Tiramisu classic from Chef Luigi Diotaiuti, of the Al Tiramisu Restaurant


From our The Vivant’s Top Ten: Chefs Share Their Favorite Dessert Recipe feature, Chef Luigi Diotaiuti tells me that the word tiramisu means “cheer me up” in Italian, and I’ll certainly be happy to take another visit to DC to get some of his famous tiramisu at his Al Tiramisu restaurant. Meanwhile, I’m going to try my hand at making it at home:

Note that tiramisu needs time to set, so prepare it a few hours or up to a day in advance.

Tiramisu classico/Classic Tiramisu

Serves 8


  • 4 eggs,* separated
  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups espresso
  • 1 ounce dry rum, if desired
  • 40 lady fingers
  • Cocoa Powder, for dusting


  1. In a large bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or other large bowl, combine the egg yolks and 1 ½ cups sugar.
  2. Beat until the mixture is creamy and light yellow, about 5minutes.
  3. Add the mascarpone and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  4. Place the egg whites in another bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. This can be done with the standing mixer, electric beaters, or a wire whisk. Fold egg whites into mascarpone mixture gently.
  5. Place espresso in a shallow dish. Dip half  of the lady fingers in espresso and use them to line the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch glass or porcelain baking dish. Make 2 parallel lines of lady fingers on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Stir 2 tablespoons of sugar into the rum and drizzle mixture evenly over the lady fingers.
  7. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the top of the lady fingers.
  8. Dip the other half of the lady fingers in the espresso and make two parallel lines with them to cover the top of the mascarpone mixture.
  9. Spread the remaining half of the mascarpone mixture over the top of the lady fingers.
  10. Store in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
  11. Dust with cocoa powder to cover the top.
  12. Place the Strawberry Coulis into a squeeze bottle with a small tip, and make 6 round designs on the side of each plate in gradually increasing sizes – starting with the size of a dime, and ending with the size of a silver dollar.

Italian Cooking Primer

You can prepare this recipe in a baking dish and serve individual portions using a pastry server. Or place it in martini glasses for a chic individual presentation. Just cut the lady fingers neatly and attractively to make them fit.

*Note that consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of food-borne illness.

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