Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts. I especially love to order it at restaurants, but the two times I've made it at home, I was utterly disappointed with the results. The ladyfingers fell apart, the custard was runny, the final dish was a soupy mess, and I vowed never to make it again. However, when I saw a recipe in the January issue of Gourmet magazine devoted to classic Italian-American cooking, I decided it was time to face my culinary fears.
I'm glad I did, the final result was scrumptiously successful: a rich, creamy tiramisu with pillowy filling and perfectly moist cake. The technique is simple, but an electric mixer is necessary. It's a great dessert for a dinner party or romantic meal, because it requires six hours of chill time — meaning it must be made in advance. I've added it to my repertoire, and will definitely be making this lovely dessert again. For you to do the same,
2 cups boiling-hot water*
3 tablespoons instant-espresso powder*
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
3 tablespoons Tia Maria** (coffee liqueur)
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup dry Marsala
1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups)
1 cup chilled heavy cream
36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; from two 7-ounce packages)
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
- Stir together water, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and Tia Maria in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool.
- Beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.
- Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.
- Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.
- Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, line bottom of a 13- by 9- by 3-inch baking pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary.
- Spread half of mascarpone filling on top. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan.
- Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa.
- Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.
- Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with more cocoa.
Make ahead: Tiramisu can be chilled up to 2 days.
*You can substitute 2 cups freshly brewed espresso for the water and instant-espresso powder.
**I had Kahlua on hand, so I used that instead of Tia Maria.
- Desserts, Puddings/Mousse