The Simple Way To Upgrade Tiramisu

Tiramisu is a classic Italian dessert usually made of ladyfingers soaked in espresso, rum, and sugar, which are then stylishly layered in between silky ribbons of mascarpone cheese. Other common tiramisu ingredients include cocoa powder and custard, as noted in a blog post published by Delallo, a renowned, family-owned Italian located near the city of Pittsburgh. Per What's Cooking America, the history of tiramisu dates back to the 17th century, when the dessert was more along the lines of an egg custard than a finely layered dish. Since then, the iconic Italian treat has morphed into the world-famous decadent dessert it is today.

While some might view tiramisu as one of those desserts that need to be made the exact way their nonna makes it, it's actually a versatile dessert with a ton of options for customization. Believe it or not, not all tiramisu needs to contain espresso. In fact, per Delallo, your tiramisu can even include fresh, seasonal ingredients that compliment the dessert's more creamy elements.

Fresh ingredients will turn up your tiramisu

One of the more popular additions to tiramisu you might come across is fresh fruit. Berries are a popular pick, and pretty much any fruit you like can be layered within the tiramisu or simply added on top for a colorful aesthetic. If you're looking to keep your tiramisu as close to an Italian vibe as possible, consider incorporating popular Italian fruits like lemons, cherries, peaches, figs, or blood oranges (via Taste Atlas).

Another possible upgrade for tiramisu that may seem small but can make a huge difference is the incorporation of herbs. Fresh is always ideal, but even some dry varieties can work as well. For tiramisu made with fresh fruits, fresh mint leaves are a go-to pick, but you can even add less common herbs like sweet basil, lavender, and sage. Whichever herb you choose to use in your tiramisu, you'll want to do your research to be sure it pairs well with the fruits and other ingredients you're incorporating – The Baker's Almanac lays out which flavors go together well.

Try these alternatives to espresso and liqueur

If you're aiming for a tiramisu without any alcohol in it, you have some options. Though tiramisu is most commonly made with some sort of alcoholic liqueur to provide a certain depth of flavor, you can easily swap the boozy addition out for extra espresso. If you'd rather go another route, other flavorful options like vanilla extract, sweetened condensed milk, or chocolate syrup might be the way to go, according to Foods Alternative. It's even common for fruity versions of tiramisu to incorporate fruit syrups or purees in place of alcohol.

On the other hand, perhaps you want something more along the lines of classic tiramisu — just a version with a twist on the coffee component. The dark, sometimes bitter touch of espresso in dessert isn't for everyone, especially those prone to post-tiramisu jitters. Fortunately, there are creative ways to swap out the espresso while still maintaining the integrity of your tiramisu. Chicory is a popular alternative that maintains a dark, nutty flavor along the lines of coffee, per Healthline. Barley coffee is another unique option that works. Or, for a whimsical twist on tiramisu, don't shy away from fun options like hot chocolate or matcha tea (via Cafe Aiello).