When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But when life gives you dull, lifeless, and uneventful days that put a damper on your mood, you make tiramisu. Why? Because tiramisu is guaranteed to take you out of whatever funk you're in and turn that frown upside down. In fact, tiramisu literally means "pick-me-up". It's true. The name is derived from the high energy content of the eggs and sugar in the dessert, as well as the caffeine from the strong espresso. Together, the ingredients in this Italian classic not only give you a boost of energy, but are certain to lift your spirits :)
I don't know if you know this, but tiramisu definitely makes it on the list of top 5 easiest desserts to make. The only difficult thing about it is actually finding the ingredients to make it. Common supermarkets like Shoprite, A&P, and Pathmark don't carry ladyfingers OR mascarpone cheese. At least not the ones near me do. It wasn't until last month that a supermarket called Best Yet Market opened in a town near me and lo and behold, I discovered that they carried both of those crucial ingredients. But I still wasn't good to go because then I had to find a recipe that didn't call for any alcohol, which by the way, makes it on the list of top 5 hardest things to do ever.
99.9% of tiramisu recipes call for alcohol and nobody gave me a heads up about this. After searching through countless recipes on every possible search engine and recipe site, I found what I was looking for...well, not entirely what I was looking for. I wanted to specifically find a recipe that called for only 8 oz. of mascarpone cheese since as you all know, mascarpone cheese can be very costly. But beggars can't be choosers so I just took what I could get, and decided to put my own twist on things.
Very daredevilish right? Putting twists on recipes that I've never even tried before. It was nerve-wracking. At first I considered adding regular cream cheese in place of the other 4 oz. of mascarpone cheese, but I decided against it because I really wanted this tiramisu to be authentic. So I left it as is, with only the 8 oz of mascarpone cheese, and then added just a bit more heavy cream, I guess, to even things out. If you would have seen me, you'd think I was a professional baker who knew exactly what she was doing. But really, I had no clue and was just hoping that by some miracle, the tiramisu would turn out good.
The layering of the mascarpone mixture and ladyfingers didn't really help with my nerves, particularly the dipping of the ladyfingers. Or as I like to call it, submerging of the ladyfingers, because that's what I did. I literally submerged my first two ladyfingers in the coffee and they nearly soaked all of it up. Now that obviously wasn't supposed to happen. And can I just say that dipping two ladyfingers at a time is clearly for professional tiramisu makers and not amateurs like me. So the first improvisation I made was dipping one ladyfinger at a time. Unfortunately, that didn't end help much because they were still soaking up a lot of coffee.
At that point, I decided to change how I was dipping them. Instead of submerging them in the coffee like I was repeatedly doing, I lightly dipped one side of the ladyfingers at a time, instantly flipped them, dipped the other side, then quickly transferred them to the pan. That gave me the best results. The ladyfingers weren't completely saturated, but it was just enough to incorporate the coffee flavor in them and keep them sturdy.
I read later on that some tiramisu recipes actually call for dipping the ladyfingers on one side only. I guess it all depends on how much coffee flavor you want. Lightly dipping the ladyfingers on each side worked for me and my family, especially for me because I'm not a big coffee drinker. But the way I ate through this tiramisu, you'd think I was. It was amazing. I was worried about there not being enough mascarpone/cream mixture to offset the ladyfingers, especially because the top layer ended up being thinner than the middle one. But the ratio was perfect, even if I didn't evenly divide the mixture.
Everything about this tiramisu was perfect. It ended up being exactly what I wanted it to be and more: light, airy, sweet, creamy, and deliciously decadent. And I have to say, I'm really proud of myself for taking a risk with it. I usually don't even give recipes a second look when they call for ingredients I don't have or ingredients I don't want to use, but I did this time and it was a darn good decision on my part. Not only was my stomach graciously satisfied, but I now have a boost of confidence to take on other recipes and adjust them to my liking. See, I told you tiramisu makes you feel good all around :)
TiramisuYield: One 8x8 inch pan
Ingredients:1 and 1/4 cups strong black coffee, room temperature
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
8oz. cold mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
26 crunchy lady fingers (13 for bottom layer, 13 for top layer)
2 tablespoons unsweetend cocoa powder
Directions:Pour coffee into a shallow baking dish and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks at low speed, just until combined. Add the sugar and salt and whisk on medium-high speed until the mixture is a pale yellow color, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add the mascarpone cheese and beat at medium speed until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside. Return the bowl to the mixer (without washing.)
Add the heavy cream and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until it is frothy. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, then gently fold in the rest of the cream until all of the white streaks are incorporated. Set aside.
Working with one ladyfinger at a time, dip one side of the ladyfinger into the coffee, instantly flip it over and dip the other side, then transfer it to an 8x8 inch dish. Make sure you work fast or else the ladyfinger will soak up too much coffee and get soggy. Repeat this process until you have a single layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers. Trim ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into the dish.
Spread half of the mascarpone/whipped cream mixture evenly over the dipped lady fingers. Place one tablespoon of the cocoa in a mesh strainer and dust cocoa over the mascarpone/whipped cream mixture until it's fully covered.
Repeat the dipping process with the remaining ladyfingers, then arrange them in the dish on top of the dusted cocoa in another single layer. Spread the remaining mascarpone/whipped cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, and dust with the remaining cocoa.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to 24. Garnish with shaved chocolate before serving, if desired. Serve chilled.
Adapted from Bake Your Day