I’ve been making tiramisu ever since I was a teenager and have tried many versions of it.
Last week, I made a version that I finally decided was my best. It’s a little unorthodox.. a little un-Italian conventional.. but it tastes really good. I’ve provided many options here. Feel free to use what works for you and experiment a little. It’ll always taste good. You just cannot go wrong with tiramisu.
Make this dessert the day BEFORE you are going to serve it. It gives the tiramisu time to get chilled really well and for all the flavors to amalgamate.
Don’t forget that tiramisu uses raw eggs and so should always stay chilled and be discarded if not eaten within 3 days. Children below 10 and pregnant ladies should avoid eating tiramisu completely.
9 teaspoons instant expresso (or make 1.5 cups of good strong expresso coffee)
1.5 cups hot water
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons Marsala wine or dark rum (see notes in recipe on use of alcohol)
500g mascarpone cheese
300ml fresh cream (liquid)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks (Important note: use the freshest you can get)
1 packet ladyfingers (7 oz.) or slabs of good trifle cake
10g gelatin powder (about 2 teaspoons) + 2 tablespoons boiling water
Good quality cocoa powder or shaved chocolate for dusting
Add 300ml of fresh cream into a mixing bowl.
Whisk at medium speed and eventually increase to high speed. If you whisk at high speed immediately, the cream will splatter everywhere.
Whisk till the cream is stiff. VERY STIFF.
While the cream is being whisked, find another mixing bowl.
In this separate mixing bowl, add 500g of mascarpone cheese. There is no substitute for this, so don’t bother asking. It would make a big difference if you use any other cheese. So, find the cheese!
Add 1/2 cup of caster sugar.
Add 2 tablespoons rum or marsala wine. This is important. Don’t skip this even if you choose not to add any alcohol, because it flavours the cream.
Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Whisk together to combine until it’s light and fluffy.
Add 6 egg yolks.
Whisk to combine.
You’ll start to panic now because the cream has turned into a liquid. Don’t panic yet!
Fold in the cream that you whisked earlier. I usually run out of patience after a while and just whisk this in as well.
Now you can start to panic. Because you are left with egg and rum flavored milk. And this is the part that I used to always struggle with tiramisu cream. The cream part becomes too soft and liquidy.
So here’s a weird step.
Whisk 10g of gelatin powder (or more if you prefer a more solid tiramisu for cutting) in a little boiling water. You just need enough boiling water to dissolve the granules, about 2 tablespoons.
Add the gelatin mixture to the cream and whisk well to combine.
This amount of gelatin will turn the liquidy mixture to a creamy texture. If you prefer to have a light jelly texture (for ease of cutting and serving later), feel free to use 15g to 20g of gelatin.
Cover the mixing bowl and leave the cream mixture to chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. The cream will thicken in time and will be easier to spread in the assembly of the tiramisu.
In the meantime, make the coffee-wine mixture.
In a large mixing bowl, add 9 teaspoons of instant expresso powder. I’ve used regular instant coffee powder before and it didn’t make a life-changing difference, so feel free to use what is more readily available to you.
Add 1.5 cups of hot water to dissolve the instant coffee. Or skip these 2 steps and brew 1.5 cups of good strong expresso coffee if you like.
Use a nice dark rum or marsala wine for this recipe. I always use rum, because that’s what I keep at home. I don’t have any other use for marsala wine other than tiramisu so I prefer not to stock it.
Add 1/2 cup of rum/marsala wine to the coffee mixture.
BIG NOTE – this amount turned out to be too strong for some friends. If you have friends who enjoy wine and alcohol, this amount will be fine. If you have friends who never drink, half this amount. If you have teenagers and do not want them to have any alcohol, feel free to use just 1 or 2 tablespoons here just for flavoring.
Set aside the coffee-alcohol mixture to cool.
When you are ready to assemble the tiramisu, find a large deep glass dish. I like to use a transparent plastic container because it comes with a cover and I can stow it away in the fridge easily.
I used Savoiardi traditional lady fingers in this recipe. But I’ve used ready to eat pound cake (like Sara Lee brand) or trifle cake before. As long as it’s vanilla flavored and not too sweet a cake, it’s fine.
If you use cake, you just need to stuff the cake into the container and pour the coffee mixture over it.
If you use ladyfingers, then gently dip each and every one gently into the coffee mixture. Dip in a horizontal manner. Dip and lift immediately. Do not linger. The fingers soak up the liquids VERY quickly.
I made a 3 layered tiramisu here, but feel free to make a 2 layered one or make individual tiramisu cups, like this -
Lay the lady fingers in the container to form the first layer.
Add a layer of the chilled cream. Spread it out nicely so that it’s about the thickness or thicker than the layer of lady fingers. It really depends on the size of your container. There’s no hard and fast rule here.
Using a small sieve, sprinkle sieved cocoa powder generously over the layer of cream until you cannot see the cream anymore. This adds an interesting colour and a delicious richness to the dessert.
Continue to dip the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and create your 2nd layer.
Repeat with the cream layer and cocoa powder layer.
You can finish here, with 2 layers or create 3 layers like what I did.
Finish off with a final layer of cocoa powder on top. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. I usually chill overnight.
When you are ready to serve, you’ll find that the cocoa powder on the top layer is now wet/moist. Dust a final layer of cocoa powder over it till it’s a dry layer again. You cannot have too much cocoa powder on top, so don’t worry.
Sometimes I use fine chocolate shavings for this last step.
Gently cut and scoop out the tiramisu to serve. If you had added a lot more gelatin earlier, the tiramisu will slice like a wobbly cheesecake, instead of being so soft. But I like it softer. It’s really up to your own preference.
The printable version of this recipe is here -
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