This Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu is made with cake rusk dunked in a spiced fragrant chai, sandwiched between a cardamom mascarpone cream.
This honestly has to be one of the best desserts I’ve made all year. The simplicity of it tied with the amount of flavour you get in return makes it one special dessert.
We love a classic tiramisu and I’ve been making one for years, it’s easily one of the best desserts to exist. So swapping the coffee for chai was an easy decision, and I’m completely in love with the result.
Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu
We’re dunking cake rusk in masala chai, a spiced Indian tea full of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, and ginger. The soaked rusk then get’s layered with a sweet vanilla and cardamom mascarpone cream.
A second layer of soaked rusk is then placed on top of the cream, followed by a final layer of mascarpone cream. And then to finish it all off, we’ve got some grated white chocolate and a dusting of cinnamon. Something a bit different from the traditional cocoa powder.
I’ve grown up with tiramisu being made with rusk and even rich tea biscuits. Not authentic by any means, as the traditional method uses savoiardi (ladyfingers). But feel free to use savoiardi here too if you like.
What is cake rusk?
Cake rusk is a sweet, crunchy, and dry ‘biscuit’ that’s essentially made from cake. It’s made by double baking the cake, in a process that’s quite similar to Italian biscotti.
The first bake is for the traditional cake itself. And then the second bake involves slicing the cake into strips and baking once more in order to dry them out. So they end up turning into these lovely crunchy and sweet ‘biscuits’.
They’re best enjoyed dunked into a hot drink, like masala chai, coffee, or hot chocolate. But they’re even better when used to make this tiramisu.
What is tiramisu?
Tiramisu is a creamy Italian layered dessert. It consists of savoiardi dunked in coffee and liqueur/brandy, along with a creamy layer made from whipped mascarpone and egg yolk. These layers are then repeated, with a final dusting of cocoa powder to finish things off.
It’s an elegant dessert that portrays the delicacy of simplicity. The sweetness and richness is balanced by the coffee and cocoa. Tiramisu has been one of my all-time favourite desserts for over two decades.
This Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu contains no eggs
This adaptation is by no means traditional in any shape or form. For starters there’s no coffee or cocoa in sight, but there are also no eggs in this recipe.
This means it’s suitable for anyone who doesn’t or can’t eat eggs. It’s also great for anyone who isn’t keen on using raw eggs in their cream layer and would prefer to make an egg-free tiramisu.
Instead we’ll be using ‘thickened milk’
Eggs provide body to the cream and help thicken it. Making a cream layer of just mascarpone and cream honestly doesn’t do a tiramisu justice.
So instead, we’ll be using thickened milk. This is a combination of milk and cornflour (cornflour for UK readers but corn starch for US readers) which is simmered till thickened and then cooled completely.
This is a method I’ve used for tiramisu for years and I also use the same principle when making egg free crème diplomate.
You’ll need to make a strong masala chai for this tiramisu
As we’re dunking the rusk in chai, we want to make sure we get a good hit of chai-flavour. This means that we have to make a strong masala chai.
Now you could do this your own way if you’re familiar with chai and have a favourite method of making it. Just double or even triple the amount of tea and spices to make sure it’s concentrated.
However if chai is new or unfamiliar to you, I’ve included a basic recipe using whole spices so that you can make it from scratch. Feel free to take it as guide and change it up to your preference.
