Classic Tiramisu

Classic Tiramisu served on a gold plateStimulating Dessert Conversations
When deciding what dessert to serve for Valentine’s Day, it should come as no surprise that the predominant choice is something chocolatey. Valentine’s Day is, among other things, a chocolate gifting day.

The options for beautiful boxes of chocolates are as plentiful and varied as the thousands of bouquets that will no doubt accompany them. Personally, I look forward to the Sees heart from Dad with great anticipation every year. (As does my husband…sigh) There is such a thing as too much chocolate, though. (Blasphemy!!) For that reason, I am here to offer an equally special and, dare I say sexier, alternative.

Maybe it’s the flavors or maybe it’s the perceived decadence. But, I consider a classic tiramisu a sexy dessert. (And that was before I did some research.) This is the kind of dessert that you share with your favorite someone over coffee and great conversation after an amazing dinner for two.

When doing research on the origins of one of my favorite desserts, I was amused to find out that Tiramisu was created in 1800 by the Maitresse of a house of pleasure in Treviso, Italy—as an aphrodisiac dessert to offer her clients at the end of the night as a means to reinvigorate them before heading home. (I’m not kidding…)

As an unapologetic reader of romance novels, I found this information hilariously believable—and absolutely wonderful. Thankfully, Classic Tiramisu is also one of my husband’s favorites. Now, please excuse me while I go find the ingredients…

Classic Tiramisu Recipe
Yields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted from Allison Roman and NY Times Cooking

For the cream
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup mascarpone (8 ounces)

For the Assembly
1-3/4 cups of good-quality espresso or very strong coffee
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
About 24 ladyfingers (from one 7-ounce package)

Make the sweetened egg yolk mixture
Using an electric mixer in a medium bowl, whip together egg yolks and 1/4 cup of the sugar until it is very pale yellow and about tripled in volume. A slight ribbon should fall from the beaters (or whisk attachment) when lifted from the bowl.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, wiping out the medium bowl used to whip the yolks, and set it aside.

Make the mascarpone mixture
In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream and the remaining 1/4 cup of the sugar until it forms medium-soft peaks. Add the mascarpone and continue to whip until it creates a soft, spreadable mixture with medium peaks. Gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the sweetened egg yolk mixture until combined.

Prepare the baking dish
Pour the espresso into a shallow bowl and set aside.

Using a sifter, dust the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the cocoa powder. (An 8 x 8-inch dish. Or a 9-inch round cake pan will also work)

Assemble the tiramisu
Working one at a time, quickly dip each ladyfinger into the espresso mixture. (They are quite soft and will disintegrate if left in the liquid too long.) Note If you are using the soft spongey variety of ladyfingers, don’t dip them. Instead, use a pastry brush to brush the espresso on the ladyfingers.

Place the ladyfingers, rounded side up, at the bottom of the baking dish. Continue this process, using half the ladyfingers, until there is an even layer. You can break the ladyfingers as needed to fill in any large gaps. Spread half the mascarpone mixture onto the ladyfingers in one even layer.

Repeat this process with the remaining espresso-dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture.

Finish the tiramisu
Dust the top layer of the tiramisu with the remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder.

Refrigerate to set
Cover with plastic wrap and allow the tiramisu to chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before slicing or scooping it to serve. (If you can wait 24 hours, all the better.)


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