Tiramisu contains raw eggs, caffeine and alcohol – which are all usually off-limits during pregnancy so, at a glance, it looks like tiramisu should be off-limits too. It’s not as clear cut as that so we’ll go through scenarios where tiramisu is actually safe.
Tiramisu with raw eggs or a lot of alcohol should not be consumed during pregnancy. This means many store-bought desserts or tiramisu from a restaurant is not advised, but some recipes and brands are safe.
We’ll guide you through the relevant ingredients in tiramisu to help you determine when it’s safe to eat or not.
Is Tiramisu Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Generally, tiramisu is not safe during pregnancy. But, that doesn’t mean you can never have it.
With raw eggs and alcohol being off-limits while your expecting, tiramisu is immediately a red flag. Plus, it’s advised that pregnant women limit their consumption of caffeine – which is also present in tiramisu due to the coffee and chocolate.
With that said, there are lots of store-bought and homemade tiramisus made from pasteurized eggs and cream that don’t contain a concerning amount of alcohol or caffeine.
However, we’ll guide you through the ingredients so you can make an educated decision, and still treat yourself!
The Egg in Tiramisu – Is it OK When Pregnant?
Generally, the eggs found in a grocery store are not pasteurized. However, you can actually buy pasteurized eggs if you want to make tiramisu from scratch. These are usually more expensive than regular eggs – and a little trickier to find. They will clearly be labeled as pasteurized and should be safe if you’re pregnant.
The USDA requires all egg products to be pasteurized too. The USDA considers whole eggs, egg whites, and yolks to be egg products and is made into food dishes. Tiramisu is made with egg yolks.
Salmonella can be in any part of the egg so it doesn’t matter that it comes from the yolk and not the white (source: USDA).
Therefore most tiramisu in a grocery store, or that is commercially made in a factory should be pasteurized. However, homemade tiramisu or tiramisu from a restaurant may not be made from pasteurized eggs, and these are the ones to avoid when pregnant.
Does the Alcohol in Tiramisu Mean Pregnant Women Can’t Eat It?
Although recipes vary, tiramisu often needs 2 tablespoons of coffee or almond liqueur, Marsala, dark rum, or brandy to make the coffee syrup. It also requires 2-3 tablespoons of Marsala wine, dark rum, or brandy for the filing. Tiramisu is usually uncooked so none of the alcohol is expected to cook off.
The alcohol is dispersed throughout the dish so a slice of tiramisu is not going to have the full 4-5 tablespoons of alcohol in one slice. However, as the alcohol won’t be evaporating in any capacity, stick to small servings.
Many news outlets reported that two portions could put you over the legal driving limit (source: The Daily Mail). So, that’s definitely pushing it. The key is to be mindful of your portion size when enjoying tiramisu – and additional calories and fat are something that you might want to cut back on during pregnancy anyway.
Mascarpone Cheese in Tiramisu – Is It Safe?
Dairy products such as cream need to be pasteurized during pregnancy too. In many states, it’s illegal to sell unpasteurized dairy products across state lines (source: CDC). This doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about cream and milk. Some artisan brands or farm-shops use raw milk (source: FDA).
The cheese used in tiramisu is mascarpone. It’s usually pasteurized but this isn’t the case 100% of the time, If you’re not sure, it’s best to skip the tiramisu on a dessert menu. If you’re making tiramisu at home, the mascarpone in the grocery store should be pasteurized. For more on this, see our article on mascarpone.
Coffee/Chocolate in Tiramisu – What Pregnant Women Should Know
Caffeine should be limited during pregnancy. With that said, you’re really not going to get much from a slice of tiramisu.
The exact amount of coffee depends on the recipe. Not all coffee is created equal too so some roasts and beans will naturally have more caffeine. Many recipes call for around one cup of brewed coffee. If you make enough for eight slices of tiramisu this means each slice has around 30ml of coffee. So, each slice will have up to 12 mg of caffeine.
Other recipes recommended using a double espresso. For one slice of an eight-slice tiramisu, this works out at around 20 mg of caffeine.
For comparison, an espresso usually has around 64 mg of caffeine while an average cup of coffee (around 8 oz) has 95 mg of caffeine.
There is not much chocolate in tiramisu. It’s usually around 2 tablespoons – give or take depending on the recipe. There’s only around 24 mg of caffeine in this much cocoa powder. So, when dispersed throughout the tiramisu, the amount of caffeine is negligible. For more on how much caffeine is in chocolate, check out our guide.
Pregnant women should try to keep the amount of caffeine they consume per day to 200mg or less (source: NHS). Therefore when you’re eating tiramisu, it will add a small amount to your daily total.
Safe Store-bought Brands of Tiramisu for Pregnancy
Here are some safe-store bought brands of tiramisu, to save you reading ingredient labels when you’re out shopping:
Melegatti Tiramisu Panettone: This isn’t a traditional tiramisu. A panettone will have been pre-cooked so you don’t need to worry about unpasteurized milk or raw eggs.
Cole’s: Cole’s tiramisu only has 2 ml of alcohol per 100 grams so the amount that you will be getting from a slice is negligible. Australia is pretty diligent when it comes to state agencies regulating food and food safety laws regarding eggs (source: Australian Eggs). Most dairy products in Australia are pasteurized too.
Marketside tiramisu cake: This tiramisu does not have alcohol listed in the ingredients. The US is strict when it comes to unpasteurized dairy products and the USDA requires that all egg products are pasteurized.
Wholefoods Mini Tiramisu Cup: this tiramisu is made from pasteurized milk and cream. There is a small bit of Kahlua Rum, Spice Rum Alcohol
Kroger Tiramisu layer cake: this tiramisu does not have alcohol or liqueur listed as ingredients.
I hope this article reassured you about enjoying some tiramisu during your pregnancy!