If you like desserts like these, you’ll also like my
- Baked Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake
- Mocha Milk Cake
- Coffee and Cardamom Sticky Toffee Pudding
- Masala Chai Cake
Let’s talk about some of the ingredients
I’ll cover the main ones below but the full recipe can be found at the end
- Cake Rusk – I purchase this readymade
- Masala chai – I’ve included the recipe to make a basic version of this
- Tea leaves/tea bags – either will work but you want it to be a strong black tea. I like to use Assam or Yorkshire tea leaves
- Double cream – also sold as heavy whipping cream
- Mascarpone – a soft Italian cream cheese, it’s creamier and richer than an American cream cheese like Philadelphia
- Cornflour – this is sold as cornflour in the UK and corn starch in the US. It’s a thickening agent
The KEY tips for making this Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu
- A strong masala chai is crucial – as the rusk only gets a brief dunk, we want it to pick up enough chai flavour. Hence making a strong chai with a concentrated tea and spice flavour is crucial
- Don’t dunk the rusk for too long – it’s a very brief dunk. Otherwise you’ll end up with broken or very soggy rusk that will make it more difficult to cut slices later on
- Accept that the first slice may not be the neatest – the first slice is always the hardest to remove intact. If you don’t care much for slices, you could serve this with a large dessert spoon in more of a rustic manner
How to make Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu
How to make Masala Chai
1) First start by pounding the whole spices (I’m using cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and cloves). It doesn’t need to be fully ground
2) Then, toast the spices in a saucepan over a low heat for a minute or two. This will help intensify their flavour, which is what we want
3) Next, pour in the water along with the grated nutmeg, ginger, and the tea leaves or tea bags
4) Simmer the tea together over a medium heat for around 5 minutes. It will look like a lot of tea leaves/bags, and that’s because it is. This has to be concentrated
5+6) Pour in the milk and simmer for a further 5 minutes. This allows everything to infuse really well
7) Finally, strain the chai through a tea sieve and allow to cool completely. Straining the chai is genuinely the hardest bit of the recipe – try not to spill any!
How to make the mascarpone cream layer
1) First, place the milk, cornflour (corn starch for US readers) into a saucepan (no heat)
2) Then whisk till the cornflour is completely dissolved, there should be no lumps
3) Place the saucepan over a medium low heat and mix continuously. Alternate between a spatula and whisk. The milk mixture will start to bubble and then thicken up fairly quickly
4) Once thickened, pour into a jug or bowl. Place some clingfilm directly on top (in contact with the thickened milk) as this will prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill completely
5) Then, place the chilled mascarpone into a mixing bowl. Pass the thickened milk through a sieve, as this will ensure no lumps remain. This will only take a minute or two
6) Whisk everything together until combined, which will only take a minute
7) In a separate large mixing bowl, pour in the double cream/heavy whipping cream. Add the sugar, vanilla, and cardamom
8) Whisk on a low speed to soft peaks – avoid whisking to stiff peaks as you’re more likely to over whisk and end up with a grainy cream
9)Then add the mascarpone mixture to the whipped cream and whisk together with a hand whisk – this will also help to prevent over whisking
10) Give the cream a quick fold to ensure everything is well incorporated
How to assemble the Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu
1) Grab a rusk and give it a brief dunk in the cooled chai. This is just a quick dunk, literally less than a second
2) Place the rusk into an even layer in the tin, it doesn’t need to be perfect
3) And then add about half of the cream mixture on top
4) Smooth the cream over into as even of a layer as you can
5+6) Then you’ll need to repeat the steps again with another layer of rusk dunked in chai. Followed by another layer of the mascarpone cream
7) Smooth over the final layer of cream as best as you can
8) And then finish the Masala Chai Tiramisu with some grated white chocolate and a dust of cinnamon
Frequently asked questions
Can this Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu be made in a smaller size?
The measurements can be halved for a 7″ (18cmx18cm) square tin. It would also just about work for an 8″ (20cmx20cm) square tin. However the layers of cream would be thinner, and you’d require 4-5 more rusk than if using a 7″.
How long does the tiramisu last? What’s the best way to store it?
This tiramisu can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days due to it containing dairy. It’s also best kept in the fridge and served cold, it’s not meant to be kept at room temperature.
What can I do with any leftover chai?
You may likely have some chai leftover, but this is far too concentrated to drink as it is. I would recommend placing it back into a saucepan and diluting with more water and milk. Add any sweetener you like (if you like a sweet chai) and then it’ll be perfect for drinking.
If you enjoyed this recipe
Please do let me know! Leave a review and a rating below, I’d love to know how you got on.
Until then, happy tiramisu making!
