Espresso For Tiramisu: How To Make & Use It In This Italian Dessert?




A real tiramisu, when made with all the right ingredients can have a transcendent flavor. For those who have not tried it yet (do so immediately), it is a creamy dessert made out of espresso-soaked ladyfingers and rich mascarpone cream. For it to have an authentic flavor, you need to brew a good espresso for tiramisu.

If you do not know how we are here to help! We covered the espresso brewing process, alternative methods you can try if you do not have an espresso machine, and also included step-by-step detailed instructions that will help you get the most perfect brew.

Can You Use Espresso For Tiramisu?

It is not only that you can, but you should use espresso. To make it properly, you need a powerful espresso machine. In case you do not have one, there are some alternative methods you can try, but we will get into this later on.

What Kind Of Espresso Is The Best For Tiramisu?

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert. For this reason, it is only suitable to use Italian espresso. This means that you should use Italian roasted coffee beans to pull an espresso shot. They have an intense caramelized flavor that will give your brew (and tiramisu by extension) an amazing aroma.

Is Quality Of Coffee Beans Important?

Yes, of course, it is. You never want to use stale coffee beans as they have been ruined by moisture and no longer have their original flavors. This is why you always want to use freshly roasted and ground coffee. Additionally, by doing so, you can make yourself a brew and enjoy it as you make espresso.

Fresh Dark Roast Coffee Beans

Are Non-Italian Roasts Suitable For Use?

While we do recommend using Italian roast, you can opt for another one if you do not have these coffee beans available for use. What you do want to make sure of is that you use dark roast beans. You can try brewing espresso using a light roast too, but your tiramisu will have a slightly more acidic flavor. Medium roast is also available for those seeking more balance between the two. You should try all three to know which one is the best choice for you.

What Do You Need To Brew An Espresso For Tiramisu?

Before we get to the brewing process, let us cover everything you need to have to make espresso for tiramisu:

  • an espresso machine (even a basic one will do just fine)
  • quality dark roast coffee beans
  • a coffee grinder – note that this is not a must, however, a coffee grinder helps you achieve the freshest brew possible

And that is it. Now, we can get more into the brewing process itself.

Step-By-Step To An Espresso Brew

Not to give you a wrong impression, espresso is not at all that hard to make. Here are some step-by-step instructions you might find helpful if you are new at this:

Using An Espresso Machine

  1. The first thing you want to do is turn your espresso machine on and let it heat up.
  2. At this point, you can take out your coffee grinder and the fresh coffee beans and grind them up into an espresso-fine grind size. A conical burr grinder will provide you with the best results because it does not heat up during the process and as a result, will not damage your coffee.
  3. Once you have your grinds ready, take the portafilter out of the machine, add coffee grounds to it, and tamp them down using even pressure.
  4. Run the water through the brew group to remove any leftover coffee from it and lock the portafilter back into its position.
  5. Now pull an espresso shot. Depending on the tiramisu recipe you use, you will probably need to pull multiple shots to ensure you have enough espresso to soak all ladyfingers.

Pulling A Double Shot Of Espresso

That is it. Remember, you should never reuse espresso grounds even for baking. Reusing the same grounds provides a much more bitter and weaker espresso that will throw off the flavor of your tiramisu.

Without An Espresso Machine

But, what happens if you do not own an espresso machine? There are several brewing methods you can try, including:

While these appliances don’t brew the most authentic espresso, they are a good substitute when in a hurry.

Using A French Press
To make espresso in a French press you need to:

  1. Heat the water using an electric kettle or a stovetop pot. Measure out how much water you need, based on the brew size you want to make, and add a bit more so you have enough to heat the press.
  2. While the water is heating, take out your coffee grinder and grind your favorite coffee beans. Although an espresso machine requires a fine grind, for a French press you will want to use medium-coarse coffee grounds (a fine grind could cause the filters inside the press to clog).
  3. Now, pour some of the heated water into the press, swirl it around to heat the press, and dispose of it.
  4. At this point, add coffee grounds into the press. Use 1 full tablespoon per every 4 oz of coffee to get flavorful results.
  5. Pour hot water over the grounds and swirl the two together using a wooden spoon (avoid metal utensils as you might unintentionally break the glass).
  6. Place the plunger atop the press and push it down until it sits just above the brew.
  7. Leave your coffee to steep for about 4 minutes.
  8. Press the plunger down to separate your grounds from the brew, and pour the coffee out.

Using A Large French Press To Brew Coffee

Using A Moka Pot
A Moka pot is just as easy to use. As opposed to the French press, it requires a direct heat source:

  1. Preheat the water using an electric kettle or a stovetop pot. Since a Moka pot is made for stovetop use, this step is optional. It will only shorten the brewing process and help to prevent over-extraction.
  2. Grind your favorite coffee beans into a fine grind size. Add the grounds into the filter basket – use 2.5 tablespoons for a 4-cup brew. Once you add your grounds, level them but do not tamp (as that will only result in a bitter flavor).
  3. Add the water into the bottom water chamber (preheated or cold) and place the filter basket atop.
  4. Attach the two chambers together and place the Moka pot on a stovetop burner. In case you used pre-heated water do this using a kitchen towel to avoid heat burns.
  5. Keep the heat setting to a medium and leave the pot’s lid open so you can observe the brewing process. Once the small chimney starts to spurt coffee, your brew is done.

