Here’s How Much Alcohol and Caffeine Is in Tiramisu

If you love cake, coffee, and alcohol, then you might love tiramisu. “Tiramisu” is Italian for “pick me up” or “cheer me up”. The name is appropriate since who doesn’t love cake, coffee, and alcohol?

But you might be watching your caffeine or alcohol intake. If so, then you might be wondering how caffeine and alcohol in tiramisu are.

The usual coffee and liquor for tiramisu are espresso and rum. A tiramisu cake that is 9″ x 13″ (22 cm x 33 cm) can use about a half cup of espresso and about 2 tbsp of rum. If you’ll have a slice of that tiramisu example, say 1/8 of it, it’ll have about 25 mg of caffeine and be about 0.6% alcohol.

In that example, the whole cake can have about 200 mg of caffeine. It would also have about 9.5 g of alcohol. Of course, these numbers depend on how the tiramisu was made. Learn more about tiramisu and its caffeine and alcohol contents below.

Best Tiramisu Recipe

Some stories of the tiramisu origin go back to the late 60s or early 70s. Its origins are often disputed among the Italian regions Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Nevertheless, tiramisu gained popularity since its inception.


By 1985, the New York Times allotted half a page to the ‘newest’ Italian dessert in the city’s restaurants. Its popularity is partly owed to its decadent flavors brought by simple ingredients.

Traditional Tiramisu Ingredients

Tiramisu is a layered Italian dessert. Its unique ingredients are ladyfinger cookies, coffee, mascarpone cheese, and liquor. And it has the usual dessert ingredients like eggs yolks, heavy cream (cold), and sugar. If you noticed, there’s no flour, baking powder, or yeast.

Because tiramisu isn’t baked. It’s assembled.

Below are the ingredients for a traditional tiramisu made in a 9″ x 13″ (22 cm x 33 cm) dish.

  • 1 1/2 cups brewed espresso
  • About 40 (or as many as you can fit) ladyfingers
  • 2-3 tablespoons of rum, brandy, or any dark liquor of your choice
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 125 g of sugar
  • 1 2/3 (400 mL) heavy cream, cold
  • 14 oz (425 g) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cacao powder for dusting

How Tiramisu Is Made

The sugar and egg yolks are mixed well together in a bowl. After mixing, the result should be a thick, smooth, and light yellow mixture. You shouldn’t feel any sugar granules.

You can put the bowl on a pot of boiling water so that steam can heat the bowl. The heat will make dissolving the sugar into the yolk easier. If you heat the bowl up to 162 °F (72 °C) and hold it there for 15 seconds you can pasteurize it. You don’t have to the pasteurization.

However, it can provide some peace of mind if you’re worried about food pathogens. Afterward, remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool.

Once the mixture is cool, you add the mascarpone cheese and mix it well. If you have other ingredients, like vanilla extract, then you also add those at this step. Some recipes would also add the liquor here.

In another separate bowl, you whip cold heavy cream until you have stiff peaks. Afterward, you fold the whipped cream into your yolk-sugar mixture. This final whipped cream-yolk-sugar mixture is your custard.

In another separate bowl, you mix your coffee and rum. Then you quickly dip the ladyfingers into the coffee liqueur for about a second or two. You don’t completely saturate the ladyfingers. Otherwise, they will get soggy.

After dipping the ladyfingers, lay the ladyfingers side by side on a baking dish until you get a layer. After setting the first layer of ladyfingers, you spread some of the custard on top. You can use a spatula to smoothen the custard layer. Afterward, you add the next layer of ladyfingers followed by the next layer of custard.

Having four layers of ladyfingers, custard, ladyfingers, and custard is usual. You can dust a layer of cacao powder on top. You then refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 6 hours to let it set. And voila! You have tiramisu.

Related Article: How Long Is Tiramisu Good For?


Ladyfingers are also known as sponge fingers in British English. They have different names in other languages too. They’re called savoiardi in Italian and boudoirs in French. The Orthodox Jewish community calls them baby fingers. Whatever you call them, ladyfingers are a staple in tiramisu (as well as other desserts).

