It’s a competitive field here in Italy! I was at a friend’s 40th birthday party recently, a gathering of over 70 people, and there was a table laid out later in the evening with 40 desserts. The theatre of the dessert event was hilarious with those candles that come back to life after you blow them out. There were all variety of sweets on the table and of course Tiramisu… the classic Italian dessert… but there were 2 different ones and everyone had to try both to see which one was best. No pressure then on bringing this dessert to future gatherings! Trouble is people have different preferences. Some like it more creamy, some prefer a more dry cakey bit… I love it but have hesitated to make it thinking it might be too complicated but, you know what? It’s the easiest thing to make. Really. I’ve made it a few times now and could easily do with my eyes closed. Also, it takes very little time to make, a simple layering job once you’ve made the cream, but needs to sit at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, in the fridge. The version you get in restaurants here isn’t usually authentic – for health and safety reasons they usually substitute the heavy cream for the raw eggs. Yes, it’s got raw eggs in it but I think the booze in some way cooks it. Perfect for an elegant dinner party dessert that you can make a day ahead but also for breakfast, especially after a hard night… with the coffee and booze it’s aptly called ‘pick-me-up’!
Servings: The quantities in this recipe will easily serve 4-6 but if you need more just double or even triple the recipe.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: no cooking but leave in fridge for 4+ hours – for the flavours to soak in and infuse
Total Time: 20 Minutes, plus 4+ hours chilling time
- 2 eggs – separated
- 60 g granulated white sugar
- 250 g mascarpone – Crème fraîche is an ok substitute but a bit more acidic
- coffee – I use a 3 cup mocha machine and I use decaf because, you know, we’re old
- booze 1 small cup – generally I do 3 parts coffee and 1 part booze. Traditionally Masala wine is used but some people use rum or brandy. Personally, I prefer a good cognac and it really makes a difference. You can even do half and half cognac and masala wine.
- cocoa powder – preferably organic. I use one that has reishi mushroom powder and a bit of cinnamon.
- Savoiardi (lady fingers) – home made are obviously best. I usually buy local ones that exactly fit the dimensions of my casserole dish and use 8, 4 on each layer but doesn’t matter, you can break them if too long or need an extra bit. Important thing is that they lay fairly close together and create a single layer.
- Make the cream
- Separate your eggs. Whites in one bowl, yolks in another. Be careful not to get any yolk in with the whites. Crack them over a glass first.
- First beat the whites in their separate bowl until they are stiff and little peaks have formed.
- In the other bowl, add the sugar to the yolks and beat until smooth and silky. Add the mascarpone and mix until smooth and well combined.
- Fold the whites into the yolk mix and gently mix till just combined.
- You have 3 main elements for the layering: cream, boozy caffeinated Savoiardi and cocoa
- Spread 1/3 of the cream on the base of a square 18x18cm casserole dish.
- Combine your coffee and booze in a shallow dish or bowl then one at a time quickly dip and turn a Savoiardi biscuit in the liquid. You don’t want it saturated, just a light wetting on each side. If it absorbs too much liquid, your Tiramisu will be very mushy. Once dipped, nestle the biscuit into the cream. Repeat until you’ve created a single layer. For me, it’s usually 4 biscuits per layer depending on the size I have.
- Cover your first layer with another 1/3 of the cream. Smooth and even out. Lightly dust with a bit of cocoa.
- Add another, single layer of dipped Savoiardi.
- Cover the second layer with the remaining cream, smooth and even out, and then give a final heavy dusting of cocoa.
- E voila! you’re done! Cover with cling film / saran wrap and place in fridge for min 4 hours, preferably overnight.
NOTE: You can use the same method to layer in individual dishes so that everyone gets their own mini Tiramisu. If you’ve got a lot of people, double or triple the recipe. Leftovers won’t last long if my family is anything to go by and it keeps in the fridge for a few days anyway.