An Italian Dessert

Tiramisu means "pick me up" in Italian and if ever a dessert comprising of booze and coffee soaked ladyfingers, layered with mascarpone cream and dusted with cocoa powder could induce a feeling of being "picked up", it would be this one.
Yet another one of those once-popular restaurant dishes from the 70s and 80s, Tiramisu was relegated to "plastic pot sealed with foil lid and placed on the supermarket shelf" status, which happens to be where I first discovered this Italian delight. Although several years past its halcyon restaurant days, the Tiramisu deserves to be given another chance. It is surprisingly simple to make and never fails to please coffee or trifle lovers.
Like that other Italian classic dessert, Zuppa Inglese, Tiramisu is like a hassle-free trifle with its sponge fingers and eggy custard-like sauce. Unlike trifle though, it eschews the fruit element in favour of caffeine rich ingredients. The only thing that you need to prepare in advance is some espresso, the rest of the dish takes no longer than 15 minutes. Of course, the waiting comes with the refrigeration of the Tiramisu and it is crucial, not only to set the raw custard but to improve the flavours, that it sits in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
The traditional recipe might use Zabaglione between the sponge layers but this simpler method is just as delicious. The alcohol combined with the coffee can also be altered to suit what you have available. Coffee liqueur is again traditional, but I used Crème de Cacao (a remnant from the days when I used to make cocktails - Maraschino Liqueur anyone?) instead. You could use dark rum, or hazelnut liqueur, maybe even brandy. One of the characteristics about the Tiramisu is the strong coffee and alcohol flavouring punctuating the soft, billowy cream - not a dessert for children!
TIRAMISU - serves 4-6
12 Savoiardi Biscuits or Ladyfingers
2 Eggs, separated
250g Mascarpone
3 Dessertspoons Vanilla Sugar to taste
125ml Freshly brewed but cold Espresso Coffee
125ml Coffee Flavoured Liqueur (or alcohol of your choice - not a cream based drink though)
Cocoa Powder for dusting
In a large, clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until very stiff.
In another bowl, whisk the mascarpone cheese with the egg yolks and sugar until well combined.
Fold in the egg whites.
Mix together the alcohol and coffee in a shallow dish.
You are now ready to start assembling the Tiramisu.
Spoon a third of the Mascarpone mixture into your dish.
First dipping them one at a time in the coffee/alcohol mixture, turning them quickly so that they don't disintegrate, layer six of the Savoiardi biscuits on top of the cream. Top with another layer of cream, then the remainder of the sponge fingers. Spoon over the final blanket of the creamy sauce, then dust generously with cocoa so that the cream is completely obscured.
Cover gently and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
To serve, remove from the fridge, uncover and dust with another layer of cocoa and some shaved chocolate if desired.


Meeta K. Wolff said...

You know how I love Tiramisu. This was a nice informative post. I love how rich your Tiramisu looks!

Unknown said...

Oh, yum!! Tiramisu can be so different restaurant to restaurant, so I love to order it to see what it's like. I've had everything from a small flat square soaked in rum to large piece of fluffy cake sandwiched between custardy marscapone.

Then when I worked at a tearoom I developed a chocolate tiramisu, using a double chocolate rum pound cake as the base - it was SO good, but not for the faint of heart!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never made tiramisu. No excuses, just have never made it. But this looks so delicious, so I'm bookmarking this recipe!

Chris said...

I am with Lydia - I have actually never attempted tiramisu, either! And, until recently, I was not a huge fan (although I am Italian). But, I had a Tiramisu in Poland, of all places, that was to die for. Now...I am hooked. Yummo!

Kelly-Jane said...

I've tried a few at home in search of 'the one'! I have to plan my strategy of trying coffee puds though, Hubby isn't so keen on them, so I sneak the odd one in when he's not expecting it :)

Looks luscious!

Maggie said...

I love Tiramisu. Maybe it's time for me to have another go at this. You have tempted me.

Anh said...

This is surelt a classic dessert. but I always save it for special occasion when I just enjoy it and forget about the calories! :)

Kirsten said...

Wow, that is a lovely tiramisu...delicious!! I'll bookmark this one for the next Italian feast I make. :)

Shaun said...

Freya, love - I have come to the conclusion that tiramisu is best made at home, at least if one doesn't live in Italy. Tiramisu from most restaurants, if not made there, is either too soggy, too boozy, too creamy, or too something else. I have got the balance just right for me and Eric, though I probably only make it once a year. It is a breeze to make, and it always wows guests.

Stella said...

Tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts. It's always a winner & never fails to oohh-aahh the others;)
p.s: love your new lay out!

Cheryl said...

I would love a dessert right now with a bunch of liquor in it. What a day. This looks so amazingly good.

Saffron said...

Tiramisù is always a great choice!

Schweitz said...

I must admit that my introduction to tiramisù was from a supermarket shelf as well. Strangely, it was at Tesco when I was studying at Swansea University in Wales. It is one of my favorite guilty pleasures and this recipe looks even easier than most - and very tempting.

Kajal@aapplemint said...

I love Tiramisu too ! actually i don't know anyone who doesn't !have u ever noticed the difference bet. the store bought tiramisu and the home made one.The store bought one is always firmer as if they used gelatin to set it and the one at home is much lighter and not so well set...definately yummier.also u can control the booze quantities :D

Linda said...

how daring. this looks amazing! i've always wanted to make this from scratch.

Squishy said...

Tiramisu oh yummy. I have been going to make it for Chopper for ages. I will have to now :)

Madame K said...

Feel free to roll me in mascarpone and dust me with cocoa powder...I love tiramisu!