Monday, January 30, 2012


I spent more than a few years searching for a tiramisu recipe that measured up to restaurant fare. My attempts were either too soggy or too complicated. Then I found this recipe. The only way to mess it up is to use the wrong ingredients. Most importantly, use hard Italian ladyfinger cookies, not the spongy Twinkie-style cakes that supermarket bakeries call ladyfingers. (I buy the Vantia brand.) The rest is easy.

4 c coffee, brewed double-strength
1 c plus 2 Tbs sugar
¼ c rum
4 eggs, separated
16 oz mascarpone
48 hard Italian ladyfinger cookies
3 Tbs cocoa powder

1. Brew the coffee. While the coffee is still hot, stir in 2 tablespoons of the sugar and set aside. When the coffee has cooled, stir in the rum.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and the remaining sugar on medium-high until the yolks are pale and fluffy, about 4–5 minutes. Add the mascarpone and continue beating until smooth, another 2–3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.

3. Wash and dry the bowl and whisk of the stand mixer thoroughly. Beat the egg whites on medium-high until they form stiff peaks, about 3–4 minutes. Gently fold the beaten egg whites, one large dollop at a time into the mascarpone mixture.

4. Arrange on your countertop the ladyfingers, coffee, and a large Pyrex baking dish (about 10” by 15”). Submerge a ladyfingers in the coffee for 2–3 seconds (see tip below). Then place it neatly in the bottom of the baking dish. Continue until you have formed a complete layer, breaking cookies to fit if necessary. (This should use up half of the cookies.)

5. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture evenly over the ladyfingers. Top with 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder (see tip below).

6. Using the same method as above, add a second layer of soaked ladyfingers. Top with the remaining mascarpone mixture (but not with any more cocoa powder). Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.

7. Before serving, top with the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder.

• To brew double-strength coffee, simply brew as you normally would but use twice as much ground coffee. Use an espresso roast if you have it.

• Don't be tempted to oversoak the ladyfingers. They should still be firm when you remove them from the coffee (they will soften considerably as the liquid soaks through them). You'll know you've soaked them long enough if, by the time you finish a layer, the first cookies are spongy. You'll know you've soaked them too long if they fall apart in your hands.

• Instead of a large baking dish, you can use two loaf pans, making three layers in each.

• To apply the cocoa powder evenly, you can use a sifter. But I find sifters cumbersome, so I use a small mesh strainer (the one I use was originally designed to cover a sink drain). I spoon the cocoa into the strainer and then tap it as I move it across the dish.

• The reason for delaying the final dusting of cocoa powder is entirely aesthetic. Cocoa powder tends to “melt” into the mascarpone. so it looks best just after it's added.

• As with all dishes that contain uncooked eggs, you need to be careful with this tiramisu. Use eggs you can trust; don’t let leftovers linger; and if your health is such that a food-borne illness would pose a significant risk, use pasteurized eggs.

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