Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My dance studio recently had a big party that was catered by a local pasta shop. They wanted to charge something like $2.75 per person to include dessert, and I thought I could probably do it for less than that--not to mention, it would probably taste better, too! I wanted to keep with Italian food to match dinner, and I wanted something that could be assembled ahead of time. Tiramisu seemed to fit the bill perfectly! No one believed me that I made this--they all thought it was too professional-looking, too perfect-tasting, and had to be from the catering company. Nope! And you, too, can make a delicious, impressive tiramisu. Read on for the recipe! (My apologies for the pictures, but tiramisu is not particularly photogenic)

(adapted from

  • 9 egg yolks
  • Heaping 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 lbs mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. strong coffee, at room temperature
  • 6 Tbl. rum
  • 3 (3-oz) packages of soft lady fingers
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting

Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a medium pot. In a stainless steel bowl, combine egg yolks, sugar, and milk, and whisk until combined. Put the bowl on top of the pot of boiling water, making sure the water does NOT touch the bottom of the bowl. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and becomes lighter in color (and/or reaches 160 degrees F). Remove bowl from heat, press zabaglione through a fine mesh sieve to remove lumps, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap against the surface of the zabaglione to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate 1 hour. Then, fold the mascarpone into the zabaglione until combined.

In a medium bowl, beat whipping cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Line a 9x13" baking dish with a single layer of lady fingers. Drizzle about half of the coffee mixture over them. Spread with half of the mascarpone/zabaglione mixture, then spread with half of the whipped cream. Top with a second layer of lady fingers. Drizzle with remaining coffee mixture. Spread with remaining mascarpone/zabalione, then spread with remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate at least 24 hours, and preferably 48 hours, before serving. Before serving, use a mesh sieve to sift a fine dusting of cocoa powder over the top.

Notes: this was amazing. Terrible for you, rich, delicious, time-consuming, and decadent. I can't stop raving about it--seriously! The best part is that it's not overly sweet. It is absolutely essential to make this two days before serving it--the flavors all meld into a fantastic conglomeration of taste. The original recipe said to cook the egg yolks over direct heat and boil them, and--against my better instincts--I followed it. I ended up with a somewhat grainy zabaglione because the eggs started to scramble. I have updated the directions to reflect a more gentle cooking method. The original recipe also said to dip the lady fingers in the coffee mixture, but they fell apart on me doing that, so I used the drizzle method instead. Oh, and speaking of the coffee, use a nice, strong, rich-flavored coffee. I'm not a coffee drinker, so I used instant coffee that my roommate had on hand--I think the flavor would have been better with better coffee. One last advantage to this recipe--the zabaglione is cooked, so there's no raw eggs in sight, like there are in a lot of tiramisu recipes!

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