This is a true Italian classic. You must know that not all the things said about Italians fall into the realm of the topic. One, though, does: we DO eat pasta pretty much every day. The other one is: we DO like coffee, a lot. I miss Italian coffee very much, it’s probably the only thing, food-wise, that I find difficult to find a replacement for. As a general rule, I try to avoid drinking coffee outside my house, and I am used to shitty office coffee (that one is just bad everywhere).
Tiramisù is a great way of having a coffee. If you don’t like dessert too much, but you like coffee, this is the thing for you. I looooove Tiramisù. As I said once, I have it for breakfast, and I AM PROUD OF IT!
You may not know the etymology of the word. In Italian, “tirami su” means literally “pick me up”, which is what this dessert does, since it’s full of caffeine (caution at night!).
I also love Mascarpone cream, that can be used easily at Christmas to be spread on warm panettone (but that’s another story, for which I will give you graphic evidence in December).
300 g Savoiardi biscuit (Ladyfingers)
100 g sugar
500 g cold Mascarpone cheese
Coffee (like there is no tomorrow)
First off, we prepare the cream. We separate the yolks from the egg whites and we mix with a hand mixer the yolks and the sugar until we have a nice, fluffy and creamy mixture.
(Pause here! Fun fact for you: Italian grandmothers liked to prepare this same mixture for their grand-kids as a snack. It is called “Zabaione” and in its more energetic version it includes hot coffee poured over it. Fancier versions of it have been developed for cooking books, but the basic one is the one my nonna used to make and it was fucking delicious, believe me)
We then add the Mascarpone cream, mixing until all the ingredients are combined and the cream is smooth.
Once the creamy base is done, we whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (for me it’s done once I turn the bowl around and the mixture stays in place). We add the whites to the mix little by little, folding them in until well incorporated.
The final result will be that of a very fluffy and light cream. You may add some Maraschino/Brandy, but personally, I don’t like the flavour of alcohol so I do without. (I might have a Gin and Tonic after it, though).
The most difficult part of the recipe is over! (see, it’s a fairly easy one).
We can now prepare a nice big pot of coffee and get ready to assemble the Tiramisù (no Ikea Allen key required). I usually do not add any sugar to my coffee, and me being a good Italian, I prepare it quite strong. You can use a moka (twice the medium sized, I would say) or any other type of coffee machine as long as you make something that tastes like coffee (even Nescafe’ could do, in a nuclear wasteland scenario).
We start with a layer of cream, then we take our Savoiardi and we dip them briefly in the coffee. Now again, it’s up to you. Some prefer their biscuits to be very moist, some they like them drier. I think the perfection is someway in between. Also, be aware that the moister the biscuits, the stronger your Tiramisù. Pro tip: dip them in the coffee when this is warm, not cold, so it’s easier to soak them.
We cover the layer with more cream and a good dusting of cocoa powder. We repeat until we finish our ingredients.
Yes, it may turn out quite messy.
Instead of the classic baking dish/tray used by all Italian mothers since the beginning of time, you can just prepare approx. 6 little glasses of individual Tiramisu’ portions. It’s nicer and easier to give to your guests than having to work your way around the table with a spatula after a dinner.
We leave our Tiramisù to rest in the fridge at least 4 hours. You can also prepare it a day ahead and it will be even better!