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Photo © 2009 Ellen Silverman

Tiramisu

There are many recipes for tiramisu, but this one, combining espresso, brandy and coffee liqueur, is one of the best. Follow the directions exactly, use the thickest mascarpone you can find, and make sure you keep everything cold and in the refrigerator until you mix it all together, or else the filling will be runny.

 

6 shots of espresso (about 3⁄4 cup; see Tip 1)
1⁄3 cup brandy
1⁄4 cup Kahlúa or other coffee liqueur
4 large eggs, separated (see Tips 2 and 3)
2⁄3 cup granulated sugar (divided)
1 pound mascarpone
1 cup heavy cream
40 savoiardi ladyfingers (about two 7-ounce boxes; see Tip 4)
Unsweetened cocoa powder and shaved chocolate, for garnish (optional)

1. In a small bowl, combine the espresso, brandy and Kahlúa. Set aside.


2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks and 1⁄3 cup of the sugar. Whisk at high speed until very fluffy, pale yellow, and stiff, at least 7 minutes.


3. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add the mascarpone. Continue whipping until very stiff, another 2 minutes. (If the mixture starts to look curdled, stop mixing. If you continue to beat, you’ll end up with butter.) Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and place in the refrigerator while completing the remaining steps.


4. Wipe out the bowl of the electric mixer and add the cream. Whisk at medium speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and sprinkle in half of the remaining sugar (you don’t have to be precise). Continue whipping until the cream holds stiff peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture and return the bowl to the refrigerator.


5. Thoroughly wash and dry the electric mixer bowl and whisk attachment and add the egg whites. Beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Increase the speed to high (don’t scrape the bowl or you could deflate the whites) and sprinkle in the remaining sugar. Continue beating until the whites hold stiff peaks.


6. Gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture (folding in
a small amount of the whites at first lightens the mixture and makes it easier to fold in the remaining whites without overmixing, which would deflate the whites). Fold in the remaining whites and return the mixture to refrigerator.


7. One at a time, dip the ladyfingers briefly (make sure they’re submerged) into the espresso mixture and place side by side in a 9x13x2-inch baking dish until the bottom of the pan is covered. (Make sure you dip for only a second—you don’t want the ladyfingers to be soaked to the center or your tiramisu will end up mushy.) Depending on how you arrange the ladyfingers, you should get 19 to 20 in the dish; you may have to trim a little off the ends of the ones in the corners.


8. Spread half the mascarpone mixture (about 4 cups) over the ladyfingers. Repeat with another layer of dipped ladyfingers, followed by the remaining mascarpone mixture.


10. Cover with plastic wrap and place the dish in the refrigerator to chill overnight before cutting.


11. Cut the tiramisù into thirds lengthwise and crosswise to make 9 portions. Use an offset spatula to lift each portion onto a serving plate, sprinkle with cocoa powder and top with shaved chocolate, if desired (Tip 5), and serve.


Tips
1. If you don’t have an espresso machine, stop by the nearest café to pick up the shots rather than using instant espresso. The flavor is far superior.

2. Separating eggs requires care and caution. If just a drop of yolk gets in the whites, they won’t whip up. That’s because the yolk has fat, and just a little fat, oil, or soap (even residue on plastic containers) can keep the whites from whipping. To ensure the whites stay pristine, crack an egg into a small bowl, scoop out the yolk with your (clean) fingers, and place it in a separate bowl. Then dump the egg white into its own bowl. Repeat with the remaining eggs. This way, if a yolk breaks during cracking, you’ll only have to toss out one egg, not the whole batch. By the way, whites whip best when they’re at room temperature.

3. This dish is made with uncooked eggs. Although the risk of salmonella is very low (about 0.005 percent according to the American Egg Board), substitute pasteurized eggs if you'd prefer.

4. The best ladyfingers for this recipe are very dry and crisp. They’re often called savioardi and are imported from Italy. If you can’t find these and your supermarket only has soft, cakelike ladyfingers, you’ll need to let them dry out in the oven first. Moist lady¬fingers will soak up too much liquid and the tiramisù will be mushy. To dry them out, arrange them on a baking sheet and place in a 250°F oven for about 20 minutes, until brittle, flipping each one over halfway through.

5. To make chocolate shavings, you’ll need a block of chocolate and a vegetable peeler. Place the chocolate block in the microwave for just a few seconds to soften it a bit. Place it on its side, so a narrow end is facing you, and run the vegetable peeler along the length. The chocolate will curl around the peeler like a wood shaving. Repeat until you have all the shavings you need. If you don’t have a block of chocolate, just use the peeler to shave bits of whatever chocolate you have on hand.

Makes 9 servings


From Mother’s Best by Lisa Schroeder with Danielle Centoni

 

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