I got this hair-brained idea that I wanted to make tiramisu while visiting the family because they don’t have easy access to such exotic desserts and I wanted to dazzle them with my cooking abilities. A couple of years ago they happened to be visiting during my mom’s birthday and I got her a giant, elaborate tiramisu cake from one of my favorite bakeries. They had never heard of tiramisu before, but after one bite they were smitten. I wanted to take them back to that revelatory time. It’s just some cream and some cookies and some coffee, right? No bigs.
A note on sourcing “fancy” ingredients in seemingly barren areas – get crafty. Can’t find mascarpone cheese in the dairy section? Try the artisan cheese island. Perhaps I just got lucky, being in a dairy-focused state, but if the Pioneer Woman can find it you probably can too. I had to try two stores and ask three people to get my hands on some ladyfingers, but as it turned out they were on the tiny rack under the deli counter, next to a bunch of bagel chips. Who would ever look there?!
I also used Kahlua, not because I couldn’t find Marsala wine (in traditional tiramisu), but because it was already on the liquor shelf. Tasting more like coffee is not a bad thing.
This recipe can seem a little daunting, but at the end of the day it just has a lot of easy steps. Take your time. I messed up by eyeballing the amount of liquid I poured on the ladyfingers – don’t do that. Just don’t. I was like, “whoa, so much liquid! This is going to get mushy and weird,” and then they turned out a little too dry. #1 tiramisu party foul. Save the eyeballing for recipes you’ve done before. The original recipe called for a 9×13 pan, but I didn’t feel like I had enough ladyfingers to go around so I used an 8×8 square pan.
No one has ever accused me of being a slow eater, but even I had to pause for a moment to savor the creamy deliciousness. (I still started last and finished first. Champion.)
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks
5 whole Egg Yolks
¼ cup plus 4 Tablespoons Sugar, divided
¾ cups Kahlua, divided
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 pound Mascarpone Cheese
1 ½ cup Brewed Espresso Or VERY Strong Coffee
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 package (7 Oz.) Ladyfingers
Cocoa Powder for dusting
1 Bar of Dark Chocolate for chocolate curls
*Do not make more than 24 hours before you want to serve it.
Take out the mascarpone and let it get to room temperature while you start working. It’s important that it gets to room temp so the cream mixture is smooth and not lumpy!
Fill a medium saucepan with a couple of inches of water and bring to a boil.
Find a mixing bowl that will fit in the top of the saucepan. Put the 5 egg yolks and ¼ cup of the sugar into the mixing bowl. Whisk until mixture lightens to a pale yellow, about 3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan. Slowly add ½ cup of the Kahlua, whisking constantly. Cook for about 5 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl often. Cover and refrigerate until cool, about 45 minutes.
After half an hour passes, put the mascarpone in a bowl and stir until smooth and creamy.
In a different bowl, whip the heavy whipping cream and 4 tablespoons of sugar until soft peaks form.
Gently fold the mascarpone and chilled custard mixture into the whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.
While the cream mixture is chilling, combine 1 ½ cups of espresso or coffee with 1 tablespoon vanilla and the remaining ¼ cup of Kahlua .
Place a layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of an 8×8 pan. You may have to break some to make them fit. Use a knife to get clean breaks.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the coffee mixture over each ladyfinger.
Put half of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers and spread into an even layer with a spatula.
Dust generously with cocoa powder. Repeat for another layer.
Use a knife to shave curls from the chocolate bar on top of the tiramisu until you feel that it is sufficiently covered.
Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. This allows the flavor to build and the cookies to soften.
Eat within a day and a half. (As if you need to be told.)