Italian Food, Life in Italy

Tiramisu recipe straight from southern Italy

I’ve been wanting to make Tiramisu for a long time but waited to make it with my Italian mother-in-law as I figured she knows best. Today we made Tiramisu together and it’s actually so simple that I’ll probably always remember the recipe! I asked her which region Tiramisu came from and she didn’t know so I did a quick search and found out that it originated from Siena, a town close to Florence. I got this info from a well known Italian cooking website called Giallo Zafferano (which means yellow saffron). This website had the same ingredients as my mother-in-law’s tiramisu, so I’m confident that it’s a classic recipe, and not just a southern twist.  Below are the ingredients you need and the process.


3 egg yolks

3/4 c. sugar

1 1/4 c. mascarpone

4 c. whipped cream (panna per dolce if you’re in Italy)

coco powder

1 c. espresso (must be espresso and not coffee)

lady finger cookies (1 bag)

Serves: 10 people

cooking time: 2 1/2 hours (mostly in the fridge)


First buy your lady finger cookies. Below is a picture of what you need to buy if you’re living in Italy. If in the States you would find these cookies freshly baked in the bakery section of the store…or hopefully they would have them dried. (Dried works best).


I found out that my family and some of my Italian friends do not use these cookies to make tiramisu because they fall apart easily; so you can always substitute a harder cookie for these instead.

Also, if you’re living in Italy, make sure you buy “panna montata” which is whipping cream. They also call it “panna per dolce” cream for desserts. Below is a pic. If you buy this you must put it in a blender and whip it up at a medium speed for a good 2 minutes and it will turn into whipped cream.


To make tiramisu:

1) beat 3 egg yolks with the sugar for about 5 minutes in an electric mixer

2) add mascarpone and the whipped cream that you previously whipped or bought ready to the egg mixture, mix all together for about a minute. Transfer to fridge to sit while you make the espresso. (if you’ve already made the espresso then you can add a little bit to the cream mix to give it a little more flavor)


3) Make about 1 cup of espresso (or enough to dip all the cookies in). It MUST be espresso and not coffee because coffee does not have the same intense flavor of espresso #trustmeonthis I particularly use Nespresso pods from the Nespresso machine because it’s creamy and they have so many flavorful options to choose from to add some zing to your dessert. Plus it’s the George Clooney coffee, and who doesn’t love Clooney?? But if you want to go the traditional route the classic Italian zia (aunt) in Italy would use the traditional Mocha espresso maker. If you don’t like the coffee taste period then substitute a liquor for the espresso (some people use rum). Once made, put aside to cool off a little.

4) take out a square dish and your whipped cream mix from the fridge. Put a thin layer of cream at the bottom of the dish first, then start dipping each lady finger cookie in the espresso, coat evenly. Make sure not to leave the cookie in the espresso for long because it will fall apart. Immediately place the cookie in the dish and repeat until you have made one full bottom layer of cookies.  042

5) After you have made a full layer of the ladyfinger cookies, top it with some of the cream mix and spread evenly to cover all edges.

6) Repeat this process with another layer of the cookies and cream (a total of two layers). Note, it is important to spread thin-medium layers of the whipping cream because if you make thick layers then in the end your dessert will just taste like a bunch of cream! Be cautious. Next, top with coco powder.

041 0447) Let sit in fridge for an hour and a half to firm up then serve. P.S. it’s good with strawberries and I’m thinking of making an American version by soaking chocolate chip cookies in espresso and layering!!

Most Italian desserts are light, gotta love that.

Buon appetito



9 thoughts on “Tiramisu recipe straight from southern Italy”

  1. looks delish!! I’m glad you two work together so well and that you treasure her advise!! I’m going to try it!! Please get the recipe for the desert she made while we were there that had the berries around it!! One of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life!!

    1. Yes, I feel blessed! I heard horror stories before coming to Italy about Italian mothers, so when I met her I was seriously relieved. I’m even luckier because she has a consistent character, never had a daughter, just 3 boys, so we have a special bond. I don’t take it for granted though.

  2. Hi
    I live in Manly NSW AUSTRALIA.
    This is a recipe it off a cook book by Family Circle.
    3cups strong black coffee cooled
    3 tblspns dark rum
    2 eggs separated
    1/4 cup castor sugar
    250 mascarpone
    1 cup whipped cream 250 mls
    Savoiardi biscuits
    2 tspns dark coco pwdr
    1. put coffee & rum in a bowl
    2.beat egg yolks and sugar for 3 minutes or until thick and pail.
    add mascarpone & beat until just combined.
    Fold in whipped cream with a metal spoon.
    3. beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
    Fold quickly & lightly into the cream mixture with a metal spoon, trying not to loose volume.
    4. Dip the biscuits in coffee mixture.
    Dip biscuit on each side then lay in deep dish.
    put cream mixture over top off biscuits in layers the chocolate or coco powder.
    refrigerate 2-4 hrs.

  3. Dear Jess
    Tiramisu is not originated in the Toscana, rather from the North.
    Anyway part of my family lives in Puglia and it is a very beautiful and cultural rich region, though for my taste a bit backwards. However enjoy your stay.

    1. Hi Kathrin, do you know where it originates from? Online there is always a different story it seems. Yes, Puglia has a unique culture which I like because I feel like I can experience the “real” Italy in everyday towns. I do love the North however and think it’s much more advanced.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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