- 36 pieces of cake rusk (2 boxes of 18)
For the masala chai:
- 15 green cardamom pods
- Large cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves
- 2 black peppercorns
- 1/4tsp ground nutmeg/grated nutmeg
- 1" piece of ginger, sliced and bashed open
- 650ml water
- 8-10tsp loose black tea/teabag (for weaker leaves use 10)
- 300ml milk
For the thickened milk:
- 300ml milk
- 25g cornflour (cornflour for UK readers/corn starch for US readers)
For the mascarpone cream mixture:
- 750ml double cream/heavy whipping cream, cold
- 500g mascarpone, cold
- 110g caster sugar
- 2tsp vanilla bean paste
- 1/2tsp ground cardamom
- 30g white chocolate
- 2tsp ground cinnamon
How to make the masala chai
- First start by pounding the whole spices (I'm using cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and cloves). It doesn't need to be fully ground into a powder. If you would like to use chai masala, feel free to use your favourite one. You'll need to use your best judgement with regards to the amount you'll need to make a strong chai
- Then, toast the spices in a saucepan over a low heat for a minute or two. This will help intensify their flavour, which is what we want. If you're using your own chai masala you can skip this step as ground spices burn easily
- Next, pour in the water along with the grated nutmeg, ginger, and the tea leaves or tea bags. You could also add in other flavours at this stage (rose/saffron/lemongrass for example)
- Bring the tea up to a simmer over a medium heat, and then allow to simmer for around 5 minutes. It will look like a lot of tea leaves/bags, and that's because it is. This has to be concentrated
- Pour in the milk and allow the tea to come up to a simmer. Then simmer for a further 5 minutes. This allows everything to infuse really well
- Finally, strain the chai through a tea sieve and allow to cool completely. Straining the chai is genuinely the hardest bit of the recipe - try not to spill any! You should end up with around 600-700ml of chai
How to make the mascarpone cream layer
- First we'll need to make the 'thickened milk'. This gives the cream layer extra body in lieu of using eggs. Place the milk and cornflour (corn starch for US readers) into a saucepan and whisk till the cornflour is completely dissolved. Do this before placing the saucepan on heat
- Place the saucepan over a medium-low heat and mix continuously. Alternate between a spatula and whisk to ensure it remains lump free. The milk mixture will start to bubble and then thicken up fairly quickly
- Once thickened, pour into a jug or bowl. Place some clingfilm directly on top (in contact with the thickened milk) as this will prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill completely
- Then, place the chilled mascarpone into a mixing bowl. Pass the thickened milk through a sieve, as this will ensure no lumps remain. This will only take a minute or two
- Whisk the mascarpone and thickened milk together with an electric whisk on low until combined. This will only take around a minute
- In a separate large mixing bowl, pour in the double cream/heavy whipping cream. Add the sugar, vanilla, and cardamom. Whisk on a low speed to soft peaks - avoid whisking to stiff peaks as you're more likely to over whisk and end up with a grainy split cream
- Then add the mascarpone mixture to the whipped cream and very briefly whisk together with a hand whisk - this will also help to prevent over whisking
- Finally, give the cream a quick fold to ensure everything is well incorporated
How to assemble the Masala Chai Rusk Tiramisu
- Grab a rusk and give it a brief dunk in the cooled chai. This is just a quick dunk, literally less than a second
- Place the rusk into an even layer in a 9"x13" tin, it doesn't need to be perfect
- And then add about half of the cream mixture on top
- Smooth the cream over into as even of a layer as you can
- Then you'll need to repeat the steps again with another layer of rusk dunked in chai. Followed by another layer of the mascarpone cream. Smooth over the final layer of cream as best as you can
- And then finish the Masala Chai Tiramisu with some grated white chocolate and a dust of ground cinnamon
- Cover with a lid and refrigerate till completely set. I recommend 24 hours for best results as it allows the flavours to mingle, but minimum 8 hours
Nutrition InformationYield 20 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 767Total Fat 49gSaturated Fat 20gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 25gCholesterol 172mgSodium 464mgCarbohydrates 79gFiber 1gSugar 60gProtein 7g
This is an automated calculation and hence may not be entirely accurate.