Whenever I’m in Italy and finish a starchy pasta dinner, there is no dessert that sounds better to me than a tiramisu. It’s light, simple, and the perfect cap to a pasta dinner. Tiramisu consists of layers of espresso soaked biscuits or cookies, lightly sweetened fluffy custard, and bitter unsweetened cocoa powder. The classic tiramisu uses egg yolks and mascarpone cheese for the custard, but I made it a bit simpler and lighter by skipping the egg yolks and using ricotta cheese. This is the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert (especially if pasta is your main course)!

P.S. This dessert requires at least 6 hours of time in the fridge, so make it ahead!

Ingredient highlight

Ricotta cheese! This soft, mildly sweet cheese is loaded with calcium and selenium and is a great source of protein, packing in 14g per 1/2 cup.

Servings 2
Prep Time 10 minutes


  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar, divided
  • ½ cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee or 2-3 shots (3 oz) espresso, cold*
  • 4-8 shortbread cookies (or ladyfingers or wafers)**
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
  • Chopped toasted hazelnuts or pistachios (optional)
  • Flaky salt (optional)
  • *This is best with espresso. I love my Bialetti moka pot for making espresso at home. You could also just get a few shots from your local coffee shop. Or make a very strong pot of drip!
  • **Ladyfingers are classically used, but hard to find. I used the Walkers Shortbread cookies. They’re the perfect shape for a round glass and hold up well to the espresso. If the shape doesn’t fit your vessel, just cut it in half and play tetris with it!
  • Cocoa powder tip! ~ To get the perfect cocoa dusting, add the powder to a small fine mesh sieve and tap the cocoa over top (see video).


  • In a medium bowl, add the cream and 1 tablespoon sugar. Use an electric mixer to beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Add ricotta and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until smooth. Taste and add more sugar, if you’d like.
  • Spread a thin layer of the ricotta cream into the bottom of each glass or serving vessel. Dust cocoa powder over top.
  • Pour the cold coffee or espresso into a shallow dish for dipping.
  • Dip each cookie in the espresso, making sure not to let it soak for too long or else it will fall apart (some are more delicate than others). Place into the serving vessels. Top each with roughly ¼ of the ricotta cream. Dust another layer of cocoa powder over top. Repeat with another cookie and then top with the remaining ricotta cream. Top with a thick layer of cocoa powder.
  • Let sit overnight or for at least 6 hours.
  • Serve topped with nuts and flaky salt, if using.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Assemble your tiramisu(s). They need at least 6 hours to rest but overnight is best. 


  • To make dairy-free, you could instead make a coconut whipped cream for the creamy layer.
  • To make gluten-free, use a gluten-free biscuit or cookie. 
  • Use mascarpone cheese in place of ricotta. You could also just use straight up whipped cream. 


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • Eat these straight out of the fridge or let it sit out for 15-30 minutes to take the chill off.

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