Stovetop Espresso Machine - Moka Pot

An AeroPress
An Aeropress is something you will find at the home of those who travel a lot, and for a good reason. It is portable and super easy to use. The great thing is, it can come in handy as a replacement for an espresso machine when you crave a tiramisu:

  1. Preheat the water in an electric kettle.
  2. At this time, prepare your coffee grounds. A fine grind is the best for this option. Use about 3 tablespoons to get a flavorful press.
  3. Add the paper filter into the basket and wet it until it is completely wet.
  4. Attach the basket to the end of the AeroPress.
  5. Add the coffee grounds you prepared to the press and lightly level the grounds using slight pressure.
  6. Now that you have everything ready for use, place the press over your coffee cup.
  7. Pour 85 ml of hot water into the press and give it about 45 seconds to do its job.
  8. Put the plunger in its position and press it down using even pressure. You will hear a small “hissing” noise once you get to the bottom of the press – this means that your brew is ready to be served.

Using An AeroPress To Make Espresso

How Many Shots Of Espresso Does It Take To Make A Tiramisu?

This depends on the recipe you use, how big of a tiramisu you are making, etc. Generally, you need about 1 ½ cup of freshly brewed espresso. Keep in mind that we are not talking about the small espresso cups, but rather a US cup measurement of 8 oz.

Do You Use Hot Or Cold Espresso For Tiramisu?

We recommend that you let the espresso cool down a bit. If you use it as a liqueur, cooling will ensure that your egg whites do not deflate. When dipping ladyfingers in espresso, it’s also good to have middle hot espresso to prevent too fluffy ladyfingers which will make the whole dessert too fluffy.

Should You (Can You) Sweeten It?

Well, there is no need to do this. The ladyfingers have a sweet taste, as well as the rest of the cake, so the bitterness of espresso will perfectly blend in. However, you can do this if you prefer sweeter flavors. We recommend that you combine the sugar with the espresso while it is still hot so that it dissolves completely before you dip the ladyfingers in. This will help to avoid having small sugar granules in your cake (powder sugar can also come in handy).

For How Long Should You Dip The Ladyfingers In The Espresso?

Keep in mind that ladyfingers are quite porous biscuits. For this reason, you want to quickly dip one ladyfinger at a time into the espresso, just for around 2 seconds. Only the surface of a ladyfinger must be immersed in espresso. If you leave it in the liquid for too long, it will fall apart.

Can You Make Tiramisu Without Caffeine?

Yes, you can. It all comes back to brewing espresso. Instead of the regular espresso coffee beans, opt for a store-bought decaf blend.

Can You Use Coffee Instead Of Espresso?

As we said, the espresso is the best (and only) way to make a real tiramisu, and we stand by it. However, what if you already started making the tiramisu and you just notice that you ran out of it. Well, there are some alternative options you can use in emergencies like that:

Can You Use Drip Coffee?

Since coffee is the most common ingredient in every household, it can come in as a handy substitute for espresso. Remember, drip coffee is much weaker than an espresso so if you do decide to substitute it for espresso, make it much stronger than you usually would.

What About An Americano?

Americano is another great substitute you can use. It s essentially a diluted espresso shot so you will get a bit more authentic results with it.

Can You Use Starbucks Coffee?

If you have a Starbucks nearby, you can quickly run out, get a few espresso shots, come back home, and continue with your tiramisu.

Starbucks Espresso

Is A Cold Brew A Suitable Option?

You can certainly try using cold brew concentrate. However, keep in mind that there is a big difference in the acidity level so this change will not pass unnoticed.

Instant Coffee – Can You Use It As A Replacement?

Instant coffee and even instant espresso can also be a good option because of their simplicity. Instant coffee is brewed coffee that has been dehydrated into small granules. Most often it comes in small packages that make it very easy to use. You only need to pour hot water over it to get the coffee.

What Is Espresso Powder & Does It Work For Tiramisu?

On the other hand, you have espresso powder (instant espresso). It is made the same way as instant coffee but is much finer and has a bolder flavor. For this reason, it might come in a bit handier for tiramisu.

How To Make Tiramisu With Espresso?

Classic tiramisu is a well-known and beloved Italian dessert – and for a good reason! It is smooth and creamy and has a sweet flavor that leaves an espresso aftertaste. While the original recipe does require espresso, you can opt for a different brew as well. Also, when it comes to the ladyfingers, both the homemade and the storebought ones work just fine.

