Birthday birthday tiramisù! So perhaps not the most traditional way in which to celebrate another revolution of the earth around the solstar, but then again, I never professed to be the traditional sort. Probably one of my favorite desserts, it’s something that I always find myself drawn to order whenever it’s offered at a restaurant. Ok, perhaps drawn to it doesn’t quite convey the true gravity of the situation… It’s usually a rare occurrence that I DON’T order this unless there’s a slice of magical cheesecake luring me into decadent temptation.
With that in mind, was there really a better way to rejoice in the big 3-3 then with a homemade tiramisù? I shook my magic 8-ball and got the sound and sage advice of “Go For It!” SOLD! After checking out quite a few different variations ranging from a delectable sounding tiramisù layer cake to a limoncello tiramisù, I decided to go with a more traditional approach for my neophyte attempt at this Italian classic.
A basic layered dessert, tiramisù usually consists of Italian savoiardi, or hard lady finger biscuits, soaked in espresso and then layered alternately with a mixture of mascarpone cheese, eggs, and a touch of Marsala wine. A very common practice is to prep the eggs and make a zabaglione before adding it to the mascarpone cheese. While this sounds awesome, I opted for the KISS method for this foray and the results were still pretty spectacular.
The Marsala wine here is a must as it heightens the sweetness of the mascarpone and lends a very unique and decidedly Italian flair that makes this dish. If fresh espresso cannot be readily had, as was in my case, I found that using instant espresso powder worked just as well and was infinitely more convenient.
The end result was a birthday “cake” that was pretty out of this world. Served with fresh sliced strawberries on the side, it was velvety, luxurious, and not too sweet…it was all that a girl could have hoped for! What can I say? I’m easy to please 🙂
Aunt Enza’s Tiramisù
Adapted from Epicurious December 1996
1 cup unsweetened espresso coffee (around 8-10 shots of espresso)
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons Marsala
8 oz Italian savoiardi lady fingers (about 2 dozen)
unsweetened cocoa or bittersweet chocolate for garnish
Line a 9″ springform pan with a round of parchment paper.
Prepare the espresso and cool completely. Separate the eggs, discarding the white from 1 of them. Beat 2 egg whites with 1 tablespoon sugar until it forms soft peaks. In another bowl, beat 3 egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add the mascarpone and Marsala to the egg yolk mixture and blend until well combined. Lightly fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.
Dip ladyfingers, one at a time about 1 second each side, in espresso coffee and line the bottom of a the springform pan with about 1/2 of the cookies or until bottom is completely covered. Cover with about 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture. Continue building the tiramisù making 2 layers of cookies topped with 2 layers of mascarpone mixture. Dust the finished tiramisù with unsweetened cocoa or chop up some bittersweet chocolate. Refrigerate at least 5 hours.
Note: This can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days. You can also use Kahlua instead of Marsala to further accent the coffee tones.