Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tiramisu – It Will Pick You Up and Not Let You Down

In addition to being an incredible tasting dessert, Tiramisu also offers the perfect segue when you’re trying to steer the Valentine’s dinner conversation towards spicier subjects. Please feel free to embellish the following history to further enhance the version your sweetheart hears.

Tiramisu was invented in an Italian brothel, where it was a popular snack with customers looking for a little restorative treat after certain strenuous activities. Tiramisu actually means “pick-me-up,” which of course makes it the best culinary double entendre in history.

Besides the great story, it really is the perfect romantic occasion dessert. This heady, mood-elevating concoction is a rich and deeply satisfying, yet remarkably light in texture. I know someone will ask, so yes you can use regular cream cheese, but mascarpone is far superior, and it is Valentine’s Day after all.

As far as the booze goes, I used Marsala, but it also works beautifully with amoretti, rum, brandy, or even Bailey’s. The other key liquid in this is the espresso, and I highly recommend that’s what you use. Regular coffee doesn’t have the same punch. You can use instant, but the last time I checked there was literally a café on every corner of every city.

I did these as two, rather large individual portions, but this could be easily stretched into four cups, or layered in a square baking dish, as is more traditional. Don’t over-think it; no matter what you use, it’s basically three layers of mascarpone mixture around two layers of coffee-dipped ladyfingers. 

They say you can tell how good your Valentine's dessert was, by whether or not you end up also having to cook breakfast. Which reminds me, if you make this, be sure to not use up the last of the eggs. I really hope you give this tiramisu a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 2 large or 4 small portions:
1/2 cup espresso with 2 tbsp Marsala wine for dipping cookies
10 or 12 ladyfinger cookies, broken in half if making cups
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese (6 oz)
2 large egg whites
cocoa for dusting
dark chocolate for shaving

43 comments:

Basil said...

Dear Sir John,

Thank you for making life in general a lot more fun.

My no-knead bread is rising in the room next to me.

I've grown fond of the occasional where the cups are making life so much were difficult than strictly necessary.

But then I remember your philosophy that perfectly round is just reserved for the slightly insane.

Also to enlighten you for once: Disaronno is the liquor of choice for a tiramisu.

Thank you for the background story.

Stefano Bart said...

Bravo, bravissimo... a very good tiramisù recipe! Sei sempre il migliore

Stefano Bart said...

Bravo, bravissimo! A very good tiramisù recipe. Sei sempre il migliore...

Monica said...

last year's souffle was better

Ayx said...

I have been using this exact recipe for years now (It was called Sylvia's Tiramisu in the book). The combination of flavours are very well balanced and as Chef John says, very light and frankly has got me L.. L.. Lots of compliments.. :).. Enjoy!

sam kthar said...

Thank you chef John! It looks marvelous. I can't wait to make it.

fgmerchant said...

What kind of espresso machine do you have Chef John?

Mbladek said...

ESpresso, not EXpresso.

fcapinding said...

Grazi! This looks amazing!

Valerie House said...

Chef John~ This is perfect for Vday!! Thanks for the inspiration!
��

Jason C said...

Were those La Tourangelle oils in your fridge?

Bascoman said...

I only have dry marsala, will that work?

will dukeshire said...

Hey Chef John! awesome desert! will make it for my mrs. on Valentines Day. The only thing missing was the drum roll, when you said," if it was good enough for those johns, its good enough for this John". Lmao... missed the badump bum..luv your sense of humor ttyl your friend willy in Newfoundland Canada".

Ryan Galginaitis said...

Chef: I had a super smooth looking mascarpone/egg yolk mixture but I continued to whisk and it ended up really chunky. It resembled scrambled eggs almost. It still tasted fine, but I'm wondering if this is normal and if it'll smooth back out over night. I don't want my valentine to think I'm serving scrambled eggs for dessert!

Timothy Johnson said...

Chef John,

What would you recommend as a lactose, casein-free replacement for this cheese?

I must make these!

Chef John said...

Sorry, I don't know!

Chef John said...

Ryan, no that's not normal (otherwise mine would have looked like that ;)

Sounds like overcooked eggs to me! I'd start over.

Sam Aragon said...

Is that a Gaggia by any chance?

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

Chef John,
What is the size of the glasses you used for serving and where did you get them? I'd like to order the same set. Thanks.

Raz0rX said...

Hi chef,

i really like tiramisu a lot. But i have a question. Is it necessary to put wine in the espresso ?? I didnt have any wine in my kitchen. Will it affect the outcome of the tiramisu ??

Thank you ~~

Chef John said...

Yes! It will! It won't have that flavor.

Chef John said...

I think 10 oz but don't know brand! Got at a hardware store.

1f62224a-84e9-11e3-8a17-000bcdca4d7a said...

I have to agree with Basil here, Amaretto is the alcohol of choice for a tiramisu! Please include it in the list!
Also, how is it that both the sugar cookies as well as the African / Indian vegetable is called ladyfingers? That seems confusing! The German word for ladyfingers translates to "spoon biscuits" - the more you know!

cookinmom said...

