You don’t have to eat out to enjoy a slice of luscious Tiramisù. You can make this easy-to-prepare dish at home and your guests will be dazzled!
The Easiest Tiramisù Recipe Anywhere
First a little background: most everyone knows “tiramisù” means “pick me up.” Venice and Treviso both claim this dish as theirs. With its combination of eggs, sugar and coffee, it supposedly was designed as the perfect energy boost for ladies of the night between “appointments.” Thank you, ladies!
Tiramisù is simple to make. I learned a little trick from Francesca, one of my Italian cooking instructors, who told me about a ratio to prepare these ingredients. You need: one egg, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of mascarpone to prepare Tiramisù for 2 people. Then you do the math from there.
I don’t know how these cookies came to be called ladyfingers. They don’t resemble the fingers of any ladies I know. In fact, most supermarket brands look even worse, like tiny little spongey stubs. Don’t use them for your tiramisù if you can help it. If you have access to an Italian specialty store, try using these savoiardis.
Savoiardis are a nice big size and a bit crunchy on one side. Roll the crunchy side in the coffee. Roll quickly so the ladyfingers don’t become too soggy. If you don’t have a retail outlet near you that sells them, you can always order savoiardis on Amazon.
Let your eggs sit out a bit from the fridge to get them to room temperature, if you have the time. Then separate them…easier said than done but have patience. Since you will be whipping the egg whites, don’t let even a speck of egg yolk or shell get into the whites. Egg whites are temperamental and don’t like intruders.
With a mixer, mix the yolks and sugar together until you almost double the volume.
You’ll need a very clean bowl and beaters to beat the egg whites until stiff. Years ago, on the advice of a French food cooking instructor, I bought a copper bowl and it is just the best for beating egg whites. If you don’t have copper, use a metal bowl, no glass, for best results. That teacher gave us a tip on how to know if your whites are stiff enough: turn the bowl upside down, if the whites fall out they have not been whipped enough.
These are egg whites beaten into stiff peaks. They are now ready to incorporate into the egg/cheese mixture.
Now take a few minutes to make 2 cups of coffee. It should be strong, not watery. I think espresso is best as you can taste the coffee in the finished tiramisù. I use the above Ferrara instant espresso powder but you can use any espresso you like. You can also just make a really strong batch of coffee in your drip machine.
A word about alcohol: You will often see recipes that include rum or marsala or some other alcoholic beverage included in the tiramisù recipe. In cooking classes in 3 different cities in Italy where tiramisù was on our menu, not one Italian recipe listed alcohol as an ingredient. So the choice is yours. If you prefer a little “pick me up” of your own, toss a few tablespoons of booze into the coffee.
As the coffee is cooling, gently fold the egg whites into the egg mixture until there are no more white streaks. Be careful not to over-mix. Spoon a layer of this mixture onto the bottom of your serving plate or dish.
Now the challenging part. Quickly roll the ladyfingers side-to-side and begin placing them on your dish. Keep rolling until you have one layer, breaking off the ladyfingers if you need to. And yes, your fingertips will turn brown. Occupational hazard.
You see above, I have a bottom layer of egg mixture covered by a layer of coffee-rolled ladyfingers. I’m now ready to add another layer of egg mixture. Keep going until you’ve used, at least, all your ladyfingers. You may have some egg mixture left over.
Refrigerate the tiramisù a couple of hours. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the dessert before serving. And enjoy.
Yield: Serves 8 - 10
Total Time: One hour
- 16 ounces (500 grams) mascarpone cheese
- 1-2 bags of lady fingers, preferably savoiardi
- 5 large very fresh eggs, separated
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups strong black coffee, preferably espresso
- good quality cocoa powder for sifting
- With an electric mixer, beat the yolks and the sugar until they are incorporated and light and fluffy and doubled in volume.
- Using a perfectly clean bowl and mixer, beat the egg whites, with a pinch of salt, until they are firm and form peaks when lifting the mixer.
- Prepare 2 cups of strong coffee and set aside in a shallow dish.
- Gently mix the mascapone into the yolk mixture until the mixture is firm, don't overmix.
- Gently fold in the egg whites with a spatula.
- Spoon a thin layer of the egg/cheese mixture onto a serving plate or dish.
- Take a ladyfinger and quickly roll the bottom side to side in the coffee and place it on the dish.
- Repeat rolling the ladyfingers and placing them on the dish until you have one layer, breaking the cake in pieces if need be.
- Spread a layer of egg/cheese mixture over the ladyfingers, then repeat with another layer of ladyfingers rolled in coffee.
- Make a least 2 layers of ladyfingers and 3 layers of the mixture, ending with the mixture.
- Refrigerate the tiramisu for several hours and, before serving, sprinkle cocoa powder over the top.