The Best Classic Tiramisu (video)

individual tiramisu parfait with cocoa powder

Creamy, fluffy, aromatic and delicious! If you love the classic tiramisu recipe, you’ll love these dessert cups! My tiramisu is made with a creamy vanilla custard filling, combined with sponge cake soaked with coffee and Kahlua. These individual tiramisu parfaits are easy to make and perfect for any special occasion! You can also make this recipe in a casserole dish, like traditional tiramisu! I made this dessert for my sister’s wedding last year and I still get asked for the recipe! They were the biggest hit at the wedding reception!

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Watch my step-by-step YouTube video tutorial to see how these mini tiramisu desserts are made! And make sure to subscribe to my website emailing list and my YouTube channel to get updates whenever a new recipe goes live!

How To Make Tiramisu Filling

The creamy custard filling in tiramisu is the most important part of the dessert! It’s all about making a creamy, smooth and sweet custard that complements the coffee-soaked cookies or cake. I make my tiramisu filling with a made-from-scratch custard, a bit of cream cheese and whipped cream. This filling is super easy to make but it can break if the instructions are not followed. Here are a few tips for making the filling:

  • Cook the custard over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. High heat will cause the cornstarch to break apart, causing the custard to separate. If this does happen, remove the custard from the heat and add the cornstarch slurry again.
  • Allow the custard to cool completely before combining with the whipped cream. The custard can be prepared even a few days ahead of time and kept refrigerated.
  • Whisk the chilled heavy cream first, then add the cooled custard. Mix just until combined, about 30 seconds. DO NOT overmix the filling.
mini tiramisu dessert in brandy glasses

Parfaits or Casserole

This incredible classic tiramisu recipe can be prepared in parfait glasses or the more traditional way in a casserole dish. For parties and special events, I recommend making the parfait cups. They are so elegant and the individual servings means guests can help themselves to dessert. For family settings, preparing the tiramisu in a large casserole dish or trifle bowl is a great idea. Just include a large spoon for serving!

Sponge Cake or Lady Fingers?

For these individual tiramisu parfaits, I decided to go with a classic sponge cake instead of using lady fingers. I have a hard time finding lady fingers sometimes and using sponge cake has actually turned out to be a better tasting option, too! I prepare the sponge cake in a jelly roll pan, then cut the cake into smaller squares – super easy and the cake is much fluffier and softer than cookies.

classic tiramisu parfaits with coffee

More Recipes!

Enjoyed this classic dessert recipe? Check out some of my other recipes you’re sure to enjoy!

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Easy Tiramisu Parfaits Recipe with video

Supplies/Tools

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The Best Classic Tiramisu Recipe (video)

1 hr prep + 30 mins cook
12 servings
Learn how to make the best-ever traditional tiramisu, served as individual dessert cups or in a casserole!

Ingredients 

  • 64 lady finger cookies, hard, crispy type
  • OR prepare sponge cake

For Sponge Cake:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For Custard Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 8 oz mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled

For Assembling:

  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 1/3 cup Kahlua, optional
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, for dusting

Instructions

  • This recipe can be prepared using store-bought lady finger cookies, or with my sponge cake recipe. The sponge cake will be softer in texture and require less syrup.

For the Sponge Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350F and line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper; do not grease the sides. Prepare the sponge cake batter: place the eggs and sugar into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk on high speed for 7 to 8 minutes until the eggs are thick, fluffy and pale in color. Add the vanilla and mix again for 30 seconds. Combine the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Sift the flour into the eggs in small batches, folding gently but thoroughly after each addition.
  • Spread the sponge cake batter onto the prepared pan, spreading evenly to the edges. Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until the top is a golden brown color. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it cool completely in the pan.

For the Custard:

  • Meanwhile, prepare the custard. Pour the milk into a medium-size saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook the milk over medium heat until steaming hot but not boiling. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Mix together the cornstarch and water to create a slurry, then add to the egg yolks. Whisk the egg, sugar and cornstarch mixture for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale. (see more tips above in my post)
  • Slowly temper the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking well after each addition. Once all the milk has been added, pour the mixture into the saucepan. Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, for 4 to 5 minutes, until the custard thickens and holds its shape. Remove the custard from heat and add the vanilla, butter and cream cheese. Let the butter and cheese soften for a few minutes, then whisk for a few minutes until the custard is smooth and lump free. Cover the custard with a lid and let cool completely before using.
  • Once the custard has cooled, pour the chilled heavy cream into a mixing bowl. Whisk on medium-high speed for 3 to 4 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Add the cooled custard and whisk again for 30 seconds, just until the custard is incorporated. Do not overmix!
  • Invert the cooled sponge cake and remove the parchment paper. Using a sharp knife, cut the cooled sponge cake into 1 1/2-inch squares in the pan. Combine teh coffee and Kahlua coffee liqueur in a measuring cup, then slowly pour the coffee over the sponge cake, evenly soaking all the pieces.
  • To assemble the dessert, either spoon or pipe a bit of the custard filling into the bottom of your parfait cups. Top with several pieces of cake, pressing the cake into the custard. Repeat the process, layering the custard with the soaked sponge cake pieces and finishing the dessert cups with custard filling on top. Garnish the top with a dusting of cocoa powder and a chocolate espresso bean. The dessert can be enjoyed immediately, or refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 500kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 213mg | Sodium: 160mg | Potassium: 182mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 30g | Vitamin A: 1285IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 1mg