Tiramisu is probably my all-time favourite dessert.
It has coffee and alcohol that bites through the rich mascarpone cream, the texture of dipped sponge finger biscuits which should never be too soggy makes it wonderfully moreish.
Now, as with almost everything I make in my kitchen, it is adapted to my taste, mine is not so sweet with a little more mascarpone cream and the optional extra of an Irish cream (coffee liqueur ) through the custard.
This recipe is one I look forward to making on those special occasions when the food deserves to be decadent and a little bit naughty.
Now I know, Mine looks a little different to the neatly stacked Tiramisu of the Italian Grandfathers, and maybe they will be spinning in their graves as I say that I don’t like an airy Tiramisu, I like mine thick and rich, creamy and full of the coffee flavour.
When I made three different Recipes they called for whipping of the sabayon (the egg yolk and sugar mixture ) with an electric beater over the heat of a double boiler, it was hard work and it was unnecessary.
This recipe is one I make for a crowd, usually Christmas time, it’s greatly looked forward to by everyone.
As It is one of those recipes that never gets old for hosting, it is becoming the first recipe in my HOSTESS series.
Hosting is hard work, and while I love it, it’s hard to get the balance right, to create the atmosphere, food and entertainment, while still enjoying your time. SO having recipes that are better made days before, is a trick up a good hostesses sleeve.
- A sabayon is an Itialian custard, (Zabaione or zabaglione) it is made with sugar and egg yolks and usually a sweet wine, you mix these together over a double boiler until the sugar is dissolved and you mixture is creamy smooth.
EGGS YOLKS FOR A SABAYON
The egg yolks need to be fresh and at room temperature.
Once you have separated your eggs yolks from the whites (save the whites! You can freeze them in a zip lock bag, or you can make a Pavlova!) Place your yolks in a bowl that will fit over a saucepan of boiling water without the bowl coming into contact with the water.
Don’t use a bowl that is too big. A bowl with a wider bottom and more surface area on the heat will have more risk of you accidentally cooking your egg yolks.
Of these two bowls use the smaller one if you have the option, You can control the heat more than you could with the larger one.
THE SUGAR FOR A SABAYON
The sugar needs to be a superfine. you will have the best results with a sugar that is at least as fine as castor sugar or white sugar.
If you are like me and you only have raw sugar on hand you can blend it, I used my thermomix, but a blender or a Nutri bullet will work just fine.
If you don’t have superfine sugar on hand and you don’t have a way to make it yourself, just use raw sugar, mix it with the egg yolks as best you can.
IF YOUR SABAYON IS GRAINY
It’s the sugar, you don’t have a superfine, or it isn’t dissolved yet.
The method for making a sabayon is to have your eggs and sugar over heat and be whisking constantly! you don’t want to cook your yolks! But you do want to dissolve your sugar, and so it takes care and patience to get the results you need for a great Tiramisu.
you need to be very careful though to not overheat the mixture! place your hand on the side of the bowl, near the rim, when the bowl gets too hot for you to keep your hand near the rim then it is too hot! remove the bowl from the heat (watch the steam!) and continue whisking until the mixture is cooled to not so hot, place your hand back to laying flat on the bowl just under the rim and continue over the heat.
If your egg mixture doesn’t get hot enough for long enough the sugar won’t dissolve or if you are using sugar that isn’t fine enough you won’t be able to dissolve it without cooking your yolks.
A grainy sabayon will firm up just fine once refrigerated, I made more than one Tiramisu with a grainy sabayon and no one was the wiser!
THE MASCARPONE FOR TIRAMISU THE ITALIAN CLASSIC
The quality of your mascarpone is everything!
3 Tips for mascarpone
- You can be stingy with almost everything else, but the Mascarpone is where I put my foot down and tell you, you must buy the best!
AN authentic Italian mascarpone will deliver a cream that sets, that is rich and full of flavour, and in fact, here where I live in Australia it can be hard to get your hands on especially at Christmas time, so if you can’t get it, use another generic brand, but, it will affect the setting of your tiramisu and the flavour.
As a matter of fact, this tiramisu was made with a generic brand, and while I like my tiramisu to be not too airy and firm, it would be a little firmer had I been able to get the good stuff!
- It must be fresh! like you egg yolks, you want the freshest you can manage, a mascarpone that is near the expiration date will possibly break down when all mixed in your tiramisu and go watery!
- The last tip, mascapone MUST BE A ROOM TEMPERATURE! a mascarpone that isn’t at room temperature will be harder to mix, and the more you mix the more risk you have of over mixing the sabayon and mascarpone and it will curdle!
