I think I’ve mention on here already that I’m taking an Italian class at the local community college down the street from my house, just for fun. I ride my bike down there twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and it’s so much fun. I really needed something to do that wasn’t related to food, cooking, shooting, editing images, or writing posts or recipes on a daily basis. I wanted something to take myself away from looking at my phone or my camera or a computer day in and day out. I’ve always wanted to learn Italian so I thought it would be a great break from my work routine, and so far it’s been amazing. We have a test after each chapter and within each chapter we learn about different regions in Italy because learning about the culture is just as important as learning the language. On top of learning Italian in the classroom, I’ve also been challenging myself to learn some classic Italian dishes in the kitchen. Of course, I always have to bring it back to cooking whenever possible. Whatever region we’re learning in school, I research traditional dishes within that region and pick one dish to try and make myself. I’m really enjoying the challenge and the class benefits from it because I bring in whatever I make. So I’ve decided to start posting some more classic Italian recipes on the blog. The first one is a classic and simple Tiramisu. It’s one of my favorite Italian treats, and so I figured it would be a great start. Let’s go on this journey together.
Let’s start by beating together the egg yolks with some sugar until pale yellow in color and tripled in volume. You want it to be pale and thick, so keep beating on high for about 5 minutes.
**Tip: I know that some of you might be a little thrown off by the fact that we’re using egg yolks and not cooking this dish, but the eggs are pasteurized and so you shouldn’t have any fear. They’re traditionally used to thicken the custard and make it rich.**
Transfer the egg yolks to a large bowl, and wipe out the bowl as best you can. It doesn’t have to be completely clean. Add the heavy cream and sugar and beat on high until medium peaks form.
Add the mascarpone cheese and mix by hand until smooth and spreadable, with medium peaks.
**Tip: You don’t want to over-mix because if you do the cream with start to become too thick, over-whipped and look like butter. But if that does happen, add a splash or two of heavy cream to loosen it up.**
Fold the mascarpone mixture into the sweetened egg yolks mixing in batches until just incorporated. Again, do not over mix. You just want to gently fold the two mixtures together. Set aside.In a shallow dish, combine the warm espresso with the Marsala wine which is a sweet or dry Italian wine from Marsala, in Sicily. It’s traditional in a classic tiramisu.
**Note: If you don’t have an espresso machine, you can use an instant espresso powder mixed with hot water, or you can also use a very very strong brewed coffee.**
Dust the bottom of a 8×8-inch square baking dish completely with cocoa powder. Then quickly dip each ladyfinger (one at a time) into the espresso, turning over to coat both sides. You want to work very quickly because the ladyfingers can soak up the liquid fast and if they’re in there for too long, they’ll get too soft and break apart.
**Note: I use the dry ladyfingers for tiramisu because they soak up the espresso better. While the soft ladyfingers are a bit too soft for this cake. If all you can find are the soft kind, then lay them down into the dish and then brush them with the espresso. You also won’t need as much espresso.**
Lay the espresso soaked ladyfingers into the dish in a single layer, breaking the ladyfingers as needed to fit them into the dish. Then add half of the mascarpone cream and spread out into an even layer.
Repeat with the remaining ladyfingers with another layer, and then spread with the remaining mascarpone mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight would be best.
Once chilled and set, cover the top with some more dusted cocoa powder and chocolate shavings.
Slice into 9 or 6 even pieces. It just depends if you want six large servings or nine medium. The chilling time really helps firm up the cake, making it much easier to slice and serve the tiramisu.
This is one of those desserts that just get better and better with time. I recommend making it a couple days in advance and keeping it in the fridge until ready to serve. The longer it sits, the more flavorful it will be!
So full disclure is that traditional tiramisu does not have heavy cream in the mascarpone filling layer, but I like to add it because it really helps firm up the cake perfectly and it give it an even richer flavor. Long story short, you can keep it out, but I really recommend it.
It’s a great dessert to keep on hand when you need a “fancy” dessert to impress your family and friends the next time you’re having a dinner party. P.S. Free party tip: Everyone is impressed and loves a classic tiramisu.
I love a good tiramisu for several very important reasons. The first is that it’s a no-bake dessert, and sometimes we all just really need a no-bake decadent dessert. The second reason why I love it so much is because it’s ridiculously easy to make. You can also make it a few days in advance, making it the perfect “fancy” dessert to serve at your dinner parties or if you’re just really trying to impress someone. Keep it up your sleeve and don’t forget it!
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup (8-ounces) mascarpone cheese
- 1¾ cups good espresso or very strong coffee
- 2 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
- 1 (7-ounce) package dry ladyfingers (about 32 cookies)
- 1 to 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved
- Beat the egg yolks and ¼ cup sugar on high until very pale yellow in color and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. A ribbon should fall from the beater when lifted from the bowl. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, wiping out the bowl used to beat the egg yolks.
- Beat the heavy cream and remaining ¼ cup sugar, in the same bowl, until soft-medium peaks form. Add mascarpone and stir by hand until it's a smooth, spreadable mixture with medium peaks. Gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the sweetened egg yolks until well combined. Set aside.
- In a shallow dish, combine the warm espresso and rum and set aside.
- Using a fine-mesh sifter, dust the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking dish with 2 tablespoons cocoa powder. Make sure the bottom is completely covered.
- Working with one ladyfinger at a time, quickly dip each into the espresso mixture, turning over quickly to coat both sides. Don't leave them in the liquid for too long or else they'll get too soft and break apart. You want it for about 1 to 2 seconds on each side. Place them rounded side up at the bottom of the baking dish. Repeat, using half of the lady fingers, until you've got an even layer, breaking the ladyfingers as needed to make them fit in the dish. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture onto the ladyfingers in one even layer. Repeat with another layer of the remaining espresso-dipped ladyfingers and the remaining mascarpone mixture.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight would be better. When ready to serve, dust the top completely with the remaining cocoa and chocolate shavings. Cut and serve. Enjoy!