The dessert to top all creamy desserts is with no doubt the tiramisu. A perfectly balanced contradiction between real, liqueur infused strong coffee and a rich, creamy cheese mixture is held together by crunchy, crispy Italian ladyfingers that sends you to heaven from the very first bite. Tiramisu became extremely popular in the mid eighties when it started being served in good Italian restaurants all over the world, around the same time when Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary places the first mention of the dessert (in 1982).
One can say that tiramisu belongs in the same “family” of desserts as the charlotte and the zuppa inglese and the very sound of its name gives you an instant cheer, since, in Italian, it means “lift me up”. Its irresistible charm has been notoriously found guilty for many broken diets and the best way to enjoy it is by simply giving in to its luscious perfection. Many different variations can be found, all of them exceptional, however I like to stick to the authentic Italian recipe that you will discover here with great pleasure. Heavy cream is mandatory, as is the Marsala wine and fresh egg yolks for the mascarpone cream.
Once you prepare it, give it some time to settle and be patient enough to cool it in the fridge, where it will keep fresh for up to two days _if it lasts that long. When you serve it, it is always nice to sprinkle some cocoa powder or shaved chocolate around the plate as well as on the slice of dessert. You know, for that last spoonful you shamelessly scrape off while wishing it would never end.
For coffee mixture:
1 cup boiling water
1 cup hot espresso or instant coffee
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons Tia Maria (coffee liqueur)
For Mascarpone mixture:
4 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
⅓ cup dry Marsala wine
2 ½ cups mascarpone (Italian cream cheese)
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
36 Savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers)
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or shaved
cocoa powder, if desired
1. Coffee mixture: Stir together boiling water, espresso coffee, 1 tablespoon sugar, and Tia Maria in a shallow bowl until the sugar has dissolved, then cool.
2. Mascarpone mixture: Using a whisk or a handheld electric mixer beat together the egg yolks, Marsala, and ½ cup sugar in a double boiler–containing barely simmering water–until the mixture has tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.
In a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer beat the cream until it holds stiff peaks. Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently, but thoroughly.
3. Dipping both sides of each Savoiardi into the coffee mixture, line the bottom of a 33 x 23 x 7 cm glass serving bowl with 18 Savoiardi biscuits in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture on top. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over the mascarpone mixture in the pan.
4. Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture over the top and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours or overnight.
5. Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with more chocolate (or cocoa) as desired.
Serves 6 to 8
Note: Tiramisu can be chilled for up to 2 days.