No one knows exactly where the divine tiramisu’ comes from. You ask Italians and invariably they’ll claim their hometown has some ownership of this national favourite but the truth is, this dessert is done well all over Italy. My personal recipe is a little departure from the classic because I like to add a layer of berries which cuts through the richness of the mascarpone perfectly. I also like to use grated dark hazelnut chocolate instead of cocoa powder as it adds another element of texture and is slightly less bitter.
Tiramisu’ should always be made with mascarpone cheese and eggs – if a restaurant is just using whipped cream then you’ve been ripped off and they’re trying to save money on ingredients. Without these two crucial ingredients you don’t get that rich creaminess and thick texture. You can obviously make this in a rectangular dish and serve square portions as you’ll often find in restaurants here. However, if you’re throwing a dinner party, I would suggest elegant individual portions in big bulbous wine glasses. It’s easy to crush up the Savoiardi biscuits when soaking them in coffee and then mould them to the shape of the glass. This is the ultimate pre-discoteca dessert to charge your dinner party with sugar, chocolate and caffeine to ensure you’re dancing tutta la notte!
- 500g mascarpone
- 4 eggs
- 150g sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence/extract or scrape out seeds from one fresh vanilla bean
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon (I know, it’s a lot but I adore spiced sweets)
- 1 block hazelnut dark chocolate
- 1 packet of savoiardi biscuits or 1 packet of sponge (pan di spagna)
- 1 bag of frozen fruits of the forest (frutti di bosco)
- 3 cups of strong espresso at room temperature (don’t get impatient and burn your fingers!!)
Separate eggs and whisk the whites (or beat them if you’re lucky enough to own an electric beater and you’re not all’antica like me).
In a separate bowl beat the sugar and egg yolks. Add cinnamon and vanilla.
Gently combine the three wet mixtures: mascarpone, egg yolk batter and egg whites.
Crush up a handful of savoiardi biscuits or sponge in a shallow dish of coffee, squeezing out any excess liquid (you don’t want it absorbing too much otherwise your layers won’t be clean and distinct) before creating your first layer in the wine glass.
Add a layer of your now combined mascarpone mixture and top with grated chocolate. Carefully add a layer of berries well drained with no liquid.
Repeat the layers until you run out of room in your glass then… VERY IMPORTANT… put your finished glasses in the fridge to set and cool for at least 4 hours. Trust me, the difference between a sloppy tiramisu’ just-made and a beautifully set and chilled dessert is not to be underestimated. The sexy flavours of cinnamon, coffee, vanilla and chocolate all fuse into one another and the mascarpone and biscuits have time to take on this sweet heady mix. So do this either the day before or the morning of your dinner party for best compliment-inducing results.