A favorite Italian “pick-me-up”

English: Tiramisu

English: Tiramisu (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tiramisú is one of my favorite Italian desserts (gelato being a category all its own!). It’s literal translation in Italian is “pick me up” or “lift me up.” It’s name is a reference to both the coffee and the brandy or marsala wine used to soak the ladyfingers (a dry italian cookie) before layering them between a whipped egg and mascarpone mixture. I first learned how to make it at a cooking class I went to during my semester abroad in Florence in 2003. I use the same recipe every time I make it and it always earns great reviews. Here it is:

500g (about 2 2/3 cups) of mascarpone

5 eggs

5 dessertspoons of sugar

3 packages of Pavesini sponge fingers

2 measures of strong coffee (I typically use Starbucks instant Via, Italian Roast, which is available in regular and decaf)

1 small glass of Brandy, Rum or Marsala wine

dark cocoa powder

Whisk 5 egg yolks with the sugar, add the mascarpone and mix thoroughly; beat the egg whites into peaks in a different bowl, (you should be able to tip the bowl upside down and it shouldn’t fall out!); fold the whites into the yolk mixture from top to bottom; cover the base of a 9×13 pan or dish with sponge fingers soaked in brandy; cover them with 1/2 centimeter of the mascarpone mixture; add layer of sponge fingers soaked in coffee; top with remaining mascarpone mixture and then sprinkle liberally with cocoa powder; refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.


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