Recipe for Classic Tiramisu

Recipe for Classic Tiramisu

Tiramisu is one of the most famed Italian desserts. Literally meaning, “pick me up,” the layers of this sultry sponge cake are soaked in espresso and alcohol, making it the perfect follow-up to a traditionally filling Italian meal.

The dense Italian population in Niagara Falls, Canada means that many Niagara Falls Italian restaurants and residents make their own unique versions of this of this dessert.  Although there are different variations of the recipe, here we present a traditional version of this decadent dessert.

Although the procedure tends to be rather complex, there is no baking involved. Once you accomplish this dessert once, you will be amazed at having created such an exquisite-looking cake. You will be on your way to tweaking and perfecting it for the next time. With looks and taste so intricate, this dessert is guaranteed to impress.

This particular recipe serves eight. You will need:

  •  6 large egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • Four 8-oz containers of mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups espresso, at room temperature (this is important, as hot espresso will make the cake unevenly moist)
  • 1/3 cup brandy, cognac, or Kahlua
  • 30-32 crisp Italian ladyfingers
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • Bittersweet chocolate, shaved

The best brands to stick to are the most natural you can find, so use that as a guideline when selecting ingredients. Niagara Falls restaurants and residents often select to use brandy or cognac over Kahlua.

  1. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with plastic wrap, leaving a few inches overhanging on all sides. Then fill a bowl with very cold water.
  2. To make the custard, whisk egg yolks and sugar until they form a pale, thick paste. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of lightly simmering water. Do not allow the bowl to touch the water or the custard will coagulate or burn. Heat until all the sugar has dissolved. Slowly add the milk, whisking, until the custard becomes a light and foamy consistency (10 minutes). Remove the bowl from the saucepan and set it in the cold water. Whisk until the custard is cool.
  3. Put the mascarpone in a larger bowl. Fold the custard into the cheese until almost combined, but do not over-mix. Then whisk until just smooth. Stop before it becomes grainy.
  4. Combine brewed and chilled espresso with brandy in a shallow dish. Dip the ladyfingers in the mixture one at a time. They should be fully saturated but not soggy. Place them in 2 rows of 4-6 biscuits (whatever will fit your baking dish seamlessly). Spread one third of the custard over the layer of ladyfingers. Lay another layer of espresso-dipped ladyfingers, arranging them in the opposite direction of the first layer. Spread another third of the custard overtop. Repeat a third layer of the ladyfingers, alternating directions again. Spread the remains of the custard overtop. Shake cocoa powder over top for a thin dusting. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and allow to refrigerate; at least 4 hours or over night (8 hours is best).
  5. When you are ready to serve the cake, overturn a plate on top of the plastic-wrapped tiramisu, then flip it over onto the plate. Gently remove the baking dish and the bottom layer of plastic wrap. Then overturn the serving plate on top of the upside down tiramisu, and flip it cocoa-side up. Remove the remaining plastic wrap.
  6. Shave curls of chocolate over top with a potato peeler or small grater. Cut into desired pieces (square looks best) and serve.
  7. Enjoy with a caffè, brandy, or cognac!

* Once you taste this dessert, you will understand the relevance of accuracy in both the dipping time of the ladyfingers in the espresso and the strength or weakness of the espresso itself. Niagara Falls restaurants and residents tend to prefer a stronger, more bitter taste.  If you are missing the bitter element, brew your espresso stronger and add more alcohol. If you wish, you can even add some of the espresso into the mascarpone custard.