Tiramisu in a glass: a smart way to serve up individual portions of the classic Italian dessert. Single serve tiramisu is portioned out in see-through glasses to show off its beautiful layers. This tiramisu is made with sponge cake soaked with espresso and alternating layers of classic tiramisu cream.
Tiramisu in a glass is my favourite way to serve this dessert. Although I also love making tiramisu as layer cake, single-serve tiramisu cups are just so much easier to serve. A tiramisu cake sure is quite a show stopper, but tiramisu in glasses is no less awesome. Just like tiramisu cake, I’m using sponge cake also in this recipe.
Original tiramisu is made with ladyfinger biscuits (savoiardi in Italian). Call me a little rebel but I prefer sponge cake. If savoiardi don’t get properly soaked in coffee they will stay crunchy. And I hate a crunchy bit in tiramisu almost as much as I hate overly coffee-soaked ladyfingers. Sponge cake, on the other had, is just perfect! It tastes as sweet and eggy as the original biscuits but it’s always soft. And it can take any sort of shape which is a big plus.
Related: small batch tiramisù cake.
Tiramisu in a glass step by step
These are the steps to follow in order to make tiramisu in a glass:
- make the sponge cake
- brew the coffee
- make the mascarpone cream
- assemble tiramisu in glasses.
The sponge cake needs to be divided into smaller discs that will fit the serving glasses you want to use. It needs to have completely cooled to room temperature before you can use it. I have not included the instructions to make sponge cake in this post, but you can hop over to my easy sponge cake recipe and follow the directions in that post. The quantities in that post are just what you need in this recipe. Bake it in a sheet pan or in a regular cake pan, let it cool and then proceed with the other steps in this post.
The sponge cake can be made ahead, like the day before, and stored in an airtight container. Both the sponge and the coffee need to be at room temperature to be used. If making everything at the same time, use the freezer to speed up the cooling procedure.
Make the mascarpone cream
Mascarpone cream is the classic tiramisu filling. The most basic tiramisu cream recipe only has 3 ingredients:
When I’m making tiramisu cake I usually add whipped cream to the tiramisu cream recipe. It is a variation made to ensure my mascarpone cream is extra sturdy to use in a layer cake. Traditional tiramisu recipes don’t call for the use of any other dairy product than mascarpone cheese. To get the fluffy airy texture in mascarpone cream you fold whipped egg whites into it.
If possible, use free range eggs, best if organic. I understand they’re on the pricier side, but free range eggs are really so much better. Especially in a recipe where we’re using them raw, like this one. A well cared for hen will give tastier eggs, plus your choice supports a more humane way of farming chicken.
Back to the recipe. Divide the egg whites and the yolks. Beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until stiff. Always mixing, add 1 tsp of sugar, this will make them shiny and slightly sturdier. Stop the mixer and set aside. Time to take care of the yolks.
Combine the remaining sugar with the yolks in another bowl. Beat at high speed for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture has doubled in size and is pale yellow. Stop the mixer and feel the mixture between two fingers to check if the sugar has dissolved. If it hasn’t, keep mixing until smooth. Do lick your fingers!
Add the mascarpone to the yolk mixture and keep mixing with the hand mixer until combined and homogeneous. Set the mixer aside and grab a spatula. Transfer half of the beaten egg whites to the mascarpone mixture and carefully fold them in with the spatula. Add the remaining egg whites and keep folding them until you have a fluffy and airy mascarpone cream. Now we can go on to the next step!
Prepare the coffee and cut the sponge cake
Tiramisu is made with Italian style coffee: brewed either in the espresso machine or in the moka pot. If you don’t have access to those, any other brewing method will do. If using instant coffee, I can recommend adding 2 tsp coffee to 50 ml hot water. Just make sure you’re making your coffee extra strong. We want to have about 50 ml of coffee, so a small cup. It needs to be very sweet, so go ahead and add 2 tsp sugar to it. Stir well and let cool.
Next you will have to cut your sponge cake into discs that fit the glasses where you are making tiramisu. Find a ring or cookie cutter that is of the suitable size. Alternatively, you can also place the glass on top of your sponge cake and run a paring knife around it to cut out the discs.
From one regular-sized sponge cake layer I was able to cut out enough discs to make 3 neat tiramisu glasses, plus a 4th one made of sponge cake cut-outs. It didn’t make it on the pictures just because the glass was not matching the other 3, but the great thing is that sponge cake can take any shape. We’re not wasting anything here – plus the cream actually yields 4 portions!
