Italian tiramisù (tirami sù) translates to “pick-me-up”, referring to the stimulating effects of the espresso soaked ladyfingers. Personally, I’m more interested in learning who came up with the name, “ladyfingers”.
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 8 oz mascarpone
- 1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
- 2 cups espresso, cooled
- 2 tbsp sweet Marsala wine
- 18 savoiardi (ladyfingers)
- 1/4 bittersweet chocolate shavings, or 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
With a hand mixer, beat together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar until the mix is pale, thick and falls in ribbons (2-3 minutes).
Stir briefly over a bain maire. Because tiramisù is not cooked, the process of heating the egg mix will reduce the risk of harmful bacteria. Let cool and beat in the mascarpone until blended.
In another bowl, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Continue to beat, adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar gradually until stiff peaks form.
In yet another bowl, beat the cream until it forms soft peaks (chill the empty bowl in the freezer before whipping for better results). Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture, then fold in the egg whites.
Stir together the espresso and Marsala in a shallow bowl. I used a powdered espresso and mixed it about 3x the drinkable strength. I really like espresso. Mix to your own taste (or level of tolerance).
Dip each ladyfinger (one at a time) for 4 seconds on each side (max).
Arrange soaked ladyfingers in the bottom of a dish that is deep enough for 2 or 3 layers. A glass dish makes for a better presentation in the end, but I didn’t have a glass dish the right size so I lined a small loaf pan with parchment so I could lift the dessert out later to plate.
Trim ladyfingers to fit snugly where needed, then top with the mascarpone mixture; repeat until you run out of room or ingredients. The top layer should be mascarpone.
I ran out of room before ingredients, so I also made a solo dessert in a wine glass. Chill the dessert, covered, for at least 6 hours.
Six hours is a really long time when you are waiting for tiramisù!
After 6 hours (or even overnight), sprinkle with cocoa powder and/or chocolate shavings. Cut slices with a hot knife. Serve with berries for a tart flavor contrast.