I have a confession: I really am not a huge tiramisu fan. In fact, I didn’t even know what it was until I moved to Sicily. Am I alone in this? It seems like a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with tiramisu.
But then my friends and I got together recently for another Italian cooking class and we all learned how to make tiramisu. My first reaction was: wow, it’s really easy! Surprisingly so, considering what an elegant dessert you can create in so little time.
My second reaction came when I bit into the fresh tiramisu itself: wow… I think I love this. Cool on a hot day, the perfect blend of cream and coffee, light as well as rich… I was hooked. One piece wasn’t enough. I wanted to eat the whole plate!
And now here’s how to make a whole plate for yourself. I’ve included the kitchen-friendly recipe at the end of the post for easy reference.
First, brew up 6 cups of Italian espresso, which is how much one Italian espresso pot makes. In American terms, that’s 9 oz, or about 1.5 measuring cups of very strong, very dark coffee.
Admire any cute babies while you’re at it.
Pour the espresso into a shallow dish, add 2 teaspoons of sugar, and let it cool while you prepare the cream filling.
Assemble your ingredients: 4 eggs, 120 grams of sugar (1/2 a cup), 400 grams of lady fingers (about 50 cookies), and 1 lb of mascarpone cheese. Divide the eggs into two medium-sized bowls.
In the bowl with the egg whites, add a pinch of salt and then beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. This picture of Ester beating egg whites on the floor made me laugh because it is so typical of my own cooking experience in several Italian kitchens, ie. electric sockets are not always where you expect them!
In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the 1/2 cup of sugar and then beat the mixture until it is a very light yellow. After that, add the 1 lb of mascarpone cheese (see above) and mix it by hand until it is white and fluffy.
Fold the two egg mixtures into each other in one bowl.
Now it’s time to assemble your tiramisu! Make sure you have your shallow dish of cool coffee, your bowl full of the cream mixture, your packet of lady fingers, and a dish for your tiramisu.
Begin by dipping a lady finger into the coffee mixture. Lay it in the mixture, flip it over to soak the other side, and then remove it. Take care not to leave the lady finger in the coffee too long or it will become too soggy and begin to dissolve. Lay your cookie in your tiramisu dish. (Note: we used both a casserole dish and a plate, and in our opinion the tiramisu on the plate looked prettier in the end.) Continue this process, laying lady fingers next to each other in a neat row, until you have made the base of your tiramisu as large as you would like it.
Spread about half of the cream over the top of the lady fingers.
Dust with a layer of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Continue the process with another layer of coffee-soaked lady fingers. Add another layer of cream and unsweetened cocoa…
… and voilà! Tiramisu! Isn’t it pretty? I love the sloppy elegance.
Chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours before serving. Alternatively, you can put it in the freezer for 30-45 minutes and serve.
Here are a few possible variations:
- You might have noticed that this recipe includes raw eggs! Not good if you’re pregnant… or if you’re just not a fan of raw eggs. You can use panna montata (whipping cream) with mascarpone and omit all eggs for the cream. Beat the whipping cream with the 1/2 cup of sugar and whip in the mascarpone cheese.
- If you do not like the flavor of coffee or just want a different option you can use crushed strawberries mixed with sugar. Soak the biscuits the same way and you can also add fresh strawberries as garnish.
- Liqueur is sometimes added to the cream to add a twist to the dessert (and is commonly included in tiramisu gelato, too!). Add brandy or another liqueur if you would like.
- 6 Italian cups of espresso + two tsp sugar (cooled)
- 4 eggs
- 120g sugar (1/2 cup)
- 400g lady fingers (about 50 cookies)
- unsweetened cocoa
- 500g or ½ kilo or 1 lb mascarpone cheese (if you are in Italy, I recommend the Galbani Santa Lucia brand)
- Prepare 6 Italian cups of espresso. While still hot, add 2 teaspoons of sugar and let it cool in a shallow dish.
- Divide the egg yolks and the egg. Put the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in another bowl (both bowls large enough to beat the eggs in).
- Put 120grams (1/2 cup) of sugar in the bowl with the egg yolks. Make a cream by whipping it by hand until it changes color to be light yellow. Mix the mascarpone cheese in with the egg yolks until it is white and fluffy.
- Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and beat until it forms stiff peaks.
- Fold the two egg mixtures in together to form a cream.
- Dip lady fingers very quickly into the espresso mix and place quickly in to the pan. Don’t do them too long or they will be soggy. Place lady fingers only in the bottom of the pan.
- Spread less than half of the cream on top of the biscuits.
- Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa on top of the cream. Add another layer of biscuits, the rest of the cream and top with unsweetened cocoa.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or you can put it in the freezer to eat it faster. You can also freeze tiramisu and eat frozen; just pull it out of the freezer 30 minutes before you want to eat it.