Last week I had the death cold that has been going around, which meant a lot of time spent binge watching Netflix. I started by finishing the new season of The Crown, followed by Zumbo’s Just Desserts, about 10 Christmas movies, and a few documentaries. As any baking show will do, I was inspired, so as soon as I felt up to it, I was in the kitchen. I started with cake, and decided Tiramisu was what I needed to have, hence how we get here on this post of how to make tiramisu. 

How to make tiramisu cake with cocoa powder

Now if you weren’t aware, there are a lot of raw eggs in tiramisu. While the likelihood of getting salmonella from raw eggs is quite low, I still prefer not to risk it, as a food scientist and all. That’s what makes this recipe different. I pasteurized my egg yolks and egg whites prior to mixing up the mascarpone layer. This step can be skipped, however, why take the chance. 

How to make Ladyfingers?

This recipe is rather involved, though don’t let that intimidate you. The first step is to make the ladyfingers, unless you use store-bought, in which case you can skip this step. I made my own using all purpose flour, to make them a bit firmer. If you want them softer and more cake-like then use pastry flour. Pastry flour is lower protein content, meaning less gluten. This makes the batter less firm because gluten is basically the glue for dough.

Side shot of tiramisu cake with cocoa powder

Anyway, you are going to caramelize the sugar and eggs over a pot of boiling water. Once you’ve finished this, that mixture will be beaten in a mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat until the mixture grows in size and stiffens. At this point, sift the flour in slowly and fold it into the mixture. Be careful to not overmix as you just incorporated air into the egg mixture.

Once you have the batter, place it in a piping bag. Or if you’re like me and don’t have one, make your own out of a Zip-loc bag and cut the corner off. I cut about 1/2″ triangle out and used that. It doesn’t work quite as well, but gets the job done. Don’t ask for it to look pretty though. Once you’ve gotten your piping bag ready, pipe 1″x3″ spots on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake these for 9-10 minutes at 350°F. 

How to make the Tiramisu?

Once you’ve gotten the ladyfingers baked, you can move on to the tiramisu. To start, bring a small pot of water to a low boil on the stove. While the water is heating up, mix the egg yolks with 1/8 cup of sugar in a heat resistant bowl. Also mix together the egg whites with 1/8 cup of sugar in another heat resistant bowl. Once the water is at a low boil, heat the egg white mixture to 160°F and then remove from heat. Repeat this for the egg yolk and sugar mixture. 

Side view of tiramisu cake

Making the Mascarpone Layer

In a stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites until they’re double in size and form stiff peaks. Carefully remove these from the bowl and repeat for the egg yolks. The egg yolks won’t get as big or stiff as the whites, but will firm up. Once they’ve firmed up, add the mascarpone cheese in divided sections. I did about 5 additions to allow it to mix in well. Once you’ve added all the cheese, mix for another 20-30 seconds to ensure no lumps. Then fold in the egg white mixture, taking care to keep as much incorporated air as possible. 


The next step requires mixing the wine and coffee together in a cup or bowl big enough to dip the ladyfingers. Dip them one by one for about 5 seconds (if using softer pastry flour or store bought, dip for about 2 seconds). Then place them at the bottom of a loaf pan or small rectangular baking dish. The layers of mascarpone will be thicker in the loaf pan versus the baking dish. I used a rectangular dish about 1/2 the width of a brownie pan. Repeat dipping the ladyfingers until the entire base of the pan is covered. 

How to make tiramisu cake

Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and use a spatula to even it across the pan. Then repeat the dipping and placing the ladyfingers across the top the mascarpone layer. Spread the remaining mascarpone on top of the second layer of ladyfingers. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more. When ready to serve, sift cacao powder generously across the top. You can also add shavings of dark chocolate, although it is delicious without them. 

If you’re feeling fancy, serve this alongside some crusted tilapia

Closeup of Tiramisu Cake with cocoa powder

How To Make Tiramisu

This tiramisu recipe is a traditional yet modern approach. The eggs are pasteurized to reduce the potential for food-borne illness.
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Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 641 kcal


Ladyfingers (makes about 36-40)

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt


  • ~36 Ladyfingers
  • 8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
  • 2 tbsp Red Wine (Pinot Noir works well)
  • ¾ cup cold coffee (I use cold brew, but hot will work too)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder (or more)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • optional: dark chocolate shavings



  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet (or two small sheets).
  • In a glass or metal bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, and salt. Bring a pot of water to light boil that this bowl will sit over. The water should just barely touch the bottom.
  • Heat the contents of the bowl, whisking constantly, until they reach 160F. The sugar should dissolve and should look similar to melted caramel.
  • When the mixture reaches 160°F, remove from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract.
  • Place this mixture in a mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk until it stiffens and forms peaks. The mixture should also be cooled at this point.
  • Slowly sift the flour over the mixture and fold in. Do several additions and do not overwork the mixture. The air incorporated during the mixing will be lost, which provides volume to the ladyfingers.
  • Place the batter in a piping bag or a gallon Zip-loc bag and cut a 1/4-1/2″ triangle off the corner.
  • Pipe 1″ by 3″ fingers on the parchment paper.
  • Bake for 9-10 minutes.
  • Cool and then they are ready for tiramisu!


  • Start by bringing a pot of water to boil, similar to the ladyfingers. With such small amounts, use a small pot and a small bowl to make whisking easier.
  • Mix together the egg whites and 1/8 cup sugar in a heat resistant bowl (glass or metal work best).
  • Heat over the boiling water. Mix constantly with a whisk until temperature reaches 160F. This step is not necessary, but should kill off any bacteria that can make you sick (salmonella), since tiramisu uses raw eggs.
  • Once this is done, repeat with egg yolks and remaining sugar.
  • Add the egg whites and sugar mixture to a mixer with whisk attachment and beat until size doubles and stiff peaks form. Transfer carefully to another bowl.
  • Repeat with the egg yolks and sugar mixture. This will not get as big or stiff, but should get thicker and grow in volume some.
  • Slowly mix in the mascarpone cheese in 4-5 portions.
  • Fold in the egg whites to the yolk and mascarpone cheese mixture.
  • Mix wine and coffee together in a bowl large enough to fit a ladyfinger.
  • Dip a ladyfinger in the coffee and wine mix quickly (about 5 seconds). Then place along the bottom of a small rectangular pan or a loaf pan. The loaf pan will use less ladyfingers, but have thicker mascarpone cheese layers.
  • Repeat until the bottom of the pan is covered by ladyfingers.
  • Spread half of the mascarpone mixture on the ladyfingers and smooth it so it’s even across the pan.
  • Repeat by dipping ladyfingers in the coffee and wine, and placing along the top of the layer of mascarpone.
  • Place the remaining mascarpone on top and spread even.
  • Place in the fridge overnight.
  • Immediately before serving, sift cacao powder generously over the top. If desired, sprinkle shaved dark chocolate over the top and enjoy!


Serving: 1servingCalories: 641kcalCarbohydrates: 78gProtein: 17gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 363mgSodium: 268mgPotassium: 179mgFiber: 2gSugar: 21gVitamin A: 1145IUCalcium: 113mgIron: 4mg
Keyword tiramisu
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

This how to make tiramisu recipe is not only safer because the eggs are pasteurized, but it’s also great for a special occasion. The recipes were adapted from King Arthur Flours and from Kitchen Joy. It doesn’t make a ton of servings like most recipes, so you won’t have to worry if you’re trying to make good choices and keep the sweets out of the house. 

Let me know if you tried this recipe and what you thought in the comments below!


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