Tiramisu | IronWhisk (2024)

Tirami sùliterally translates from Italian to “pick me up”, a metaphor for “make me happy”. I can definitely understand why. With cocoa, espresso, and a touch of Marsala wine, tiramisu well definitely make you happy. Maybe even a little too happy.

Tiramisu | IronWhisk (1)

I’ve only had tiramisu once or twice before, and I wasn’t particularly fond of its flavour. With a really strong coffee taste and curdled mascarpone cream, tiramisu just didn’t sit right with me. Then I found out it’s not supposed to be that way and everything changed.

Well, not everything. In fact, not most things. My love for tiramisu skyrocketed. That’s about it.

I hate when people say everything changes and only one thing changed.

One of the reasons why I love tiramisu so much is because it’s really simple to make. Pretty much all you have to do is dip cookies in coffee, spread on a custard, and dust with cocoa powder. A lot of recipes, however, don’t give clear instructions on how you’re supposed to dip the cookies, and that’s where most tiramisus fall apart. A lot of them have a really intense and overwhelming coffee flavour that dominates the cake, while others are really soggy. Tiramisu isn’t supposed to be either.

Tiramisu | IronWhisk (2)

The cookies that make up the “cake” layers of a tiramisu are called Savoiardi, or lady fingers. These cookies are incrediblyabsorbentbecause they are made from a sponge cake-like batter. That’s why when you dip them in coffee if you dip them for too long they will make your cake very soggy. Sponge cake absorbs. Like a sponge. Ergo, “sponge” cake. After some testing (which was pretty much me soaking them in coffee and eating them over the sink as coffee dripped from them) I found that dipping them for more than three seconds will make them too soggy. The ones that were in the coffee for more than five seconds were pretty much mush. (You don’t want mush.)

Tiramisu also involves an Italian custard calledzabaione.This custard doesn’t have any cream, but just egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and a flavourful liqueur. Traditionally, Marsala wine or a dark rum is used. I didn’t have any on hand, so I used Bailey’s chocolateliqueur. It worked out perfectly. You just whisk it all together on the stove. You can use a double boiler if you’re afraid it will curdle. If it ends up curdling, just pass the custard through a strainer.

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After the custard’s done just fold in some whipped egg whites and mascarpone cheese.

Assembling the cake is pretty simple. You take your soaked lady fingers, cover them with some of the custard mixture, dust with cocoa, and then repeat the process once more. The cake comes together pretty quickly, but is really amazing.

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I highly recommend you try this recipe. It’s perfect for Valentine’s day.


Tiramisu is an Italian cake made from lady finger cookies, mascarpone cheese, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Oh, and liqueur.


For the custard layer:

  • 4 (85g) egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon Marsala wine, dark rum, or coffee/chocolate liqueur
  • 3 (120g) egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 container (226g) mascarpone cheese (do not substitute!), softened at room temperature

For the lady finger layer:

  • 200g (about 16) lady fingers, divided
  • ~1 cup cooled espresso or strong coffee
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Marsala wine, dark rum, or coffee/chocolate liqueur

For the cocoa:

  • ~1/2 cup cocoa powder


Prepare the custard:

  1. Combine the egg yolks, one tablespoon of the sugar, vanilla extract, and the Marsala wine in a small saucepan and whisk together over low heat until the mixture thickens. Cool to room temperature. Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar and the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in the mascarpone cheese and the custard.

Prepare the lady fingers:

  1. Combine the coffee with the sugar and wine. Dip a lady finger in the coffee for maximum 2-3 seconds and then transfer it to a 9'' by 5'' loaf pan (this size gives the best proportion of lady finger to custard). Fill the bottom of the pan with dipped lady fingers (about 8 - this is half of them).

Layer the cake:

  1. Spread half the custard over the lady fingers, making sure they're all covered. Dust with half the cocoa powder so the custard is completely covered. Dip more lady fingers in coffee and arrange them perpendicularly to the first layer. Cover with the remaining custard, dust with cocoa, and let sit in the fridge for at least two hours before eating (this will allow the coffee to soak through and the layers to settle).

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Tiramisu | IronWhisk (2024)


Does tiramisu mean lift me up? ›

Its origin is disputed between the Italian regions of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The name comes from the Italian tirami su ( lit. 'pick me up' or 'cheer me up'). Tiramisu.

