Tag Archives: coffee

Classic Tiramisu

Tiramisu is the Italian creation which will save your ass when the 3:00 slump hits you at your desk, stove, steering wheel or washing machine.  Tiramisu literally means “pick me up” and with the coffee and sugar called for in the recipe, it will!  I first made this dessert in 1991.  I had decided to have an Italian Thanksgiving as I’ve never been a huge fan of turkey and the traditional “fixin’s”.  Our guests were family plus one of Jimmy’s students from MIT, Laura Duenes, and her boyfriend, Forest McKennie.  When Laura decided to pull up stakes and move to Fort Lauderdale, Jimmy immediately offered her a plum job.  She knew all of us…my entire family.  We loved her and she loved us.  Laura was young, smart, beautiful… the quintessential cheeky, sassy Chicana.   While she flew all over the country standing up to banks, my little sister, Pamela, kind of ran the office… answering the phones, filing, etc.  Nothing made them happier than when they were both in the office together.  One afternoon Jimmy returned to the office from a meeting.  Walking in, he found the office surprisingly quiet.  Turning a corner he found Laura’s and Pamela’s eyes riveted to the television set and his desk had been somewhat reorganized.  They were both doing their nails; his desk was covered with cuticle sticks, base coat, polish, top coat, nail files and all manner of hand creams.  As Jimmy exclaimed, “What’s going on here?   This is a business, ya know!” both girls, without moving a muscle, answered, “SHHHHH! We’re watching our story.  It’s General Hospital.  It’ll be over in a minute.”  Can you imagine saying that to your boss, never mind giving yourself a manicure at work!  Knowing he was outnumbered, Jimmy just shook his head and muttered, “Girls!”.  Laura was family.  We had a superb Thanksgiving that year.  I found the menu and have to say, it was pretty great.

The wine flowed and laughter rang out all afternoon.   The tiramisu was a huge hit, smooth, rich and cool on a hot south Florida day.  Laura and Forest eventually married and accepted positions in D.C., then south Africa and back to D.C..  Those were some good days and every single time I make tiramisu I think of that girl.

Tiramisu is a glorious make-ahead treat.  Granted, there are several steps in making it but, boy, is it worth it!  It can be prepared in a 9X13 inch dish, individual pots or wine glasses.  Some folks make their own ladyfingers but I find store-bought are fine.  Because the bags of cookies in my store are 7 ounces, I try to make a somewhat double layer of ladyfingers on the bottom of the dish.  One bag isn’t enough for this recipe and the extra cookies give the dish added structure.  There’s quite a bit of liquid in the recipe and the cookies soak it up in a most delicious way.  Tiramisu should be served as cold as you can get it, so feel free to chill your dishes if you’re inclined.  The set, chilled texture is not even as firm as Jello although it is not runny either.  If you prepare this dessert in one large dish it’s best to serve it up in the kitchen.  And be assertive with your serving spoon and spatula.  The tiramisu will lose its shape, fall over and slide around making serving a bit of a challenge but it’s not meant to be pretty.  It’s meant to be spectacular!

Classic Tiramisu

  • Servings: 14-16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 14 ounces ladyfingers
  • 1 cup espresso
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rum, dark or golden, divided
  • 4 tablespoons Gran Marnier
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa, to cover top of dish
  1. Set a 9X13 inch baking dish aside.
  2. In a large shallow bowl mix the espresso, 2 tablespoons of rum and Gran Marnier.
  3. Working quickly, dip each ladyfinger, one at a time, into the espresso mixture, moistening each side then placing on the bottom of the baking dish.  Continue until the bottom of the dish is completely covered.  I make a second layer of cookies, completely optional, with about 1″ in between each ladyfinger.  Reserve enough cookies for a final layer in between the mascarpone mixture.  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl place the remaining rum and mascarpone and beat until smooth.  Set aside.
  5. In a small double-boiler over medium-low heat, beat the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons of sugar until light and foamy, about 4 minutes.
  6. Pour the hot yolks into the mascarpone mixture, mix well to combine and set aside.
  7. In a separate bowl, whip the cream with the  vanilla extract until soft peaks are formed  when the beaters are lifted.
  8. Add 1/3 of the whipped cream to the mascarpone mixture and gently fold in.  Fold in the remaining cream adding 1/3 at a time.  Set aside.
  9. In a separate bowl and using a hand mixer with clean beaters, whip the egg whites until foamy.  Slowly add the remaining sugar and continue beating the egg whites until the peaks hold their shape.  Do not over beat.
  10. Add the egg whites to the mascarpone mixture and gently fold in until there are no streaks of egg white.
  11. Pour half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers in the baking dish.
  12. Lightly dip the remaining ladyfingers, one at a time, in the espresso mixture and layer evenly over the poured mascarpone.  Break the cookies to cover any holes.
  13. Pour the remaining mascarpone mixture over the cookies, smooth the top and refrigerate uncovered overnight.
  14. Prior to serving, cover the top of the tiramisu with a thick dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder.
  15. Serve immediately.



