If ever there’s a pudding that stays true to its name it’s the Italian favourite Tiramisu – literally meaning “pick me up” in its native land. Laden with the holy trinity of after-dinner indulgences: cream, coffee and liquer, it’s a classic for good reason.
But as with all classics, it needs a little love and attention to keep the unflattering ‘retro’ label at bay. It’s worth the effort – make it right, and this is a desert that is as sumptuous as they come.
For me, the TLC begins and ends with using excellent ingredients. Tiramisu is at heart a pretty simple dish, relying on just a few ingredients. So each and every one has to be perfect.
If you’re thinking of cheating and using instant coffee, do yourself a favour and think again. A damn good espresso is needed here. Freshly ground is the ideal, but if you’ve not got a coffee machine then a cafetière will suffice. Failing that, if you live near enough, nip out to your local coffee house and ask for the best roast your barista can offer.
Keep the same principles in mind with the remaining ingredients: Savoiardi biscuits are the best for soaking up the flavours while retaining their form and provide the backbone for any decent Tiramisu.
I prefer to opt for chocolate shavings rather than heavy layers of cocoa powder. Choose an excellent quality for this – at this late stage in assembling you really don’t want to scrimp. Go for a miminum of 70% cocoa solids, and be generous with your sprinkling.
This is a quick and simple Tiramisu recipe that works well if you want to make up an indulgent dinner party desert at short notice:
- In a bowl, combine espresso, 2 tbsp of sugar and 2 tbsp of the Marsala and mix until the sugar dissolves.
- Place the egg yolks, remaining sugar and Marsala in a heatproof bowl and set over a bain marie Reduce heat to low. Whisk until the mixture doubles in volume, is hot to the touch, and has a thick, foamy consistency (around 5-10 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. In a different mixer bowl, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Once egg yolk mixture has cooled, add the mascarpone and whisk until smooth. Then gently fold in the whipping cream in 2 additions until smooth.
- To assemble, dip the biscuits quickly into the coffee syrup and line in a large serving bowl or baking dish. Spoon half of the filling over the ladyfingers and smooth the top. Repeat with a second layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers, then with the rest of the cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
- Before serving, scatter over chocolate shavings and serve immediately.