Tiramisu In A Cup

AuthorPatriciaDifficultyBeginner

Yields8 Servings
Prep Time25 mins

For The Cream You Will Need
 4 large egg yolks
 ½ cup granulated sugar
 ¾ cup heavy cream
 1 cup mascarpone
For the Assembly You Will Need
 1 ¾ cups espresso (or any other strong coffee brew)
 2 tbsp cognac or rum
 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
 24 ladyfingers (homemade or store-bought)
 12 oz bittersweet chocolate for decoration

1

Whip egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar in a medium-size bowl until they become light, fluffy, and tripled in volume. To get the best results, you should use an electric mixer. Once you achieve the said texture, transfer the mixture into a large bowl.

2

Use the same bowl to whip the cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. At this point, you want to get medium-soft peaks. Once you do, add the mascarpone into the cream and whip the two together until you get a soft cream you can easily spread. Finally, fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg yolks very lightly to ensure that they do not lose their airy, fluffy texture.

3

At this point, you can combine the espresso and your preferred liqueur in a shallow bowl or a plate and set it aside.

4

Use a fine sifter to dust the entire bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of dark cocoa powder. If you do not have such a baking dish, you can use an 8x8-inch dish or a 9-inch round cake pan too.

5

Now it's time to start assembling the cake. Dip ladyfingers into the espresso mixture, one at a time, and place them on the bottom of your dish or a cake pan (keep the rounded side up). Repeat this until you use up half the amount of the ladyfingers. Note that you can (and probably will need to) break the ladyfingers into smaller pieces to fill the gaps.
Once you have an even layer, spread half of the mascarpone mixture evenly onto the ladyfingers. Now, repeat the process with the remaining ladyfingers, espresso, and mascarpone.

6

Now that you have a completed cake, dust its top with the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder. Use the same sift to ensure that you can spread it evenly.

7

Finally, use either shaved or grated chocolate to decorate the cake.

8

At this point, cover the cake with plastic wrap and leave it to chill in your refrigerator (the plastic wrap ensures that the cake does not pick up any odors). Leave it as it is for 24 hours or overnight. If you can not wait this long, give it at least 4 hours before you cut into it.

Ingredients

For The Cream You Will Need
 4 large egg yolks
 ½ cup granulated sugar
 ¾ cup heavy cream
 1 cup mascarpone
For the Assembly You Will Need
 1 ¾ cups espresso (or any other strong coffee brew)
 2 tbsp cognac or rum
 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
 24 ladyfingers (homemade or store-bought)
 12 oz bittersweet chocolate for decoration

Directions

1

Whip egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar in a medium-size bowl until they become light, fluffy, and tripled in volume. To get the best results, you should use an electric mixer. Once you achieve the said texture, transfer the mixture into a large bowl.

2

Use the same bowl to whip the cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. At this point, you want to get medium-soft peaks. Once you do, add the mascarpone into the cream and whip the two together until you get a soft cream you can easily spread. Finally, fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg yolks very lightly to ensure that they do not lose their airy, fluffy texture.

3

At this point, you can combine the espresso and your preferred liqueur in a shallow bowl or a plate and set it aside.

4

Use a fine sifter to dust the entire bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of dark cocoa powder. If you do not have such a baking dish, you can use an 8x8-inch dish or a 9-inch round cake pan too.

5

Now it's time to start assembling the cake. Dip ladyfingers into the espresso mixture, one at a time, and place them on the bottom of your dish or a cake pan (keep the rounded side up). Repeat this until you use up half the amount of the ladyfingers. Note that you can (and probably will need to) break the ladyfingers into smaller pieces to fill the gaps.
Once you have an even layer, spread half of the mascarpone mixture evenly onto the ladyfingers. Now, repeat the process with the remaining ladyfingers, espresso, and mascarpone.

6

Now that you have a completed cake, dust its top with the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder. Use the same sift to ensure that you can spread it evenly.

7

Finally, use either shaved or grated chocolate to decorate the cake.

8

At this point, cover the cake with plastic wrap and leave it to chill in your refrigerator (the plastic wrap ensures that the cake does not pick up any odors). Leave it as it is for 24 hours or overnight. If you can not wait this long, give it at least 4 hours before you cut into it.

Tiramisù

To Wrap It Up

Now that you know everything about how to brew espresso for the perfect tiramisu we hope that you will not stray from this delicious dessert. Even if you do not have an espresso machine (it might be the time to get one) our alternative methods will help you get as close to it as possible.

Remember, other options such as drip coffee and cold brew will not give you authentic results but can be a good supplement when you have no other option. We recommend that you try different brewing styles for yourself, that way you will understand why espresso is truly the best option.



Patricia
As a former cook and a pastry chef, Patricia knows how to recognize fresh ingredients and appreciates their quality above all else. Her ideal day is spent at a local farmer’s market looking for the fruits, vegetables, and herbs she can combine and use to make meals for her loved ones. She is also a big coffee enthusiast and enjoys trying out different coffee brews while traveling.