This upscale tiramisu recipe is served in individual cups, making it the perfect single-serve dessert. The combination of lady finger cookies dipped in espresso combined with a decadent and creamy meringue filling makes the perfect light and elegant dessert.
After attending culinary school in Italy, I fell in love with tiramisu. It's the perfect combination of a light, after-dinner dessert, with a hint of decadence.
This tiramisu was one of the recipes we learned and practiced in culinary school. And let me just say, this isn't your average tiramisu. In fact, this recipe is better than most of the tiramisu I've eaten at restaurants.
I'm going to teach you how to make this authentic Italian tiramisu in single serve martini glasses.
This recipe is perfect for a dinner party or even to celebrate someone's birthday. Plus, it can be made in just 30 minutes, so it's easy to throw together if you need a last minute dessert.
What You'll Learn In This Recipe
- How to make Italian meringue. This is a type of meringue that's used in many different dessert recipes.
- The proper folding technique for mixing two ingredients together.
- Substitution options if you can't find mascarpone cheese.
If you want to keep leveling up your baking knowledge in the kitchen, be sure to grab my free ebook all about how to become a better baker.
Ingredients You Need
Here are the ingredients you'll need to make individual tiramisu cups.
- Egg whites: This is the main ingredient used in meringue, which is a mixture of egg whites that have been whipped with sugar.
- Granulated sugar: Granulated sugar is an important ingredient to add sweetness to the dish, and also to add structure to the meringue and egg yolks.
- Water: The water in this recipe is used to make a hot sugar syrup that is whipped with the egg whites to make an Italian meringue.
- Egg yolks: This ingredient adds a rich flavor to the tiramisu cups. Plus, they help tiramisu have a pretty, yellow tint.
- Mascarpone cheese: Mascarpone is a soft, cow's cheese originally from Italy. It is a traditional ingredient in authentic Italian tiramisu. If you don't have access to mascarpone, this recipe will also work with cream cheese.
- Baileys Irish cream: This is a completely optional ingredient, but it adds a rich, vanilla flavor. If you don't drink alcohol, you can skip this ingredient and the mini tiramisu will still taste great!
- Fine sea salt: Fine sea salt is my favorite type of salt for baking. It distributes really well throughout the dessert.
- Freshly brewed espresso: This is another signature ingredient of the dish. The lady fingers are soaked in espresso before being layered in the martini glasses. Be sure your espresso has cooled before dipping the lady fingers.
- Savoiardi lady fingers: Lady fingers are a sweet, light tasting cookies shaped like a large finger. You can order these on Amazon if you don't have them available at a local grocery store.
- Unsweetened cocoa powder: This is used to garnish the top of the tiramisu. If you're making tiramisu ahead of time, wait to garnish the tops with cocoa powder until right before serving. You can also use a Dutch-processed cocoa powder for a more intense, chocolate garnish.
How To Make This Recipe
Even if you've never made tiramisu, I'll show you step by step how to make this delicious Italian inspired dessert.
Make Italian Meringue
1. Begin by whipping room temperature egg whites until they are slightly foamy. I prefer to use an electric hand mixer with a whisk attachment because this small quantity of egg whites often does not work in a KitchenAid stand mixer.
2. Once the eggs are slightly whipped, it's time to make the sugar syrup.
Heat ½ cup (99 grams) of granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat until the sugar reaches 244°F (118°C) on a thermometer.
3. Once the sugar has reached the proper temperature, continue whipping the egg whites on medium high speed while slowing pouring the sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl.
Be careful during this step to ensure the hot sugar syrup doesn't splatter everywhere while you're mixing.
Continue to whip the egg whites after you've poured in the sugar syrup until the mixture reaches stiff peaks. You can test the stiffness of the meringue by pulling the whisk out. You should see a stiff peak standing straight up.
Mix Tiramisu Filling
4. Next, it's time to work on the tiramisu filling. Switch over to a hand whisk and beat together the egg yolks along with the remaining ¼ cup (49 grams) of granulated sugar in a separate mixing bowl. You're looking for the egg yolks to become thicker and pale in color.
