Recipe Corner: Tiramisu
- a touch of sugar
- a touch of alcohol (I like amaretto or spiced rum)
- …and a dusting of cocoa powder on top
That’s all it needs.
Using whipping cream in tiramisu, or vanilla extract is are unnecessary. Because of the whipped eggs, the cream is already ethereally light and creamy. And the focal flavor of tiramisu should be the espresso, not vanilla. Also, part of what makes an incredible tiramisu is quality ingredients, brought together from scratch.
To get started, separate 6 eggs, and place 3 of the egg whites in one bowl, and 6 egg yolks in another.
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the egg white bowl:
Use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
At first, with about 30 seconds of whipping, the mixture will look foamy (left photo), but after a couple minutes of whipping, the egg whites will start to thicken (right photo).
You’ll know the egg whites have reached stiff peaks when you pull a beater out of the mixture and a little peak sticks straight up:
Side note: if you’ve never whipped egg whites to soft or stiff peaks before, make sure you take care not to over whip the egg whites. After stiff peaks, the egg whites will curdle and you’ll have to start over again.
Set the stiff egg whites aside, and switch over to the egg yolk bowl.
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the egg yolks:
Whip this mixture for a couple minutes, until the mixture goes from bright yellow (left photo) to a pale yellow color (right photo):
It should be thick, and you can see that the mixture piles on top of itself when you let it drip from the beater.
Now it’s time to add the mascarpone cheese!
What is mascarpone?
It’s a mild and creamy Italian cheese, that typically comes in small tubs.
It’s often compared to cream cheese, but the flavor is SO different, and the texture is much nicer.
You can see how creamy and smooth it is here:
The flavor of mascarpone is unlike anything else, and it’s essential for this recipe. Fortunately nearly all grocery stores carry it!
Mix in the mascarpone with the hand mixer until incorporated, then gently fold in the stiff egg whites, 1/3 at a time:
Take care not to deflate the egg whites too much as you fold.
Now it’s time to build the tiramisu!
Since we already discussed that the quality of a tiramisu is dependent on the quality and freshness of the ingredients, make sure to use fresh espresso here, and not an instant espresso powder. If you don’t have the equipment to make your own espresso, stop by a coffee shop to get some. You’ll need the espresso to come to room temperature anyway, so it will be fine for the car ride home. When the espresso has cooled to room temperature, combine it with a couple tablespoons of amaretto or spiced rum. Those are two favorite choices, but marsala and brandy are also commonly used if you prefer those instead.
(Also, feel free to omit the alcohol if you don’t want it, but it enhances the flavors).
To dip, I like to place the espresso mixture in a flat and small dish, so the entire ladyfinger soaks evenly:
The ladyfingers only need a quick soak, about 1-2 seconds.
What ladyfingers are best for tiramisu?
The best kind of ladyfingers to buy are the smaller and thinner ones, and a go-to brand is Natural Nectar.
As you soak the cookies, place them in a 8×8 square dish in an even layer:
Then pour over a layer of the mascarpone cream to cover, and repeat:
You can also make the tiramisu in small glass ramekins, like this:
Just break apart or cut the ladyfingers to fit the glass. And now comes the hard part…letting the tiramisu sit in the fridge for a good 4-6 hours.
This lets the layers soak into each other and lets the flavor meld.
Additionally, if you’re making the 8×8 pan, the tiramisu must be chilled close to the 38 degree range in order to hold when cut into squares. This lets the mascarpone cheese and everything else firm up. Then you can dig into the ramekins with a spoon, or cut squares from the 8×8 pan.
Serve the tiramisu cold, with a dusting of cocoa powder on top.
It’s best enjoyed the same day, but the next day is okay too. The eggs will deflate a little bit by the next day, but it still tastes great.
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