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Small-Batch Tiramisu


These small portions of Tiramisu make the perfect treat or dessert. Tiramisu is one of my favorite sweet tooth cures, serving it up in little cups satisfies the craving without any risk of over doing it which is easy to do cuz it's so good!

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  • 24 ladyfingers (savioardi) cookies
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 (8.8-ounce) package mascarpone (250ml)
  • 1/3 cup sweet or dry marsala
  • 1 cup strong, warm espresso coffee
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, for sifting over


Adapted from


Step 1

In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.

In a larger bowl, using same beaters, beat egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until thick and pale yellow, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in mascarpone cheese until combined, and continue beating another minute for extra fluff. Beat in marsala until smooth. Gently fold in egg whites until combined, trying not to deflate the mixture. It will be a loose, soft, creamy custard.

In a small bowl wide enough to dip cookies into, combine the espresso and 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside.

To assemble small cups: Dip first cookie in espresso mixture until almost fully saturated but not falling apart. Break in half and place the first half in the bottom of your cup. Spoon 1 generous (I use a measuring spoon, but heaped a little) tablespoon cream over it. Repeat with second half of first biscuit and another spoonful of cream. Dust with cocoa powder. Dip second cookie in coffee and break in half. Place side-by-side over cocoa then top with 2 generous tablespoons cream mixture, which should take you nearly to the top of the cup. Dust with more cocoa. Repeat with remaining cups.

To assemble large cups: Dip first cookie in espresso mixture until almost fully saturated but not falling apart. Break in half and place side-by-side in the bottom of your larger cup. Spoon 2 generous tablespoons (I use a measuring spoon, but heaped a little) cream over and dust with cocoa powder. Dip two biscuits in espresso mixture and break in half. Place 3 of the halves on top of the cocoa powder, cover with another 2 generous tablespoons of cream and cocoa powder. Dip a 4th biscuit in the espresso mixture, break it in half, and place these two halves plus the leftover half from the previous layer on top of the cocoa. Dollop more cream over and repeat with remaining cups.

If you can bear it, let cups chill in fridge overnight to set. Before eating, you can dust them with fresh cocoa powder for a prettier look.


First things first: You might have noticed I made my own savoiardi, not because I cannot get them around here and not because I think your tiramisu will suffer without them. Nope, quite simply, I realized they contained a few as three ingredients and had to see for myself if they were as simple as they sounded. Turns out, they totally are so I’m including the recipe I settled on (after a couple flops, let’s not talk about it) below.

Should you be purchasing ladyfingers, look for crisp ones. I understand that at some point, American-style ones were softer and Italian-style ones were more crisp. (I feel like I only see the latter these days, but should you end up with the former, dry them out in the oven for a bit until they have a snap to them. You want them to be able to absorb.

This recipe is tweaked from one of my favorite cookbooks to curl up with. I talked about it previously here and here. This version is halved, uses a bit less sugar. I used the rum in the coffee but would skip it next time; I think the marsala is sufficient for good flavor.

Marsala is the traditional alcohol in tiramisu. You can use sweet or dry. Sweet is more typical for desserts but I only keep dry around. After reading this from Cook’s Illustrated, I felt confident it would be just as good, and it was. My second choice for tiramisu is rum. I know brandy works fairly well too. I’m not crazy about Kahlua because the dessert itself is naturally flavored with chocolate and coffee, no need to add it artificially when you could just use rum. For both brandy and rum, I might use a touch less because marsala has a lower alcohol content.

As for tweaking this recipe to make it less risky, you could use pasteurized eggs, and at minimum, you should use eggs you’re as confident one can be are fresh. You could use decaf espresso. I am sure someone somewhere skips the booze or uses less. All work. You’re making this for you, not me. But if you’re making it for me, please don’t. And if you’re on the fence about making it this indulgently, do it once and if it’s terrible, you can send all the extras over here.

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