No-bake Diplomatico Cake

Part store bought, part homemade, this cake is a winner.  How can you lose when you’re working with coffee, rum, chocolate and cream?  I started making this cake back in the ’80’s and it has never let me down.  Light yet rich and luxurious, Diplomatico cake is typically credited to Marcella Hazan.  I lost my original recipe, however, this one is quite close to hers.  A cheap, store bought pound cake is best as it’s sturdy and will keep its shape.  It’s a super easy going recipe…a little more of this and a little less of that is not an issue.


I’ve made it with 4 eggs and I’ve made it with 6.  Sometimes I have espresso and at times I’ve only had the morning’s cold coffee available.  It all works beautifully.  The coffee and rum are strong and aromatic.  The intense chocolate mousse inside is…well, it’s chocolate, it’s heavenly.  And that cloud of whipped cream softens and compliments the entire cake.  Keep in mind the eggs are raw, not cooked, so if anyone has allergies or food issues maybe they should have their own little dish of berries.  Hope you’ll try it!


No-Bake Diplomatico Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup brewed espresso
  • 3 tablespoons rum, preferably dark or golden
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 12-ounce store-bought pound cake, cut into 1/4″-1/2″ slices, you’ll need about 16 slices
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 7 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Line a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan with plastic wrap and set aside.
  2. Lay the cake slices out flat so they are not overlapping each other.
  3. Combine espresso, rum and 3 teaspoons of sugar in a small bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Using a pastry brush,  paint the espresso mixture evenly over one side of each slice.
  4. Line the bottom and sides of the loaf pan with the cake and the pan and remaining slices aside.
  5. In a medium bowl whip the egg yolks until pale and thick.  Add the remaining 3 teaspoons of sugar and mix well.  Set aside.
  6. Melt chocolate over a double boiler and slowly mix into the whipped egg yolks.  Do not allow to cool completely.
  7. Whip the egg white until stiff peaks form.  Mix a little of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture just to loosen it up then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
  8. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared loaf pan and cover with the remaining cake slices, coffee side up.
  9. Cover cake with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator over night.
  10. Prior to serving turn cake onto serving platter and discard plastic wrap.
  11. Pour whipping cream into a medium size bowl and whip until soft peaks form.  Add confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract and continue whipping until stiff, firm peaks form.
  12. Smooth the cream over the cake and garnish with berries, shaved chocolate or nuts.
  13. Store in the refrigerator.


Coconut Latte and it’s paleo!

