In honor of our Italian Inspiration vacation and our last family dinner together before this nest empties, I planned a meal of favorites last week. The main course was a no-brainer that we have loved for years: Meaty Cheesy Manicotti. Having sampled it at most every ristorante we visited in Rome, Tuscany and Venice, tiramisu was the obvious choice for our send-off dessert.
While I know a good tiramisu when I taste one, I had never before tried to make one. Google to the rescue, but which one of the many to try? It quickly became obvious that I would need to make more than one, and then, with multiple spoons in hand, we could decide which recipe to add to our family favorites.
All tiramisu recipes have a few things in common: ladyfingers, coffee flavoring, mascarpone cheese, whipped creme, a bit of cocoa. I never thought to make my own ladyfingers. For each of the recipes I tried, I took kMg’s advice and used authentic Savoiardi, Italian Ladyfingers, made in Italy.
With the basic ingredients, I chose three recipes in search of the most authentic Italian version. First up was kMg’s Easy and Eggless Tiramisu (recipe below). The name says it all. For friends who don’t or can’t eat eggs or for a version that appeals to kids, this recipe will make your diners very happy.
A very light delight, it lacks the custard and strong flavoring that reminds us of Italy.
How could I resist The Best Tiramisu You Will Ever Make recipe that I found on the internet? While it was our runner-up, making the sayabon (a/k/a custard) in a double-boiler was no fun. I was surprised that the final cream recipe did not taste grainy as I could never get the sugar crystals to fully dissolve in the egg yolks.
Spreading the single layer of cream on the ladyfingers was easier than our favorite, but the mix of flavors did not quite meet our Italian test.
Our favorite tiramisu was the 5-star version from allrecipes.com with a few minor variations. The technique for cooking the egg yolks and sugar created a quick and creamy custard that served as the base for one layer blended with the mascarpone cheese. The other layer was a simple whipped cream.
The espresso and rum flavoring for the ladyfingers tasted much more authentic than the Kahlua combination I used for The Best Tiramisu above.
For a final comparison in our taste testing, I included a piece of tiramisu from one of the best local Italian ristorantes in town. How disappointed we were with this $8.50 single serving. The only flavor came from the fudge dropped on top.
clockwise from top left, Easy and Eggless Tiramisu, winning Tiramisu, The Best Tiramisu You Will Ever Make, Azzurro tiramisu
Now that I have our favorite version and found that it really isn’t difficult to make, tiramisu will be making regular appearances at our future infrequent family dinners. I love that it tastes better made a day or two ahead of time, and I know that I will be able to count on it to persuade my children to stay home for dinner before seeing their friends. Nothing like a dinner weapon to bring the family together when they are home.
August 13, 2014
- 1 (8 ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 24 Italian-style ladyfinger cookies
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- ¾ cup whipping cream
- 2½ cups dark warm brewed coffee (espresso recommended)
- unsweetened cocoa powder, for sifting
- Brew the coffee.
- Line loaf pan with plastic wrap allowing the plastic wrap to extend on the sides so you can take it out easily when it is ready to serve.
- In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
- Add Mascarpone Cheese into the sugar and cream and mix carefully just until blended.
- In another bowl pour the warm coffee and dip 8 ladyfingers one at a time and quickly arranging them side by side over the bottom of the lined loaf pan.
- Cover layer of cookies with one-third of sweet cream. Then add another set of dipped ladyfingers and continue with cream for three full layers.
- When done layering, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and allow at least two hours to set. (Overnight is even better).
- Before serving take out of the loaf pan, remove plastic wrap and sift cocoa powder.
- 6 egg yolks
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ⅔ cup milk
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound mascarpone cheese
- ½ cup espresso, room temperature
- ¼ cup rum
- 1 (7 ounce) package ladyfinger cookies
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour.
- In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form.
- Gently whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture just until smooth.
- In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Dip half of ladyfingers in coffee mixture and arrange in bottom of a 7”x11” dish. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Sift half of cocoa over whipped cream.
- Dip other half of ladyfingers and repeat layers. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 to 6 hours, until set. Best overnight.