I’ve always loved tiramisu, a refined icebox cake. There’s something magical about the idea of transforming cookies into a cake.
My first exposure to this marvel was through the Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafer version. A cake made famous by the recipe printed on the box. Instead of rising in the oven, four hours in the refrigerator turns cookies and whipped cream into a cake.
There are many variations on this dessert. Some people are drawn to the decadent beauty of the trifle, which substitutes pound cake for cookies. Personally, my favorite is tiramisu.
Though a standard on menus of the 80’s, it remains a sentimental favorite. Creamy and refreshing, tiramisu is the perfect snack when I can’t decide between dessert and coffee.
This the tiramisu recipe I use most often. Although I like it with either whipped cream or custard filling, the whipped cream is easier and faster to prepare. I use Marsala wine instead of rum, to keep the alcohol content low, while still imparting traditional Italian flavor.
1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso at room temperature
1/4 cup dry Marsala wine, divided
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened
2 cups heavy cream
18 to 20 Italian ladyfingers
1-2 ounces grated bittersweet chocolate for dusting
In a wide dish mix the espresso, 2 tablespoons of Marsala wine, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a tablespoon of sugar. Set aside.
Whip the cream to form stiff peaks with a whisk or hand mixer. Set aside.
Grate the chocolate and set aside.
Mix the mascarpone, sugar, remaining vanilla and Marsala wine until combined. Fold the mixture into the whipped cream.
Quickly dip both sides of the ladyfingers in the espresso mixture and lay them in the bottom of a 9 – inch square dish. It might be necessary to break the cookies to completely fill the space.
Cover the ladyfingers with half of the whipped cream mixture. Top with grated chocolate. Add a second layer of espresso – dipped ladyfingers. Top the cookies with rest of the whipped cream, and cover with a layer of grated chocolate.
Cover the dish with cellophane and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Add more fresh grated chocolate to the top before serving.