Last week was a crazy week as my daughter and her best friend had a birthday party on Friday afternoon. Us two moms decided to throw an Italian themed party, with Italian activities and food keeping the girls entertained.
One of the activities was making pizza, which was a hit and was also a great source of cheap labor for getting the food made! Each girl made their own pizza and chose their own topping from a selection we had put out for them. This is a great activity to do with kids – here’s the recipe.
For dessert, it had to be Tiramisu. This is probably the most classic Italian dessert and literally means “pick me up”. The problem here is that once you’ve eaten it, you generally want to fall down as it’s chock full of creamy goodness and lashings of alcohol. Don’t call the authorities…I left out the alcohol for the kids. But for me, along with the flavor of the espresso, the alcohol is a major part of this dessert, and should be the right stuff. I use rum and Marsala wine for that kick that makes you want to lie down afterwards.
“Real” Tiramisu is made with zabaglione, which is a very light custard that requires careful cooking while whisking over a double boiler. I’ve made this version and it’s wonderful, but the recipe I’m sharing here is the one that I’ve cobbled together over the years that requires a lot less work, and I really don’t believe that the difference in taste is particularly noticeable.
So starting the week with a bang, here’s my recipe for Tiramisu.
About 24 ladyfingers (enough to for 2 layers of your dish)
½ cup espresso (or 1 cup of good quality instant coffee made with 2 heaped tablespoons of coffee)
2 tablespoons (or a little more…) rum
2 tablespoons sugar
250 g (9 oz) marscapone cheese (In Israel, look for the Gad brand)
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup Marsala wine (or Port)
60 g (2 oz) grated dark chocolate
Cocoa powder for decoration
How to do it
1. Brew the coffee and add the rum and sugar. Arrange half the ladyfingers on the bottom of a medium sized baking dish (approx. 20 x 20 x 5-cm / 8 x 8 x 2 – inch) and spoon half the coffee over each ladyfinger, making sure they are all saturated with coffee.
2. In a mixer, mix the cream until very firm (stiff peaks). Add the powdered sugar and marscapone cheese and mix together. Add the vanilla and Marsala wine and mix together till combined.
3. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the ladyfingers in the dish. Then grate the dark chocolate over the cheese mixture. Place the rest of the ladyfingers over the cheese mixture and spoon the rest of the coffee over them. Spread the rest of the cheese mixture over the top.
4. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.
5. Before serving, dust cocoa over the top through a small sieve. You can grate some more dark chocolate over the top instead of the cocoa.
Note: You can also make these in individual cups, with just one layer – one ladyfinger broken in 2 on the bottom with 2 tablespoons of cheese mixture dolloped on top. I place all the ladyfingers in a dish and pour the coffee over them before I put them in the cups. It’s easier that way. Dust with cocoa powder.