This bourbon tiramisu is a sweet Southern twist on an Italian classic, is made with a zabaglione (no raw eggs!), ladyfinger cookies, and a bourbon mascarpone 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 booze 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 better in 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.
Making Easy Tiramisu with Bourbon
Start by making the coffee mixture. Mix together the espresso, bourbon, a little vanilla, and a splash of white wine. Heat the mixture up, and then stir in some chocolate. Keep stirring until the chocolate melts. Put the coffee mixture in the fridge to let it cool down.
Next, 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. Add a little white wine, and mix until the egg mixture is twice its original size.
Then, take the egg mixture off the heat, and whip in the room-temperature mascarpone. Stir until the cheese has been totally incorporated into the eggs.
Now you’re going to make whipped cream.
Pour the cream into a chilled bowl, clean off your hand mixer’s beaters, and blend the cream until it’s whipped into stiff peaks. Fold in the egg and mascarpone mixture.
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.
The tiramisu needs to chill for at least two hours!
Make this the morning before you’re serving it, or the day before.
Right before you serve this bourbon tiramisu, dust it with cocoa powder, and then top it with some berries if you want to!
And then, 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.”
Chocolate + Coffee Mixture:
- 1 cup brewed espresso coffee
- 3 oz Sweet white wine (such as moscato)
- 2 oz bourbon
- 1 oz chocolate chips
Creamy Mascarpone Mixture:
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 8 oz mascarpone (room-temperature)
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
To Assemble Tiramisu:
- 20 ladyfinger cookies (exact number needed depends on size of cookies and size/shape of dish)
- 1 TB cocoa powder for dusting (amount approximate)
- berries (optional, for garnish)
Make the Coffee + Chocolate Mixture:
- Combine espresso, bourbon, vanilla, and 1 TB moscato. Heat (on stovetop or microwave) until the mixture is steaming but not boiling.
- Stir in the chocolate, and continue to stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Set the mixture in the fridge to cool.
Make the Creamy Mascarpone Mixture:
- Put a small mixing bowl in the freezer.
- Fill a medium-sized pan halfway with water, and bring it to a simmer. Add egg yolks and sugar to a heatproof bowl (such as glass, pyrex, or metal), and set it on top of the pan with simmering water. (Optionally- use a double boiler. You want to heat the egg yolks without getting water in them.)
- Using an electric hand mixer, whisk eggs at a low speed, and then gradually increase to a high speed, until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Add the 2 TB wine, and continue to mix until mixture doubles in size.
- Remove from egg mixture from the heat. Mix in mascarpone until blended.
- Remove mixing bowl from freezer, and add cream. Rinse off the hand mixer beaters, and use the mixer to whip the cream until peaks form. Fold cream into mascarpone mixture.
Assemble the Tiramisu:
- To arrange your tiramisu, dip your ladyfingers quickly into the espresso mixture and make a single layer on the bottom of a medium casserole dish (approximately 8″x8″). (Alternatively, to soak the ladyfingers with even more of the espresso mixture, lay the cookies in a single layer in your pan, and brush the espresso mixture over the cookies until they are completely saturated.)
- Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Repeat process, topping mascarpone with another layer of soaked ladyfingers, and finishing with a final layer of the mascarpone mixture.
- Refrigerate at least 2 hours (or overnight). Just before serving, place cocoa powder into a mesh sieve, and sprinkle it over the tiramisu.
- 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.