Sunday, January 2, 2011


Tiramisu is pretty much a staple on the dessert menus of America's Italian restaurants with it's robust coffee flavor and creamy texture.

I'm sure we've all had at least one that was really good, and at least one that was sadly lacking one thing or another... or multiple somethings. But, they could also have had too much of something...

Depending on just who you happened to be at the age of 10 or so, I suppose tiramisu could elicit a few different responses.
For some, it may have been a simple "ewww."
For others who might have been a little more daring or imaginative, it might have received something more akin to the feeling of doing something slightly illicit.
A scandalous dessert.

If you knew it contained coffee (surely an "adult" drink), and alcohol (even more and "adult" beverage than coffee), this was your chance to be slightly more adult... as adult as a 10-year-old could possibly be.

If you felt yourself to be a fairly chic, slightly forward thinking, cosmopolitan grade schooler, you may have ordered it.

And it wouldn't have mattered if it wasn't the best dessert on the menu because you were doing something rascally, laughing in the face of social norms, taking your life into your own hands by this fearful endeavor.

I'm allowed to order this? I'm allowed to eat something like this?
I'm really not going to get in trouble? Will my parents be in trouble?
Nobody's going to march up to the table to scold or lecture? No one's going to be questioned by the authorities or taken to jail over this?
See... this is where some of the imagination comes into play.

This kind of a combination (youth and illegal confections) could potentially be similar to Prohibition and speakeasies.
It could be downright dangerous if you're caught. This not-too-sweet and slightly boozy, layered concoction could possibly wreak havoc on your social standing depending on who you associate with. It could be a dire situation.

But... the sad thing is that it really wasn't your dessert. You had to share...
All because life is unfair.
That's why people have to share desserts: because life is unfair.
Then again, if you're 10 and you don't pay, you don't really have much of a say in important matters such as this.


Mascarpone cheese is sort of an Italian version of cream cheese, and can probably be found in most grocery stores in the cheese section or with the dairy products. I will not tell you that it's in ALL grocery stores because someone won't end up finding it and make me out to be a liar. Sorry, I won't guarantee mascarpone cheese's omnipresence.

Ladyfingers are available in some (not all) grocery stores. I have found both Italian and French versions (at least that's the way they were labeled, and there's a picture above). Both work equally well, you just have to use more of the French ladyfingers to cover the pan. For the second row, you will most likely need to cut the cookies a little so that they all fit comfortably (as if anyone is concerned about the comfort of cookies).

The time the tiramisu spends overnight in the refrigerator is important. This way the flavors meld and everything comes together nicely. Plus, it becomes fairly easy to cut into squares for a pretty presentation if you take a little time and are gentle with a spatula. On the other hand, if you're pressed for time and patience, you could also use a spoon to serve.

This dessert DOES contain raw egg yolks. If you're worried about it, this probably isn't the recipe for you. Then again, maybe you could find some chickens you trust.

serves 8-12

2, 6-7 oz packages savoiardi or ladyfingers (the dry, crispy ones- not the soft, cakey ones)
2 1/2 c espresso or strong black coffee
3/4 c rum
6 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/3 + 2 t sugar
16 oz mascarpone cheese
6 T whipping cream
pinch of salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
cocoa powder

Whisk the egg yolks and 1/3 c sugar on low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and continue to whisk until the yolks are very thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Add the mascarpone cheese, 1/4 c rum, 1/4 c espresso, whipping cream, vanilla and salt, whisking again at low speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the cheese mixture is quite thick and smooth.
Combine the rest of the rum and espresso in a medium bowl with 2 t sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Dip and roll each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture so they are saturated and line the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Pour about half the cheese mixture over the top of the ladyfingers and spread smoothly and evenly. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the top of the cheese layer.
Repeat the process with another layer of rum and coffee soaked ladyfingers and finish with a final smooth layer of the remaining cheese mixture. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Cut the tiramisu into squares and plate (or scoop it out of the pan with a spoon). Dust the top of each serving with cocoa powder.


  1. Great, Natalie. Thank you.

  2. I like the way the Italian cookies look ---did they taste better?

  3. To be honest, we had a taste test and I like the way the "French" cookies tasted better (without soaking them in coffee). They were crisper!
    I think I'd say the cookies work the same, but you'd need to soak the "Italian" ones a little longer since they are bigger.
    Be careful that they don't get too soggy. They'll continue to soften as they sit overnight with the cream.