My first foray into Tiramisu making was a few years ago on Christmas Eve when my sister and I decided to take on this lovely dessert. It had become a favorite of ours and was the only dessert we would order anytime we ate at Olive Garden. And well, we were audacious baker’s and thought if Olive Garden could make delish Tiramisu so could we… yeah, not so much. Oh how naive we were! Let’s just say it didn’t quite turn out like theirs. Though they have access to all the right ingredients… we did not (yep, that’s my story & I’m sticking to it. ;))
I would say that the espresso is one of the most important ingredients in Tiramisu, wouldn’t you agree? Well we did not have any espresso nor any way of making espresso. So we did the only thing we could think to do at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve … we went to Sonic &, much to the utter confusion of the car hop, ordered like 7 or more shots of espresso. Yes, we used Sonic espresso in our Tiramisu. There’s a dirty little secret for ya!
We also accidentally bought chocolate mascarpone cheese and used the spongy type ladyfingers that got soggy & fell apart the second they touched the espresso. Thus the espresso leaked out into the pan and made the whole thing a soggy mess. Needless to say, after that we decided to leave the Tiramisu making up to the experts.
I did however make a Tiramisu Trifle last year and while it was good you just can’t beat the real thing. So a few months ago while out grocery shopping I serendipitously stumbled upon the right kind of lady fingers I needed for Tiramisu and decided on a whim that it was time. I actually ended up using the recipe on the back of the lady fingers (Alessi Savoiardi Cookies) and it turned out so beyond amazing!! Just as good if not better than Olive Garden’s, in my opinion. Yes, it was a Tiramisu to be proud of!
This dessert may take a little more time and effort than others but it’s totally worth it! And yes, it may seem just a bit intimidating but as long as you follow the directions and have the right ingredients you should be just fine.
The Zabaglione Cream (I always feel so Italian when I say that, so Giada De Laurentiis, if you will) is the base for our filling and starts by cooking egg yolks in a double broiler. Combining this with the mascarpone cheese and egg whites whipped until stiff peaks is what makes for the amazingly rich and creamy filling.
We then make our espresso and line the lady fingers in a pan. And instead of dunking each lady finger into the espresso mixture, which could cause them to fall apart (a major problem for me last time), you just pour a tbsp. full on each lady finger. Then it’s the easy part, as you just layer and then dust with cocoa powder or shave on chocolate curls (or both). Refrigerate and voila, a luscious and fancy dessert!
Lady fingers soaked with espresso, creamy mascarpone cheese filling with a light dusting of cocoa powder on top? Yes, please! It’s an elegant dessert that would be perfect for this time of year… or any time of the year for that matter. :)
Zabaglione Cream -
5 large egg yolks, from large grade eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup marsala
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
4 tablespoons sugar
1 lb. mascarpone cheese
2 cups freshly brewed espresso or 2 cups strong coffee
1/2 cup brandy or 1/2 cup marsala
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 (14 ounce) packages Alessi Savoiardi cookies
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
chocolate curls or fresh edible flower (to garnish) (optional)
Zabaglione Cream: In the top part of a double boiler, beat eggs and sugar together until the mixture is pale yellow in color.
In the bottom part of the double boiler, bring water to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Place egg yolk mixture over water and gradually add Marsala, beating continuously. Scrape bottom and sides of pan occasionally and cook 6 to 10 minutes or until soft mounds can be formed. Transfer to bowl, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Whip cream with 2 Tbsp. sugar until soft peaks form. Fold in Mascarpone and Zabaglione and mix until well blended. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
In a separate bowl, mix espresso, 2 Tbsp. sugar, Marsala and vanilla. Arrange cookies on the bottom of a 9" by 13" pan. Carefully spoon about 1 Tbsp. of the coffee mixture over each cookie so they are well saturated but not falling apart. Spoon 1/2 cheese mixture over cookies and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. cocoa. Repeat one more time ending with cocoa.
Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight so that cookies can soften as they absorb moisture. Garnish and serve. (Serves 12)