Last week, at about 10:00 at night, I was ransacking the kitchen cupboards in an attempt to find something sweet. There was woefully little to offer a sugar hit. And interestingly, my response to not being able to find a treat in the house was more shame than disappointment. Like, really? Zero dessert anywhere to be found? What in the world, Gabby? Restock the cupboards for goodness’ sake!

And then I remembered the Dessert for Two recipes. They’re designed to help you make a treat just for you and someone you love — your spouse, your best friend, your teenager who is up late hitting the books. I realized we hadn’t featured a new recipe in the series in ages, so I immediately emailed Lindsey to see if she had any ideas in mind. Lindsey always has ideas. Good, delicious, mouth-watering ideas. Including this recipe for Tiramasu for Two.


Here’s what Lindsey says:

I go through cycles of favorite desserts. I guess I do that with lots of things — books, sweaters, shoes, etc. Regardless, tiramisu remains an all-time favorite of mine. So for this post, I transformed a classic tiramisu recipe into a dessert for two. It’s every bit as decadent, if a little bit lighter (there are not eggs in the mousse layer), just as delicious, but loads easier to make. You don’t even have to pull out a mixer.


The ingredients are fairly simple: ladyfingers, mascarpone, heavy cream, coffee, cocoa powder, and a little bit of powdered sugar.


Mascarpone is a fresh Italian cheese that is more buttery than other similar fresh cheeses. You’ll find it at most well-stocked grocery stores in the refrigerated cheese section, usually near cream cheese. You won’t need an entire 8-ounce carton for this recipe, but you’ll have plenty of leftovers to slather on toast with a spoonful of jam, or to make this tiramisu recipe a few times. :)


Ladyfingers are very sweet, delicate cookies that can be either crisp or soft. You can use either kind for this. You’ll find them in most grocery stores in the cookie section.

Tiramisu translates to “pick-me-up,” which no doubt comes from one of this dessert’s integral ingredients: coffee.


Typically in tiramisu espresso is used. But you can use any strong brewed coffee, or to make things even easier, use that leftover coffee in the pot that you never quite get around to finishing. I’ve added rum to the coffee, but you can completely omit that, or use something else you like or have on hand.


The mascarpone is lightly sweetened. I don’t add as much sugar because the ladyfingers are so sweet on their own. To lighten the mascarpone, I’ve added freshly whipped heavy cream. (Be sure to see the game-changer note under the recipe for the easiest, quickest whipped cream you’ll ever make.) I’ve left eggs out of this recipe for simplicity sake.


After each mascarpone layer, there’s a little dusting of cocoa powder. That may just be my favorite part. It kind of brings all of these flavors together — the sweet, cakey cookies, strong coffee, buttery mascarpone, and the cocoa. Nothing better, I say!


And perfect for sharing.


Tiramisu For Two

1/4 cup mascarpone
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
10 ladyfingers, broken in half
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
1 tablespoon rum, optional
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1. Have two serving glasses ready. (Stemless wine glasses are great for this!)
2. In a mixing bowl, stir together mascarpone and powdered sugar. Whip heavy cream* to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Set aside.
3. Place coffee in a shallow dish and add the rum, if using. Dip 3 of the ladyfinger halves into the coffee and place in the bottom of one of the glasses. Top with a heaping tablespoon of the mascarpone cream. Using a small sieve, dust with a little cocoa powder. Repeat two more times, then repeat the whole process for the second glass.
4. Place the glasses in refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably several hours, to allow flavors to blend and cookies to completely soften. Serve chilled.

*The easiest, quickest way to whip the heavy cream is to place it into a pint jar with lid and shake until thickened and spoonable.

mini-tiramisu-for-two-3   small-batch-tiramisu

Oh Lindsey. These pictures are making me drool! Thank you so much for this recipe, and for encouraging my late night sweet tooth. And thank you even more for that whip cream tip! That seems like such a good way to involve kids in the prep.

Tell me, Friends. Are you a tiramisu fan? I feel like it’s one of those desserts that gets a strong reaction from people — either they adore it or can’t stand it. Where do you fall?

P.S. — More Dessert for Two recipes.

Recipe and photos by Lindsey Johnson for Design Mom.