Chef’s tips: How to make the best tiramisu

The result is a rich, flavour-packed sweet treat that will keep you coming back for more. Source: Getty

It’s fair to say tiramisu is one of those classic recipes that it’s hard to say no to when dessert is served.

Meaning ‘pick me up’ in Italian, tiramisu is primarily flavoured with coffee and sometimes rum or other types of liqueur. 

The crowd-pleasing dessert is made by soaking ladyfingers or other types of dry sponge cake in espresso and then layering them with mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) and finishing with cocoa powder dusted on top.

The result is a rich, flavour-packed sweet treat that will keep you coming back for more.

For Melbourne-based chef Guy Grossi, whose family emigrated from Italy to Australia in the 1960s, it’s the best Italian dessert out of the bunch and one that’s easy to make if you know what you’re doing.

He shared his ultimate tiramisu tips with Starts at 60 below. 

Where does tiramisu come from? 

The history of tiramisu is surprisingly complex, but we definitely have Italy to thank for it.

Some sources claim that tiramisu can be traced back to the 17th century, although most people agree it was invented in the 1980s at a restaurant called Le Beccherie in Treviso, in Italy’s north.

Others say the rich treat was invented to give sustenance and energy to new mothers. However, regardless of when and why it was created, tiramisu went on to become a success and was imitated in cafes and restaurants all over the world, and still is today.

Read more: A British chef’s tips for making perfect fisherman’s pie

So what’s the secret to tiramisu success?

It’s not too hard to tell if you’ve made a tiramisu just right. Guy says the perfect tiramisu is a fine balance of several ingredients so no one flavour comes out on top. It should have a subtle sweetness with just the right amount of richness from the mascarpone and coffee.

Soaking the ladyfingers too long is one of the most common mistakes as it causes them to fall apart. Guy recommends soaking the ladyfingers briefly, adding that the coffee-soaked biscuits should still hold some texture.

No one enjoys bland tiramisu and Guy says it’s best to use strong, high-quality coffee for the best flavour espresso possible. Another hot tip is waiting for the coffee to cool before soaking the ladyfingers as this will help them hold together better. 

“It takes a little bit of effort to make, but it is so worth it,” he said.

If you’re on the hunt for a new recipe or want to try something different at your next family get-together, Guy has shared with us a mouth-watering tiramisu recipe from his new cookbook Cellar Bar



  • 2 egg yolks
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1kg mascarpone
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Strega liqueur
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white Sambuca
  • 1 cup espresso coffee
  • 160g Pavesini biscuits
  • 100g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dutch-processed cocoa powder

Sugar syrup 

  • 125g caster sugar


  • 375g caster sugar
  • 6 egg whites


  1. To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar and 1⁄2 cup (125 ml) water in a small saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil over medium heat to dissolve the sugar, then remove and set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, then whisk in the mascarpone and liqueurs for about 2 minutes or until the mixture is thick like piping cream. Set aside.
  4. To make the meringue, combine the caster sugar and 4 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to softball stage (115°C), using a sugar thermometer to check the temperature.
  5. When the sugar is nearly at temperature, place the egg whites in an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and start to whisk on high speed – the whites should be frothy when the sugar reaches 115°C. Slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the egg whites in a thin steam, then whisk on high speed for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the espresso to the cooled sugar syrup and warm slightly. Briefly dunk a few biscuits at a time in the mixture until well soaked but not falling apart, shaking off any excess liquid.
  7. Line the bottom and sides of a large ceramic bowl with half the soaked biscuits, then sprinkle half the chopped chocolate over the biscuits.
  8. Fold the meringue into the mascarpone mixture, then spoon half over the biscuits in the bowl, filling it halfway.
  9. Place another layer of soaked biscuits on top, sprinkle with the rest of the chocolate and cover with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
  10. Smooth the top and dust with the cocoa powder. Refrigerate for 2–3 hours before serving.

Have you made tiramisu before?

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