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Published on June 12, 2011 by Cara @ Due Spaghetti
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A tray of tiramisu with a stainless steel server next to it and a strainer with cocoa in the background

Sometimes I love trying new recipes, but sometimes, like this weekend, my mood called for something tried and true. Something that I’ve made over and over and I know without a doubt will turn out just right and be delicious.  So, I whipped up a pan of the quintessential Italian dessert, tiramisù.

The name tiramisù is derived from the Italian verb tirare (to pull), the pronoun mi (me), and the direction (up), which combined into one word is tira-mi-sù.” Pick-me-up.

Like so many Italian foods that have become household names in countries worldwide, tiramisù has been replicated in restaurants, eateries, and even supermarkets everywhere. Variations of the dessert are becoming increasingly outlandish, so much so that Stefano and I have begun to take offense.  There’s no need to re-create what’s already perfect.

Our recipe is the classic one, and I daresay the best tiramisù in town – in our town, at least – with classic Savoiardi (lady fingers), sweet and creamy mascarpone, brandy, espresso, and just a dusting of baking powder.

Please, don’t use too much baking powder – a thick layer of cocoa may be pretty, but no one appreciates the coughing fit that ensues when you inhale the fine powder into your throat while taking a bite.   

We use Bel Gioioso mascarpone, and our recipe is an adaptation of theirs. 

A piece of tiramisu on a plate, with a tea strainer filled with cocoa in the background.

Tiramisù

Yield: 9-12 servings

Our tiramisù recipe is the traditional version, and I daresay the best in town – in our town, at least – with classic Savoiardi (ladyfingers), sweet and creamy mascarpone, brandy, espresso and just a dusting of cocoa.  

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 16 oz. mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 Tbsp brandy or cognac
  • 14 oz. or 400 gram package of Savoiardi (ladyfingers)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder

Instructions

    Combine 6 egg yolks, 2 Tbsp. espresso, sugar, and brandy into a large mixing bowl. 

    Beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes. 

    Add the mascarpone and beat for 3-5 minutes until consistency is smooth. Set aside.

    In another bowl, combine 6 egg whites and a pinch of sugar. Beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks.

    Gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.

    Pour the rest of the espresso and 1/2 cup milk into a different bowl. 

    Submerge ladyfingers into the espresso and milk one by one, and layer them on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. 

    Soak the ladyfingers just enough so that they are not crunchy but do not over-soak them. The ladyfinger should absorb the espresso without getting soggy or breaking.

    Spread half of the mascarpone mixture on top of the ladyfingers.

    Using a small wire tea strainer, sprinkle a light layer of cocoa over the mascarpone mixture.

    Add a second layer of ladyfingers and top with another layer of the mascarpone mixture and cocoa.

    Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes

We use Bel Gioioso Mascarpone, which is sold in 8 oz. tubs.

We make espresso at home, but you could buy 6 shots of espresso to go from your favorite coffee bar.

We use Alessi brand Savoiardi.

Go light on the cocoa. It should absorb the moisture of the mascarpone mixture. You do not need a thick layer of cocoa powder like you often see in commercially produced tiramisú. On the contrary - you risk provoking a coughing fit from inhaling the dry powder.

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