Tiramisu is my mom’s favourite dessert. It also happens to be a dessert that I am very afraid of making (or used to be, anyway). This is because one of the first things I’ve ever made was tiramisu, but back then I substituted cottage cheese [unstrained, genius that I am] for mascarpone (!), left out a couple of eggs here and there (!!), did not know how to properly dip ladyfingers in coffee (!!!), and substituted hot chocolate powder for cocoa powder (!!!!). That tiramisu was a gooey disaster that refused to set.
Last year, we scoured bakeries and restaurants far and wide to find the best tiramisu in town for my mom’s birthday. Since then, I’ve managed to make this classic Italian dessert myself several times now (homemade tiramisu tastes best, no?). It’s not complicated or scary once you actually pay attention… like to what kind of cheese you use and not dunking the ladyfingers until they fall apart in the coffee. The hardest part for me, sad to say, was figuring out how to make the coffee. Use good-quality stuff. My first – and last – attempt to make coffee involved spoonfuls of instant granules in lukewarm water (the idea was if it wasn’t hot, then I wouldn’t have to wait until it cooled before dipping ladyfingers, right? I know, I know… coffee n00b!) and yielded a cup of what smelled super strong but had no taste at all. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I don’t drink coffee.
So, learn from my mistakes and do it right from the get-go. Here’s a recipe I use to make individually sized tiramisu to “pick you up” and “make you feel better”! Hope you have a wonderful day 🙂
Individually sized tiramisu
Adapted from happygrub’s your very own bowl of tiramisu (thanks for sharing the recipe!)
Makes 7-10 portions, depending on how big you want your portions to be
– 1 package (~250g/80z) of ladyfingers (I like the Milano brand ones)
– 1 container (~454g/1lb) of mascarpone cheese
– 4 eggs
– 3/8 cup (75g) of granulated sugar
– 400mL strong coffee <!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 0 2 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> (I’ve used everything from House Blend to Irish Cream to Chocolate Decadent Truffle to Maple Pecan, mmm)
– cocoa powder or shaved chocolate for dusting
Separate the egg whites from the yolks. I do this by breaking each egg open in a small bowl, and then if the yolk isn’t broken, I transfer the yolk into the “yolk bowl” and pour the egg white into the “egg white bowl.” This seems like a pain in the butt – not to mention extra bowls to clean afterwards – but if your yolk breaks, the fat from the yolk will make it very difficult for the whites to whip up nicely. The whole point of whipping your egg whites in this recipe is to make the tiramisu taste [deceptively] airy and light, so by first cracking the eggs in a small bowl, you won’t waste all of the egg whites that were already separated if you break the next egg’s yolk by mistake. I learned this the hard way and it wasn’t fun.
Add the sugar to your egg yolks, and let the bowl containing your egg yolks and sugar sit over a saucepan of simmering water i.e. double boil the mixture. Whisk quickly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. The mixture should be yellow and have the consistency of thick, drizzly syrup. After about 5-7 minutes of whisking, remove from heat and let the egg and sugar mixture cool. This is an important step because yolks that are still hot will cause the mascarpone cheese to feather and you’ll get a grainy texture rather than smooth, creamy tiramisu.
While you’re waiting for the yolk mixture to cool, whip the egg whites on medium-high with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Then stir the cooled yolk and sugar mixture into the mascarpone cheese.
Beat half of the egg whites into the yolk/sugar/mascarpone mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining whipped egg whites. The texture should feel a bit like foam or the inside of a marshmallow.
Now comes the fun part: assembling the dish. Quickly dip the ladyfingers into the coffee on both sides. I say quickly as in literally for about one second, because ladyfingers love coffee. They love it so much that they’ll happily distintegrate but that’s not a good thing for your tiramisu. Use the coffee-dipped ladyfingers to line the bottom of each bowl, and you may need to break the ladyfingers into smaller pieces depending on how big your bowls are. Split about half of your mascarpone mixture evenly into your bowls, on top of the ladyfingers. Repeat with a second layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers followed by the remaining portion of mascarpone mixture.
Then the garnish: you can dust the surface with cocoa powder
or top with chocolate shavings (grate a chocolate bar over medium-sized holes of a grater, or use a vegetable peeler on the side of the chocolate bar)
Cover with plastic wrap, and leave the tiramisu to set for at least 2-4 hours. I think it tastes best the next day when the mascarpone cheese has had time to absorb some of the delicious coffee flavour from the ladyfingers.