Believe it or not, but I have never been a big fan of desserts. But when I cook big dinners for the holidays, I always include a dolce course. My favorite is tiramisu. This is a very special recipe that gets a lot of ooohhs and aaahhs when served. It is also certainly one of the most popular desserts in Italy. In my recipe, I use the traditional savoiardi which is a hard type of lady finger (if you can avoid the soft lady fingers sold in supermarkets please do). I have a bakery near my home that makes them, and I suggest that you try a similar source or a market that sells Mediterranean foods. It makes a big difference.
One note of caution – the eggs are not cooked for this recipe. There have been problems with salmonella and uncooked eggs particularly in the US. I have never had any problems, but if you suspect the eggs you buy may be tainted, take proper precautions.
Ingredients (serves 8):
- 6 – large eggs, separated into whites and yolks
- 1 cup – sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon – salt
- 2 cups (2 8-ounce containers) – mascarpone cheese
- ½ cup – sugar
- 1 cup – heavy cream
- 4 cups – espresso coffee (room temperature)
- 4 tablespoons – sweet Marsala cooking wine
- 36 – savoiardi (hard lady fingers – see above description)
- 1 3-pound bag – bittersweet baking chips, melted (I like Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet brand). Use as much as desired.
Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Take the yolks and beat with the 1 cup sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer set at medium until the yolks and sugar become thick, a couple of minutes (see photo).
Yolk and sugar mixture after beating
Add the mascarpone cheese and beat until everything is mixed well (see photo). Clean the beaters.
The mascarpone and yolk mixture after beating.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until they form ridges and peaks. Add the ½ cup sugar slowly while beating until thick ridges form (see photo), about 2 minutes in total. Clean the beaters.
The egg whites and sugar after beating.
Beat the cream in another bowl until it thickens with ridges (see photo), about 2 minutes.
Cream after beating.
From left: the cream, egg whites and sugar, and the mascarpone mixture after beating.
With a soft spatula, add the cream by mixing (folding) it into the mascarpone cheese mix. Then do the same with the egg whites (see photo).
After all have been folded together.
Mix the coffee and wine in a bowl. Dip each of the savoiardi into the coffee mixture and form one layer of them in a baking dish (my dish was 12 x 9 x 2 inches – see photo).
First layer of savoiardi.
Make sure that each savoiardi is saturated with the coffee mixture, but be careful not to soak them too long – they have a tendency to break up (about 2 seconds). Make sure the bottom of the bowl is covered. Take half of the mascarpone mixture and spread it evenly over the savoiardi.
Use the rest of the savoiari to form a second layer on top of the mascarpone mixture then cover with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
Second layer of savoiardi.
Serve after it has completely chilled in the refrigerator (at least 5 hours) with melted chocolate drizzled over the top. Perfecto!
The tiramisu before chilling.
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