Hey, y’all!  This is a quick post to introduce you to my new fave morning coffee.  My two besties, Dana and Andrea, and I have gone paleo as of a few months now.  And since then I’ve learned so many of my friends have embraced the paleo lifestyle, some completely, some only on weekdays and some are just leaning towards it.  All have declared how much better they feel and, here comes the lagniappe, how much better they look.  Everything from shedding unwanted pounds to the quality of their skin, paleo seems to be one of the more healthful choices of the day.  I was a fan of almond milk in my coffee until a few months back during one of our Girl’s Weekend when Andrea introduced us to a teaspoon or two of high-quality coconut in our coffee.  It was delicious!  But the oil was never fully incorporated and I know I’m über fussy but I truly cannot enjoy a cup of coffee with a spoon hanging out.  Sorry, but it’s who I am.  So in discussing this we took it a step further by zipping the combination in a mixer and voila!  I wish I had taken a photo of the three of us.  It was early morning, the sun was barely up and we were all still in our nightgowns, with bed-head, no makeup, blown away at the creamy, frothy libation before us.  The foam on top had to be at least an inch thick and stayed in place just like a conventional latte.   One of the few times we were all speechless.  It was heaven!  And here it is.  This drink can be made with an immersion blender, conventional blender or Magic Bullet.  If a Magic Bullet is used, don’t twist the cup to lock it in place or you’ll end up with hot coffee all over you, the counter, the floor and any nearby cabinets.  I speak from experience.  Just hold the cup down and pulse it.  I don’t advise heating the coffee with the coconut oil in the microwave as the oil loses much of its nutritional value.  Stove top is best.


Oh, and if you enjoy sweetener in your coffee, go ahead!  But try it first without and see if don’t enjoy it.

Coconut Latte

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  •  1 hot cup of coffee
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil
  1. Place both coffee and oil in blender and process for 15-20 seconds or until pale and frothy.



The Perfect Autumn Breakfast, Soft Boiled Eggs in France


On a cold and windy morning nothing gets me out of bed faster than the thought of my first cup of coffee. Before drifting off to sleep and upon waking in the morning I often find myself visualizing and dreaming about breakfast and, most importantly, that first cup of java.

Champagne and eggs?  I could do that.  I love champagne!
Champagne and eggs? I could do that. I love champagne!

I consider the cup it may be in, which is vitally important to me as I DO NOT appreciate anything about a mug unless we’re having a hurricane and then I tend to count my blessings.  I appreciate a proper cup, with its saucer.  And please toss it and pull out a fresh one if there are any chips.  Chips are depressing and completely unnecessary.  As I stretched in bed, my mind closed in on the full cup and focused on the minuscule flecks of coffee bathing right next to the tiny droplets of oil from just ground beans indicating a really fresh, deep brew.  And being in PARIS, I knew I would very soon be savoring a hot and frothy cafe au lait. Ready in a flash we went down to the bistro next door to our hotel and ordered.  It’s already cold here…and super windy.  Our table was next to one of the bistros many doors.  I shivered every time  a slim, elegant French person blew through the doors, unwinding  their long stylish scarves as they double kissed their waiting companions, each and every one swathed in black.  With chestnut-brown or olive as a blast of color.  Crazy.  I mean, what do these French people do when they come to Florida?  Because we rock color.  Buildings, skies, flowers… OUTFITS!  Never mind the sun.  I imagine they go back home with two black, burned out holes where their eyes used to be.  Anyway, the first coffee of the day was coming and I couldn’t wait.  Two seconds later and, voila!  Ambition in a cup.  For those of you who are unaware there is an unwritten coffee rule in France.  Cafe au lait is espresso or very strong coffee poured into the cup or bowl at the same time as steamed milk.  But in France, and I believe Italy as well, people drink coffee with milk only in the morning.  After that, it’s black.  But you can add sugar if you want.  Don’t get me wrong, you can order coffee with milk anytime but, say it’s 3:00p.m. and you want milk in your coffee.

Your afternoon coffee.
Your afternoon coffee.

You’ll get it right away but you can bet your bottom dollar that waiter is thinking, “Stoo-peed Ah-mer-ee-ken!!!”  I’m serious.  He is.


But back to break-y.  As I savored my coffee and perused the menu my eyes fell on “Deux Oeufs a la Coque”, two soft-boiled eggs.  BINGO!  I knew what I was having!!  I LOVE a good soft-boiled egg, all runny and salty.  And that’s just what I ordered.  They came out perfect and, to my delight, with a hay stack of toasted french bread batons alongside, perfect for dipping into the sunny, yellow yolks.  The eggs were gorgeous; the yolks silky and almost buttery.  They were probably 3 and 1/2 minute eggs which are perfect.  The whites are cooked almost all the way through and the yolks are hot and luxurious.  I think the idea of taking the white, fluffy inside of the bread out, cutting the crusts into strips and toasting is positively brilliant.  So simple yet it never would have occurred to me.  Whack me on the head… it’s an “I could have had a V-8!” moment.  I think this is a fantastic way to make a leisure Sunday breakfast splendid and pretty without breaking your back or bank account.  And don’t you think it would be the perfect breakfast to serve to your favorite boy in bed when he’s home for Thanksgiving break?

