It's no secret that Megan and I both love desserts and that we are both chocoholics. So when she asked for guests bloggers for while she is getting married and honeymooning in Italy, I was thrilled at the chance to indulge my (and her) sweet tooth and whip up an Italian dessert that's finished with a feathery dusting of dark chocolate: tiramisu.
I love all the components of tiramisu -- the soft sponginess of the espresso and liqueur-soaked ladyfingers, the creaminess of the mascarpone cheese mixture, and the light sweetness from the shaved chocolate. Some recipes call for zabaglione, an Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar, and a sweet wine (usually Marsala wine) that is then folded in with mascarpone cheese and espresso for the filling. However, I didn't have any Marsala wine so I tried a recipe that just had egg yolks and sugar. But don't worry, I didn't skip on the alcohol completely - I soaked the ladyfingers in espresso mixed with plenty of Kahlua (coffee liqueur).
If you don't have Kahlua, you can substitute Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), rum, brandy, or even Cointreau (orange liqueur). This is a very adult dessert recipe, not just because of the liqueur but also because it calls for raw egg yolks. Use the freshest eggs you can find and don't be intimidated -- I've made other chilled desserts (like dark chocolate ganache cups) with raw egg yolks and they really end up so creamy and velvety.
I used a Microplane to shave some good-quality dark chocolate (Valrhona 71%) on top and also in between the layers. I also modified the original recipe to cut it in half, because one small slice tastes pretty indulgent already . . . and I don't need a giant pan in my apartment.
Tiramisu (from Giada de Laurentiis at the Food Network)
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
8 oz mascarpone cheese
2/3 cup strong espresso, cooled
1/4 cup Kahlua
1 3.5 oz box of ladyfingers (about 20 ladyfingers that are less than an inch wide)
1/4 cup dark chocolate shavings
In a large bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined.
In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and Kahlua. Dip each ladyfinger into espresso for only 5 seconds. Letting the ladyfingers soak too long will cause them to fall apart. Place the soaked ladyfinger on the bottom of a baking dish (I used a 9x7 dish), breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom.
Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Sprinkle half of the shaved chocolate on top. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers and top with remaining mascarpone mixture.
Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours. Before serving, sprinkle with the remaining chocolate shavings.
I had a wonderful time when I went to Italy two years ago, but I actually didn't get to try tiramisu (I was too busy eating gelato!). I hope Megan and Jeff are able to enjoy a slice during their honeymoon there, but if not, they can just re-create this recipe and bring a sweet taste of Italy back home. Congratulations again, Megan and Jeff!