One of Lori’s favorite desserts is Tiramisu. In fact, when we took our trip to Italy she had Tiramisu for dessert on 9 of the days we were there. (Just so know, Gelato didn’t count – we got that as an afternoon snack just about EVERY day….) What we found interesting was that each one was different from the one before. Whenever we are at an Italian Restaurant and Lori sees Tiraimisu on the menu, more times than not, one will be ordered. The challenge is that I don’t like coffee, so I’m not really a fan.
Lori wanted me to learn how to make it at home – and it seemed like a decent idea since it would probably be a good recipe to have in an Italian Cooking Class. The challenge I had was determining what really constitutes a recipe for “Classic” Tiramisu. Let’s face it – we were in Italy and every Tiramisu she had was different. Her favorite one in town is the Strawberry Tiramisu at Terranova’s. I looked at recipe after recipe and a few things everyone seemed to agree upon – you started with egg yolks and mascarpone cheese, some sugar, coffee soaked ladyfinger cookies – but after that – all bets were off.
Now let’s face it – there are a bunch of recipes out there for Tiramisu and how many ways can you put the same ingredients together? I knew that I wasn’t going to be creating a “new” Tiramisu recipe – but could I get to a recipe that was a basic one? One I might think of as the “Classic” one – and what does “Classic” really mean? That’s the challenge with dishes like this one.
After looking at recipe after recipe and trying a few and getting Lori’s feedback, I determined that for what I was looking for, the best “basic” or “Classic” recipe was pretty much the one that Cook’s Illustrated had, so that’s pretty much what I follow.
So, here we go…..
First, ingredients – the ladyfingers, egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone, cocoa powder and coffee are definitely in. In reviewing different recipes, you whipped up either the egg whites or whipping cream to fold into the egg yolk-cheese mixture. We decided we liked the whipped cream better, so whipping cream is now in. Last was an “optional” flavoring and for that I settled on dark rum. (When I’m making this for others, I tend to use pasteurized eggs since you don’t cook it – they’ve gotten harder to find. When I looked this week, Publix was the only store where I found them.)
Now this recipe is not really difficult, but there are a fair number of steps to it. I mean – the only “cooking” you have to do is making some strong coffee…..
To get started – I separated the eggs and put the yolks in the mixer bowl. I beat the yolks to combine them before adding the sugar and a little bit of salt. I beat this combination until it was smooth.
Next I added the “Optional” flavoring and beat it in until smooth and then the mascarpone cheese. Again, we beat that in until smooth.
Meanwhile – I brewed some strong coffee (in my case, I used my French Press – sometimes I’ll use one of Lori’s k-cups). Now one thing Cook’s Illustrated did that made a lot of sense is adding some instant espresso powder to the coffee to amp up the coffee flavor. By the time you get everything else in there, you sometimes lost a good bit of the coffee. (So if you would like a lighter coffee flavor, you can leave out the espresso powder…) Set the coffee aside and let it cool to room temperature. (I added a little more “Optional” flavoring to the coffee)
Now the egg yolk-mascarpone mixture is ready. I went ahead and moved it from the mixer bowl to a larger mixing bowl so I could fold in the whipped cream. I then put the whipping cream on the mixer and whipped until we reached stiff peaks.
The next step is to combine the whipped cream with the mascarpone mixture. The cheese mixture is pretty dense at this point, so I started with about 1/3 of the whipped cream and folded it into the cheese mixture. Once that was incorporated, I folded in the rest of the whipped cream.
Now that everything is ready, we can start assembling the Tiramisu. For this recipe, I use a 9X13 baking dish. I also like to use a pie pan for dipping the lady fingers in the coffee, so I pour the coffee into the pie pan. Now you dip a lady finger into the coffee, turn it over and dip the other side. You don’t want to just drop it in and soak it as the cookie tends to fall apart. Once you’ve dipped both sides (and it will absorb plenty of coffee), you put it into the baking dish. Continue dipping cookies until the bottom of the dish is completely covered. You may need to break or trim some cookies for the last row to fit.
Now we are going to take about half of the cheese mixture, put it on top of the first cookie layer and smooth it over the whole layer.
The last step to finish the first layer is to dust the top with Cocoa Powder. I prefer to use the dutch processed for this dish.
The first layer is now finished. All you do is repeat for the second layer. Start dipping cookies and putting them on top. When completely covered, put the rest of the cheese mixture on top and smooth is out. Dust the top with cocoa powder.
Now that you are done, cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to sit for at least 6 hours or so. You can leave it longer….
When ready to serve, I grated semi-sweet chocolate over the top. You could make chocolate curls or probably even better yet, a sweetened chocolate whipped cream for the top. I stuck with the grated chocolate. When you are ready to serve, pull it out of the refrigerator, cut it and serve it. I’m sure you will love (as long as you like coffee…..)
About 2 1/2 cups of strong coffee
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup dark rum
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
24 ounces (1 1/2 pounds) Mascarpone Cheese
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Ladyfinger Cookies (at least two 7-ounce packages)
Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
Grated Semi Sweet Chocolate or Chocolate “curls” (Optional)
Brew some strong coffee, mix in espresso powder and 1/4 cup of the dark rum if using and set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks until they are combined. Next add the sugar and salt and beat at a medium speed until they are combined and smooth and are pale yellow. Add the other 1/4 cup of dark rum and mix until combined and smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix at medium speed until combined and smooth. (Scrape down the sides if you need to to make sure it is all combined well.) Move the mixture to a larger mixing bowl.
In the mixer with the whip attachment, whip the whipping cream until it reaches stiff peaks. (I generally start slower and once it has some bubbles and is frothy, turn the speed up higher.) Add about 1/3 of the whipped cream to the cheese mixture and fold it in to lighten. Add the rest of the whipped cream and carefully fold until incorporated. Set aside.
Pour the coffee mixture in a pie pan. Dip a lady finger cookie into the coffee mixture, turn it over and dip the other side, then place in the 13X9 baking dish. Continue dipping cookies and placing them until the bottom of the dish is covered with the dipped cookies.
When covered, put about 1/2 of the cheese mixture on top of the layer of cookies and spread into an even layer. Dust cocoa powder over the top of the mixture.
Now repeat dipping more lady fingers and putting them on top of the cocoa powder/cheese mixture. When the layer is completely covered, put the rest of the cheese mixture on top and smooth out. Dust the top with the cocoa powder.
Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours before serving. To serve, if you are putting something on top, (grated chocolate, chocolate curl, chocolate whipped cream…..) sprinkle that over the top. Cut and serve.
That’s all there is too it! Now – once you have the basic recipe down, you can start customizing it however you would like – it is a very forgiving recipe.