What To Consider When Choosing Biscuits For Tiramisu

The beauty of a good tiramisu is that it relies on only a handful of elements: a rich mascarpone filling, deep-flavored espresso, cocoa powder, and layers of biscuits to hold it all together. Still, with each of these components to keep in mind, making the classic Italian dessert can seem like a daunting task. But a few simple rules will ensure a perfectly balanced tiramisu every time. 

Nigella Lawson has a recommendation for the mascarpone cream: whisk in some egg whites and be careful not to work the mixture too much since mascarpone can curdle easily. For the actual type of coffee you use, Cool Coffee Cats swears by an Italian espresso (which is different from regular black coffee) because the roast on the beans used for it is generally darker, leading to a stronger coffee flavor. 

What about the most important component of tiramisu — the cake-like biscuits? These espresso-soaked layers are essential to cutting through the richness of the cream. But not all cookies are of the same quality. Some can be brittle, while others may be too absorbent. Of course, it comes down to your personal preference, but there is a certain type of biscuit that will yield the ideal sponge-like texture.

Choose taller biscuits for tiramisu

The biscuits you choose for your tiramisu should be tall and spongy. The two most popular choices are pavesini and savoiardi. The former is a beloved snack in Italy, known for being crisp and light (per Eataly). Unlike the crunchy and airy pavesini, savoiardi are bigger and thicker biscuits with a less strong vanilla flavor (via For the Love of Italian Cooking).

Which type should you use for tiramisu? Eatalian with Roberto suggests that when soaked, pavesini is softer — almost to the point of dissolving into the mascarpone — resulting in a creamier, less firm dessert. However, the consensus seems to be that savoiardi are the superior ladyfingers for the job. The taller, breadier biscuits soak up less espresso and retain their structure within the treat, giving you the distinct texture of sponge cake in every bite (via La Cucina Italiana).

Besides the choice of biscuit, there are other common tiramisu mistakes to avoid the next time you want to make the popular Italian specialty.