There’s nothing better than a slice of cake and a cup of coffee, except perhaps cake made with coffee.
Traditional tiramisu originated from Veneto, Italy, and contains a decadent combination of delicate ladyfinger cookies, mascarpone cheese, and espresso.
You’re probably wondering if tiramisu has espresso in it, does that mean it is caffeinated cake?
Generally, traditional tiramisu recipes do contain caffeine. The amount of caffeine in the tiramisu varies by recipe and type of coffee used in the cake. However, a slice of tiramisu has significantly less caffeine than a cup of coffee. The typical tiramisu contains 200 mg of coffee. An ingredient called ladyfingers is a significant tiramisu filling. Ladyfingers are often dipped in coffee before preparation.
Tiramisu Is Traditionally A Caffeinated Dessert
The traditional source of caffeine in tiramisu is dark espresso coffee. However, plenty of recipes substitutes normal drip or instant coffee for espresso.
You don’t bake tiramisu; instead, you soak it in the espresso, meaning that the caffeine literally soaks into the cake.
Because coffee is naturally caffeinated, you can expect most tiramisu to contain some level of caffeine in each serving.
How Much Caffeine Tiramisu Has Varies By Recipe
Now, when you hear espresso, you’re probably thinking tiramisu is chock full of caffeine. On average, a shot of espresso contains 65 milligrams of caffeine.
Most recipes call for about a cup or two of espresso, meaning that a cake serving eight people will have between 520 and 1040 milligrams of caffeine in the entire cake.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll be consuming all that caffeine. If you want to eat a whole tiramisu, go ahead, but generally, you’ll eat the cake in smaller servings.
Most tiramisu recipes serve eight to ten people, leaving each slice with 65-50 milligrams of caffeine per slice.
However, you’ll be hard-pressed to get an accurate measurement of caffeine in store-bought tiramisu products.
The FDA requires beverage companies to list caffeine amounts, but there are no requirements to list caffeine levels in food.
So instead, you’ll have to look at the location of the coffee on the food label list.
Food labels list ingredients in descending order based on weight and prominence in the food; if the coffee is further down the list, it’s not a main ingredient.
Exploring Popular Tiramisu Desserts And Their Caffeine Content
|Tiramisu Type||Caffeinated?||Alcohol Content?||Kid-Friendly?|
|Tiramisu Ice Cream||Yes||No||Yes|
Tiramisu Flavored Yogurt
Many tiramisu flavored yogurts, like Light + Fit’s Tiramisu Greek yogurt, contain coffee.
Generally, yogurts use coffee powder. In the case of Light + Fit, less than 1% of coffee powder makes up the dessert.
Tiramisu Flavored Ice Cream
Plenty of Tiramisu-based ice creams has coffee, including the popular Ben and Jerry’s Topped Tiramisu.
However, coffee is only used to achieve the flavor of tiramisu, and thus, it is not the main ingredient. You won’t find yourself on a coffee buzz from eating Ben and Jerry’s.
Olive Garden Tiramisu
Olive Garden uses straight espresso to make their tiramisu.
With that in mind, you can assume that their cake will have at least 50 milligrams of caffeine per slice.
Costco’s tiramisu does not explicitly state the caffeine content in their dessert. However, it does clearly state that coffee is in the dessert.
Considering the dessert comes in an 85-gram glass jar, there won’t be enough coffee to give you much of a buzz.
Note that each jar has 1.5% ABV, so you won’t want to share this with your kids.
Tiramisu For Kids And Pregnant Women
Traditional tiramisu is not safe for pregnant women or children to consume. Since traditional tiramisu can contain as much alcohol as a beer, you shouldn’t give it to your kids.
Additionally, the amount of alcohol can pose a risk to unborn children, so a pregnant woman should avoid consuming traditional tiramisu.
However, non-alcoholic tiramisu is generally safe for kids and pregnant women to consume in small servings.
While caffeine won’t harm your children or unborn babies, it can make them jittery. Kids may also get hyper, so consider that when giving them a caffeinated dessert.
Best Substitutes For Coffee In Tiramisu
If you’re caffeine-sensitive or just want to forgo coffee in your tiramisu, you can. There are plenty of alternatives that provide a similar coffee flavor in your tiramisu.
If you aren’t a fan of caffeine but enjoy the taste of coffee, you can use decaffeinated espresso or drip coffee in your tiramisu.
Just substitute the decaff on a one-to-one ratio for the espresso.
Choffee or Cacao
Choffee or ground cacao has a similar taste to coffee but leans more towards a delicate chocolate flavor.
It’s high in antioxidants and produces a similar coloring and texture to tiramisu. You can substitute a cup of strong cacao as a one-to-one ratio with a recipe’s espresso or coffee.
If you don’t mind swapping alcohol for coffee, you can use Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur to create a nutty, smooth flavored tiramisu.
Just note that you’ll want to experiment with flavor since liqueur tends to have a more robust flavor than coffee (and more liqueur means a higher alcohol content in the cake.)
I recommend mixing Frangelico with decaffeinated coffee or traditional espresso. You’ll cut the caffeine content in the cake without losing the flavor or adding too much alcohol to the cake.
Chocolate Syrup With Amaretto Extract
If you have chocolate syrup in the fridge, you can use it to create a similar flavor as coffee for your tiramisu.
Mix a cup of chocolate syrup with six to ten drops of amaretto extract to create a nutty, rich flavor that pairs well with the other ingredients in tiramisu.
Chicory root is a popular substitute for coffee in Louisianna and other southern states.
It has a similar color and flavor to coffee and works well for a decaffeinated version of tiramisu. You can sub it in as a one-to-one replacement for espresso or coffee.