What does tiramisu mean story? ›

Tiramisù translates as the Italian for pick me up. It's a compound of three words: tira (pick or pull) mi (me) su (up). Think of granny feeding you something tasty to pick your spirits up after a long hard day.

What does tiramisu translate to? ›

Today, Tiramisù is the world's most famous dessert and it is considered a modern dessert par “excellence”. The word Tiramisù literally means “pick me up”. It comes from the Treviso dialect, “Tireme su”, Italianised into Tiramisù in the latter half of the 20th century.

What if I don't have enough mascarpone for tiramisu? ›

However you could try beating together 225g (8 ounces) full fat cream cheese with 60ml (4 tablespoons/1/4 cup) double or whipping cream and 30g (1 ounce/2 tablespoons) softened unsalted butter until just blended. This will give the equivalent of around 300g (10 ounces/1 1/4 cups) mascarpone.

What does tiramisu mean in Italian slang? ›

The literal meaning of Tiramisu in Italian is “pick me up” or “cheer me up”. As the name implies, this is an iconic Italian dessert that is served at the end of the meal that hopefully “cheers you up”.

Why does tiramisu mean pick me up? ›

Tiremi su in the local dialect literally translates to “pick me up”. One of the stories of its origin traces back to a crafty “pleasure house” owner whipping this coffee spiked dessert for the gentlemen to reinvigorate them and solve any problems in performing their conjugal duties upon return to their wives.

Is tiramisu literally translated pick me up? ›

Not everyone knows that the Italian word tiramisu actually means 'pick-me-up' or, metaphorically, 'make me happy'. That's the feeling you get when you eat a slice of it. However, a slice of tiramisu is soft and creamy, so you cannot really 'pick it up' without making a mess.

What is tiramisu in urban dictionary? ›

Tiramisu is a non-food related term used under two different circ*mstances. Firstly, it can be used to express your sincerity in any given situation. Usually used when one wishes to convey a true level of genuineness in their actions, words, behaviours without any ill intention or intent to play with others emotions.

What is the spiritual meaning of tiramisu? ›

Based on the Acts of the Apostles reading from the Octave Day of Easter, one could say that the holy Eucharist is like tiramisu (which literally means “lift me up”) in the worship and life of a Christian.

Does tiramisu mean "cheer me up"? ›

up”. On that note, add cheer to your day with our signature. Tiramisu created with a spoonful of perfection and a. pinch of love.

What is the meaning of tiramisu in Oxford dictionary? ›

Italian; dessert made of coffee-flavoured sponge or biscuit filled with sweetened cream cheese (mascarpone) and cream, doused with syrup.

Can you eat tiramisu when pregnant? ›

Many homemade desserts, including mousse, meringue, and tiramisu, also contain raw eggs. If a store-bought version won't do, there is a safe way to prepare your favorite recipe. Some supermarkets sell pasteurized eggs, which are OK to eat raw. Make sure the label on the eggs specifically states "pasteurized."

Why is my tiramisu so watery? ›

The other main reasons the mixture would be runny is if other liquid ingredients have been added first, or if the mascarpone has been beaten so much that it has curdled (then you will get water separating out from the cheese curds).

Can I use ricotta instead of mascarpone in tiramisu? ›

Mascarpone lends a subtle tang and creaminess to tiramisu, but I by far prefer the smooth and subtle flavor that ricotta gives it. This is a tiny change, but it makes all the difference in the world. It's what makes this ricotta tiramisu just a bit special.

Is it OK to use cream cheese instead of mascarpone? ›

Yes, cream cheese makes a great substitute for mascarpone. There are two methods to substitute mascarpone: Substitute 1 cup of mascarpone with 1 cup of a cream cheese and whipping cream mixture. To make this mixture, use 1/4 cup of cream for every 8 oz.

Does tiramisu give you energy? ›

Together, the ingredients in this Italian classic not only give you a boost of energy, but are certain to lift your spirits :) I don't know if you know this, but tiramisu definitely makes it on the list of top 5 easiest desserts to make. The only difficult thing about it is actually finding the ingredients to make it.

Does tiramisu make you stay awake? ›

Will tiramisu keep me awake? Tiramisu usually calls for just a little bit of espresso. It's not enough caffeine to keep you awake at night.

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