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Mini Tiramisu Dessert Cups

This year we’re having mini tiramisu dessert cups for our Christmas dinner. I served these at a dinner party, and they received rave reviews. They are super simple to prepare and can be made a day ahead.

Tiramisu is often referred to as an Italian trifle, although its texture is much lighter than the English version. Traditionally made with espresso, the Italian translation for tiramisu is “carry me up” or “pick me up.” Isn’t that what espresso does? Tiramisu is made with either sponge cake or ladyfingers that are dipped in a combination of espresso and marsala, then layered with mascarpone cheese and grated chocolate. I like using Frangelico instead of marsala. I love it’s rich, hazelnut flavor.

Mascarpone is a delicately flavored cheese that comes from the Lombardy region of Italy. It is made from cow’s milk and is a double- to triple-cream cheese that has the consistency of room-temperature butter. Because it has such a delicate flavor, mascarpone combines well with other stronger flavors.

If you are concerned you need an espresso maker to make tiramisu cups, you don’t. I used a drip coffee maker, and directions for using this method are included in the recipe. If you have an espresso machine, then, of course, use it.  

Mini Tiramisu Dessert Cups

Serves 10 to 12

Use all the powdered sugar when you make this recipe. You may think it is too much, but when the mascarpone cheese is added, the heavy cream/mascarpone mixture is not overly sweet.

For the espresso:

4 heaping tablespoons ground espresso powder (I use Café Bustelo.)

4 cups water

You can make espresso in a drip coffee maker. To make the espresso, use 4 heaping tablespoons of ground espresso powder. Fill the coffee maker to the four serving line (4 cups water) and make the espresso the same as you would regular coffee.

4 cups brewed espresso, cooled 

5 tablespoons Frangelico

In a shallow dish, place the cooled espresso and the Frangelico, stir to combine, and set aside.

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons espresso powder

2 cups mascarpone cheese

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

20 to 24 Italian ladyfingers (You need 2 cookies per serving.)

For the garnish:

Unsweetened cocoa powder

Grated dark chocolate

Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, place heavy cream in a bowl and whip until small peaks form. Add powdered sugar and espresso powder and continue whipping until mixed. Do not overwhip. You still want soft peaks.

In a medium bowl, place mascarpone cheese and vanilla and stir to combine.

Add the mascarpone mixture to the whipped cream mixture and whip until firm peaks form. Do not overwhip.

Cut the ladyfingers in half and dip into the coffee, immersing both sides of the cookie. Place 2 halves on the bottom of a wide-mouthed wine glass. Top with 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream/mascarpone mixture. Repeat with another layer of cookies and the heavy cream/mascarpone mixture.

Garnish as desired with unsweetened cocoa powder and grated dark chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tips on shopping for cream: You want to use heavy cream in this recipe. It’s Christmas. Don’t worry about the calories. Heavy cream, also called whipping cream, is whipping cream with milk fat content between 36 to 40 percent.

Tips on freezing cream: Milk, cream, and half-and-half can be frozen; however, it may become slushy, grainy, and separate when thawed. If you plan to freeze your milk, cream, or half-and-half, it will not be good for drinking or putting into your coffee but will be suitable for baking, cooking, or smoothies. To freeze, place it in an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag. Do not fill the container or bag completely full. Milk products may expand as they freeze. If you use a bag, press as much air out of the bag as possible before freezing. If you want to use the milk in smoothies, you can freeze milk in ice cube trays. Once the milk is frozen, transfer it to a freezer bag. It is best to use frozen milk, cream, or half-and-half within 1 month.

Carol Ann

Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at and explore her website,


Copyright 2023 All Rights Reserved Carol Ann Kates

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