Tiramisù is my husband’s and my favorite dessert in the world! We don’t discriminate between different styles of Tiramisù (or at least we didn’t until this happened). Be it classic Tiramisù, cheesecake Tiramisù, orange Tiramisù, Tiramisù ice cream, tiramisu cake, Tiramisù at a five-star bakery, or the dry sugary Tiramisù at railway stations, we wallow in Tiramisù every chance we get.
So, you can imagine our excitement when our lovely Italian friend, Sara, invited us to her place to give us an exclusive demonstration of her grandmother’s classic Tiramisù recipe. She carefully turned to the Tiramisù leaf of this old, tattered recipe book, hand-written by her grandmother, to read us the recipe so we could translate it into English as she dexterously worked through the different steps of the recipe.
Sara started the recipe by making a large pot of espresso to dip the sponge biscuits in. The rich aroma of the brewing dark coffee, coupled with the grassy and vanilla like smell of the old book, and the smell of the beaten bright egg yolks mixed with mascarpone cheese, sent ripples of freshness and exuberance around her house. What I loved more than the recipe itself is how beautiful her house smelled afterwards.
I love this recipe for its simplicity and for the purity of the traditional flavors. When silky egg yolks, fluffy egg whites, rich and dense marscapone cheese, dark chocolate, and rich dark coffee are mixed together, nothing can go wrong.
The mascarpone, usually found in the deli section of most groceries, can be substituted with cream cheese for a close imitation. I found the lady-finger biscuits in the pasta isle of our local grocery store (don’t ask me why). These can be substituted with some dense vanilla wafers for a not-so-close imitation. This recipe will make enough for 10-12 people. You cannot leave this in the fridge for more than two days. If you do, then you are a stronger person than I am.
Level: easy Preparation time: 45 mins Cooking time: 0 Rest period: 8 hrs Serves: 10-12
3 cups of freshly brewed coffee (or enough to soak all the biscuits in)
6 large organic eggs (eggs are used raw, therefore, using good quality eggs is important)
500 grams mascarpone cheese (18 oz approx)
4 tbsp sugar
400 grams lady fingers (14 oz approx)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Brew about 3 cups of coffee and pour it over a shallow dish to let cool.
Separate the eggs
Carefully separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. The slightest speck of egg yolk (which is fat) in the egg whites (which is protein) will prevent it from forming foams. If you see any traces of egg yolks in the egg whites, carefully remove them using the broken egg shells.
Beat and blend the ingredients
In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer with whisk attachments, beat the egg yolks until thick and pale. Add half of the sugar and beat some more until it reaches a ribbon consistency. Now add the mascarpone cheese, a little at a time, until everything is thoroughly blended.
In another large bowl, using whisk attachments, beat the the remaining sugar and egg whites until it triples in volume and forms soft peaks. Make sure that the whisks are thoroughly washed and completely dried before beating the egg whites; otherwise, it will fall flat.
Carefully transfer the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk and cheese mix, a fourth at a time, and blend using a rubber spatula and quick and soft hand movements. The trick is to disturb the fluffy egg whites as little as possible.
Dip the lower half of the lady fingers into the espresso for about 2 seconds, one at a time. Letting the biscuits soak for longer than that will cause them to fall apart, and will turn the tiramisù watery. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 by 9 inch baking dish, breaking them to fit the pan if necessary. Repeat until you have a continuous bottom layer. Spread the mascarpone and eggs mixture over the lady fingers. The layer of lady fingers and the layer of the mixture should have the same thickness, approximately. Make subsequent layers of lady fingers and egg-and-cheese mixture (will make 2-3 layers depending on the size of the pan).
Using a sifter, sprinkle the cocoa powder on the top.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.