Some desserts make you lay back and smile. Pure indulgence, pure pleasure. Tiramisu is one of those desserts definitely worth making. It’s always pleaser, and it tastes even better the next day…
Talking about tiramisu recipes, there is some controversy. There are many slightly different versions, and before presenting the one I made I would like to discuss the ‘polemic’ parts of the recipe:
Some recipes call only for yolks, some use more yolks than whites, some use whole eggs, some use more whites, and some use only the whites… The difference: yolks give the cream a firm texture, and whites add lightness. Some say that yolks give it a ‘yolky’ flavour, which can be neutralised by straining the yolks or by adding some liqueur (see item ‘c’).
b) real Mascarpone and real Sponge Fingers
Forget whipped cream of whatever funny alternative you find. True tiramisu only works with mascarpone. I wouldn’t even consider a recipe that substitutes it. The same is true for the Sponge Fingers. Try to get a real italian brand of nice and crisp ones.
Some recipes add no liqueur, some add Amaretti for a round flavour, some add Marsala wine to give it more deepness, some add coffee liqueur to enhance the coffee flavour. I always liked the Marsala version, but I don’t have it at home now and the recipe I used was liqueur-free. *A funny thing that I once saw in a restaurant is using a syringe to insert the liqueur into the tiramisu piece. This way each one can pour in the amount of liqueur he can handle…
The raw cocoa powder on top is definitely a must, no discussion about that. But some recipes also add grated chocolate over each layer of mascarpone, which makes the cream taste a bit like Stracciatella. In this case you should definitely use the best possible chocolate, 70%.
Some people add sugar to the espresso, which I find absolutely unnecessary since the sponge fingers already have a sugar coating and it’s nice to have a ‘not so sweet and slightly bitter’ biscuit to contrast with the rich mascarpone. I would only use the sugar to whisk the egg yolks until they’re spongy. And for that you definitively need confectioner’s sugar.
Now, to the recipe I used: it’s the classic version of the ‘Silver Spoon’ cookbook. This is probably the best italian cookbook, so I wanted to give it a try. It calls for twice as many egg yolks as whites, no liqueur, and quite a lot of chocolate. Eneko raved about it and said it was the best Tiramisu he’s ever had! It was very good indeed. One thing I must say is that the quantities in the recipe are perfect, since there was no sponge finger, mascarpone, or coffee left! The texture was just perfect, so this recipe definitely has great proportions. Use a 20cm x 20cm dish and you’ll have exact two layers of biscotti (12 on each layer). Just perfect. This recipe yields about 6 good portions.
2 egg whites
130g confectioner’s sugar
4 egg yolks
200g sponge finger biscuits (24 biscuits)
200ml strong espresso, chilled
150g good quality 70% chocolate, grated
cocoa powder to top
Separate the eggs and pass the egg yolks through a strainer in order to remove their skin (because they taste funny in raw desserts). In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until you have soft peaks. In another (bigger) bowl, beat the egg yolks with the confectioner’s sugar until they turn pale and spongy.
Add the mascarpone to the egg yolks little by little and continue whisking. Then, add 1/3 of the egg whites, whisk, and then veeeeery gently fold in the rest.
Put the coffee in a shallow bowl. Take one biscuit at a time and dip it in for one second – sugar facing down. Turn it over, one secont, and take it out (if you’re too fast, the tiramisu will seem dry. If you take too long, it’ll get soggy). Place the wet sponge finger on one corner of your tiramisu dish. Contuinue this process until you have arranged half of the biscuits on the dish.
Now cover the biscuits with half of the mascarpone mixture. For that, put about a tablespoon of cream on top of every two biscuits. This will give you a more or less even quantity to work with. With a spatula, spread the layer out nicely.
Spread half of the grated chocolate on top of the first layer and repeat the process again: coffee dipped biscuits (place this layer turning 90º in relation to the first one), mascarpone, and chocolate.
Finish by covering the whole dish with a nice and even layer of sifted cocoa powder. Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours (the longer, the better).
– lift me up –
(eggs, confectioner’s sugar, mascarpone, sponge fingers, coffee, chocolate, cocoa powder)