Assemble the tiramisu in a glass
Now for the fun part. Place a sponge cake layer on the bottom of a glass. Soak the cake with coffee by dripping it with a teaspoon. It doesn’t need to be completely soaked, and I actually really like the “marbled” patchy effect of the soaked and dry areas.
Add a couple of tablespoons of mascarpone cream, gently pressing all over the surface of the sponge cake and reaching for the edges.
Gently add another layer of sponge cake, and proceed to soak with coffee just like the other one. Depending on the size of your glasses and the thickness of the sponge cake layers, you may add one more. Just keep repeating these steps until you get to the top of the glass.
When you’ve reached the top of the glass, spread a thin layer of cream on top of the last sponge cake disc. This will seal the moisture inside the tiramisu cup, and provide the surface for the final touch: the cocoa powder.
Repeat the same steps to fill all the glasses. The quantities in this recipe yield 4 small portions, but this all may vary depending on the size of your glasses. You may even be using smaller glasses than mine, and end up with a bigger yield. If you need to whip up a bigger yield of mascarpone cream, a general rule of thumb is 100 g of mascarpone and 1 tbsp sugar for every egg you use.
As a finishing touch, dust the top of your tiramisu glasses with unsweetened cocoa powder! Your lovely tiramisu in a glass is ready to be taken out to your guests!
Booze up your tiramisu?
Although I personally am not a fan of adding alcohol to my tiramisu, some people like to jazz it up a little bit. Rather than adding it to the cream, the best way to add alcohol to tiramisu is by stirring it into the coffee. This way you are not risking to thin the cream. But you obviously need to add something that pairs well with coffee.
If I must add alcohol to my tiramisu I would go for Amaretto di Saronno. Just a splash, as much as I would add to my coffee. Amaretto is sweet and it is considered by many Italians a great pairing with espresso. Another good option is Kahlua – this is especially a smart tip if you don’t have a moka pot and can’t make a properly strong coffee. A coffee liquor will have the double benefit of enhancing the coffee flavour while also adding some spirit.
How many layers should I make?
When I had originally written this post I had actually made 3 layers of sponge cake. This time, despite using the same glasses, I only made 2, with a thicker layer of mascarpone cream in between. There is no golden rule as to what is right or wrong. It ultimately just depends on the thickness of the sponge cake you’re using and your preference.
The glasses I have used are quite large but not very tall. Clearly the amount of layers will also be determined by the container you’re using. Making tiramisu in taller mason jars might call for one more layer than I did. The quantities in this recipe yield 4 portions; if making tiramisu in larger glasses you may have to double up the cream and bake two sponges.
Do you like tiramisù? What is your favourite way to eat it? I am torn between loving how practical these single-serve tiramisu cups are, and how elegant it is when made as a cake. One thing’s for sure: my favourite tiramisu is made with sponge cake!
This post was originally published in November 2017 and has been updated in June 2020 with new photos, new text and a recipe card.
Tiramisu in a glass
Single-serve tiramisu in a glass. Enjoy individual portions of the classic Italian dessert. Made with original mascarpone cream and sponge cake.
- 200 g mascarpone
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar (divided)
- 1 sponge cake layer
- 50 ml espresso (cold, 2 tsp sugar added)
- cocoa powder
To make sponge cake from scratch refer to this recipe.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Beat the whites until stiff, then incorporate 1 tsp sugar always beating. Adding some sugar should stiffen the eggs some more. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the yolks with the remaining sugar for 2-3 minutes at medium speed, until double in size and pale in colour. Add the mascarpone and keep beating with the mixer until homogeneous. Set the mixer aside.
Add beaten egg whites to mascarpone mixture and gently fold with a spatula until homogeneous and fluffy.
Cut out the sponge cake into discs the same size as the serving glasses you will be using. Have 2-3 layers per glass.
Place a sponge cake disc on the bottom of a glass. Soak it by pouring coffee over it with a teaspoon. Add 2-3 tbsp mascarpone cream and spread evenly. Proceed the same way with more layers until the glass is filled. Spread a thin layer of cream over the last sponge cake layer. Repeat until all 4 glasses are done.
Dust the top of the tiramisu cups with unsweetened cocoa powder and serve.
Both the sponge cake and the coffee need to have cooled to room temperature to be used.
If you don't have a moka pot to make Italian coffee, make your coffee extra strong. 2 tsp of instant coffee in 50 ml water is a good substitution. Sweeten the coffee with 2 tsp of sugar.
This recipe yields 4 portions in regular size glasses, but quantities may vary depending on size of containers used.