What is Tiramisu?
A classic Italian dessert, tiramisu (meaning ‘pick me up’ in Italian), is all about layers. Firstly, layers of sponge cake which are soaked in coffee or espresso to which a liqueur or wine such as Marsala is often added. Secondly, layers of soft and delicious mascarpone cheese which is one of the key ingredients in a tiramisu. Finally, powdered chocolate is then sprinkled on top of these two layers and the process of layering is then repeated twice or more! Tiramisu has become a really strong staple on many restaurant menus today. If you are one of the people who already love the delicious coffee infused biscuits with the taste of soft, fluffy mascarpone, then you will certainly enjoy making this easy recipe yourself at home! Of course it is an indulgent and rich dessert; filling, creamy and moreish, but what a winner a lovely tiramisu can make at a dinner party!
There are many different versions of tiramisu recipes out there from ones that use egg whites to those that use double or heavy cream as we do in this recipe. I personally prefer the double cream option as when you use egg whites they are mixed in raw. Egg whites will provide a lighter filling but I enjoy making a rich tiramisu with the cream. Try out both and taste the differences to decide which recipe you prefer. Simply substitute the double cream in the below recipe for 4 egg whites instead.
The type of alcohol added or whether you include any alcohol at all, can really vary the taste and the intensity of the dessert. As well as this, the chocolate you choose to use from using rich, dark bitter chocolate through to mild, plain chocolate can again have an impact on the resulting taste. This certainly gives rise to experimentation and you can really get creative when making a tiramisu! So let’s get started and take a look at how to make this utterly delicious dessert in four easy steps!
- 220g mascarpone cheese
- 60g caster sugar
- 160ml double cream
- 100ml brewed espresso coffee
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large packet of ladyfinger biscuits (substitute with equivalent biscuits if needed)
- Chocolate or hot chocolate or cocoa powder to dust
- Dry Marsala wine or rum (optional alcoholic content)
Add some water to a sauce pan and once it is gently simmering, place a medium sized mixing bowl on the top of this in a ‘bain-marie’ style. (‘Bain-marie’ simply means water bath and is of French origin, you may also have heard of it being called a ‘double boiler’). In this bowl over the heat, beat the egg yolks together. Then add half of the caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of Marsala wine. Keep whisking the mixture together until it doubles in volume which should take approximately 6-8 minutes. After this, carefully remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the mascarpone cheese until it is fully combined together. Now leave this to one side to fully cool before you go on to the next step!
In another bowl, whisk your double cream together until it forms stiff peaks. Then incorporate this into the fully cooled egg yolk mixture we made earlier. Combine them together gradually, adding one heaped spoonful at a time so that you are allowing air into the mixture which will help it to keep its shape and volume. The tiramisu filling is now complete, so all that is left to do is to make the tasty espresso mix!
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In a small mixing bowl, combine the brewed espresso coffee with the vanilla extract and the other half of the caster sugar. Then add the Marsala wine if you are including any alcohol.
This is one of the most fun parts of making a tiramisu, assembling it! Dip the ladyfingers into the espresso coffee we made earlier and line them along the bottom of the dish. (If you prefer, you could carefully pour the mixture over the biscuits or even brush the mixture on with a pastry brush). Try to saturate each biscuit evenly but not to the point where it loses its structural integrity! We do not want mushy biscuits. What we do want is for them to retain some shape and taste.
Next, arrange the biscuits to cover the whole bottom layer of your dish which may involve snapping a few biscuits here and there. Add half of the creamy filling on top and smooth it out evenly. (Try to resist the temptation to eat some of this delightfully fluffy mixture, but maybe for quality purposes you should try some anyway!). After you have raised your eyebrows and smiled at how delicious your baking efforts are, then grate some chocolate on top or sift some hot chocolate powder or cocoa powder on using a small sieve. Essentially, any type of chocolate from dark to plain will taste delicious in this middle layer. Repeat this whole step once more adding first the ladyfingers dipped in the espresso coffee and so on. When you reach the top layer again, sprinkle more chocolate on top and you have finished your tiramisu!
Cover and leave to chill in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours. Doing this is highly recommended as you will find that the ladyfingers will absorb more of the coffee flavor this way and that all the layers of the whole mixture will come together more for a delicious and irresistible taste! Enjoy!
Serve with a few berries such as raspberries or even dust with some icing sugar for added glamour. Remember that leaving out the alcohol will not compromise the taste too much and you can experiment making more layers to your tiramisu. For example, if you want four layers instead of two then simply double up all the ingredients mentioned.
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Here is You Tuber Laura Vitale from her channel ‘Laura in the Kitchen’. Watch as she makes a delicious and easy Italian version of tiramisu.