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Gluten-Free Tiramisu Cups – the all-time Italian favourite chilled dessert
Tiramisu is found on most Italian restaurant menus as one of the staple desserts, traditionally served from a large round glass bowl so the layers are visible from the side. It consists of layers of coffee-infused sponge biscuits and Tiramisu cream finished off with a generous dusting of cocoa powder.
The Tiramisu cream is not fresh cream, but a softly whipped Italian cream cheese called Mascarpone, further enhanced with separated eggs and a small amount of sugar.
Somehow the combination of the coffee-infused biscuits and Tiramisu cream work together like magic and creates the most amazing dessert.
What does Tiramisu mean?
I love the meaning behind the name, Tiramisu which can either means “to pick me up” or “to cheer me up” in Italian dialect, referring to the coffee and liqueur’s presence in the dessert.
Key Ingredients for Tiramisu
These are light sponge biscuits that are also known as Lady Fingers or Sponge Fingers. Made with eggs and flour (and no butter!), they absorb the coffee liqueur well to create soft pillows of biscuit layers between each dollop of Tiramisu cream.
Finding store-bought gluten-free Savoiardi biscuits can be tricky but making them gluten-free is surprisingly easy. You don’t need any special binders like xanthan gum for these biscuits as the eggs do the job. In this recipe, rather than piping finger length logs on a baking tray, the batter is spread out to bake like a thin cake. Once baked and cooled, round biscuit shapes are cut out according to the diameter of the coffee cup or glass being used to serve each portion by either using a small knife to cut around the glass base and top or using an assortment of different sized round biscuit cutters.
Mascarpone is an Italian-style cream cheese that has a consistency of sour cream or whipped cream cheese. Far from tasting sour, mascarpone tastes like rich cream, even for the reduced-fat varieties, which is a bonus if you are trying to reduce the calories in this dessert.
The recipe asks for strong coffee. Each Tiramisu cup serving is the equivalent of nearly one espresso. Maybe don’t drink a coffee on the side with your Tiramisu or you’ll be up all night digesting the excess caffeine! If you don’t have a coffee machine, then mix a strong amount of instant coffee powder and taste its strength according to your liking. Using decaf is fine if you prefer no caffeine in this dessert.
Kahlúa is my first choice as a coffee liqueur, next is Tia Maria, but you could also substitute them for Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur or Amaretto, an almond liqueur, or Marsala. Any nutty or coffee liqueur works, even Baileys Irish Cream, despite it being made with whisky, the barley grain is distilled making it gluten-free and safe for celiacs according to the company. If you prefer to leave out the alcohol, substitute it with either two teaspoons of coffee, vanilla or almond essence for that extra kick in flavour.
Use the freshest and if possible, the best organic eggs you can find, as they are used raw in this recipe. Nowadays, raw eggs in cooking have become more acceptable because of the quality and safety in egg production. However, I would advise not serving raw eggs to expectant mothers, those in frail health or very young children.
Gluten-Free Tiramisu Cups
- 1 Baking tray 18cm x 18cm
- Round cookie cutters that fit your chosen coffee cups
- 7 glass coffee cups (150-200ml) or normal drinking glasses
GLUTEN-FREE SAVOIRADI BISCUITS
- 3 eggs, separated
- 90 g caster sugar
- ¾ tbsp milk
- 75 g store-bought or homemade gluten-free plain flour
- 30 g potato starch
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 eggs, separated
- 120 g caster sugar
- 500 g mascarpone, full-fat or reduced fat
- 300 ml strong coffee, chilled
- 2 tbsp Kahlua or another brand of coffee liqueur, or substitute
- 2 tsp coffee, vanilla or almond extract (optional)
- 2 tbsp sifted cocoa powder (for dusting)
- 7 chocolate cut-outs to decorate
GLUTEN-FREE SAVOIRADI BISCUITS
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Line the baking tray with baking paper.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean glass or ceramic bowl until soft peaks form. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the milk towards the end of mixing.
- Add both flours and salt to the egg yolk mixture. Mix well.
- Fold the egg whites gently into the flour mixture.
- Spread the mixture into the lined baking tin.
- Bake for 12 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting out round shapes to fit at the base and middle of your chosen glass or cup. Prepare 3 cutouts per cup, cover and set aside.
- Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy.
- Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold this into the egg yolk mixture.
- Gently add the mascarpone and mix thoroughly until the mixture has a thick smooth consistency. Set aside.
Assembling the Tiramisu Cups
- In a shallow bowl, pour the coffee mixture in it and one by one, briefly dip the biscuits in the mixture, flipping them over to soak thoroughly and absorb the coffee. Don’t leave the biscuits too long in the coffee mixture or they will become too soft and fall apart while transferring them to the cups.
- Start stacking the soaked biscuit in the cups, followed by approximately one large serving spoon of tiramisu cream.
- Repeat with two layers of biscuit and tiramisu cream, finishing off the final layer with just the tiramisu cream.
- Dust generously with the sifted cocoa powder.
- Chill for at least one hour before serving. Decorate each tiramisu cup with a chocolate shape.
- Keeps for 2 days chilled
- Unsuitable to freeze, although any leftover Savoiradi biscuits can be frozen for future Tiramisu cups
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