Coffee cream and some biscuits sounds like a reasonable offering for the dessert course, but the Italians not surprisingly have taken the combination and turned it into one of their most famous desserts, tiramisu, which translates as pull me up.
Whether the name derives from the addition of caffeine or simply the pleasure of something sweet and creamy is a matter of debate. The origins of this pud are also the subject of fevered discussion in certain circles. However, what is not in doubt is that when the tiramisu is on the table, the more serious business of eating leaves little time for idle historical chat.
The basis for tiramisu are lady fingers, or Savoyard biscuits, and the cream cheese mascarpone, both of which can be easily sourced from delicatessens and supermarkets. It can be constructed in individual glass bowls, or even large wine glasses in common with that other favourite of Italians with a sweet tooth, zabaglione. However, for this recipe, which will be enough for six people, a shallow oven-proof dish will suffice. It may not be as easy on the eye in terms of presentation, but who cares along as everyone has a generous portion to get their teeth into. Just carry to the table, arm the most responsible with a large serving spoon and begin handing out bowls filled with a generous portion.
A Large Packet of Lady FingersLet’s begin with the ingredients:
- 150 grams of icing sugar,
- Four large, fresh free-range eggs,
- 200 grams of mascarpone,
- 200 millilitres of freshly brewed espresso coffee left to cool,
- 120 millilitres of a dark rum or a dessert wine such as Marsala,
- A large packet of lady fingers (around 20-30 biscuits),
- 100 grams of cocoa powder.
- The first job is to mix the espresso coffee and alcohol in a bowl and then set to one side.
- Next, separate the eggs into yolks and whites, put the latter to one side and in a mixing bowl beat together the yolks and the icing sugar until a creamy consistency has been achieved.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a fork until a semi-stiff consistency is achieved, then add the whites to the yolk and sugar mix.
- To this now add the mascarpone cheese and fold in gently until all the ingredients are amalgamated.
A Blanket of the Mascarpone MixNow it is time to assemble the tiramisu:
- Place a layer of the lady fingers on the bottom of the dish and using a pastry brush, coat them lightly with the coffee and alcohol mixture.
- Then with the back of a large spoon or knife, cover the biscuits with a blanket of the mascarpone mix, followed by another layer of biscuits, again brushed with the dark liquid.
- Finish with a second layer of the mascarpone mix.
- Then place the cocoa powder in a plastic or wire sieve and dust the top until it is completely covered in a dark crust.
- Pop the tiramisu into the fridge for about four hours, removing half an hour before serving in order that it regains some semblance of room temperature.