not boiling. Lower the heat if you need to, so the water stays simmering. The yolk mixture should now be pale yellow, like a lemon. Remove the zabaglione from the heat and transfer it to a large mixing bowl.
Beat the egg whites in a stainless steel bowl with clean beaters, starting on low and increasing to high speed. The whites will become foamy, then will start to stiffen. Beat them until you see stiff peaks when you lift the beaters out of the whites. It will look like meringue. (See photos in post.) If the peaks fall over, beat the whites a little more.
Add the mascarpone to the bowl with the zabaglione and beat with a mixer just until combined. Use a silicone spatula to gently fold in half of the beaten egg whites until blended. Fold in the remaining egg whites, being careful not to deflate the whites.
Assemble the Tiramisu (3 layers)
Dip one Savoiardi ladyfinger at a time into the espresso mixture, being careful not to let it soak for long, or it will fall apart. It's best to dip each end of the cookie into the liquid, then place the ladyfinger into the coffee mixture, immediately flip it over, then immediately transfer the ladyfinger to the 9x13 pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a layer of the dipped cookies. (See photo in the post.)
Add a third of the filling on top of the cookie layer and spread it on with a spatula. Sprinkle on 1 ½ teaspoons of cocoa (add the cocoa to a fine-mesh strainer and tap the strainer to dust on the cocoa evenly.)
Repeat with another layer of dipped Savoiardi, a third of the filling, and 1 ½ teaspoons of cocoa.
For the final layer, add the dipped Savoiardi to the top of the tiramisu. Brush on some extra espresso mixture. (Reserve the rest of the coffee mixture for the next day by storing it in the refrigerator.) Spread on the remaining filling, then top with 1 ½ teaspoons of cocoa.
Cover and chill the tiramisu overnight in the refrigerator. This is important to allow the tiramisu dessert to soften. If you have a 9x13 cake carrier, you can store it in that. Otherwise, place some toothpicks into the tiramisu, then add foil so the top won't be disturbed.
When you're ready to serve the tiramisu, slice it into portions. You can brush on some of the reserved espresso mixture onto the sides of the tiramisu slices for extra flavor and moisture, if desired. You can even pour some of the extra coffee mixture into the bottom of the pan after you've removed a few slices.
Store leftover tiramisu in the refrigerator for up to four days. If you want to freeze the tiramisu, it's best to do so before adding the top layer of cocoa. Add double layers of plastic wrap, then foil before freezing the tiramisu. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with cocoa before serving.
This recipe calls for cooking egg yolks over simmering water for food safety purposes, although traditional tiramisu calls for raw eggs.
This recipe does call for raw egg whites, since there is less chance of bacteria there.
However, if you prefer to be extra safe, you can use whites from pasteurized eggs and beat them with a little cream of tartar. You also could beat regular egg whites over simmering water in a double boiler. I’ve done that before for this tiramisu, but the beaten egg whites turn out more soft than stiff.
Don't use soft ladyfingers in this recipe. Buy the crisp Italian ones, known as Savoiardi.
Make the tiramisu 1-2 days before serving it. It needs time to chill in the refrigerator overnight to achieve the best taste and texture. The tiramisu will be too crunchy on the first day.
You can halve the recipe and use an 8x8 pan. Use three eggs.