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Tiramisu Recipe

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There is an improved page with this recipe now which also contains photos along with the instructions: Tiramisu recipe.

Somehow, my previous post on Tiramisu seems to attract many people interested in making tiramisu – despite not having a recipe on them. So in an attempt to make the actual relevance of these pages match with what the search engines see in them, I'll post the recipe now.

You'll need the following things:

Let me add a few explanations for those who never made tiramisu and may not be familiar with the ingredients: mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese. It is very rich and a bit sweet. It is essential for the creamy taste of tiramisu, so replacing it by other cheeses like Quark (too sour, too watery) or crème fraîche (too sour) Philadelphia (not smooth enough) or even custard won't cut it. Use mascarpone or go for another dessert. Once you've got the hang of mascarpone, it's easy to get addicted. It's nice with jam on fresh bread or with strawberries. But I digress. The tub of mascarpone I have in mind contains 200-250g.

By tablespoons I mean what is referred to as tablespoons in Germany. That's the stuff you would eat müesli with, not those larger spoons used for serving vegetables which some people seem to call tablespoons as well. Anyway. just use sugar to suit your own taste.

Eggs – you know the stuff coming out of hens. While I have never had problems with that, keep in mind that these eggs won't be cooked. So better use really good and fresh eggs. And consume the tiramisu within two days or so (easy!).

A pack of sponge fingers containing two layers of fingers, or about 200g should be the right size. There seem to be different kinds of sponge fingers. Lighter and thicker ones and denser but smaller ones. The lighter ones will yield a slightly more fluffy result but can make the tiramisu look weird because they'll float to the top of it if you don't have enough of the other ingredients.

Amaretto is an Italian almond liqueur. It's indispensable for making tiramisu as it is responsible for the characteristic taste. Personally I think it's too sweet to be drunk on its own, so a bottle bought for making tiramisu will last ages.

Now for the preparation, in my personal optimised order to do things: First, make the espresso. Once it is ready, pour it into a small flat dish, so it cools a little. You need to dip the sponge fingers in this later on, so have that in mind when choosing the dish. While the espresso is cooking, separate the egg whites from the yolks. Then beat the egg whites. They need to be extra stiff. That's crucial. They will become liquid again after a while, so you can't have any breaks after this. You may want to put them into the fridge. I think this slows things down.

Next beat the egg-yolks. [Lazy note: Doing things in this order means you can use the same tool to beat both without needing to wash it in between. That wouldn't work the other way roud.] They'll become creamy and withe-ish. Then add the sugar and a dash of Amaretto and continue beating. After a while, add the mascarpone and beat until everything is nice and homogeneous. Taste and add more Amaretto if necessary. I quite like to also add a little bit of brandy at this stage.

Now gently drag the stiff egg whites under the creamy substance. This is best done with a large flat scraper or so. Treating the egg whites too roughly will make them break down, so you need to be a bit more careful here than when just stirring. You shouldn't see any more lumps of the beaten egg-white after this.

Now comes the fun part: Get a small (17cmx27cm or so) , preferably square, pie/lasagne dish out. Dip a sponge finger's bottom side quickly into the espresso (which could also contain some extra brandy if you are so inclined) and place it into the dish. Some sponge fingers soak really quickly, so you may have to be equally quick in removing them. This is how you control the strength of the coffee taste in your tiramisu. If you like a strong coffee taste, you may want to make a few more espressos to begin with.

Fill the whole bottom of the dish with sponge fingers lying side by side. Then use the bottle of Amaretto and sprinkle some on top of the sponge fingers. As you added the egg whites to your creamy mixture after adding the Amaretto, its Amaretto taste is lighter now. This compensates for it and helps making the sponge fingers nice and soggy. Your fingers and Amaretto bottle will likely be sticky after this.

Now add about half the creamy mass on top of the sponge fingers. Then dip, sprinkle, repeat to create a second layer. Depending on the shape and size of your dish the second layer may need more sponge fingers and creamy stuff. Keep this in mind when making the first layer. If in doubt, put more of it on the second layer. You have to do this because there's a lot of air in the sponge fingers and they have a tendency to start floating in the semi-liquid creme after a while if there's not enough of it above them to bury them reliably.

If you're reading this and your meal starts in an hour you're having a problem: The next step is to put the tiramisu into the fridge so there is time for the sponge fingers to be completely soaked and softened. I usually prepare it the day before serving it, but if you like getting up early, it may work as well to prepare it in the morning. Finally you should sprinkle a thin layer of the dark cocoa powder on top of the finished dish. Depending on whether you want the cocoa to be slightly shiny and wet or dry you do this either before putting it into the fridge or just before serving.

That's it, enjoy. It serves 5-8 people, I'd say. If you need more, I recommend doing two separate servings as it doesn't seem possible to whip larger amounts of egg whites satisfactorily.

March 6, 2004, 2:14

Tagged as recipe.


Comment by Catherine Smith: User icon

Fair play to you. That was a very easy to understand recipe. I have looked up many for Tiramisu and this is by far the closest to what my expectations of a good Tiramisu is. Lots of other recipes seem to use different types of alcohol. You used Amaretto. To me Tiramisu is not Tiramisu with out it. I also liked your humourous approach. Many thanks CAts

March 4, 2005, 15:01

Comment by lisa: User icon

Hey there, I’ve tried working through your recipe but what often happens is that after adding the egg white, the batter forms lumps and eventually become watery. Do you have any idea to prevent it from happening?

January 13, 2008, 4:04

Comment by ssp: User icon

Sorry to hear that Lisa. As for the lumps: Could it be that these are little bits of the beaten egg-white? I think this can happen if you beat your egg-whites really perfectly hard, which makes it tricky to mix them properly with the rest of the ingredients. If that’s the case, being very patient and mixing the egg-whites with the rest for a long time – but still slowly and carefully – might solve the problem.

As for being watery – I never had that problem. One thing I could imagine would be that when you beat the egg-whites and let them rest for a long time or in a warm place before using them, parts of them will become liquid again. If you drop all of the egg-whites into the rest in one go, you may not notice some liquid coming in as well. If that’s the case (it easily happens if you are trying to do twice the amount in one go) try storing the egg-whites in the fridge after you beat them or just use the solidly whipped part of them.

January 13, 2008, 10:53

Comment by Mumba: User icon

Tsk.. tsk.. tsk…

poor lisa, she waited for 3 years for an answer.

August 11, 2009, 11:58

Comment by dan: User icon

Really Mumba? To me it looks like she only had to wait 6 hours and 49 minutes…

August 11, 2009, 14:12

Comment by Annie: User icon

Hi, I tried making tiramisu with lots of enthusiasm at the start today, but gradually, i was disheartened when the mascarpone cheese and egg yolk turned lumpy when they were beating together. What could be the problem, is it over beating the egg yolk and cheese? How do I know when to stop beating them?

May 1, 2010, 13:39

Comment by ssp: User icon

No real idea what could be going wrong. Did you do things step by step: first beating the yolks a bit, then adding the sugar and only then adding the mascarpone? I could imagine that doing all of them at the same time could lead to problems.

Perhaps overbeating could be an issue as well, but I’ve never seen it and I like to beat things quite thoroughly.

Good luck for your further attempts! I’m sure it’ll work out.

May 1, 2010, 14:35

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