Nice machine...show off! :0) Just kiddin' but seriously, nice machine.

Chef John said...

Okay I updated with amoretti!!

Chef John said...

It's a Breville :)

Wing Chiu Ng said...

Dear Chef John:

When I made the egg yolk/mascarpone mixture I made sure the cheese was well melted and mixed, it looked very creamy (last time this wasn't the case). But once I added the egg white batter it started looking very granulated, is this because of over cooked eggs, egg whites not battered well?

Also, is there a way to make the tiramisu custard/cream more dense? Thank you in advance!

Sincerely,

Wing Chiu Ng

Grams Pam said...

I am *SO* making this tonight for dinner tomorrow (Valentines day)! Hope I also get ... uhm .. err .. compliments, too. For this and breakfast. hehhehe!

sam kthar said...

I had the same issue as Wing Chiu Ng. I tried to redo this recipie 3 times and my mixure looked very granulated and more yellow in color. I am not sure why. I was disappointed that it didn't turn out as smooth looking as yours did in the video.

Ryan Galginaitis said...

Thanks for the feedback, Chef. My mixture still looks really grainy and gross, but it tastes delicious! I'm just going to cover the whole thing with cocoa powder and roll with it.

I'm just curious to why it didn't look grainy until after I incorporated the mascarpone. I'd think that if the eggs were overcooked, I'd notice before adding the mascarpone.

Wayne Rock said...

Ryan, the same thing happened to my mixture. The egg yolk and sugar mixture was really smooth, then after I incorporated the mascarpone, it became this disgusting, grainy mess. I still used it, and it was delicious, but I'm curious to find out if there is a way to stop this from happening.

Chef John said...

It is grainy when you first mix in the cheese, but as you keep whisking it smooths out like mine! I think you guys are not whipping in enough. Are you use a whisk? Is your cheese super cold? (harder to mix in). There is nothing in this recipe that will clump up!

Unknown said...

I think the culprit is the cold cheese. I had the same issue and had taken the cheese straight out of the fridge. I put it back on the double boiler with just the residual heat in the water (stove OFF) and it smoothed out beautifully!

Wayne Rock said...

It was probably the cold cheese. I will try again soon and report back on my results. Thanks for your responses Chef John and Unknown person.

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef! I'll has ya' done knows 'dat my finicky-lady friend done made me 'sum Tirimisu for Valentine's Day. And while it wasn't the "toe-curling" delicacy she had promised, it was nevertheless as good an excuse as any to use up 'sum of my Spiced Rum from my vagrant-on-a-boat sailing days.

Incidentally my lady-friend also done tolds' me that she tended to an eighty year-old patient the other day. The patient claims 'dat his wife got him an S.U.V. for Valentine's Day. ...Sox, Underwear and Viagra.

Thanks! You're da' best!

Zubariya Ahmed said...

This recipe looks delicious but I was wondering if is there a non alcoholic alternative to the Marsala wine or should I simply skip it as I can't use any type or amount of alcohol in my food and drinks... Can you consider mentioning non-alcoholic alternatives in your other recipes in future

Xiaolan You said...

This is a thank you note from one of many starving students you have probably encountered. The best part about being alone for Valentine's Day? You don't have to share a dessert as awesome as this.

I was a bit sketched out about the raw egg, but it seems to be a tried and true method. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe!

Ching Yan said...

Hi Chef John, can I use your cold brew espresso concentrate from your tiramisu chocolate mousse recipe for this tiramisu?

Bubbly Boo said...

I just made this for the first time and it turned out amazingly good! I love your recipes Chef John! My kids and husband love you now too.

Evelyn Tynes said...

Tiramisu is my all-time favorite cake. :P That being said, the 'custard mixture' is called 'zabaione' in Italian. :) My grandmother was Italian and my grandfather was Cajun, and they both cooked, so I had the privilege of learning recipes and techniques from both cultures.. Which led me to travel and experiment with other cultures' cuisine. Anyway.. Thank you, Chef John for giving this dessert justice. I've seen some real cut-corners recipes out there. Keep it up. :)
-Evelyn

Lindsay said...

Chef John

Please don't consider adding alcohol-free alternatives or gluten free or whatever and why on earth would you make Tiramisu with CREAM CHEESE!?? Gross! I live pretty rural and I can still get mascarpone. The only similarities are the color and the milk. You can't substitute old cheddar for butter.

I get extremely tired of people thinking that everyone else has to compensate for their food issues.

Keep doing what you are doing and don't change a thing. Except don't offer cream cheese as an alternative next time (dude, I can't stop shuddering at that).

MsPieceofpie said...

Chef John, this recipe is amazing. It's easy and tasty. I was afraid of making tiramisu but your recipe helped me with that. So thank you so much. I love it!!

Ellen said...

This it IT! I am making a white chocolate "mug" with dark chocolate handles filled with this tiramisu topped with Chocolate mousse that "droops" over the side.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!