This bourbon tiramisu is a sweet Southern twist on an Italian classic, and is made with espresso, ladyfinger cookies and a mascarpone whipped cream.
Does anyone else get a little giddy at the thought of tiramisu?
I mean, the name itself whispers of the exotically delicious, doesn’t it?! “Tiramisu” — just try saying it out loud without getting a little bit excited.
You can’t, can you?
This Italian sweet is both light and rich, sweet with hints of bitter– it is perfection.
Oh, and there’s a drop or two of alcohol in there.
You know, just to add a little something extra!
This version swaps out the more traditional rum for a little Kentucky bourbon. Rum isn’t really Italian anyway, is it?
This bourbon tiramisu is perfect for family dinners, date nights, parties, and I can assure you, for midnight snacking!
What is Tiramisu?
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert made up of coffee-dipped hard cookies (called ladyfingers), and a sweet, custardy filling.
The cookies and filling are layered together, chilled, and then happily devoured.
Usually, there’s a little rum in there, but here, we’re swapping it out for bourbon!
What If I’m Out of Bourbon?
This recipe works perfectly with any unflavored whiskey.
Or you can use this recipe as a base and swap the bourbon for rum for a traditional tiramisu.
What If I Can’t Find Mascarpone?
Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese.
If you can find it, use it. If you can’t find it, you can swap regular cream cheese. But mascarpone is the best option for this recipe.
Should I Buy Hard or Soft Ladyfinger cookies?
When you buy ladyfingers, there’s two kinds, a hard crunchy kind, and also a softer lady finger that’s more spongy.
Both kinds of cookies will end up soft after you dip them in the coffee mixture.
If you can find the hard ones, they should hold up better than the soft, especially if you’re letting your tiramisu sit overnight, but either cookie will work just fine!
Some very ambitious cooks make their own ladyfinger cookies. I am not one of those people.
Shopping Tip: You should be able to find ladyfinger cookies in the grocery store– either in the cookie aisle or in an international Italian aisle.
How to Make Espresso Without an Espresso Maker
You need cold espresso for this recipe.
If you don’t have an espresso maker, you can use store-bought espresso or swap it for strong black coffee. French press coffee is the closest swap.
How to Make Bourbon Tiramisu
Make the Bourbon Espresso Mixture
Start by making the coffee mixture.
Mix together the espresso and bourbon together. Set it aside to give it a chance to cool down.
Mix the Egg Yolks
You’ve got two options at this point. You can simply beat raw egg yolks with sugar until they’re light and fluffy, or you can add one extra step.
If you prefer cooked eggs, you’ll make a zabaglione.
Bring a small pot of water to a simmer. Set a heatproof bowl on top of pot, and use a hand mixer to blend together the egg yolks and sugar until they’re light and fluffy.
Either option works!
Make the Mascarpone Whipped Cream
In a large mixing bowl, whip the cream and a little more sugar until soft peaks form.
Add the mascarpone and continue whipping until the mixture is soft and spreadable.
Use a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon to fold the egg mixture into the mascarpone whipped cream.
Assemble the Bourbon Tiramisu
Next is the exciting part– you’re going to put it all together!
Take the espresso mixture out of the fridge, and one by one, dip the ladyfinger cookies into the espresso.
Layer the cookies into your dish, and then pour half the mascarpone mixture on top. Make another layer of coffee-dipped cookies, and a final layer of mascarpone.
Dust the top with more cocoa powder, and then slide the entire dessert into the fridge.
The tiramisu needs to chill for at least four hours! Make this the morning before you’re serving it, or the day before.
Finally, the real excitement happens: you get to eat!
Just make sure to check your teeth for cocoa powder after you gobble it up. Chocolate smudges on your front teeth isn’t a look that everyone appreciates.
Personally, I think those chocolate smudges scream “My dessert was AMAZING. Be jealous.”
3-4 Days (Fridge)
- medium mixing bowl
- large mixing bowl
- 2-quart baking dish (8"x8"), or similarly sized dish
- 1 ¾ cups brewed espresso or strong coffee
- 2 ounces bourbon
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- 4 egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar (divided)
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces mascarpone (room-temperature)
To Assemble Tiramisu:
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (divided)
- 20 ladyfinger cookies (~1 package, amount approximate) Use gluten-free ladyfinger cookies if needed
- berries (optional, for garnish)
- Combine espresso and bourbon in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
Mascarpone Whipped Cream:
- Raw egg option: Add egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat until the eggs are fluffy and pale yellow. When the eggs have tripled in size, you're done.Cooked egg option (Zabaglione): Fill a medium-sized pan with about and inch of water, and bring it to a simmer. (Or use a double boiler.)Add egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar to a to a medium-sized heatproof bowl (such as Pyrex or metal), and set it on top of the pan with simmering water.Right away, use an electric hand mixer, whisk eggs at a medium speed, and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. When the eggs have doubled in size, you're done. Remove eggs from heat and set aside.Make sure not to leave the eggs on the heat for longer than needed. You only want to heat them, not scramble them.
- In a separate large mixing bowl, add the cream and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Use an electric mixer on high to whip the cream until soft peaks form.Add the mascarpone and continue mixing until the mixture is soft and spreadable.Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the egg mixture into the mascarpone whipped cream.
Assemble the Tiramisu:
- Use a small mesh sieve (or a metal tea ball) to dust a 2-quart baking dish (such as an 8"x8" pan) with half the cocoa powder.
- One by one, dip the ladyfinger cookies into the espresso mixture and then arrange in the baking dish. Make sure the cookies absorb a little of the espresso, but don't leave them in the liquid very long or they'll fall apart.Continue adding cookies until you've got a single layer of cookies, breaking cookies into smaller pieces to fill in gaps as needed.
- Spread half the mascarpone whipped cream over the ladyfingers. Repeat process, topping mascarpone with another layer of soaked ladyfingers, and finishing with a final layer of the mascarpone mixture. Dust the top with the remaining cocoa powder.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight). Serve cold with optional berries if desired.Make Ahead / Leftovers:Tiramisu can be stored for 3-4 days in the fridge. Note that the ladyfinger cookies will soften as the dessert sits.
- Add 2 ounces of marsala (a sweet red wine), or another sweet red or white wine, to the egg yolks while whipping.
- Double the bourbon in the coffee mixture.