This Bourbon Tiramisu is a sweet Southern twist on an Italian classic, and is perfect for both Date Night and parties!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!
To make a batch of Bourbon Tiramisu, you’ll need– of course– some bourbon. If you’d like to do more than sip Kentucky Whiskey, though, you’ll also need to pick up a some mascarpone– which is an Italian cream cheese that is worth looking for! You should be able to find it in good grocery stores somewhere near the fancy cheeses.
You’ll also need some Italian ladyfingers. (Some very ambitious cooks make their own ladyfinger cookies. I am not one of those people.)
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! (You SHOULD be able to find ladyfinger cookies in the grocery store– either in the cookie aisle or in an international Italian aisle. If you can’t find them, you could swap out spongecake.)
You’ll also need to grab some eggs, some sugar, a little white wine, some espresso (freshly brewed OR pre-made, either works!), heavy cream, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and maybe some berries to serve with dessert.
Making Bourbon Tiramisu
To make Bourbon Tiramisu, start by mixing 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, 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. (If we were feeling extra fancy, we would call this mixture a zabaglione!)
Then, take the egg mixture off the heat, and stir in 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! (Okay– it’s not as exciting as when you get to eat it, but still. It’s fun!) 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.*This is important– the tiramisu needs to chill for at least two hours! So 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 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.”)
*A Note on Dish Sizes and Shapes: To make things simpler, I’ve written this recipe for a medium or 8″x8″ casserole dish. Keep in mind though– you can make tiramisu in whatever size container you want– as long as it holds the right amount of dessert. For deeper dishes (like bowls), you’ll need to adapt to the size of the bowl, and use more than two layers of cookies and creamy filling. You could also break the cookies into smaller pieces, and use 6-8 ramekins (depending on the size of the ramekins).
Make at least 2 hours before serving, to allow the dessert to chill.
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
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 8 oz mascarpone (room-temperature)
- 1/2 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.