Monday 1 April 2013


Tiramisu is an Italian dessert which simply means "pick me up" or metaphorically "make me happy". This name cannot be more very apt because the creamy trifle is perked up with strong espresso and Marsala wine.

I love tiramisu and have plowed through a lot of recipes to find THE one for me. Some recipes have uncooked eggs in them and that bothers me a lot. Some have no eggs and and although that takes away the worry of eating raw eggs, I think the richness that the eggs give the recipe is totally necessary.

I chanced upon Anna Olson's recipe on tv. I like that she cooks her egg yolks first into a sabayon before incorporating them into the recipe. Only a handful of ingredients went in and the procedure was quick and painless. Lashings of mascarpone custard layered with Marsala wine and espresso dipped biscuit fingers are topped with whipped cream and cocoa dust. 

Although mascarpone is a cheese, it tastes more like clotted cream. Since this is a very creamy dessert, I used extra strong espresso, enough to wake Lazarus up. Together with the grated plain chocolate and cocoa powder, that added a bitter edge to balance the taste. Although Anna used rum, I used the more traditional Marsala wine for mine to add the real flavour of Italian tiramisu. I made one large tiramisu instead of four individual ones and I'd say this would serve 6-8 people, depending on how much they like it. This is such a simple dessert that can be whipped up in minutes and the result is simply divine.

Having written this now will save me a lot of work later because the next time we're having this dessert, I will just ask my children to follow this recipe. That will give me time to put my feet up and have a cup of coffee.

Recipe adapted from Anna Olson's recipe of Classic Tiramisu.

Ingredients for the custard layer:

2 eggs, separated
1 egg yolk
1/4 c. of sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. mascarpone cheese


Put the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in a metal bowl. Sit this on saucepan with hot water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. 

Keeping, the water on gentle simmer, whisk the egg yolk mixture until thick, light in colour and double in volume. The mixture should leave  a trail when drizzled on its surface.

Remove the mixture from heat and whisk in the mascarpone until smooth.

In a different bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. 

Fold into the egg yolk mixture.

Ingredients for the espresso syrup:

1/2 c. of strong espresso coffee
2-3 tbsps. of Marsala wine (or rum)
2 tbsps. brown sugar


Stir the ingredients together until the sugar melts. Use while still warm.

To assemble, you will also need:

300 mls. whipping cream
2 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla extract
24 Savoiardi biscuits/ladyfingers
plain chocolate for grating
cocoa powder


Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy. 

You will need a 2 liter glass dish.

Dip half of the sponge fingers briefly into the espresso syrup then arrange them in a single layer on the bottom of a 2-liter glass serving dish.Trim off the ends if you need to make them fit.

Spread half of the custard on top of the fingers and grate some plain chocolate over it. Repeat the layers. 

You can dollop the whipped cream on top or fill a piping bag and pipe rosettes on top of the dessert.

Finally, dust with cocoa powder. 
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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