They are low-density, dry, egg-based, sweet sponge cake biscuits. They are shaped like fingers, hence the name.

Ladyfingers for Tiramisu

There are plenty of brands of ladyfingers that you can use for tiramisu. You can also make them yourself.

For tiramisu, you want the ladyfingers to be firm and dry. That way, they can absorb more of the coffee liqueur when you dip them. If you just made your own ladyfingers, they tend to be soft and sponge-like in the center and a little crisp on the outside. Leave them out in the air for a bit of time so they can get a little stale.

Ladyfingers from Italy have a soft texture that is crispy and dry, but they are easy to bite into. Ladyfingers from the United States tend to be smaller, softer, and moister.

Both, however, can be used for tiramisu and other desserts. Since US ladyfingers tend to be moister, you may want to heat them up a bit. Doing so removes most of the moisture. In that way, they can better absorb the coffee liqueur for tiramisu.

Ladyfingers Substitutes

If you can’t get any ladyfingers and you don’t want to make them, you can also use substitutes. Below are some of the substitutes.

  • Biscotti
  • Sponge cake
  • Margherite cookies
  • Pound cake
  • Panettone
  • Pavesini cookies

The important traits are that they have to be crispy and dry. But they must also be low dense. Being low dense means they are easy to bite into, and that they can absorb the coffee liqueur well.

Best Alcohol For Tiramisu

Dark alcohols, especially dark spirits, are best used for tiramisu. The aging process gives these drinks their dark color. But it also gives them their unique flavors that are distinct from light alcohols.

Some common flavor notes among dark alcohols are caramel, vanilla, honey, fruit, and wood. These flavors go well with the bitterness and nuttiness of coffee. They also go well with the sweetness and richness of the custard.

Best Liquors For Tiramisu

As mentioned earlier, dark spirits are best used for tiramisu. Their flavors tend to go well with the other ingredients. Below are some dark spirits you can use.

  • Dark rum
  • Brandy
  • Cognac
  • Whiskey
  • Scotch

You can also use dark red wines like Marsala wine, Maidera wine, and Port wine

Marsala Wine For Tiramisu

Of all the wines that people use for tiramisu, Marsala wine is probably the most common. Marsala wine is a fortified wine. Its alcohol by volume (ABV) ranges between 15 and 20%. It also has 3 levels of sweetness. You can use any level of sweetness you like since you can raise the sweetness by adding sugar.

In the example tiramisu recipe above, around 2 or 3 tablespoons of rum were needed. If you’ll use Marsala wine for the same recipe, you may want to use about 1/4 of the cup.

You may also want to lessen the espresso from 1 1/2 cups to just 1 cup. If you don’t want to lose any of the coffee flavors, you can use double espresso. You can also supplement your regular espresso by adding instant coffee.

Flavored Liqueurs For Tiramisu

You’re also free to use flavored liqueurs. Using these can add another layer of flavor to your tiramisu. You can buy them or make them yourself. There are different types of liqueurs. Under each type has several options. Feel free to try what you think suits your taste. Below are the types of liqueurs that might go well with tiramisu

  • Coffee liqueurs
  • Chocolate liqueurs
  • Cream liqueurs
  • Crème liqueurs
  • Nut liqueurs (These are great if you’re making a nutty tiramisu, like with almonds or hazelnut)

Kahlua Tiramisu

Of all the liqueurs that can be used for tiramisu, coffee liqueurs are probably the most common. Using coffee liqueurs for tiramisu simply makes sense. You’re already mixing coffee and liquor, so why not use coffee liqueurs? Among coffee liqueurs, the Kahlua brand is one of the most famous.

Kahlua is a mixture of arabica coffee and rum. It has an ABV of 20%. Normal rum ABV is 40%. Like with using Marsala wine, if you’ll use Kahlua for the same recipe above, you may want to use about 1/3 of a cup. You might also want to reduce your espresso to just a cup.

The good thing is Kahlua already has arabica coffee, so you won’t lose much coffee flavor. You can supplement it by using instant coffee.

