The Best Tiramisu Trifle

Get ready to eat the best Tiramisu that you have ever had. Tiramisu is a decadent Italian dessert, that combines buttery smooth mascarpone with coffee and brandy, in a creamy mixture that is layered with delicate coffee soaked lady fingers. Tiramisu lives up to it’s promise to “lift me up”.

Tiramisu in a glass dish with strawberries and a trifle behind it.

My coffee addiction

In a previous post I told you about my love for chocolate. Well now I must admit to my obsession with coffee. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and it is the only thing that brings me back from the midafternoon lulls. I have come to realize that it is not the caffeine in the coffee that I am addicted to, it’s the smell and taste that I can’t live without. Does anything smell as good as brewing a pot of coffee? Think about that feeling you get when you step into a good coffee shop. It’s not the sweets or baked goods that grab your attention. It is that heavenly aroma of coffee that lures you in. Even my husband who hates coffee, loves the smell!

Tiramisu in a Trifle bowl with cocoa sprinkled on top of it.

What is Classic Tiramisu?

Take my favorite addiction and create a decadent creamy dessert and you’ve got me at “Hello”! Tiramisu is that dessert. The classic Tiramisu is made by soaking lady fingers in coffee and layering it with a mixture of mascarpone, liqueur and eggs beaten into a smooth, light cream. It appears to have gained popularity in Italy when the owner of the restaurant “Le Beccherie” in Treviso, Italy invented it and added it to his menu. And the rest is history!

What is the difference between a trifle and Tiramisu?

In Italy the liqueur most often used to make this dessert is Marsala. You can substitute any other liqueur you like and it is still a Tiramisu. Many modern versions substitute the coffee and replace it with lemon, strawberry, chocolate, or other flavors. Once you remove the coffee from the dessert you no longer have Tiramisu. Now you’ve created a trifle, which is essentially a layered dessert using cookies or cakes, fruits, chocolate and creams. Coffee is the essential ingredient that makes this dessert a classic Tiramisu. I am a traditionalist when it comes to Italian cooking and especially when it comes to this dessert. In my opinion you shouldn’t mess with perfection!

A glass dish of Tiramisu with strawberries on a white plate.

Making the best Tiramisu

  • Separate the egg yolks and whites into two bowls.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until it is mixed. Then add in the brandy, about a tablespoon of espresso and mix for another minute.
  • Then add the mascarpone and beat the mixture for several minutes. You want the mixture to be really creamy and smooth.
Mascarpone beaten until creamy with coffee, eggs, brandy and sugar.
  • In another bowl, beat the egg whites and a pinch of sugar until stiff peaks form.
Egg whites beaten to stiff peaks
  • Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.
Egg whites and mascarpone cream are folded together.

  • You can use a square or round dish to assemble the tiramisu in . Because of the shape of the lady fingers it is easier to fit them in a square or rectangular dish. I like to use a trifle bowl. The traditional dessert is served in a round dish.
  • Holding the lady finger flat, dip it into the espresso so that half of the length of the cookie is soaked. I like to leave half of the cookie dry so that it does not get completely wet. The lady fingers will absorb some moisture from the cream as well and this will result in a cakelike texture.
Tiramisu in a trifle bowl with one slice removed.
  • Depending on the size of your dish, it will determine exactly the number of lady fingers that you will need. If you use an 8×8 dish, you should get two layers of cookie and 3 layers of mascarpone cream. My dessert had 3 layers of ladyfingers because the trifle bowl was slightly smaller.
  • Sprinkle the top with some good quality cocoa powder. It really adds another dimension of flavor to the coffee.
Tiramisu in a glass stemmed dish with strawberries.

Pro Tips

There are a few things that make sure you make the best:

  • First you have to start with good ingredients.
  • Make sure to use espresso and not just regular coffee. The deep strong flavor of espresso is one of the things that makes this dessert taste like you stepped into an Italian café.
  • This recipe calls for raw eggs so make sure to use fresh eggs.
  • Use Mascarpone for the best result. It has a lighter, more buttery flavored then cream cheese. The mascarpone allows the other flavors to really come through.


What does Tiramisu mean?

In Italian Tiramisu literally mean “pick me up” or “lift me up”.

Is it safe to eat Tiramisu?

Although classic Tiramisu is made with raw eggs, it is safe to eat. But you must take the right safety precautions as with the handling of most foods. First make sure to use pasteurized eggs and second make sure to refrigerate any leftovers immediately.

Can you get tipsy from eating Tiramisu?

This recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of liqueur or about 1 ounce. One serving of this dessert contains about 2/3 of a teaspoon of liqueur. For most people, one serving does not have enough alcohol to make you tipsy.

Other Italian Desserts you will want to try:

Anginetti Cookies – Italian Wedding Cookies

Sfingi – Italian Donuts

Cannoli Shells Made From Scratch

Cannoli Filling Recipe with Ricotta

Lemon Biscotti with Pistachios

Italian Almond Cake

Amaretto Tiramisu without Eggs

Tiramisu in a glass stemmed dish with strawberries.

The Best Tiramisu Trifle

This creamy Tiramisu is the ultimate "pick me up". Coffee and brandy flavor decadent layers of light and airy mascarpone and lady fingers.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Refrigerate 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10
Calories 253 kcal


  • 3 Eggs separate the egg yolks and whites
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup Coffee Espresso, prepared and cooled
  • 2 tbsp. Brandy
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone Cheese
  • 20 Lady Fingers Cookies
  • 2 – 3 tsp. Cocoa Powder to sprinkle over the top


  • Combine the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer beat for 1 minute.
  • Add the brandy and 1 tbsp. of espresso to the eggs and continue to beat for another minute.
  • Add the mascarpone to the egg mixture and beat for about 4 minutes. The mascarpone should be completely blended and the mixture smooth and creamy.
  • In another large mixing bowl beat the egg whites and a pinch of sugar until stiff peaks form.
  • Fold the beaten egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.
  • Holding the lady finger horizontally, quickly dip it into the cooled espresso so that about half of the cookie is soaked with coffee. Place the lady finger on the bottom of trifle dish or an 8×8 glass serving dish with at least 2 inch sides. repeat this with the lady fingers until you have a full layer.
  • Spoon about 1/3 of the mascarpone over the lady fingers and spread it out evenly.
  • Repeating layering lady fingers and mascarpone, ending with a layer of mascarpone on top.
  • Using a fine sieve, sprinkle the cocoa powder evenly over the top of the mascarpone.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


Serving: 10gCalories: 253kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 6gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 65mgPotassium: 90mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 511IUCalcium: 53mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Coffee dessert, Italian dessert, mascarpone, lady fingers, layered dessert, creamy filling, Tiramisu
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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