Tiramisù

Tiramisù

Here’s an elegant dessert ‘cake’ that even non-bakers like myself can make easily. The truth is, the ‘cake’ part of this dessert consists of those elegant elongated cookies called ‘ladyfingers’ in English and savoiardi in Italian. The ladyfingers are lightly dipped in espresso, then layered with mascarpone creamed with egg, sugar and marsala, then ‘baked’ in the fridge for a few hours (or even days) and finally dusted with cocao before serving. There is really nothing to it and yet serving a homemade tiramisù, with its reputation as a fancy dessert, will ensure that your guests will be mightily impressed.

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb) store-bought ladyfingers
  • 3 freshly made single espressos
  • Simple sugar syrup (or some sugar) to taste
  • 500g (1 lb.) 4 oz. mascarpone
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • About 250g (1/2 lb.) sugar
  • Marsala
  • Powdered cocoa

Directions

Begin by making some strong shots of espresso coffee:

Tiramisù

If you don’t have an espresso maker, a potful of espresso made in a  stovetop pot will do quite fine. Then mix your espresso with some of the simple syrup, if you have some on hand, or just a few spoonfuls of  sugar, to taste. You can also use the coffee without sugar, as the  mascarpone cream will add sweetness.

To make the mascarpone mixture, separate the yolks from the whites. Set the whites aside for the moment. Then whisk the yolks together with the sugar briskly until they form a kind of cream; you should be able to see ‘ribbons’ in the mixture as you whisk it. A stand mixer makes short work of this job.

Then add the mascarpone and a dash of marsala, and continue whisking until you have a homogeneous cream mixture.

Now, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

Fold the egg whites gently into the mascarpone mixture:

Now that you have your coffee and mascarpone mixture ready, it is time to assemble the dish: take a ladyfinger, dip it on both sides in the espresso, very briefly, just to barely coat the outside. (Don’t linger or your ladyfingers will soften to mush!) As you dip the ladyfingers, arrange them in a rectangular or square baking dish. Continue until you have covered the bottom of the dish with them. (NB: Depending on the size of your dish, you may need to lay them in different directions and/or break some of the ladyfingers into shorter lengths.)

Once you have your first layer of ladyfingers, spread some of the mascarpone mixture over them, enough to cover them entirely. Then lay another layer of ladyfingers on top of that:

Tiramisù

Finally, lay over another layer of the mascapone mixture:

Put the dish into the fridge for at least an hour, better several hours or even overnight. The longer you let it sit, the more the mascarpone mixture will penetrate the ladyfingers and soften them up. It will also help the elements to form a more solid mass. A freshly made tiramisù will be very creamy and rather loose when served,  as pictured above, while a well-rested one will be more cake-like. Each version has its charms.

In any event, right before you’re ready to serve, dust the top of your tiramisù with unsweetened cocoa powder (the kind you would bake with). Use as much or as little as you like. Personally, I prefer just a light dusting.

Notes

The two main ingredients for this dish, ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese, can be surprisingly hard to find. They are also both rather expensive to buy. You can make the ladyfingers yourself–they are not at all hard to make. I have seen suggestions for using spongecake or pound cake, which should (more or less) work as well, but since these are already quite soft, your tiramisù will not need as long as rest in the fridge. As for the mascarpone, you can substitute regular cream cheese (‘Philadelphia’ style) loosened with some cream. (I have also heard of substituting ricotta, whipped until perfectly smooth, but that would give you a rather different flavor.)

A common variation for tiramisù is to use zabaglione in place of the mascarpone mixture. Zabaglione is simply marsala wine thickened with egg yolks heated over a double-boiler, usually in a round-bottomed copper pot which is made expressly for the purpose. I will blog on zabaglione one day, as it is delicious and wonderful just on its own as a dessert or snack. Also common is the substitution of rum or other liqueur of your choose instead of the marsala.

The main thing to remember when making tiramisù is that the success depends largely on balancing the sweetness of the sugar with the bitter flavors of the coffee and cocoa. Neither should predominate. Be careful, then, when adding sugar. And if, as sometimes happens, you find ladyfingers sprinkled with sugar, reduce the sugar you add to the coffee and/or cream to compensate.

Otherwise, as I said, this dish is simplicity itself and a real crowd-pleaser. No need to tell anyone how easy it is to make… Enjoy!

Tiramisù

Rating: 51

Tiramisù

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb) store-bought ladyfingers
  • 3 freshly made single espressos
  • Simple sugar syrup (or some sugar) to taste
  • 500g (1 lb.) 4 oz. mascarpone
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • About 250g (1/2 lb.) sugar
  • Marsala
  • Powdered cocoa

