As requested by silmaril.
A genuine Italian person showed me how to make this. I don't actually like tiramisu much, but people who do say it's good (and take seconds, so I know they're not just being polite). Note that it contains uncooked eggs (and an enormous quantity of sugar, which is also not good for you, but last I heard sugar wasn't a salmonella risk). I intend to try some cooked-egg recipes when I have that mythical thing called "free time."
I've never made it in any quantity other than what follows, but I see no reason why it shouldn't scale down.
(If you have this bookmarked, there are edits at the end.)
- 6 eggs
- pinch salt
- 12 tablespoons sugar (2 per egg)
- ~1/2 tablespoon rum/whiskey (optional)
- 8 oz unflavored fresh mascarpone.
This is kind of an Italian cream cheese; I get it sold in 8 oz tubs in the cheese section of my local Hannaford (chain grocery store; slightly more upscale than Price Chopper or Safeway). You can also buy coffee-flavored mascarpone, but I'd rather be in charge of how strongly flavored my tiramisu is.
- lady fingers
Note that this recipe assumes you're using the dry kind, rather than the soft kind. If you're using the soft, you'll probably want to use stronger coffee and less of it. I cannot for the life of me remember what brand I use: it's in a green cellophane package, with two layers of cookies individually wrapped inside. I get it from the Italian aisle of Hannaford. Two packages of these are just the right amount.
I prefer a milder coffee taste, so I make about two cups of coffee and then dilute it 50%. Approximately four cups of liquid should give you plenty to work with.
- shaved chocolate, or hot chocolate mix
- medium mixing bowl
- large mixing bowl (if you have a pour bowl, this is ideal)
- shallow dish for the coffee (I use an 8x8 Pyrex baking dish)
- 9x13x2 baking dish
- electric mixer (optional, but I wouldn't want to beat egg whites by hand)
- 2 toothpicks (optional, if your baking dish doesn't have its own cover)
- Make the coffee and put it in your shallow dish. Set it aside to cool.
- I measure the sugar out ahead of time, because I'm afraid I'll lose count of that many tablespoons.
- Separate the eggs. Put the whites in the medium bowl and the yolks in the large bowl.
- Add the pinch of salt to the whites and beat until the consistency of shaving cream (in the words of my instructor. I'm not sure whether this translates to "stiff" or not. Since this is not a mousse, it may not be crucial.) (The order of this step compared with the next ones is not important, except that you'll have to wash your mixer-things (what do you call those?) more carefully if you do the yolks first.)
- Add the sugar to the yolks and mix on low until the sugar sort-of dissolves (the yolks will become a lighter, fluffier yellow, but will still feel gritty).
- Stir the mascarpone into the yolk mixture until blended.
- Add the alcohol here, if you're using it.
- Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, a portion at a time, until all the lumps are out. (If you don't know what that means, try this description.)
- Dip the lady fingers into the coffee. They're fairly fragile, so don't oversoak them; I submerge one, do a quick three-count, then roll it over for the same time. You can feel them start to crumble along the edges if you soak them too long. Line the bottom of the 9x13x2 baking dish with them. (With the type I use, one package makes two perfect rows the long way.)
- You can spoon more coffee over the lady fingers once they're in the dish, if you want.
- Pour a little less than half of the mixture over the top and spread it out.
- Dip the rest of the lady fingers and layer them on top. You may not be able to fit as many rows, since it's hard to smush them together when they're on top of the mixture.
- Pour the rest of the mixture over the top.
- If you're using plastic wrap or aluminum foil to cover this, put two toothpicks in the middle to keep the wrap from falling onto the surface of the tiramisu. It's ugly and it wastes the yummy part.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours, and preferably overnight, to let everything soak together.
- Sprinkle the chocolate before serving, to taste.
Let me know how it turns out.
[ Edited 05/23/2003 to add: the brand of lady fingers is Alessi. I remembered to look at the supermarket today. ]
[ Edited 08/03/2003 to add: last time I made this, I used stronger coffee (3 cups coffee, 1 cup water) and submerged the lady fingers for a shorter time (more like a two-count). I was aiming for a firmer, less mushy texture, which seems to have worked reasonably well. ]