Tag Archives: italian dessert

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.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com

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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.

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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!

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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.

http://www.theirreverentkitchen.com