Tiramisu trials

Can you believe I have never once made a tiramisu until now? It’s a dinner party mainstay, but I was never a big fan of it to begin with – I used to find the soaked sponge finger texture off-putting; I’d turn down a trifle invitation for the same reason. I guess the luxury of the boozy cream has won me over though, because these days a tiramisu on a bistro menu usually prompts me to order dessert – a course I can otherwise happily forgo. That said – it’s always a huge disappointment to be presented with a tiramisu that’s more like a sponge cake – I like my sloppy, and this recipe here makes for a wonderfully sloppy version with the perfect balance between the coffee, booze and sweetness.

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I used the Tiramisu Classico recipe from the wonderfully visual cookbook Little Italy by Laura Zavan (Murdoch Books, 2009). It’s the type of recipe I like – measurements are not exact (8 small cups of strong coffee, for example) so it forces you to really pay attention as you’re making it and to adapt if you find it’s not looking right – which it wasn’t; not enough biscuit matter for the serious helping of cream you end up with. So I’ve adjusted quantities to balance it.

Classic Tiramisu

Serves 6-8, ready in 30 minutes plus 2 hours chilling time

400g mascarpone (I used 2 200g Tatua packs)

500ml strong, cooled coffee (espresso if you have it, or strong plunger will do fine)

5 medium eggs

7 Tbsp icing sugar

100ml liqueur – marsala is traditional but I used a Manuka honey wine, or use  Amaretto or Frangelico for their signature flavours

300g savoiardi (lady finger) biscuits – one and a half 200g packs

2 heaped teaspoons good, unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Green & Blacks)

20g dark chocolate

Take mascarpone out of the fridge while you make the coffee.

Separate eggs into two large bowls. Beat yolks with 5 Tbsp icing sugar, until it’s thick and frothy. Add booze and beat, then add mascarpone and beat gently to combine into a smooth cream.

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Beat egg whites, a pinch salt and remaining 2Tbsp icing sugar to stiff peaks and then fold into the mascarpone cream, taking care to combine well.

Dip biscuits into cooled coffee – using a wide dish is best for this. Dip quickly and then line base of chosen serving dish with coffee-soaked biscuits. Sprinkle over a little cocoa powder then top with a thick layer of the cream, then repeat process starting with coffee-soaked biscuits and finishing with cream. I used a 20 x 20cm dish which allowed for two layers of biscuits, but you might like to use a narrower, deeper dish and go for three layers – either way, end with a layer of cream.

Cover (I found a plastic bag best for this) and refrigerate for 2 hours or more. Just before serving, finely grate over a layer of dark chocolate.

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