Little known factoid: the name tiramisu derives from the Italian verb tirare which means “to lift” or “to pull.” Mi is a reflexive personal pronoun, and su means “up.” Put it all together and the name of this fabulous dessert adds up to lift me up. And indeed, it is the perfect go-to dessert when you are looking for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up to lift your mood and energy levels. All that delicious mascarpone creme, the coffee and of course, the rum..perfection.
Speaking of perfection, I am actually quite picky about my tiramisu. We have a good Italian family friend (affectionately referred to by my parents as The Godfather), and when we visited his home in the coastal Roman suburb of Ostia, his wife prepared a sumptuous seven-course dinner that concluded with the most decadent, fluffiest, finger-licking-delicious tiramisu I have ever had. And that ruined it for me. It has forever set my tiramisu bar so high that I am now a little bit (ok a big bit) of a tiramisu snob. It’s not fluffy enough, it doesn’t have enough coffee, it’s not moist enough, it’s not sweet enough…on an on goes the list of possible critiques. It’s shocking how many things can go wrong with a dessert that is so simple (no fancy cooking techniques or baking is required!). Anyway, a bit of good news: after much experimentation, I have discovered that Ina Garten’s recipe is actually pretty great. Maybe not quite as perfect as Anna Rosa’s heavenly version I had in Rome, but close enough.
You will need:
- 6 extra-large egg yolks (save the whites for making meringue!) – they HAVE to be at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup good-quality dark rum
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups brewed espresso
- 500g mascarpone cheese
- 30-40 Italian lady fingers (aka savoiardi)
- Block of bittersweet chocolate, for shaving
- Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
Whisk egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed for about 5 minutes, until very thick, fluffy and pale yellow. Add 1/4 cup rum,1/2 cup of espresso (Ina says 1/4 but I like my tiramisu to taste strongly of coffee), and all the mascarpone, and whisk at medium speed just until combined and smooth.
Line a medium (approx 9×12 inches and at least 2 inches deep) with a layer of lady fingers. Mix remaining espresso and rum and pour just enough over the lady fingers to make them pretty moist but not completely mushy. Ina suggests dipping each biscuit into the espresso-rum mix and then lining the dish, but since I like my tiramisu on the moister side, I find it easier to first line the dish then pour the liquid on top. Next, create a layer of espresso mascarpone cream on top of the cookies using half the mascarpone mixture, followed by another layer of espresso-rum moistened lady fingers, and finally another layer of mascarpone cream. Refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, sprinkle top with shaved chocolate (make shavings using a vegetable peeler) and dust with confectioner’s sugar.
In good health,
* photo credit: foodnetwork.com