The Italian word tiramisu can be translated in several ways to “pick me up” or “cheer me up” or “lift me up.” They all work for me. There are lots of recipes out there for tiramisu. Some use cakelike ladyfingers while other recommend the crunchy variety. There are those that add liqueur …some don’t use any at all. For this one, I’m trusting my good friend, Rosaria, to guide us through. This is the way her family has made the classic dessert for generations. Years ago in Bari, Italy and now for many years in America. How can you argue with that? After just one taste of this creation, you’ll most certainly agree.This is the best tiramisu. Ever.
Since Rosaria was visiting us, we were all set up to make espresso for this. We typically will brew a small pot of coffee when we need a pick-me-up. Rosaria, on the other hand, enjoys a daily shot of espresso each afternoon. A lovely tradition.
Back to the recipe …this is normally made with espresso but if you don’t have that, you can simply brew a small amount of very strong coffee. Really strong.
Before mixing the wet ingredients, it’s a good idea to get the dark chocolate grated. You’ll be adding a sprinkling of chocolate on the first layer then saving the rest for finishing off the dish. If you want to get real fancy, make some chocolate curls or shavings for garnish. You’ll need additional chocolate if you do. Check out my post on tiramisu parfaits for a guideline on how to make them.
Next step is to prepare the delicious cream. The eggs are separated so that the whites can be beaten until stiff. That gives the texture of the finished cream a full body.
You’re now just about ready to create the best tiramisu ever. Each ladyfinger is hand-dipped in a mixture of espresso and Kahlua. Yum. Then they are carefully arranged in a single layer over a bed of fluffy flavorful cream. Once covered with another layer of cream, top with a sprinkling of chocolate. Repeat the process once more and there you have it. The very best tiramisu.
When completely assembled, cover the dish and place it in the freezer for about three hours to set. It is then transferred to the fridge, where it will hang out until you’re ready to impress your guests.
We used an 8-inch square glass dish for this presentation. For a large crowd, this can easily be doubled by using a 13″ by 9″ pan. I like to use a glass dish so that the layers are visible but, really …any dish or pan will work. Be sure to keep the tiramisu very cold until just before serving. That way the cream will retain its firm texture and the servings will be appetizing and gorgeous.
the best tiramisu
Compliments of Rosaria Loiacono
Classic Italian dessert made with espresso dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese.
- 2 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated
- 1 1/2 cup brewed espresso, cooled (or very strong brewed coffee)
- 2/3 cup Kahlua, divided
- 4 tablespoons refined sugar, divided
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 1 7-ounce package ladyfingers
In a small to medium-sized bowl, mix the cooled espresso with 1/3 cup of Kahlua and 1 tablespoon of refined sugar. Set aside.
Separate the egg whites from the yolks into two large bowls. Beat the egg whites until they are firm.
To make the cream filling, whisk the egg yolks until frothy then add the remaining 1/3 cup of Kahlua. Mix well; then add the mascarpone cheese and remaining 3 tablespoons of refined sugar. Once fully blended, fold in the beaten egg whites.
Cover the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish with a generous layer of cream filling. Using half of the cookies, fully dip each ladyfinger in the espresso & Kahlua mixture and hold there for several seconds. Carefully arrange them in a single layer over the bed of cream.
Add a generous layer of cream filling to fully cover soaked ladyfingers. Sprinkle with about half of the shredded chocolate. Repeat with one more layer and finish off with the remaining cream filling and grated chocolate.
Cover the dish and place it in the freezer for 3 hours to set. Transfer the dish to the refrigerator until ready to serve.
It is best to keep tiramisu very cold until just before serving.