Tiramisu | The Geneva Convention: Tiramisu

Friday, March 20, 2015



There are some people for whom cake just doesn't cut it. I will never be one of those people, but James always has, and probably always will be, even when I'm the one baking. His passion is tiramisu.

Don't get me wrong -- I like tiramisu pretty well, overall. I like it even more now that my palette has learned to appreciate things like coffee and alcohol, and even more than that when I had the chance to eat (a lot of) the real thing on my last trip to Italy. If you aren't getting gelato and/or tiramisu at least once a day in Italy, I'm afraid you'll have to start over, because you're just doing it wrong.


Anyway. Until I met James, I hadn't given much thought to the intricacies of tiramisu -- just as he hadn't considered at least half the possible uses for butter until I came into his life (he's so lucky he found me) -- but it turns out there are many. We've taste-tested a lot of tiramisu in our two and some years together, and it turns out that the secret is using an abundance of coffee and almost enough rum to get a little buzz on. The fact that I've never been carded when ordering it in a restaurant, though, is a testament to how difficult it is to find good tiramisu on this side of the Atlantic.


Our recipe is essentially the Barefoot Contessa's -- we changed the measurements a little bit to reflect the ingredients we had access to -- and it turned out beautifully. It has a surprisingly small ingredient list, which is good, since many of these items can be expensive and/or difficult to come by. The hunt for ladyfingers notwithstanding, it's an easier dish than expected, and packs a real punch. Now that I've got this test run out of the way, I'm looking forward to making it again for James's birthday next month.

Slightly adapted from Ina Garten
6 large egg yolks
Scant 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark rum
1 1/4 cups espresso
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
24 ladyfingers
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, for dusting
12 coffee beans, to garnish (optional)

Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed until thick and pale yellow. Lower the speed to medium and add the mascarpone, and 1/4 each of the rum and espresso.

Combine the remaining rum and espresso in a bowl and lightly submerge a third of the ladyfingers in the liquid before lining them up in the bottom of your desired serving dish -- we used a large glass bowl about 5 inches high and 10 inches in diameter, but Ina prefers a shallower, rectangular dish. Pour a third of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and distribute it evenly so they are all covered. Repeat twice, finishing with the final layer of mascarpone on top.

Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, dust with cocoa powder and distribute the coffee beans. Serve with coffee, milk, or some kind of cream based liqueur.

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