Directions

  1. Begin by making some strong shots of espresso coffee:
  2. If you don't have an espresso maker, a potful of espresso made in a stovetop pot will do quite fine. Then mix your espresso with some of the simple syrup, if you have some on hand, or just a few spoonfuls of sugar, to taste. You can also use the coffee without sugar, as the mascarpone cream will add sweetness.
  3. To make the mascarpone mixture, separate the yolks from the whites. Set the whites aside for the moment. Then whisk the yolks together with the sugar briskly until they form a kind of cream; you should be able to see 'ribbons' in the mixture as you whisk it. A stand mixer makes short work of this job.
  4. Then add the mascarpone and a dash of marsala, and continue whisking until you have a homogeneous cream mixture.
  5. Now, in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
  6. Fold the egg whites gently into the mascarpone mixture.
  7. Now that you have your coffee and mascarpone mixture ready, it is time to assemble the dish: take a ladyfinger, dip it on both sides in the espresso, very briefly, just to barely coat the outside. (Don't linger or your ladyfingers will soften to mush!) As you dip the ladyfingers, arrange them in a rectangular or square baking dish. Continue until you have covered the bottom of the dish with them. (NB: Depending on the size of your dish, you may need to lay them in different directions and/or break some of the ladyfingers into shorter lengths.)
  8. Once you have your first layer of ladyfingers, spread some of the mascarpone mixture over them, enough to cover them entirely. Then lay another layer of ladyfingers on top of that.
  9. Finally, lay over another layer of the mascapone mixture.
  10. Put the dish into the fridge for at least an hour, better several hours or even overnight. The longer you let it sit, the more the mascarpone mixture will penetrate the ladyfingers and soften them up. It will also help the elements to form a more solid mass. A freshly made tiramisù will be very creamy and rather loose when served, as pictured above, while a well-rested one will be more cake-like. Each version has its charms.
  11. In any event, right before you're ready to serve, dust the top of your tiramisù with unsweetened cocoa powder (the kind you would bake with). Use as much or as little as you like. Personally, I prefer just a light dusting.
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25 Responses to “Tiramisù”

  1. 21 November 2012 at 15:28 #

    Having just returned from Italy and enjoying Tiramisu in both Venice and Florence where it was over the top delicious, I am ready for more. Your recipe came at the perfect time! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • 25 November 2012 at 14:04 #

      Thanks so much. Hope you had a great holidays as well.

  2. 31 March 2012 at 07:02 #

    Hi, I am a regular follower, always love your recipes. But I've a question, the quantities of Mascarpone are conflicting with each other, is it 500 grams or 4 oz??

  3. 17 December 2010 at 15:54 #

    Ciao I am your newest follower! This looks delicious! I invite you to follow back!

  4. 16 December 2010 at 14:46 #

    I love tiramisu!!! It is the best desert ever! I love the savoiardi a bit moist in espresso, and the mascarpone…..It is almost to good to be eat it!
    I make it often, but I always use just the yolkes with sugar and then mascarpone…..some times I use limoncello, not coffee ….
    Ciao e bacci!

  5. 14 December 2010 at 18:29 #

    Tiramisu is one of my all time favorite desserts. I've never even entertained the idea of making it myself, it intimidated me. But quite honestly your recipe sounds like I could handle. I loved all your tips too, they could come in handy for me, as searching for Italian ingredients can be a daunting experience here. Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. 14 December 2010 at 11:51 #

    Tiramisu is always been my number one favourite dessert.

  7. 14 December 2010 at 00:33 #

    This Tiramisu looks absolutely sinfully delicious and your blog is fabulous! Merci beaucoup for the add!

  8. 13 December 2010 at 21:02 #

    delicious tiramisu
    happy holidays

  9. 13 December 2010 at 13:00 #

    Tiramisu' is really the type of cake you make when you want to impress somebody. This is one of the best sweets you can make. It's so light and delicious. You just have to make sure all the ingredients (eggs and mascarpone ) are absolutely fresh!

  10. 13 December 2010 at 09:44 #

    Lovely is quite the understatement!

  11. 13 December 2010 at 07:01 #

    Tiramisu is my fave! Great job!

  12. 13 December 2010 at 02:45 #

    excellent recipe!

  13. 13 December 2010 at 02:15 #

    sighhhhhh…..my all time favorite dessert…..ever…..and see this now reminds me that it's been too long since I've had some….thank you for awakening my senses in the most delightful way….

  14. 13 December 2010 at 01:24 #

    Wow, A step by step recipe for one of my most favourite desserts, thank you I can now make this easily for a special treat.

  15. 12 December 2010 at 23:44 #

    wow this is just perfect great step by step pictures oh I adore this dessert

  16. 12 December 2010 at 22:20 #

    I love the idea of the Marsala. I love tiramisu and try many different recipes. Some miss the point. Yours does not.

  17. 12 December 2010 at 22:10 #

    The tiramisu looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing the step by step photographs.

  18. 12 December 2010 at 22:06 #

    Great recipe, I love tiramisu! Have a great week!

  19. 12 December 2010 at 21:09 #

    I LOVE tiramisu :-) This is making me want to go whip up my chocolate tiramisu with chocolate zabaglione! Yours looks absolutely scrumptious!

  20. 12 December 2010 at 18:00 #

    Thanks for such complete directions for this wonderful dessert…yum.

  21. 12 December 2010 at 17:34 #

    Always one (if not the only) dessert I absolutely have to have when dining out.

    Superb!!

  22. 12 December 2010 at 15:43 #

    I love that you used the espresso maker, I havent made much lately but you just gave me a reason to, this is my sons favorite, I haven never done this with eggs always eggless, its time to make the authentic version, this may be it! thanks for posting…happy holiday Frank to you your significant other and family!

  23. 12 December 2010 at 15:09 #

    Always adore tiramisu.. And thanks for ur step by step recipe sharing :)

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