5. Then, add the room temperature mascarpone, Baileys Irish cream, and sea salt, and continue to whisk until everything is fully incorporated, and you have a filling that's creamy in texture.
Don't worry if you see small lumps of mascarpone cheese. This adds delicious flavor and won't mess up the filling.
6. Grab the Italian meringue, and carefully fold it into the egg yolk mixture using a silicone spatula.
In order to properly fold, you'll start by placing the silicone spatula at the top of the meringue, then making a line through the middle and folding up like a J toward the side. Turn the mixing bowl 45° and repeat this J-shaped mixing technique until all the meringue has been folded into the egg yolk mixture.
7. You'll be left with a creamy and smooth filling.
Assemble Tiramisu Cups
8. To assemble the mini tiramisu cups, grab five martini glasses. You can also use clear, plastic dessert cups if you need something that's easy to transport to a party.
Next, place the cooled espresso in a shallow dish. Break two lady fingers in half, then dip in espresso for 1 - 2 seconds, just until they have slightly absorbed the liquid.
9. You'll notice that the lady fingers haven't fully absorbed espresso throughout the entire cookie, or they will begin to fall apart.
Place the lady fingers in your martini serving glasses. Repeat for the remaining four serving glasses.
10. Evenly layer the meringue mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use an offset spatula to smooth out the top.
Finally, garnish each individual tiramisu with a light dusting of cocoa powder.
I like to allow the tiramisu cups to rest, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for a least 2 hours to allow the flavors to marry.
- If you need to make these mini tiramisu cups ahead of time, they will last up to 2 days when covered in plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator. This will allow the ingredients to marry together for a deep and delicious flavor.
- Do you prefer crunchy lady fingers? Don't let the dish sit too long before eating it. The longer the mixture sits, the softer the lady fingers will become.
- If this is your first time making tiramisu cups, be careful not to soak the lady fingers too long in the espresso. Soaking them for an extended time (longer than about 2 seconds) will cause them to fall apart.
Authentic Italian tiramisu is made with a base of lady finger soaked in espresso layered with a meringue, egg yolk, and mascarpone mixture.
Yes, you can substitute the Baileys Irish cream for Amretto, Kahlúa, marsala wine, or rum.
While this is not a traditional substitute, the recipe will still taste delicious if you substitute the mascarpone for cream cheese.
More Dessert Recipes
Individual Tiramisu Cups
- electric hand mixer
- shallow dish
- 5 martini glasses
- 2 large egg whites room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar divided
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 large egg yolks
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons Baileys Irish cream
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup (3 shots) cooled freshly brewed espresso
- 10 Savoiardi lady fingers
- unsweetened cocoa powder for garnish
- Whip room temperature egg whites in a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer with a whisk attachment on medium-low speed until the eggs are very foamy.
- Heat ½ cup (99 grams) granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat until the sugar reaches 244°F (118°C) on a digital thermometer.
- Once the sugar has reached temperature, turn the mixer speed to medium-high and slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the mixing bowl. Be sure the sugar runs down the bowl and doesn’t hit the whisk attachment or it will splatter. Continue to whip up on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. To test the meringue stiffness, pull the whisk out. A stiff peak should stand straight up.
- Beat egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup (49 grams) of granulated sugar in a separate mixing bowl using a hand whisk until the eggs are pale in color. Add room temperature mascarpone, Baileys Irish cream, and sea salt and mix until incorporated and creamy in texture.
- Carefully fold the meringue into the egg yolk mixture using a silicone spatula.
- Place the cooled espresso in a shallow dish. Break two lady fingers in half, then dip in espresso for 1 - 2 seconds, just until they have slightly absorbed the liquid. Place the lady fingers in a martini serving glass. Repeat for the remaining four martini serving glasses.
- Evenly layer the meringue and egg yolk mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use an offset spatula to smooth out the top.
- Dust a light layer of cocoa powder on top of each martini glass using a fine mesh strainer.
- Cover each martini glass with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.