Tiramisu for Rookies




Introduction: Tiramisu for Rookies

About: Hi. My name is Alina and I am a serial hobbyist and DIY fanatic. I literally have more hobbies than I can count... but you will find the important ones occupy their own board on my Pinterest page: including ...

Making Tiramisu was simpler than I imagined; the real adventure was hunting down the ingredients for this traditional Italian dessert. Three grocery stores later and countless trips down the cookie aisle, I finally found the elusive savoiardi cookies (also known as Lady Fingers) in the produce section of Lundardi's Market.

It's a typical for me to struggle locating ingredients for a new recipe, but this one really takes the cake. In an attempt to help at least one person save the better part of their Saturday afternoon, I now feel compelled to share this information with my fellow Tiramisu Rookies.

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Step 1: Ingredients Part I: Quicklist


24 savoiardi cookies (4-inch-long lady finger-like biscuits) from two 3.5-ounce packages

16oz mascarpone cheese

1 cup egg whites

1 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup dry Marsala wine

3/4 cup granulated sugar (split 1/2 and 1/4 cups)

4 teaspoons instant espresso powder + 1 cup hot water

1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur (optional)

2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin (optional)

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

Step 2: Ingredients Part II: Know What You're Looking For...


Let's be serious, I've never seen lady fingers outside a slice of Tiramisu. I knew they were also referred to as 'savoiardi cookies', so I logically assumed they were a type of cookie. I later discovered that they're technically a biscuit and you can buy them either hard or soft.

The bakery staff at Lundardi's staff assured me that soft lady fingers were traditionally used for Tiramisu, and they directed me to the produce section section near the strawberry shortcakes. The location made sense once I actually saw these lady fingers; they definitely have a similar cake-like texture as shortcakes and were even the same plastic tray packaging.


This ingredient was more difficult to pronounce, but slightly easier to locate. I was fairly confident mascarpone was a type of creamy cheese, so I knew it would be the refrigerated section. At this point I was on phone searching for "where to find mascarpone at grocery store". The answers were all over the board: in the milk cooler, next to the heavy cream, between the yogurt and cream cheese. I ended up finding the little tubs of mascarpone in the specialty cheese section of the deli.


The recipe calls for 3/4 cup whipping cream and they assume you know it's a liquid cream that you whip into shape. You can find heavy whipping cream in the dairy cooler next to the half-n-half, available in the same half pint (8oz) and pint (16oz) cartons


Tiramisu recipes vary in their use of eggs, but they all stress that the egg whites must be completely separate with NO traces of yolk. For a lighter Tiramisu, skip the yolks and use liquid egg whites instead. Be sure to buy the carton with egg whites only (no yolks) and the half pint carton is conveniently the exact amount needed

Half pint carton = 8oz = 1cup = approx. 6 egg whites. Less work, less waste, and less calories. Winning!

Marsala is an Italian wine primarily used for cooking, but would I find it alongside the other red wines or with the cooking vinegars? I was immediately overwhelmed by the aisles of wine at Safeway and opted for an extra trip to Trader Joe's for the cheap wine

Nothing complicated here...just 3/4 cup plain granulated sugar. You'll use 1/2 cup in the Marsala / egg white mixture and another 1/4 cup for your whipped cream

Powdered instant espresso gives your dessert the coffee kick you need after dinner. You can find the small container next to the other instant coffees. Hint: you can substitute with 1 cup cold espresso


1/4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur.Hint: coffee liqueur is usually within close proximity to Bailey's Irish Cream


This is the secret ingredient for fool proof Tiramisu. Add a bit of unflavored gelatin to your Marsala to ensure a firm mousse. You can find unflavored gelatin packets in the same aisle as Jello and one small packet conveniently equals the 2 tsp needed for this recipe


You only need a small sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa powder to dust your Tiramisu masterpiece. Cocoa powder is found in a very logical place...in the baking aisle between the chocolate and flour. Hint: in a pinch, you could substitute with powdered hot chocolate

Step 3: Equipment


I was always deterred by recipes that required the use of a double-broiler...until I discovered that I can just as easily use a Pyrex bowl over a medium saucepan


I'm actually a traditionalist when it comes to mixing. I prefer to mix my batter by hand, but I'll bring out the electric mixer when it comes to literally whipping your own whipped cream


My electric mixer only has 2 speeds: high and the speed of light... so I opted to use a wire whisk to add the mascarpone into the Marsala / liquid egg whites mixture.


You could layer your Tiramisu in just about anything, but a 9x9 pan will provide a thicker slice of heaven. I used my 9-inch springfoam pan because I was determined to use it for something other than cheesecake and it worked out great. The presentation was better than expected and I appreciated how easy it was to slice n' serve.

**One word of advice: place a dinner plate under the springfoam pan before you put it in the fridge. I was a little overzealous with the coffee liqueur and found it leaked through the springfoam pan...

Step 4: Instructions Part I: Marsala Mascarpone Mixture

  1. Prepare double broiler
    • Bring 1 cup water to a simmer in your double-broiler or medium saucepan
    • No double broiler - no problem! Here's a few tips for your makeshift double broiler
      • Use a metal or glass bowl intended for oven use
      • Pick the right sized bowl to fit snug on your saucepan
      • Make sure the water is low enough that it's NOT touching the underside of your bowl
  2. Marsala & mascarpone mixture
    • Add 1/2 cup dry Marsala wine to your 'double broiler' bowl
      • Sprinkle 1 packet (2 tsp) unflavored gelatin over your Marsala and let it stand for 5min
      • After 5min, use a wire whisk to mix in 1 cup liquid egg whites & 1/2 cup sugar
    • Place bowl on top of double-broiler or medium saucepan and whisk constantly for 5-10min
      • Whisk mixture constantly over medium heat for 5-10min
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool before adding Mascarpone cheese
    • Transfer your Marsala/egg mixture to a large bowl and gradually mix in 16oz Mascarpone cheese
      • I found it easier to mix by hand using a large wire whisk and spatula
      • Once thoroughly mixed, use the wire whisk or electric mixer to beat for 1-2min

Step 5: Instructions Part II: Whip Your Cream

  1. Next, make your whipped cream for the Mascarpone Mousse
    • Add 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream to a medium sized bowl
    • You'll be mixing for approx. 8min, so I'd recommend grabbing the electric mixer for this one
      • Mix on medium-high for 4-6min or until firm
      • Turn up speed to high for 1-2min or until you achieve 'stiff peaks' (see photo for reference)
  2. Use a spatula to gently fold whipped cream into Marsala mascarpone mixture

    You now have your delicious Mascarpone Mousse!

Step 6: Instructions Part III: Layers of Tiramisu

  1. One at a time, use a fork to quickly dip the bottom of your lady fingers in the espresso / coffee liqueur mixture
    • Hint: make sure the coffee has cooled completely before dipping
    • It's easy to over soak the 'cookies', try to remember it's more of kiss of espresso than a dip...
  2. Layer the bottom of your pan with lady fingers; then use a large spoon to spread over a layer of Mascarpone Mousse
    • Repeat layering until all ingredients are used
    • Grab your cocoa powder and apply a light dusting to your finished Tiramisu
    • Hint: I used a fine metal strainer to dust my Tiramisu (see photo for reference)

Step 7: ​Storage Tips

  • Cover loosely with tin foil and avoid a tightly sealed cover
  • If using a springform pan, be sure to place a plate underneath !!
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours

Step 8:

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