Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Found in practically all Italian restaurants and a favorite amongst many.  You've got the beautiful, subtle contrast in texture with the silky smooth cream against the soft, tender sponge, that when bitten into, releases a strong robust flavor of coffee matched with hints of bitter notes from the cocoa, altogether supporting yet not overpowering the mellow and elegant notes of the mascarpone.  Tiramisu when literally translated means "pull me up", while the origin of the dessert is unclear, most suggest that it's meant to not contain alcohol because the caffeine in it needs to wake you up, or "pull" you up, after a heavy meal.  Hence this recipe doesn't contain alcohol.  It's just as good, if not, in fact, better, because this below is the best tiramisu recipe.  That's right, I said it. I love tiramisu but I would never order it in a restaurant.  Never.  Not even if it's from the best restaurant in Venice.  I grew up with my father's tiramisu and I've never found one that tasted better.

The key lies in its simplicity, like most great Italian dishes it's just a beautiful combination of a few ingredients.  This one contains just 6:  eggs, mascarpone, sugar, cocoa, ladyfingers and coffee.  It's incredibly simple to make and very impressive to your friends.

Prep time: 20 minutes  Cook time: 2 hours  Serves: 8-10  Suitable for: thanking your friends for something

5 eggs
500g mascarpone
150g sugar
1-2 packs of lady fingers
3 shots of espresso, cooled and mixed with a dash of water.
some cocoa

Separate the egg whites from the yolks.  Beat the yolks with sugar and mascarpone until foamy.  Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and gently fold that into the yolk mixture.  Dip the ladyfingers in the coffee and lay them out next to each other in an even layer on your dish (note: you want them to have enough coffee so they're soft and spongy but not too much that it leaves a pool of coffee on your plate).  Spread the mascarpone mixture on top.  Here you may choose to do another layer, I didn't but feel free to do so if your dish is small.  You don't want to stint on the mascarpone mixture though, so make sure your ratio of the cream and the ladyfingers is at least 1:1.  I personally prefer it to be 2:1.  Dust with cocoa powder in the end and put in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  When ready to serve, dust with another layer of cocoa.

I won't suggest any because this is perfect.  But you could essentially replace the ladyfingers with sponge cake and add chopped good quality dark chocolate in between your ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture. And you could add alcohol, like kahlua, if you really wish.  But try this classic recipe first before you make that decision.

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