Traditional Tiramisu Is Not Child Safe Because It Contains Alcohol
Most tiramisu contains less than 5% alcohol per serving, depending on the alcohol used in the recipe.
For example, a traditional tiramisu containing Marsala wine will usually have 1.5% alcohol in a slice. Thus, two pieces can have the same amount of alcohol as a beer.
Because the alcohol content in tiramisu can equal that of an actual alcoholic beverage, youngsters should not eat it.
Adults will also want to be mindful, as eating too much tiramisu at once can increase blood alcohol levels similarly to beer or wine beverages.
Types of Alcohol Used In Tiramisu
Old-school tiramisu recipes call for some form of alcohol to finish the treat. You can alter the amount of alcohol in the recipe by choosing less concentrated alcohol to finish the tiramisu.
Just look for lower percentages of ABV (Alcohol By Volume) on the label. Most recipes contain one of the following options:
Fortified wine like Marsala is the premier choice for tiramisu. It comes from Sicily, Italy and the white grapes create a delicious nutty flavor in tiramisu.
Marsala wine is generally 15-20% ABV.
If you prefer a richer tiramisu, you can try using dark or spiced rum instead of wine.
However, keep in mind that rum alcohol levels vary greatly, with some brands offering only 15% ABV while others, like Bacardi, have options at 75% ABV.
Amaretto liqueur has a deliciously nutty flavor the compliments tiramisu ingredients perfectly. Most amaretto liqueur contains about 20-25% ABV.
Coffee liqueurs contain both caffeine and alcohol, so you’ll want to test out your amounts when making the tiramisu.
Most coffee-based liqueurs have about 31% ABV and contain the equivalent caffeine amount of five cups of coffee per bottle.
Substitutes For Alcohol In Tiramisu
If you want to skip the alcohol in your tiramisu, you have a few options:
First off, you can simply add strong espresso to your tiramisu. The coffee provides ample flavor without adding any alcohol to the cake.
If you want to add a nutty layer of flavor to the tiramisu without liqueur, add a few drops of amaretto to the espresso or coffee you’re using to soak the cake.
Best Storage Practices
When making your tiramisu, you’ll want to keep a few facts and pieces of information in mind to ensure food safety.
Tiramisu Is Not Shelf-Stable
Tiramisu contains raw eggs and dairy products, and because you don’t bake the cake, its ingredients are not shelf-stable and easily grow bacteria when left out at room temperature.
According to the FDA, tiramisu should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Additionally, at temperatures hotter than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, tiramisu should not sit out for longer than one hour.
Tiramisu left out too long at room temperature, or hotter can curdle, develop bacteria, and spoil. In addition, consuming it can cause food poisoning.
Tiramisu Requires Refrigeration
If you aren’t eating the tiramisu in the next hour, it requires storing in the fridge. The colder temperatures will prevent bacteria from developing in the tiramisu and stop the milk from curdling.
You can keep tiramisu in the fridge for three to five days before you’ll want to toss it out.
If you’d like to store tiramisu for future desserts, you can freeze it. Note that tiramisu does not freeze well because of its heavy dairy content. To freeze tiramisu, follow these steps:
1.Use Plastic Wrap
Wrap the tiramisu tightly in plastic or saran wrap to prevent air from reaching the tiramisu.
If the tiramisu is in a freezer-safe container, you can wrap it around the container without removing the cake for less mess.
Use two layers of saran wrap to prevent freezer burn.
2.Use Tin Foil
Wrap tin foil over the saran wrap.
3.Date the Tiramisu
Because of its dairy-rich content, you can only keep the tiramisu in the freezer for two months at most before it starts losing its texture and flavor.
Date the tiramisu, so you know exactly when you need to consume it.
4.Place In the Freezer
Store tiramisu carefully in the freezer. Don’t store it underneath heavy foods, which can crush the cake.
To safely defrost tiramisu, take it out of the freezer and defrost it in the refrigerator.
It takes 24-48 hours for tiramisu to defrost in the fridge, but it prevents bacteria from developing or the tiramisu from losing its texture.
Enjoy Your Tiramisu!
Just remember, if you choose to make a traditional tiramisu, it’ll have caffeine and alcohol in it.
You can sub out ingredients in this article to make it kid-friendly, and no matter what you choose, it’s sure to be a delicious dessert!
- 1-2 cups of strong, dark roasted coffee or espresso (sub with Choffee or decaff to omit caffeine)
- ½ cup of sugar
- ⅓ to ½ cup of Marsala, Rum, or Amaretto Liqueur (omit for alcohol free recipe)
- 8oz pack of Marscapone Cream
- 3 large eggs
- ½ cup of heavy cream
- 24-count package of Lady Fingers
- Your choice of espresso powder, powdered chocolate, or espresso sugar for topping the cake
- Make coffee and set aside until cooled.
- Next, place a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil.
- Combine eggs, sugar, and alcohol selection in a metal bowl and place over the boiling water. Boil until bubbling and doubled in volume. Set aside.
- In a second bowl, mix the cream until fluffy with stiff peaks.
- Whisk the Marscapone into the waiting sugar, egg, and alcohol mixture. Then, fold in the whipped cream slowly to avoid deflating the cream.
- Take half of the Ladyfingers and dip each side into the waiting coffee mixture. Layer the cookies evenly in a baking dish.
- Layer half of the cream mixture over the Ladyfingers.
- Dip and layer the remaining Ladyfingers on top of the first cream layer.
- Top the second layer of cookies with the remainder of the cream.
- Dust with espresso powder, cocoa, or espresso sugar.
- Chill for eight to ten hours or up to 24 hours. Serve cold.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 224Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 93mgSodium: 142mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 3g
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.