Tiramisù is undoubtedly the most famous Italian dessert there is. Literally translated to “toss (or pull) me up”, the name of the dessert refers to the pick me up that espresso gives this classic dish. Our method of preparing tiramisù comes from a Sicilian version of the recipe that utilizes a sweetened egg yolk mixture called zabaglione. It is the key to this recipe and it deepens the flavors of both the espresso and the liqueur simultaneously, making for a downright addicting dessert.
Like most Italian recipes, there are various ways to prepare tiramisù, usually depending on the region in which the tiramisù is made. The most common variations are in the type of liqueur used or the way in which the egg yolks are prepared. However one thing is certain- when talking about a classic tiramisù, egg yolks are a must. Oftentimes, Americanized versions of the recipe substitute out this key ingredient, resulting in a dessert that lacks the depth of flavor authentic tiramisù is famous for.
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 and 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup espresso liqueur (kahlua, amaretto or marsala can also be used)
- 8 oz. mascarpone, at room temperature
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- approximately 30 lady fingers (savoiardi)
- 1/2 cup (liquid) quality espresso coffee, cooled
- 5 tbsp. cocoa powder
To make the zabaglione start by placing the egg yolks in a double boiler on low heat. Add the sugar and liqueur stirring constantly until the sugar crystals dissolve. This step should take approximately 10 minutes. Be sure to use low heat and keep the water in the double boiler at a gentle simmer. Don’t try to rush this process – a high heat will cause the egg yolks to cook, resulting in an unpleasant, lumpy consistency. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and stir until cool. In a separate bowl, beat the mascarpone and whipping cream together until very thick. Fold the cooled zabaglione into the mascarpone mixture a little at a time until smooth and well incorporated. You may see lumps forming if your zabaglione is not cool enough, continue folding patiently until the consistency of the cream is smooth yet still thick.
To assemble, line the bottom of a 12 x 8 baking dish with lady fingers dipped quickly one at a time into the cooled coffee. Using a sifter sprinkle a layer of cocoa on the lady fingers. Spoon a layer of the zabaglione/mascarpone mixture onto the lady fingers. Repeat the process – lady fingers, cocoa, then cream – one more time. Add a final layer of cocoa and chill for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator before serving. This step is important as it will allow the zabaglione to thicken, the lady fingers to soften, and the flavors of the dessert to blend. Serve garnished with shaved dark chocolate if desired.