Oh hey, delicious Italian dessert. Tiramisu is a well-known and very well-liked dessert from Italy that is riddled with Mascarpone cheese, chocolate, lady fingers and espresso. Yeah, it’s probably the best combination of ingredients you could imagine, so good that even non-dessert eaters can’t pull themselves away from this delectable treat. Buying already made tiramisu has its pluses, like, not having to buy all of the ingredients individually; not having to scramble your way through mixing and assembling while crossing your fingers; and not doing the dishes afterwards. On the contrary, making homemade tiramisu is incredibly rewarding and you can customize your pick-me-up by adding more chocolate, cheese or espresso to accommodate your taste buds. Trust me, it’s worth the time invested.
Learn how to make an awesome Italian dinner to set the stage for your homemade tiramisu in Italian cooking. Let’s investigate the ingredients so you get to know what makes this dessert so tasty.
The most important part of the tiramisu, ladyfingers. Well, I suppose the dessert would be just as delicious without these sponge cakes shaped like fingers, but it’d be a lot messier. Ladyfingers are light spongy biscuits that are usually soaked in some kind of liqueur or syrup to make them extra sweet and flavorful. In Germany, these are known as spoon cookies. They are used in trifles, tiramisu and charlottes – but they are also used as teething agents (not soaked in liqueur of course!) for infants. They may be hard to come by in your local stores, but I’ll include a quick recipe at the bottom to make your own at home. Don’t be skittish – it’s not that hard. To get the lowdown on pastry baking, check out this online pastry mastery course.
This is not your traditional cheese, especially not the stinky aged kind that goes great with crackers and a glass of wine. This cheese is made from Italian cream and coagulates when mixed with citric acid. It’s a spreadable cheese that is sometimes used as a substitute for butter in Italy! Lucky them. (Lucky us?)
Ah yes, coffee. What’s not to love? Espresso is a concentrated version of coffee made by grinding about 7 grams of espresso (dark coffee beans) and pressing them into a puck that water is then pushed through for around 25 seconds. A shot of espresso is around 1.5-ounces and has approximately 80mg of caffeine.
Need I say more? You’ll want to have some cocoa powder and some semi-sweet chocolate shavings for the topper. Not only can you learn all about the special little bean, cacao, that makes chocolate a reality – but you can learn a ton of orgasmic raw chocolate-y dessert recipes, too in this healthy chocolate lovers course.
This is an optional ingredient, and by optional I mean the kind of liqueur, how much and if any at all. You can play around with the recipe and try Kahlua, Cognac, Dark Rum or a combination of those. In the recipe below we will use Kahlua because, well, it’s awesome. Often times the espresso is substituted for a kind of liqueur.
How to Make Tiramisu
What you need:
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 ¼ cups mascarpone cheese
- 1 ¾ cups heavy whipping cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 24 lady fingers (two 3-ounce packages)
- 1/3 cup Kahlua (or espresso)
- 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate shaved
- 1 ½ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
You can make this in a large dish and make approximately 12 servings, or you can serve the tiramisu in individual parfaits (a gourmet dessert touch!).
1. Mix the sugar and egg yolk together in a double boiler (you can put a small pot inside of a bigger pot with water in it to simulate a double boiler if you don’t have one). You don’t have to beat vigorously but try to make the mixture somewhat homogenous. Reduce the heat to low while you stir the mixture for about ten minutes. Basically, you are trying to coddle the eggs – not cook the yolk until it’s hard.
2. Put a medium sized bowl into the freezer now. This is the bowl you will whip the cream in. It’s always better to make whipped cream or to whip cream in a chilled bowl.
3. Take the egg and sugar mixture off of the stove and continue to mix it well until it’s nice and thick. Once it’s looking kind of like pancake batter, add the mascarpone cheese into the pot and continue to blend.
4. Now it’s time for a workout. Retrieve the chilled bowl from the freezer and whip up the heavy whipping cream to form peaks (make it look like whipped cream). Don’t cheat on this part by buying whipped cream – it’s not the same. Plus, it’s more satisfying to make your own. Really into this baking thing? Maybe you could, I don’t know, make some money doing it? Learn more in this food entrepreneur course on making this passion your paycheck.
5. Once you have a nice and creamy looking whipped puff of cream very carefully fold it into the sugar and egg mixture you finished making. Put this bowl aside for the time being.
6. Grab your lady fingers and split each one of them in half. If you are going the big dish of tiramisu route then cover the bottom of your dish with half of the lady fingers halves. If you are going the parfait route, put two lady fingers into every parfait dish.
7. Now is when you can add the liqueur of your choice. If you decided to use Kahlua, brush every lady finger with Kahlua. You can use as much or as little as you want, but trying to keep it evenly spread with the amount called for in the recipe is going to give you the most traditional tasting Italian tiramisu.
8. Begin spooning the creamy filling over all of your lady finger halves. This is when the fun starts. Begin layers the lady fingers, Kahlua, creamy-good-stuff: repeat. Do this until you have no more lady fingers left. The top layer should be cream filling so the chocolate in the next step sticks.
9. Top this baby off with the cocoa powder and chocolate shavings to make it look pretty and taste even better.
10. IMPORTANT: Refrigerate this dessert overnight before serving. Don’t skip out on this because you can’t control your sweet tooth. The wait is worth it! Have you ever had warm tiramisu? It’s good, but they serve it cold for a reason.
- Can I use something other than mascarpone cheese?
No, you can’t substitute the mascarpone cheese for anything else. Yes, there are recipes that use a combination of sour cream and cream cheese as an alternative but it will never taste as good and isn’t really tiramisu.
- How long does this take?
This recipe takes a total of 30-minutes to prepare and around 8-hours of chilling before being served.
- Where do I get ladyfingers?
Ladyfingers aren’t always easy to find (depending on where you live) but the ingredients to make them are staples in any grocery store. Here’s a quick recipe:
What you need:
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 egg whites
1. Pre-heat your oven to 350F.
2. Put your 4 egg yolks in one bowl and your 5 egg whites in a separate bowl. Beat the egg whites until they are foamy (usually do this on high speed).
3. Mix in about two tablespoons of your sugar to the egg whites. Keep the rest of the sugar for later. Mix well.
4. Keep beating the whites with a mixer until you notice peaks forming. Once you see this – put the mixture aside.
5. Now it’s time to pay attention to the egg yolks. Add the rest of the sugar, the vanilla to the egg yolks. Use the mixer and beat the ingredients together until well mixed and creamy. Set it aside.
6. Sift together the baking powder and AP flour into a separate bowl.
7. Very carefully, fold the flour mixture into the egg yolk mixture, and then proceed to fold the egg whites mixture into the egg yolk/flour mix. Do this carefully – you don’t want to over mix this or it’ll lose its fluff.
8. That’s it. Now it’s time to make “fingers” out of the pastry dough and bake them. To make the fingers you can use a pastry piping bag or you can just use a ziploc bag with the end cut off to pipe the mixture out onto your well-greased cookie sheet.
9. Bake the fingers for about 6-7 minutes. You don’t want them to overcook so keep an eye on them. If they don’t look fingers – it’s okay! No one will know because they will be covered with your awesome mascarpone sweet-goodness filling.