Easy Tiramisu For Two is the perfect Valentine’s Day (or date night) dessert. Or you can make individual tiramisu cups for your next shower or party. Ditch the expensive mascarpone and use a delicious cream cheese mixture instead. Tender, coffee-soaked ladyfinger cookies, rich custard and vanilla whipped cream piled into a decadent parfait. Yes, please!
I don’t know about you, but any time I’m in a restaurant and I see tiramisu on the menu, my dessert is decided. I love tiramisu.
Laurier and I were lucky enough to go to Europe a few years ago and in Italy I ate so much tiramisu (and, um, everything else I could get my hands on) that if we hadn’t been walking about 15 kilometers a day I wouldn’t have fit into my clothes when I came home.
Tiramisu is a lovely little Italian dessert (it means ‘pick me up’) made of ladyfinger cookies, mascarpone cheese, egg yolks, sugar, cocoa powder and, yes, COFFEE (my fave). Different recipes add other extra things – some have Marsala wine, some have rum, some have whipped cream, but the base is always similar.
I’ve made tiramisu a few times over the years and I really wanted to make tiramisu for two, for Valentine’s Day this year.
But there was a problem. Where I live, mascarpone cheese is SUPER expensive.
A container of mascarpone cheese costs $12-14.
How the heck can anyone afford to eat this stuff, unless maybe it’s dessert for the most special occasion of their lives – like their wedding or something!
Over the last little while I’ve been wondering, what can you use in the place of mascarpone cheese? Can you substitute cream cheese for mascarpone cheese?
I did a little research online and a little experimenting, and I have good news. Whether you want to make tiramisu for two (for Valentine’s Day or date night) or tiramisu for a crowd, you can do it much more cheaply than the traditional way.
You can make a substitute for mascarpone cheese with cream cheese, whipping cream and butter, and unless you grew up eating your Nonna’s tiramisu every Sunday, I bet you won’t even notice the difference in the final product.
Before we get to the recipe, don’t you just love mini desserts in individual cups? I don’t know why, but for some reason they’re just so lovely. Whether you’re looking for a dessert for two for date night or Valentine’s Day, or just want to make individual servings for a baby shower or wedding shower, I have to say, they just look a lot prettier than a big dish of whatever dessert you’re making.
The extra beauty of these little tiramisu cups is that you have to make them a little while ahead of time. Perfect for an event where you don’t want to be cooking at the last minute. They need to sit in the fridge for a bit, and make ahead recipes are just the best, aren’t they?
One other thing: You might have noticed that this recipe is called Easy Tiramisu for Two. Because honestly, the hardest thing you have to do in this recipe is whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a bowl. Yes, that bowl is set on top of a pot of boiling water and technically this is a double boiler and maybe starts to sound scary and too intense. But trust me, it’s not scary, or difficult, and you can 100% do it.
You’ve got this 🙂
Step-by-step photo instructions are below the recipe.
Easy Tiramisu For Two is the perfect Valentine's Day (or date night) dessert. You can even make individual tiramisu cups for your next shower or party. Ditch the expensive mascarpone and use a delicious cream cheese mixture instead. Tender, coffee-soaked ladyfinger cookies, rich custard and vanilla whipped cream piled into a decadent parfait. Yes, please!
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 oz cream cheese (1/2 a block) - softened
- 2 tbsp whipping cream
- 1 tbsp softened butter
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 cup brewed coffee
- 1/2 tsp rum extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
- 12-14 ladyfinger cookies
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
First, make coffee and set it aside to cool.
Separate eggs and put yolks into a heatproof bowl. Whisk in sugar (1/4 cup) and set bowl over a pot of water (make sure water isn't close to touching bowl). Bring water to a boil, lower heat and cook, whisking, for about 5 minutes - until mixture thickens into a creamy yellow custard. Set bowl aside so custard can cool. Whisk it every couple of minutes so it doesn't form a skin.
Whip cream with vanilla (1/2 tsp) and sugar (1/4 tsp) until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to cream together cream cheese, whipping cream (2 tbsp) and butter until fluffy and smooth.
Use the mixer to blend the "mascarpone" into the cooled custard. Fold in whipped cream.
In a shallow dish, combine coffee, rum extract and vanilla extract (1/2 tsp). Dip ladyfingers into coffee mixture one at a time. Don't soak them - just dip for about one second, flip over and dip the other side for one second. Then assemble in a layer in the bottom of whatever dishes you're using.**
Add a layer of the creamy custard on top of the ladyfingers. Sprinkle with a dusting of cocoa powder from a small sieve. Continue to layer until you run out of ingredients.
Chill at least 4 hours but up to 24 hours.
* If you're finding vanilla extract really expensive right now, check out our post on How to Make Vanilla Extract & Save Money on Groceries!
** This recipe can either make 2 very large tiramisu cups or 4 average size cups. I used stemless wine glasses but you can also use ramekins or mini mason jars.
Easy Tiramisu for Two – Step-by-Step Instructions
Ingredients for Easy Tiramisu for Two
First, make some coffee. I like to make some to drink, and an extra cup to use for the recipe. 🙂 Pour the cup for the tiramisu into a measuring cup and set it aside to cool for now.
Then, separate two eggs and put the yolks in a heat-proof bowl.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar to the yolks and put the bowl on top of a pot of water (make sure there isn’t enough water to touch the bowl).
Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and whisk until the mixture thickens and becomes a creamy yellow custard. This will probably take around 5 minutes. Set custard aside to cool and whisk it every couple of minutes to stop it from forming a skin.
Then whip 1/2 cup of whipping cream (heavy cream) with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon of sugar until stiff peaks form.
In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to cream 4 oz (half a block) of softened cream cheese, 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons of milk until smooth and creamy. This is your mascarpone substitute!
Dump the “mascarpone” into the cooled custard and use your mixer to beat it until well combined.
Fold in whipped cream.
In a shallow dish, mix coffee, 1/2 teaspoon of rum extract and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Dip ladyfingers into the coffee but don’t let them soak – I’d say do a quick 1-2 count, then flip them over and do the same on the other side. Arrange in a layer in whatever serving dishes you’re using. I used 14 ladyfingers.
This recipe will make 2 huge tiramisu cups or 3-4 normal sized ones 🙂 I used stemless wine glasses but you could also use ramekins or mini mason jars.
Spoon custard mixture over coffee-soaked ladyfingers, then sprinkle with cocoa powder. This recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder, but you won’t use it all – just a dusting on each layer. Continue to layer until you run out of ingredients.
Chill for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours. You can sprinkle the top dusting of cocoa powder on after they’re chilled.