Lots of people and restaurants claim to have ‘invented’ tiramisu, and who knows who is telling the truth. What we do know is that it was an invention of the 60’s, along with audio cassettes, the beehive hairdo, and colour television. Fast forward fifty odd years and we still predominantly use savoiardi, or lady finger biscuits, to make it but in the modern world there have been endless versions with berries, mango, yoghurt, and in the latest trend I’ve noticed in restaurants, “hot and cold tiramisu” (the last of which I recently had a delicious version of at Sarti in Melbourne).
The one below is classic in my mind. My Mamma Rosa has always always made it with marsala, so that’s how I make it too. My cousin Concetta on the other hand uses Amaretto, and the method below is hers; Mamma Rosa has given me a couple of versions – one with a custard and cream (if you don’t like the thought of raw eggs, or are allergic, this is the way to go) and a ricotta one. But whatever you use, like most Italian sweets, they are never complete without a splash of alcohol somewhere. Tiramisu is great for a dinner party, because you can serve a crowd with it easily, but also you can make it the night before, or at least give it several hours before serving – many recipes say to leave it two or three hours, but I think you need at least twelve.
Once upon a time you could only get lady finger biscuits at Italian delis, but now the supermarkets stock them too. If you’re worried about the raw egg whites, use some cream instead. You can use a square, oval, or round dish, or you can even make it in individual glasses. So easy and so good!
6 eggs, separated
1 cup caster sugar
250 ml espresso coffee, chilled
150 ml marsala (or other preferred alcohol)
1 400g pack Saviordi biscuits
Cocoa or grated chocolate, for topping
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and caster sugar until thick and pale. Add the mascarpone, and beat till combined
2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the yolk and mascarpone mixture
3. Combine the marsala and coffee in a small flat dish of a suitable size for dunking the savoiardi. Put each biscuit in the liquid mixture just for a few seconds so that only half the biscuit is dunked (if you put it in too long it will collapse). Place the biscuit in your serving dish with the “undunked” side on the bottom. Repeat until you have covered your serving dish. You may need to cut your biscuits in order for the dish to be covered.
4. Cover the layer of biscuits with half the mascarpone mixture. Then do another layer of dunked biscuits, then the other half of the cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. You could also do it in individually served glasses or bowls.