Tiramisu is a delectable dessert made of cookies dipped in coffee and liquor layered with sweetened mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is a fresh triple-cream cheese, that is to say, a cheese that is over 75% butterfat by dry weight. In fact, it is not a true cheese at all, since it is not make with any rennet or starter, it is closer to a clotted cream. The process used to make it is most similar to the process used to make yogurt.
Although there are many town in Italy that claim to be the birthplace of tiramisu, the first documented mention of the dessert only dates to 1971.
There are a lot of varieties of mascarpone cheeses to choose from, especially around the holidays. I like Bel Gioioso the best, but see what is available in your local supermarket. I don't recommend it if you can find true mascarpone, but you can substitute regular cream cheese using the following method: 16oz cream cheese beaten with 1/3C sour cream and 1/4C heavy cream until smooth. But trust me, try to find the real deal if you can.
Start off by taking your yolks and sugar, and placing them in a heat-resistant bowl. You need to temper the yolks, so set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk continually until the temp of the yolks is 160F.
Then, place the yolks and sugar mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for several minutes until pale and fluffy.
Add in the mascarpone, and beat until combined.
Now, it is time to whip egg whites. Do this in a separate bowl, I normally use my hand mixer. You can use regular egg whites if you wish, but I use the pasteurized whites for safety reasons.
If you decide to use pasteurized whites as well, use a tablespoon of merengue powder, to help them whip. Pasteurized whites definitely do not whip as nicely as regular whites.
Whip the whites until fluffy. This is easy in the case of regular whites, just fold them into the cheese when stiff peaks form. However, fluffy is a relative term with pasteurized whites -- the bubbles will be really small, and they will triple in volume. For pasteurized whites, scoop fluffed whites from the top -- the bottom is hard to whip and will stay liquidy, so you will have to beat and scoop several times.
If there is a tablespoon or so of pasteurized whites that won't whip, don't worry. Just leave it in the bowl and don't mix it into the cheese.
Fold the whites into the cheese.
In the meantime, brew coffee -- about 30oz, or 5-6oz cups.
Put it into something that will be easy for you to dip from later. I use an 9"x13" pyrex casserole dish. To the coffee, add 2 tbls of espresso powder and 4 tbls sugar, plus 1/2C liquor.
I normally use a combination of brandy and chocolate liquor, but you can choose whatever you like.
Now, open your packages of ladyfingers. I prefer the hard imported dry ones with a tiny bit of sugar on top, not the soft and spongy ones.
Carefully, dip your ladyfingers into the coffee/liquor mixture. I do this with a fork supporting the bottom of the cookie. I dunk it in, flip it over, and then lift it out. Only leave it in for a few seconds, it absorbs quickly!
Layer the bottom of the pan you want to make your tiramisu in with the soaked ladyfingers. I make mine in a 9"x13"x3" so it will be high enough for 2 layers. But, you can make it in whatever you want.
After the ladyfingers go down, spread half the cheese mixture over them, covering completely. I ladle my cheese mixture over the ladyfingers, it is pretty liquidy at this point.
Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder over the cheese. You can also use dark chocolate cocoa or whatever else you have on hand.
Then, repeat! Ladyfingers:
Then, store it in the fridge for at least 6 hours, although overnight is best. Let those flavors mingle and get happy.
The next day before you cut into it and serve it, sprinkle a little fresh cocoa powder on it.
Then, slice and serve.
This recipe is fantastic. It is very basic, very traditional, and huge on taste! Using pasteurized whites means that the final cheese filling is slightly less-structured than if you had just used regular whites, but it is a trade-off with safety, since you can't temper the whites. Whether to go pasteurized or regular whites is a decision I leave to you.
You can also use whichever liquor you like. My favorite is brandy and chocolate liquor, but I have on occasion used all chocolate liquor, as well as a mix of dark and white chocolate liquors. You could even use something a little non-traditional: Kahlua, Bailey's or Frangelico spring to mind. The cheese is a neutral taste, so anything that pairs well with coffee and chocolate will do well in this recipe. You can even leave it out all together if you wish, and add a little vanilla or coffee flavoring syrup to the coffee if you want a non-alcoholic version.
Whatever you decide, this recipe will be a great addition to your holiday dessert table!
For cheese filling
- 8 egg yolks
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1.5 lbs mascarpone cheese
- 1 C pasteurized egg whites plus 1 tbls merenge powder or 3/4 C egg whites
For coffee/cookie layers
- 30oz strong brewed coffee
- 2 tbls instant espresso powder
- 4 tbls sugar
- 1/4 C brandy
- 1/4 C chocolate liquor
- 1 package ladyfingers
- Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting.
- Place and sugar in a heat-resistant bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk continually until the temp of the yolks is 160F.
- Place the yolks and sugar mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for several minutes until pale and fluffy.
- Add in the mascarpone, and beat until combined.
- Whip whites in second bowl until peaks form. See blog for additional notes about pasteurized whites.If you decide to use pasteurized whites as well, use a tablespoon of merengue powder as well, to help them whip.
- Fold the whites into the cheese.
- In the meantime, brew coffee -- about 30oz, or 5-6oz cups.
- Put it into something that will be easy for you to dip from later.
- To the coffee, add 2 tbls of espresso powder and 4 tbls sugar, plus 1/2C liquor.
- Carefully, dip ladyfingers into the coffee/liquor mixture. Only leave it in for a few seconds, it absorbs quickly!
- Layer the bottom of the pan you are using with the soaked ladyfingers.
- After the ladyfingers go down, spread half the cheese mixture over them, covering completely.
- Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa powder over the cheese.
- Then, repeat for a second layer, ending with cocoa
- Cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight
- Next day, sprinkle extra cocoa on before serving