As far as Italian foods go, tiramisu is a recent addition to the menu. Allegedly invented in the 1960s in a restaurant in the Veneto region of Italy, it is a variation on the older dessert called zuppa inglese, which is basically a trifle. This weekend, my mother made not one, but two tiramisus, one for Saturday and one for Sunday. I am definitely not complaining, since the Saturday tiramisu was quickly devoured by the “man portion” as my mother called the slices she made when serving the male guests (much to the indignation of the females, who were given “dainty” pieces… ahh sexism). There is some Sunday tiramisu left over, so I know what I’m having for breakfast tomorrow ;).
My mom makes the best tiramisu. She makes sure to buy only imported Italian mascarpone, brews a fresh caffettiera of espresso, separates the egg yolks from the whites and whips the whites into snowy peaks, then incorporates both into the mascarpone. Then she lovingly layers the coffee-dipped savoiardi with the mascarpone cream and dusts the whole thing with a thick layer of cocoa powder, or chocolate shavings if we are well-stocked. It’s quick and easy to make, and perfect for an outdoor summer meal.
1 pack of savoiardi or lady fingers
500g good mascarpone
6 eggs, separated
6 tbsp (+ 1 tsp optional) granulated sugar
6 espresso cups of brewed espresso (more or less)
cocoa powder to dust
2 scant tbsp Cointreau or Grand Marnier
Start by making the mascarpone cream: Cream together the egg yolks, sugar, and mascarpone. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then gently fold them into the mascarpone-yolk mixture. A good rule of thumb is to put 3 eggs per 250g mascarpone.
Mix 1 tsp of sugar into the hot espresso if it is too bitter. Pour the cooled espresso into a plate a bit at a time and splash in some Cointreau. Dip the savoiardi whole into the coffee, leaving them for about 2-3 seconds on both sides. You don’t want them to be soggy and they will fall apart if you leave them too long! Line the bottom of a baking dish with coffee-dipped savoiardi, then cover with about 1/3 of the cream and dust with a thick layer of cocoa powder. Repeat until you have finished all of your cookies, and make sure the top layer is mascarpone cream. Dust thoroughly with cocoa powder and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Enjoy!