For amateurs in the field of baking, learning to construct a classic Tiramisu can seem like trying to find a mythical creature at times. Each component to this lovely dessert requires a lot of care. Whether it's whipping the Mascarpone cheese into a mousse, baking spongecake batter into lady fingers, or even simply brewing the Coffee for the glaze, constructing a Tiramisu can be intimidating.

However, this tedium only applies to the traditional conventions. Nowadays, anyone can make even the most complicated dessert in their own kitchen thanks to modern conventions and even some clever hacks.

Today's post will provide a crash course in Tiramisu for newbies; complete with a super simple recipe.

What is a Tiramisu?

For those unfamiliar with the Italian term "tiramisu," it simply means "cheer me up." This is an effect that every dessert should have on its consumer and this dessert has provided this since it sprung up in Veneto, Italy back in the 1960's.

Although it's meant to be heart-warming, Tiramisu is typically served cold. It consists of four components that include assembled Lady Fingers (springy biscuits), brewed coffee, cocoa, and Mascarpone cheese in the form of a mousse (whipped with egg yolks and sugar to form a custard, then lightened with cream).

Traditionally, Tiramisu is assembled starting with the fingers being dipped in the coffee, then stacked and layered with the mousse, and finally, topped with cocoa powder.

The finished dessert is served in the shape of a small, square-shaped cake. However, over the years, Tiramisu has undergone many changes. The dessert is now served in alternate shapes like rounds, pyramids, hearts and more. Some popular recipes used different ingredients like espresso for the coffee and egg whites for the mascarpone cheese.

Tiramisu can even be served in round glasses as opposed to being shaped like cake.

How is this simple?

Given that all the component except the cocoa powder usually require work, complete with a delicate formula to follow, the dessert can be quite intimidating to make. However, modern innovations have helped to dumb down this dessert's construction.

Each component has either been replaced with something much simpler to use or has had its formula simplified. Starting with the least simple, the mousse has been simplified by omitting the eggs and relying on heavy whipping cream for thickness and lightness.

Next up is the coffee which can be easily brewed from instant coffee mix; just add water and boil. And finally, we come to the fingers which are surprisingly the easiest to get around. Instead of whipping up a batter and baking it into fingers, these can be purchased ready-made in packs sold at a grocery store.

Assembling a simple Tiramisu

Now comes the moment this post has been building up to: Assembling a not-so-traditional Tiramisu with the most basic hacks available.

Below is the recipe that will dumb down decades of hard work and refinement in pastry making.

Tiramisu ingredients:

  • 20 lady fingers (2 packs, 7 oz each)
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 4 oz powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup instant espresso, brewed
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream


  1. Prepare the instant coffee as instructed. Set aside to cool.
  2. Using a hand mixer, whip the mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla extract together in a bowl until smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold a little cream into the cheese mixture until fully incorporated. Do the same with the remainder to complete the mousse.
  4. Dip 10 of the the lady fingers into the coffee one at a time and line the bottom of a 9" baking pan. Using the spatula, Place 1/3 of the mousse on top of the fingers and spread it evenly across the surface. Repeat the process with the remaining 10 lady fingers.
  5. Place the pan into a refrigerator and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
  6. To serve, dust the top of the mousse with the cocoa powder, then cut out in 12 equal squares.