I am not a huge dessert person but there are a few desserts that hold a special place in my heart and in my stomach. One of them is Tiramisu. I had it for the first time when I was really young, at my grandmother’s birthday. It actually didn’t make a huge impression on me at that point and it wasn’t until I tasted the homemade version at our local Italian restaurant, La Rustica, that I fell head over heals for the coffee flavored, boozy, creamy, chocolatey concoction. This isn’t your freezer aisle Tiramisu. The Mascarpone is whipped to perfection with the egg yolks and the lady fingers have that hint of espresso and brandy and the chocolate is the Pièce de résistance that puts it over the top. I haven’t been able to get the recipe from them but I have concocted my own version by experimenting with various methods and ingredients that, I think, any Italian grandma would approve of. Here are a few things I learned:
1. To make the mascarpone fluffy and light, fold in whipped cream. It is about a one to one ratio by volume once both ingredients are whipped up separately.
2. NEVER use brewed coffee when you have espresso available! I don’t have an espresso maker but it is worth it to go to the coffee shop and order 7 shots of espresso. The flavor is so much richer and complex.
3. Don’t submerge the lady fingers in your espresso, brandy mixture. Dip one side quickly in the liquid and that’s it. It may seem like not enough but, believe me, lady fingers are more absorbent than you think and with the whipped cream/ mascarpone mixture sitting on top of them for the hour or so you should refrigerate before serving, they will be plenty soft.
4. I do a two layer Tiramisu. One layer of lady fingers, topped with mascarpone, dusted with dark chocolate powder which has been run through a sifter, another layer of lady fingers, mascarpone and a dusting of chocolate powder. Finally I top it with chocolate shavings which gives it a different and interesting texture.
Below are a few links you might find interesting. Some recipes that I worked off of but tweaked to make them my own. These call for rum but I think that the flavor of the brandy goes much better with the coffee and chocolate flavors.
Some Tiramisu Recipes:
La Rustica – The best Italian in the city in my opinion: