Tiramisu may be a cliche’ on Italian restaurant menus – but there’s a good reason why it was so ubiquitous during the late 1970s and 1980s. It tastes DIVINE – like eating a cloud dipped in coffee and chocolate and slathered in a rich, eggy, boozed up zabaglione. At least that’s how my version of tiramisu tastes. It holds true to its Italian translation as a “pick me up.”And I do hope you try it. It does require a few bowls to be dirtied, but the end result is totally worth it. Save a bit for yourself to eat in solitude – no distractions allowed. That’s the best way to savor every morsel of this heavenly dessert.
This recipe is based on a tiramisu I ate 20 years ago in Pettoranello, Princeton, N.J.’s Italian sister-city. We were there celebrating the newly established relationship and were invited to break bread at the home of local residents. Anna Maria Canzano and her family invited us into their home and created a memorable meal for us, starting with octopus salad, two pasta courses, a veal dish, several vegetables and two desserts – a baba au rum and this tiramisu. Over the years, I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit to indulge my preference for a boozy tiramisu – I use bourbon. But if you want to serve it to tea-totalers, or children, by all means leave out the alchohol.
One of the first steps is making what’s essentially a zabaglione. You beat the egg yolks with sugar over a double boiler until they’re silky and pale yellow, then add the booze.
Fold in the mascarpone and egg whites.
Make some strong espresso, let it cool, then add more booze (bourbon is my first choice, rum second). Quickly swirl the savoiardi biscuits in the liquid, but not for too long or they’re fall apart.
Line the pan with the biscuits (or start with the egg mixture and then biscuits next – your choice)
Repeat the process with more zabaglione, more biscuits, ending with a layer of zabaglione.
Sprinkle with cocoa powder and let it sit, covered, in the fridge overnight.
Optional – decorate with pansies or other flowers.
Retreat to a quiet corner and indulge. It may taste sinfully delicious, but no confessions necessary.
printable recipe here
- 16 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature
- 14 oz. package of savoiardi bisciuts
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup liquor (I used bourbon, but dark rum would be great too
- 2 cups espresso coffee
- 1/2 cup more of liquor
- unsweetened cocoa powder
- Separate the eggs and cook the yellows with the sugar, over a double boiler, beating until ivory colored.
- Add the 1/4 cup liquor and whisk over simmering water until the mixture begins to thicken. Cool.
- Separate the eggs and beat the whites until stiff.
- Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites.
- Mix the coffee and the 3/4 liquor and dip the biscuits into it, quickly coating both sides.
- In a large serving dish, place a layer of the biscuits, a layer of the mascarpone mixture and then repeat, ending with a layer of the mascarpone mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. (Note, I have been making it for years starting with the mascarpone mixture on the bottom and ending with the biscuit layer on top, but I think I now like it better if you start with the biscuit layer on the bottom and end up with the mascarpone mixture on top. It’s up to you. Either way, it’s delicious.)