Tiramisu has to be one of my favorite Italian desserts, yet I rarely order it in a restaurant. I’m very picky about it and it seems like every restaurant does it a little different. I like it light and fluffy, not too boozy, with ladyfingers and not sponge cake or pound cake. I found a recipe for tiramisu that didn’t involve eggs or egg whites or cooking something into a sabayon. I tweaked it a bit to make it simple and fit what I probably had when I first made it. The best ladyfingers are the ones I buy from Trader Joe’s, although they are now a “seasonal” item and will probably disappear soon after the New Year begins. Two boxes of ladyfingers would fill a 9-inch springform pan perfectly, I discovered. Also, do not ever use a tiramisu recipe that calls for cream cheese. Yes, it’s similar to marscapone but it’s not a substitute. It’s like saying yogurt is the same as mayo in tuna salad – it’s not.
The original recipe uses a springform pan so you can release the outer ring and dust it with cocoa powder and the finished dish looks spectacular. Lately, I’ve been making it in a 9-inch square baking dish, which uses fewer ladyfingers (about 1.5 boxes) but is still delicious and looks pretty in the dish. You can also just brew really strong coffee if you don’t have espresso (or instant espresso). You do need to let it sit in the fridge for a few hours for the ladyfingers to fully soften and meld with the coffee and cream. It’s still really good right after assembly, but the ladyfingers will be a little harder in the middle.
This dessert is a hit every time I make it and I’m always happy to take it to parties because it means I won’t be eating the whole thing by myself. I’ve also convinced T that there’s no reason to order tiramisu when we go out because mine will be better. Most of the time, I’m right, too. It’s safe to say I outright brag about my tiramisu, and I’m proud that it’s one of the few recipes I’ve tweaked to make my own (although, it’s probably published somewhere with the same ingredients because I’m not that much of a culinary genius).
1 c. espresso
3 Tb. + 3 Tb. sugar
1/4 c. + 1/4 c. amaretto
8 oz. marscapone
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. whipping cream
8 oz. ladyfingers (2 Trader Joe boxes)
1 Tb. cocoa powder
1. Combine the espresso, 3 Tb. sugar, and 1/4 c. amaretto in a small dish and set aside.
2. Whip the whipping cream to the soft peak stage.
3. In a separate bowl, blend the marscapone, remaining 3 Tb. sugar and 1/4 c. amaretto, vanilla, and 2 Tb. of the coffee mixture. Fold in the whipped cream.
4. Briefly dunk the ladyfinger in the coffee mixture and layer on the bottom of your pan (briefly – dunk to cover and take out, don’t let it sit in the coffee or it will get too soggy). Spread half the marscapone mixture over the ladyfingers. Repeat with the layer of ladyfingers and finish with the rest of the marscapone.
5. Dust with cocoa powder and let it rest in the fridge for at least 2 hours.