Tiramisu is possibly the best food in the world.
Sweet, cold, creamy, with the bite of coffee and liquor. But I rarely have it, and almost never make it. I’ve found that restaurants in the U.S. get something wrong (not sure what it is—too bready? flavor’s off?) and while actually making tiramisu isn’t difficult, finding the right ingredients IS.
My host mom from when I studied abroad, Giovanna, was the best cook and gave me her family’s recipes for her pasta con pesto and homemade tiramisu. And all of the sudden last Saturday night, I got it in my head that I HAD to make it for dinner the next evening. However, none of the stores had lady fingers (I called around), so I made my own homemade ladyfingers. It was surprisingly easy. Or you could substitute madeleines or pound cake or angel food cake (the first would be better than the other two).
I even made myself my own little personal-size serving in a cute little ramekin that I could eat that night!
Separate the egg yolks and whites VERY carefully. If you get any yolk in the egg whites, they won’t set up when beaten.
Place the 5 egg yolks in a food processor with 5 large spoonfuls of sugar.
Add the mascarpone and a little lemon juice. Blend until smooth and creamy.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a tiny bit of salt with a hand mixer until stiff and glossy, like you would for a meringue or souffle.
In another bowl, GENTLY fold together the creamy mixture with the whipped egg whites until combined. I use a rubber spatula and just slowly scoop down under the mixture, then fold back over it.
In a small bowl or flat dish, pour hot, strong coffee (or espresso) and some liquor, preferably flavored. I use kahlua most often, but you could use whatever you want (Grand Marnier, amaretto, etc.). Add a tiny bit more sugar as well. Take the ladyfingers and briefly dip them in the coffee mixture, then lay them down in the dish you’re using for the tiramisu. Set down a layer of soaked ladyfingers to begin with.
Next, scoop a layer of the creamy mixture all over the ladyfingers and smooth it out. Then another layer of ladyfingers, and then another layer of cream.
If you’re serving your homemade tiramisu right away, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top (I sprinkle it through a sieve to get that nice even spread). If you’re not serving right away (which I recommend), put in the fridge for however long you need, a couple hours are best. Don’t sprinkle the cocoa until you’re ready to serve (it gets really dark and soaked in otherwise).
The next part’s the easiest—DEVOUR. I love this stuff so much, might be my favorite food ever.
This homemade tiramisu is perfect to make for a dinner party because it’s actually better if you make it ahead of time…giving it time to set makes the texture better and I like it best fairly cold.
Giovanna’s Homemade Tiramisu
- 500 grams of mascarpone (two of the small containers)
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3 large egg whites
- 5 big spoonfuls (like serving spoon, not teaspoon) of sugar
- Strong coffee or espresso
- A little dessert wine or liqueur (like a shot’s worth; I used kahlua)
- 1 or 2 packages of ladyfingers (or biscotti in a pinch, but it’s much harder); recipe here if you need it
- A tiny bit of lemon juice
- A tiny bit more sugar
Separate the egg yolks and whites. Put the 5 yolks and the 5 big spoonfuls of sugar in a mixer (or food processor) and blend. Add the mascarpone and a tiny bit of lemon juice, and blend well. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a little salt with a hand mixer until stiff (like you would for a meringue or souffle). Gently and slowly fold the egg whites into the cream mixture with a rubber spatula (do it gently so you don’t deflate the egg whites).
In a flat bowl, mix the espresso/coffee, liqueur/dessert wine, and a little sugar. Dip the ladyfingers into this mixture and layer in a pan (this makes the equivalent of an 8×8 pan. Spread some cream mixture on top. Layer more soaked ladyfingers on top, more cream, etc. Top layer should be cream, and you can sprinkle/sift some cocoa on top. If necessary, refrigerate overnight (in this case I wouldn’t put the cocoa on until you’re ready to serve. Serve cold.