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Want a “pick-me-up”? That’s the meaning of tiramisu and with its potent hits of espresso and alcohol, it is the perfect ending to a perfect meal.
Tiramisu was one of the favorite dolci at my Providence restaurant back in the 80s. I hope you like it too. The hardest part of making it is beating the egg yolks and whipping the whites.
Just dip savoiardi (Italian lady-fingers) in strong espresso laced with Marsala wine and line them in a casserole dish. Top with a layer of fluffy mascarpone (an Italian “cream cheese”) enriched by bright yellow yolks and lightened by whipped egg whites that are as airy as clouds. Repeat and dust the top with bittersweet cocoa powder. Add a few curls of dark chocolate to take it over the top. Then comes the best part, the eating!
Tiramisu is a full flavor palette. The strong espresso and fortified Marsala wine permeate the savoiardi and give them a not too sweet cake texture. The light, sweet mascarpone cream melts in your mouth. The cocoa and nutty dark chocolate caps it all off. Enjoy all the flavors that come together in every single bite.
Recipe note: I use raw eggs, the traditional tiramisu ingredient, from a local organic producer just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Petaluma. Just in case I soak the eggs in bleach before using them to minimize any possible contamination. I haven’t had a problem with raw eggs in the decades that I’ve made tiramisu this way. Read the raw egg notice under the recipe. And if you don’t want to use raw eggs there’s a substitute recipe for the mascarpone cream filling there too.
- 1 package savoiardi (lady finger cookies)
- 2 cups espresso
- 3 tablespoons dry Marsala
- 6 eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 pound mascarpone
- cocoa for dusting
- chocolate for shavings on top
- Put the espresso and Marsala in a shallow bowl and set aside.
- Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another.
- Add the sugar to the yolks. Using a hand mixer beat the yolks and sugar together until smooth and pale yellow.
- Add the mascarpone and with a rubber spatula mix it into the yolks until well blended.
- Whip the whites to a stiff peak.
- Add ⅓ of the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture and gently stir several times to lighten the mixture.
- Add the rest of the whites to the mascarpone mixture and mix until the cream is fluffly and smooth.
- Dip the lady fingers in the espresso mixture and place them in a single layer in a casserole dish. Continue until the bottom of the dish is covered.
- Spread one half of the mascarpone cream evenly over the lady fingers.
- Make another layer of lady fingers dipped in the espresso mixture and cover evenly with the remaining mascarpone cream.
- Cover the pan dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Overnight is best.
- Dust the top with cocoa and some shaved dark chocolate.
- Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Use caution in consuming raw eggs due to the risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk use only fresh, properly refrigerated organic, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. I soak the eggs in bleach and water, wash them under running water and dry them well before using.
If you don’t want to use raw eggs, here’s a recipe for the mascarpone cream filling. Use the recipe above to make the tiramisu, just substitute this filling for the one with raw egg.
Combine 6 egg yolks and 1 cup of sugar in the top of a double boiler, over boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove the bowl from the heat and whip the yolks until thick and lemon colored. Add 1 pound mascarpone to whipped yolks, beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whip 2 cups of cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone mixture and set aside.