Best Coffee For Tiramisu

Tiramisu is an Italian dessert. So to get that authentic Italian flavor as best as you can, you’ll want to use Italian caffè. “Caffè” is Italian for “coffee”, but “caffè” also refers to espresso.

You will rarely, if at all, hear the word “espresso” uttered in an Italian coffee bar. In short, use, a classic espresso is your best coffee bet for an authentic tiramisu. It would be even better if you make the espresso in a Moka pot.

However, you are still free to use whatever coffee you like. If you find espresso to be strong, you can use other kinds like Americano, or cold brew. If you are not picky with your coffee, you can use regular instant coffee.

Feel free to also mix the beans. And If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try making tiramisu with coffee drinks like a latte or mocha.

Related Post: Factors That Affect How Long Does Espresso Last After Brewing

Non-Alcoholic Tiramisu Recipe

Not everyone wants or can consume alcohol. Luckily there is a non-alcoholic version. You simply remove the alcohol in the recipe. You just dip the ladyfingers in coffee. The tiramisu won’t taste the same, but it will still be delicious.


What’s Included In Costco Tiramisu

Costco sells two versions of its tiramisu.

One version is the tiramisu cups that are made by Dessert Italiano. Each pack has 6 tiramisu portions in glass cups so you can see the pretty layers from the side. Each cup is 3 oz (85 g). Below is the nutritional information on the container

  • Serving Size: 1 cup (85 g)
  • Calories: 250
  • Total fat: 12 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Cholesterol: 30 mg
  • Sodium: 60 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 30 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 g
  • Total Sugars: 18 g
  • Includes 18 g of Added Sugars
  • Protein: 4 g

The other version is a large bar cake that weights 38 oz (a little over 1 kg). Costco sells the bar cake under its Kirkland signature. The recommended serving size is 2 oz, which clocks in at about 170 Calories.

Does Costco tiramisu have alcohol?

The Costco tiramisu cups have alcohol. Each cup is 1.5% alcohol. Among the ingredients is Marsala wine. The wine is only mixed with the coffee in which the sponge cakes are dipped.

The bar cake version does not claim to have alcohol. Although some people say they can taste a hint of liquor.

What’s Included In Olive Garden Tiramisu?

Olive Garden offers tiramisu that you can buy as a whole cake or a half cake. It has all the classic tiramisu ingredients.

Below is the nutritional information of the whole cake.

  • Calories: 470
  • Total Fat: 27 g
  • Saturated Fat: 17 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 215 mg
  • Sodum: 125 mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 54 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugars: 35 g
  • Protein: 6 g

Is There Alcohol in Olive Garden Tiramisu?

Olive Garden says their tiramisu was made  with coffee liqueur. But they also say that according to their dessert supplier, majority of the alcohol content is cooked off when baked.

Is Tiramisu Halal?

Alcohol is considered haram or prohibited in the Islamic diet. Any foods that have made contact with alcoholic drinks are therefore not halal. Thus, if alcohol is used in the tiramisu, then the tiramisu is not halal. If the tiramisu is made with no alcohol, and all the other ingredients are halal, then it is halal.

Also, make sure that the ladyfingers or sponge cakes used are halal.

Will Tiramisu Keep Me Awake?

If you can tolerate caffeine, and you’ve only had a small portion of tiramisu, then it shouldn’t keep you awake. You might feel awake though if you ate a whole tiramisu cake. Both the caffeine and sugar rush will keep you up.

Does Tiramisu Have Nuts?

Classic tiramisu does not have nuts. If you buy it from a restaurant or a bakery, then it might have been made in a facility that handles nuts.

Does Tiramisu Have Cinnamon?

Classic tiramisu does not have cinnamon.

Does Tiramisu Have Chocolate?

Tiramisu is commonly made with chocolate. The chocolate may be used in the coffee liqueur or as a garnish. However, tiramisu can be made with no chocolate.

Tiramisu is a great no-bake cake that you can make yourself buy from your favorite place. Enjoy it in any special occasion, from the holidays to a job promotion.

Read Also: How Many Shots of Espresso is Too Much? Health vs Energy

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