The Reason You Should Avoid Tiramisu If You're Pregnant

Tiramisu is delicious. Delicate ladyfinger cookies soaked in liqueur and espresso, layered with rich, fluffy mascarpone cheese, and finished with a dusting of cocoa powder. It's a glorious way to end an Italian meal (or any meal for that matter).

However, if you're pregnant, there's an important reason to avoid this dessert, and that reason is not the small amount of alcohol present in the rum or liqueur. It's salmonella. TheĀ U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that live poultry can carry this nasty bacteria, contaminating the egg even before the shell is formed. Eggs can also be infected with salmonella if they come into contact with infected droppings after they are laid.

For pregnant people, infection with salmonella bacteria can cause not only typical food poisoning symptoms, but miscarriage, fever, diarrhea, or even sepsis for the child at birth (via Mother to Baby). Most pregnant people have been advised by their healthcare provider not to consume foods that could be contaminated with this bacteria, such as undercooked chicken or raw eggs. But what many pregnant people might not know is that raw eggs are a common ingredient in the tiramisu they just ordered at their favorite restaurant.

Beat those cravings with an eggless tiramisu

The presence of raw egg yolk in tiramisu is virtually undetectable. Yet it is often there, folded into the mascarpone and heavy cream, giving tiramisu its characteristic richness. This mixture is technically a custard, but because most European custards do not call for cooking, traditional tiramisu is still made this way.

If you're pregnant and have already eaten tiramisu or another dessert that contains raw egg, such as chocolate mousse or uncooked meringues, don't panic. According to Live Science, while salmonella poisoning is a risk whenever you eat raw eggs, only about one in 10,000 to one in 20,000 eggs are contaminated with the bacteria, making the risk of human infection from raw eggs very low.

Although medical professionals will say that the ideal dessert while pregnant is fruit (via What to Expect), if you absolutely must have tiramisu, Foreign Fork says you can make it yourself using eggs that are pasteurized in their shell, although these are expensive and not always easy to find. Nigella Lawson suggests swapping raw egg yolks for 1/2 cup of heavy cream in addition to whatever cream your recipe calls for. There are plenty of rich-sounding eggless tiramisu recipes to be found, including one from Bigger Bolder Baking which uses plenty of heavy cream instead of eggs, and another from The Cooking Foodie for elegant, eggless single-serve tiramisu cups.

These adaptations are proof that if you're pregnant, you can have your tiramisu and eat it too.