Most people are familiar with Tiramisu as it’s frequently listed on the dessert menu of many Italian restaurants. The 90s took a toll on this luscious Italian trifle-like dessert. During that decade it was like a one-hit wonder, overplayed so often we all dreaded to hear it again. And there were so many bad renditions that the reputation of Tiramisu was tarnished. But thankfully in recent years it has been redeemed.
It is said that Tiramisu was created in Italy in the 1960s. Over time the recipe has seen various versions emerge and I’ve tried a number of them. All of the first Tiramisu recipes I made used raw egg yolks, which were whisked into sugar to create the creamy custard layers. With so much concern over serving raw eggs I went in search of a recipe where the eggs were cooked. This version originated from a recipe written by Tyler Florence and is by far my favorite. (Tyler Florence is another great chef who has written some fabulous cookbooks.)
The custard is actually a sabayon or zabaglione, a beautiful dessert sauce rich with egg yolks and mascarpone, with a layer of intense flavor from Marsala, a fruity and smoky wine. The “cake” portion of this dessert comes from ladyfingers, which are dipped into a blend of espresso, bittersweet chocolate, pure vanilla and dark rum.
Tiramisu is not difficult to make. The most time consuming piece is making the sabayon sauce and though not complicated it needs your attention while it cooks to prevent the eggs from “scrambling”. Cooking the sauce in the top of a double boiler and whisking while the sabayon thickens are keys to perfection. If you don’t have a double boiler, you can place a heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water.
There are two different types of ladyfingers, one more of a cake, the other considered a cookie. I use the latter, a cookie made by Alessi, available in the gourmet cookie section of your market or online. If you don’t have access to espresso you can use instant espresso or a dark roast coffee in a pinch. For Tiramisu to be at its peak, it needs to be well chilled. It’s best to refrigerate overnight making it a great dessert for planning ahead.
Beautiful and elegant, Tiramisu is a fabulous dessert for family and friends!
7 extra large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup sweet Marsala wine
8 ounces mascarpone, room temperature
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup espresso
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, plus extra for garnish
¼ cup dark rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In the top of a double boiler combine the egg yolks with the granulated sugar and whisk together.
Add the Marsala wine, whisk into the eggs and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Continue cooking until the egg mixture doubles in volume and becomes thick. Gently whisk in the mascarpone.
Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool. Whip the cream along with the powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled sabayon.
Combine the espresso, bittersweet chocolate and rum in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat just until the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
Dip each ladyfinger into the espresso mixture, turning a couple of times so that the cookie absorbs the liquid. Place the ladyfingers in a serving bowl or dish in a single layer.
Spread a layer of the sabayon across the ladyfingers. Continue layering the ladyfingers and sabayon, ending with the sabayon. A quick note for proportions-The number of layers will vary depending upon the size of your dish. The serving dish I use is 8″ in diameter, with three layers of ladyfingers and four layers of sabayon. If you use a 13″ x 9″ dish, you’ll have two layers of ladyfingers between three layers of sabayon.
Cover and chill overnight. Prior to serving grate additional bittersweet chocolate over the top.
Layers of wonderful textures and flavors!