Cafe con Leche

Cafe con leche.  James grew up on this stuff.  He grew up to be over six feet tall, so it’s a good thing for him that we didn’t have to worry about “stunting his growth”, because, Lord knows, we didn’t!  He had his first REAL taste of java at about two and a half, maybe three years old.  I remember the moment vividly and we still laugh… hard, at the memory.  James and I were down in the study, he, watching Sesame Street and I, playing laundress.  I could somewhat roam that end of the house as it was sealed off by a huge baby gate that spanned the width of the dining room, the entrance to the study.  The other end of the study included the laundry room, James’ room and his bath.  This was before french doors or hurricane impact glass was available.  So we had two big, sliding glass doors, perpetually locked, which led to our courtyard.  I’m sure I have plenty of company when I say that morning I thought I’d throw in a couple of loads of laundry and make good use of my time.  Am I right??  Thought so!! Anyway, I was in our coffin-sized laundry room when all of a sudden, behind me came a big SLAM!  James saw an opened door and closed it.  How considerate!  Unfortunately for me, that door locked from the inside! Oh, Lord, NO!  I was trapped!! Like a rat!!  And my baby was left alone! Mama’s precious angel.  It was hot…it was hot as hell in that crappy little room and I couldn’t get out.  The laundry room does have a window.  A very small window.  What do I do, what do I do, WHAT DO I DO?  I opened the window, jumped up on the washer and kicked out the screen. Relief! Air!  Somehow I wiggled through that itty-bitty window and then realized I was just outside.  Just outside!  I cupped my hands around my eyes and peered through the slider glass.  There was James, standing by the coffee table, my french coffee bowl in his hands.  He ever so carefully put it down on its napkin, and happily waved!  Hi, Mama!!  Smiling, he went back to my coffee and Bert and Ernie.

Of course he was happy!  Mama takes her coffee strong!!  French roast espresso with steamed milk and a fair amount of sugar.  No naps today!  Jimmy calls it “breakfast candy”.  Peeping in one last time, James was waving and had big, big smiles for Mama,  I ran across the street to the neighbor’s house and pleaded with him to help.  He kept saying, “I can’t believe you don’t have a spare key outside.  I just can’t believe it “.  I thought, “Buddy, you say that ONE MORE TIME I’m gonna rip your tongue out through your ASS.  Just reach right up there and RIP. IT. OUT.  OKAY??”!  And there was little Jamesy sippin’ on Mama’s cafe con leche just smiling, fat little baby hands waving, Bert and Ernie dancing across the television screen!  An hour later, Loser had taken all the pins out of the stained glass kitchen door and I was back with my boy!  I buried myself in the sweetness of his neck.  Reunited and it feels so good!

Boysie stills loves coffee drinks and I want him to know how to prepare a perfect cup or bowl in the morning.  We like our coffee strong, French Roast is our favorite.  Bagged and jarred coffee usually indicates the strength.  We use a French press but a little Italian stove top espresso maker is just as good.  We put about 1/2 cup of freshly ground coffee into the press then add the water, which has almost come up to the boil, and reaches an inch or so from the rim.  3-4 minutes later, the coffee is ready, if you take it black.  Slowly push down the plunger and add milk and/or sugar.   My milk to coffee ratio is somewhere between a third to a half of milk to a third of coffee.  Gauge your amounts depending on your vessel of choice.  Some people are okay with soy and skim milk.  I’m not one of them.  1% milk is fine and I also really like the fat-free but tastes like 2% ones now out on the market.  I heat my milk in the microwave after the coffee has been prepared.  To my hot milk, I add the coffee, then sugar.  Any coffee left in the pot or press makes a great iced coffee later in the day.  And I always use a silver spoon.  Did I tell you my baby drank ALL my coffee?  Oh, yes he did!