Tiramisu is the all time favorite dessert in our house. Glenn and I discovered our mutual love of this Italian dessert early in our relationship over a late night dinner at Filomena Ristorante in Georgetown, Washington D.C. Since that snowy January night, if tiramisu is on the menu, we order it. Tiramisu was the dessert at our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding (it would have been our wedding cake if I could have figured out how it could have been made in a tiered form), it is the cake I make for Glenn’s birthday every year, and it is becoming a favorite dessert for our formal dinners.
I’ve discovered that not all tiramisu is created equal. Cake that is too dry or filling that is too sweet yields disappointing results. This recipe comes from Williams Sonoma and in my opinion is the perfect combination of moist, yet not too wet, lady fingers and rich and delicately sweet filling. Always make it a day ahead of time. This lets the flavors meld together. Of course, if there are leftovers, it is even better the following day.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups freshly brewed espresso
1/4 cup dark rum
1/3 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the espresso and let cool to room temperature. Stir the rum into the cooled espresso mixture.
- Pour the espresso mixture into a wide, shallow bowl. Working in batches, briefly immerse the ladyfingers in the liquid, then transfer them to a plate. Set aside.
- To make the filling, select a heatproof bowl that fits snugly in the rim of a saucepan. Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into the saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer.
- Meanwhile, in the heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is pale yellow and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Place the bowl over, but not touching, the simmering water in the pan. Using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the yolk mixture until very thick and tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and set the yolk mixture aside to cool completely, stirring frequently.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, using the mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.
- Add the mascarpone and vanilla to the cooled yolk mixture. Beat with the mixer on medium speed just until smooth and well blended.
- Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream just until combined.
- To assemble, carefully transfer 15 soaked ladyfingers to a 9-inch square cake pan. Arrange them in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.
- Using the rubber spatula, evenly spread one-third of the filling over the ladyfingers. Place another layer of 15 ladyfingers over the filling in the pan and evenly spread with half of the remaining filling.
- Top with the remaining ladyfingers and filling, again spreading evenly. Gently tap the pan against the counter to settle the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
- Run a small knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with the cocoa powder. Cut into slices and serve directly from the pan.