Tiramisu is one of the most popular desserts on an Italian restaurant menu, and home cooks enjoy serving it, too. Original versions specify ladyfingers, but suitable substitutes are readily available.
Sponge and Other Cakes
Ladyfingers are sponge cakes made in finger-shaped pieces. The texture is just right for absorbing espresso, and the shapes are easy to work with. One substitution is to make or purchase a whole, plain sponge cake and cut it into finger-shaped pieces. Another is to cut angel or pound cake into pieces and to dry them in a 250-degree oven before dipping them in espresso.
The Italian Pantry
Biscotti are twice-baked cookies that are dunked into coffee before being eaten and are a good stand-in for ladyfingers, though a longer dipping time is needed. Panettone is often soaked in liqueur or espresso in other desserts and is a good substitute.
A survey of tiramisu recipes shows a great deal of ingenuity: vanilla wafers, Twinkies, chocolate wafers, graham crackers and glazed or cake doughnuts have all been used. Experiment with these options to see if they suit your taste.