I was shopping for interesting-looking food the other day and came across a package of cookies. They looked like ladyfingers, or savoiardi in Italian, but were a bit harder. It reminded me that I haven’t made a tiramisù in a million years, and surprisingly, we have never featured one on this column. I thought I’d fill both voids this week with the recipe I use to make Tiramisù. I’ve had all different types of tiramisù across the Italian peninsula, starting first in Emilia Romagna, where it seems to be most prevalent. I’ve had versions made with hard cookies, with thin cake (sponge) layers, as free-standing mousse-y architectural slices, served gooey in a cup or just plain runny and as simple parfaits with dry cookies and little effort. The recipe I use is one that I found in a Slow Food cookbook, based on a recipe from near Parma. I’ve altered it over time based on feedback from Italian family, friends and colleagues, and my own personal tastes. I prefer a moussier texture and a cookie that’s not too soggy but not crunchy either. After tasting the tiramisù I made for this week’s column with these new semi-ladyfingers, my husband (who was only allotted one-third of the large pan) proclaimed that he was willing to risk his own death in order to finish both pans by himself. I take that as a thumbs up! — Kristina
*Note: Some readers have expressed concern about eating raw eggs. In Rao’s Cookbook (Random House 1998), their recipe whisks eggs and sugar together in a heat-proof bowl over a simmering pan of water, then uses a handheld electric mixer to beat for approximately 7 minutes until the mixture has tripled in volume and a candy thermometer inserted in the mixture reads 160F. You may try something similar, or use whipped cream with gelatin, or try a custard type filling, if you prefer not to use raw eggs.
About Kristina: Kristina is editor of the Design*Sponge columns In the Kitchen With and Behind the Bar (while its regular editors are on hiatus). She also reviews cookbooks at MattBites.com. There’s almost no time of the day when she isn’t working with food. You can see her food photography portfolio here and read her latest cookbook reviews here.
See Kristina’s recipe after the jump . . .
- 4 eggs, separated
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (use more or less depending on your preference)
- 4 T rum (or other liquor, like Vecchia Romagna, Cognac, whatevs)
- 1 lb. + 2 oz. mascarpone
- 2 cups of coffee (you can use the instant kind)
- a lot of lady fingers or similar substantial cookie — have at least two packages on hand
- one large relatively shallow dish plus another smaller one
A tip before starting: Don’t get your ladyfingers too soggy when dipping them in the coffee. As they sit overnight, the liquid will go to the bottom of your pan and make it watery. If the ladyfinger dents or falls apart after you dip it, it’s too soggy. You should just eat it immediately and move to the next one.
1. Make the coffee and set aside.
2. Mix the egg yolks with sugar, then add mascarpone and rum. Taste to make sure the flavors are as you’d like — add more sugar if you’d like it sweeter, or add more rum if you’d like the taste stronger.
3. In a separate bowl, mount the whites to firm peaks. Fold them into the yolks/mascarpone mixture until combined without streaks.
4. Spread a light layer of the mascarpone mixture in the bottom of the pan. Dip a lady finger in the pot of coffee then place in the bottom of the pan. Continue doing this one by one until you’ve covered the bottom of the pan. Spread a thick layer of mascarpone cream on top and repeat with the lady fingers. Cover the lady fingers with another layer of the mascarpone and set aside. If you have any ingredients left over after finishing the first pan, make another pan until you use everything up.
5. Cover your pan(s) with plastic film and place them in the refrigerator overnight or for at least eight hours. This gives the mascarpone mixture a chance to set up and become more like a mousse than a gooey cream. If you’d prefer a gooey tiramisù, you can serve this one immediately after making it.
6. Dust with cocoa only immediately before serving, to avoid the cocoa being absorbed by the cream mixture.
What’s not to love? Cookies, cream, coffee, cocoa, rum. I was intimidated at first by the thought that I’d have to fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture, as generally I’m not too great at that with cakes, but once this came out of the refrigerator, I realized how easy it is to make it work here. I love any dessert that doesn’t dirty too many dishes or have too many steps. This one is simple and cleans up in the blink of an eye. In summer, I fold strawberries into the mascarpone, soak the ladyfingers in a strawberry syrup-type mixture and leave out the rum.