By Nancy Pollard
THERE ARE probably more recipes for this Italian dessert on the Internet than there are photos of cats, but for good reason. Tiramisu can be made a day or two ahead of the event, it will feed a crowd, it is so easy to put together, and it is sensationally delicious. Too many food writers make this too complicated: There is no cream, you can’t use diet cream cheese, and sponge cake or soft ladyfingers make abysmal substitutes. In Italy, there normally is not a wedding cake, but a series of “spoon desserts.” This one was served at my daughter’s wedding outside of Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche.
- 5 large eggs, separated
- ¾ cup (150gr) caster sugar
- 1½ cups mascarpone, a soft Italian cream cheese (340gr)
- 8 ounces (237ml) espresso coffee
- 1/3 cup (79ml) high-quality brandy or Marsala
- 36 to 42 Savoiardi* (do not use cake or soft ladyfingers)
- 3 ozunces (85gr) grated dark chocolate or dutched (alkalized) cocoa
- In a mixer bowl beat egg yolks with sugar until mixture is light and fluffy. Add mascarpone and beat until smooth.
- In another non-plastic bowl (copper is preferable) whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into mascarpone mixture.
- Combine espresso and brandy in a shallow bowl.
- Dip both ends of the Savoiardi into the coffee mixture for a couple of seconds and arrange enough of them in the casserole to create a compact bottom layer. (It is important not to let the coffee soak too much into the Savoiardi.)
- Spread half the mascarpone mixture over this layer.
- Top with another layer of coffee-dipped Savoiardi.
- Spread the remaining mascarpone mixture over the top and smooth it.
- Dust with the cocoa powder or grated chocolate (I combine the two).
- Chill for several hours before serving..
- * Savoiardi are crisp Italian sponge cookies, not soft ladyfingers, and are available at specialty grocers and online.
- I combine half grated chocolate and half cocoa to top my version of this dessert.
- It will keep for several days in the fridge.
- Sometimes I have generously sprinkled cocoa and grated chocolate on the first layer of the tiramisu as well.