I stumbled upon this terrific recipe for Tiramisu and fell in love! It features the creamiest, dreamiest zabaglione between layers of coffee-infused ladyfingers.
There was a time at the start of 2020 when the end of the year seemed so far away and so unclear, and then we all blinked and suddenly we’re a few days away from Christmas. I find myself amazed by how fast time flew by in what will now go down in history as the weirdest, most eventful-yet-uneventful-at-the-same-time year of my life. All of us were caught off guard with the way all our lives literally changed this 2020, but as the adage goes, the show must go on! Even though we are still stuck inside this bad dream, our lives must go on. And Christmas must go on, albeit in a much tamer way.
I have to admit that Christmas has been very different for me since I became an adult. It’s not an issue of faith or anything like that. My gratefulness towards God is a daily thing that is not reserved just for special occasions. It’s just that the older I grow, the less Christmas looks like that exciting and shining time that it used to look like for me as a kid– filled with images of twinkling Christmas lights, Santa Claus, and lots of gifts under the tree. Seriously, am I the only one who misses that sheer single-mindedness of children in appreciating things? I miss getting excited over Christmas decorations and gift-giving because sometimes I feel like I’ve cultivated so much cynicism as an adult lol.
Anyway, the past few years, the Christmas holidays to me has become a chance to rest and/or travel. It’s one of those rare holidays in my country that actually comes in chunks, making it the perfect time for me to travel with my entire family since we’re all in vacation mode. In a way, one could say that Christmas has morphed from being about material gifts to cherished moments spent with family exploring new places. And I love it for that.
This year we’ll have to go back to basics it seems. Since we’re all just staying home, I think we’re just going to cook a bunch of simple meals and enjoy all the edible gifts we received. The fridge is full of stuff, as I’m sure yours is too, but maybe there’s a little room for some homemade tiramisu still. I actually wanted to get this recipe out in time for the Christmas and New Year holidays because I can’t think of a more perfect time to make and enjoy this. It’s a comforting and indulgent dessert, and you can go crazy with the booze.
Despite the fact you’ll need like three bowls to complete this dessert, it’s actually very simple and quick to make. Just make sure you give it ample time to set in the fridge. The original creator of this recipe, Chef Dennis Littley, named this THE BEST TIRAMISU YOU WILL EVER HAVE. It’s hard to say things like that considering I haven’t tried every tiramisu in the world, but I will say it’s even better than the super expensive one my dad ordered from this famous purveyor.
There will be a lot of situation where homemade recipes can’t be beat. For one thing, you don’t have to scrimp on the ingredients, not especially the coffee and liqueur. The highlight of this recipe however is the mascarpone cream. It is AMAZINGLY fluffy and silky and smooth and airy. It’s just wow. All the extra steps to cook the eggs to make that sabayon/zabaglione is totally worth it!
This tiramisu brings to the table a dessert with just the right sweetness, plus a solid hit of coffee and coffee liquor. Just YUM.
To start this recipe, you’ll want to cook your egg yolks until it becomes a sabayon or zabaglione. Essentially it’s a light Italian dessert in itself made with egg yolks, sugar, and alcohol, but we’re going to add it as a layer in our tiramisu.
To make it, you will need to bring about half an inch of water to a boil in a saucepan. Grab a bowl that’s large enough to sit on the rim of the saucepan without having the bottom of the bowl touch the water, then add in your egg yolks and sugar. As you may have seen in the video, we’re going to do a double boiler method of cooking the egg yolks here using the STEAM from the hot water, so it’s important that your bowl will NOT touch the very hot water. Once your water comes to a boil, lower the heat to the lowest your stove can manage. (Some people like to do this step with the saucepan off the heat.)
I like to whisk the yolks and sugar briefly together before putting it atop my saucepan.
The moment your bowl is on top of that saucepan, start whisking. DO NOT STOP. You want the yolks to be constantly moving so they don’t scramble. Although we are trying to cook the yolks here to avoid ingesting raw eggs, we do not want scrambled egg in our tiramisu so be vigilant. The mixture will turn from this liquid state…
…To this thick puddling-like lemon-colored mixture, after about 8 to 10 minutes of whisking.
You will definitely feel the change in the mixture with a whisk, but if this is too laborious for you, use a hand mixer. At this point, take the bowl off the heat and keep whisking that mixture until the bowl and the mixture both cool down. This is important because there’s a risk you’ll get cooked bits of egg if the bowl is still hot, even if it is off the heat already.
Allow this mixture to cool to room temp, then add in the mascarpone. I buy my mascarpone from an Italian Deli through the Metromart app. It’s a lot cheaper than buying from the supermarket and the quality is good.
Make sure you drain the mascarpone of water before adding it into your cooled sabayon, otherwise your cream might turn watery. Mix this thoroughly until smooth and completely combined.
In a separate bowl, whip your very cold heavy whipping cream until stiff. It should be able to hold a stiff peak when you raise your whisk from the cream. You can do this by hand as well, but I recommend using a machine. Also, make sure your cream is completely cold or it may not whip up.
Add the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, starting with 1/3 and just beating it un to loosen up the mixture.
Add in the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold the whipped cream into the mixture using a spatula. Use big folding motions, scraping from the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is nicely incorporated.
