Tiramisu is a typical Italian dessert, made with mascarpone cream and Savoiardi biscuits dipped in black coffee. It’s also one of the few fares I know of that please everyone, every time: whether you’re a creamy cheese fan or not, and whether you like or dislike coffee, you simply can’t not love tiramisu.
Tiramisu is very simple to make. In particular, mascarpone cream is one of the easiest things you could possibly think of – and it tastes great. I always have a hard time resisting the urge to scrape the bowl after making cream or cake batter, but this takes it to a whole new level.
By now, you’ll have added up mascarpone, eggs and sugar, and may worry about tiramisu being too heavy. Sure, it may not be the healthiest dessert ever – but “heavy” is still not the word I would use. “Filling” sounds much better: perhaps because it reminds me of the word “fulfilling”, and we all deserve a fulfilling treat once in a while – especially if it’s a sweet one.
I don’t want you to get to the bottom of this post and think: “Alright, this looks really nice, but it’s all going to go on my hips”. I want you to get to the bottom of this post and think: “This looks like the recipe for happiness, and heaven knows how much I need some of it right now”. We all need happiness, every day – and your daily dose could be right here. This recipe serves four people, so feel free to share it with a few friends who need it as much as you do.
- 200g Savoiardi (or ladyfingers)
- 250g mascarpone cheese
- 2 eggs
- 75g caster sugar
- 1/2 – 1 cup black coffee
- 1 tablespoon liquor. I recommend Marsala or Rum, but if you really don’t want to have alcohol, you can leave it out: the strong taste of the coffee will make up for it.
Perfect tiramisu requires Savoiardi. If you’ve never heard of them, just think ladyfingers – and make them longer, thicker, and softer. While every Italian supermarket sells Savoiardi, you may struggle to find them abroad: I have yet to find them in a UK high street store, and trust me, I’ve done quite extensive research!
The good news is that you can still use ladyfingers, and make a very good tiramisu; if you’re after the real thing, however, a little more effort will pay off. Start by looking out for your local Italian deli, or try with an Italian restaurant: some of them display Italian food as part of the decor, and may have a few packs of Savoiardi on sale. You can also reach out to other Mediterranean delis: I found my 400g pack at Garcia’s and Sons, a Spanish Shop on Portobello Road.
- Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl, until you obtain a smooth, sticky cream.
- Add the mascarpone, and mix well.
- Beat the egg whites in another bowl, until they are very firm and form soft peaks.
- Fold the beaten egg whites into the cream. Mix gently with a metal spoon, moving it from the bottom up.
- Line a rectangular stoneware or glass dish with a thin layer of cream. I used a 24x17cm stoneware dish, which turned out to be just perfect.
- Prepare the coffee, and pour it in a shallow flat-bottomed bowl when it’s ready.
Pro tip number one: Get hold of a stovetop coffee machine. Those who coined the saying “Italians do it better” were clearly thinking about coffee…or weren’t they?
- One by one, dip the Savoiardi into the coffee. Put them in your dish, building a first layer across its bottom.
Pro tip number two: Savoiardi are quite spongy, and absorb the coffee very quickly. To make sure your tiramisu is moist enough, but doesn’t get soggy, you should only dip them into the coffee for a second (or less!), and immediately take them out.
- Pour a generous helping of cream over the Savoiardi layer, and even it out with a spoon, making sure it covers all the biscuits.
- Repeat steps 4 and 5 to make a few more layers. Depending on the size and depth of your dish, you should be able to make three layers of biscuits, and top them with a final layer of cream.
- Cover your dish with a protective lid, or aluminum foil. Put it in the fridge, and leave it to set for at least 4 hours.
Pro tip number three: Serve your tiramisu the day after you made it. Leaving it in the fridge overnight guarantees the best results – but I totally understand it if you can’t wait!
- Take your tiramisu out of the fridge, and sprinkle with cocoa powder before serving.
I hope tiramisu makes you as happy as sharing this recipe has made me. I’d love to know if you like it, so feel free to leave a comment with your impressions!