Once you have a homogenous mixture and you no longer see streaks of white whipped cream, stop mixing. You don’t want to deflate this mixture otherwise you will lose that lovely light and airy mouthfeel.
In another wide bowl, mix together strong coffee/espresso and coffee liqueur. I use Kahlua. I do not recommend skipping the booze because it adds such a nice punch to the dessert, but if you don’t like it, you can either scale down to maybe 3 Tablespoons or just add a bit of vanilla to your coffee for extra flavor.
By the way, make sure to place your coffee soak in a dish that’s wide enough for the ladyfingers. And speaking of which, this is the brand of ladyfinger biscuits I used. Savoiardi style ladyfingers is the recommended one, but if you can find a brand that’s yummier than this one go for it. I find that the Lago brand is not particularly yummy to eat on its own, but it’s not so bad in a tiramisu.
Now that the cast is complete, it’s time to assemble! You want to use a 9×9 or 10×10 square pan for this one. I used a slightly smaller pan and ended up with a really high tiramisu that was a pain to slice and serve perfectly lol. It looks gorgeously tall in photos though.
Anyway, drip your ladyfingers into the coffee soak and arrange them at the bottom of your square pan. Place them side by side close together.
Once you’ve completed the bottom layer, add in half the mascarpone cream. Spread it out into an even layer.
Now just repeat that for your second layer. (Because of my slightly smaller pan, my cream almost overflowed lol.)
After you add the final layer of cream on top, cover it with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. I always do overnight for tiramisu of this size, and that is frankly what I recommend.
After the tiramisu sets and firms up, make sure to generously dust the entire surface of the tiramisu with cocoa powder before serving. I like to do this step with my pan inside a baking sheet so I don’t make a mess of things. The baking sheet will catch all your stray cocoa powder.
Cover that entire top with a nice even layer of cocoa powder, and voila! Tiramisu always has such a classy vibe. Is it because of its Italian roots and unusual name? Well I’m here for the coffee and the booze and the heavenly cream.
Try and appreciate the layers for a moment before devouring this awesome dessert. I really adore the color contrast of the layers in tiramisu, but I adore the taste even more. SO GOOD!
And by the way, if you find yourself with some extra coffee soak, add ice, add milk, a bit of sugar or honey, and you’ll have an alcoholic iced latte in your hands. It tastes to good you’ll always want leftover soak lol. It’s pretty good paired with the tiramisu! Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
A Great Classic Tiramisu
Makes one 9-inch tiramisu
- 6 large egg yolks, makes approximately ½ cup
- ¾ to 1 cup 150 to 200 grams sugar
- 1¼ cups 285 grams mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1¾ cups 420 mL cold heavy whipping cream
- 30 pieces Savoiardi-style Italian ladyfingers
- 1 cup 240 mL espresso or strong coffee, cooled
- ¼ to ½ cup 60 to 120 mL coffee-flavored liqueur, depending on how strong you like it*
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
- Bring about 1/2 to 1 inch of water to a boil inside a saucepan. Make sure your saucepan is large enough to comfortably nest your mixing bowl right on the rim, but that the water will not touch the bottom of your mixing bowl when you do.
- In a large bowl, briefly whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Turn the heat down to low so that the water will stop boiling, then place your bowl of eggs and sugar on the rim of the saucepan. Immediately begin whisking the eggs constantly for about 8 to 10 minutes, until it starts to turn a paler yellow and thickens quite a lot. The steam will help cook the egg yolks but the constant whisking will prevent the eggs from getting scrambled. It's important to keep whisking the eggs, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure you don't get any cooked egg bits in your finished custard.
- Remove from the heat and continue to whisk until the mixture is barely warm to the touch, and also very thick and lemon-colored. You want this mixture to cool down before you stop mixing as the residual heat from the bowl will scramble the eggs. (You can do this process with a hand mixer if it's too much manual mixing for you.) Mix in the mascarpone cheese until well combined.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer and using the whisk attachment, whip the cold heavy cream on high until stiff peaks are achieved. Take 1/3 of the whipped cream and stir into the mascarpone mixture to loosen it up and make folding a little easier.
- Add in the remaining whipped cream and fold using a spatula until well combined. Do not overmix to avoid deflating this beautiful mixture. Set aside for a moment.
- In a measuring jug, mix together coffee and coffee liqueur. Pour into a wide plate or bowl. Make sure your ladyfingers fit!
- Prepare a 9-inch square baking dish. (Any smaller will cause overflowing and too-high layers.) Take your ladyfingers and dip them into the coffee mixture, soaking just enough all over but not too much that they fall apart when you pick them up.
- Arrange the ladyfingers in the bottom of the baking dish packed together side to side. Spoon in half of the mascarpone cream and spread over the ladyfingers, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies. Repeat process with a second layer of ladyfingers, topping with the last half of the mascarpone cream.
- Spread the surface out into an even layer, then cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Right before serving, dust the top generously with cocoa powder. Serve and enjoy cold.
- Tiramisu will stay fresh up to 4 days total in the fridge, including the overnight chilling time. You can also freeze them up to 3 months but I personally prefer to eat this fresh so the cream is at its fluffiest and silkiest.
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