ALTERNATIVES TO MASCARPONE IN TIRAMISU
- Cream fraiche, which is a slightly more tart then mascarpone but is a fairly good substitute
- Make your own faux mascarpone with full fat cream cheese, cream and butter, all at room tempurature whipped together. (see notes in recipe for the amounts you need for this recipe)
DO YOU HAVE TO COOK TIRMASU?
You do not have to heat the egg yolks and sugar, you can simply mix them in a mixer for 12-14 minutes, or until you have a thick consistency and pale yellow colour. The reason behind heating the egg yolk in the more modern cooking of tiramisu is because of the low quality of eggs, and the danger of eating them raw. If you are sure about your eggs (pasteurised) then you can omit the double boiler. Traditional tiramisu was made this way.
THE WHIPPED CREAM FOR TIRAMISU THE ITALIAN CLASSIC
The cream you need to get right.
Whip your cream wrong and it will deflate and your tiramisu will be so thin it won’t stay together at all on the plate.
You need to whip your cream slowly
pouring cream into a mixer bowl and turning it up to speed 6 is tempting with cream, but really no matter the use for your whipped cream, the slower and longer it is whipped for, the better it is.
When you use a faster speed, (anything over speed 4 in any mixer) you are rapidly putting air into the cream, forming air bubbles that are large, these larger air bubbles while wonderful at first, will collapse, and leave you with a thinner cream then you started out with.
Have you ever placed whipped cream in the fridge and removed it hours later to find there is a pool of almost water-like cream in the bottom of the bowl?
that is is the result of whipping cream too fast, and if you do that with Tiramisu it’s a recipe for disaster!
Whip your cream on around speeds two to four depending on your mixer, I have a kitchen aid that has a faster speed setting and I use speed 2-3. Let it mix for 12-15 minutes, or until it is thick. It should hold its shape like in the image below.
It takes patience to make a good whipped cream, but it’s 100% worth it.
Gently fold it through your sabayon and mascarpone mix and fold it into the mixture.
This is the final result, the sabayon, mascarpone and cream, now you need to layer!
For two cups of coffee, you want at least 4 full strength shots then a little boiling water to make up two cups. It’s up to taste, I dipped a sponge finger into the mix of coffee and alcohol and tasted it, it was very strong, and I knew that it would become less strong as it sat in the fridge sO I was happy with four shots of coffee and half a cup of my alcohol of choice.
If you think you might want more coffee or alcohol then add more!
For the coffee you want at least 4 shots, if you don’t have a machine or french press or a stovetop percolator, then you can buy 4-6 shots and bring them home in a takeaway cup and refrigerate for a day or two (the fresher the better) or you can use instant coffee, 8 to 10 teaspoons in two cups of boiling water.
Make the coffee mixture and then add your alcohol.
THE ALCOHOL FOR TIRAMISU THE ITALIAN CLASSIC
Now alcohol, I am not a big drinker, I do drink though and so I don’t mind adding the alcohol, I think it really makes a Tiramisu special, and the alcohol helps to cut through the richness.
You add the alcohol to the coffee mixture, some people add masala to the sabayon but I prefer not to, I add a coffee cream liquor to the mascarpone cream when adding the second layer of the cream over the 2nd layer of sponge finger biscuits.
You can choose to omit the alcohol altogether and use an essence, or us nothing at all.
The alcohol you can use if you choose to use it is flexible.
You want a sweetened wine with a nutty flavour, I used a wine called Boronia all ‘uoivo.
It is a sweetened Italian wine, that tastes very similar to the masala most often prescribed for tiramisu. (I bought it because I am super stingy when it comes to alcohol for recipes! this one was cheap)
My other favourite is Irish cream, either Bailies or Kilkenny cream, a rich and sweet coffee liqueur, that is gorgeous in a tiramisu.
Alcohols you can use in tiramisu the Italian classic
- Grand Marnier
- dark rum -bacardi
- Kilkenny cream
you add the alcohol to the coffee for coating the sponge fingers and you can add it directly to the sabayon when you are heating it, usually the sweet wine, around 4-6 tablespoons, I don’t do this, I find it’s just too much.
I like to add a coffee liquor to the whipped cream or half the finished mascarpone mixture. about half a cup alcohol to 2 cups of the mixture.
Just note that it will change the texture.
HOW TO MAKE NONALCHOLIC TIRMAMISU
- You can just omit the alcohol, or you can add a rum or brandy flavoured essence or just vanilla essence.
- You can also add apple juice to the egg yolks and sugar, 1 tbsp per 2 yolks.
THE SPONGE FINGERS
These are another important element to get to right, but it is according to taste.
Some of us hate it too soggy, I am in between hating it too soggy ( a mushy mess) and not having enough coffee flavour. Some like the sponge fingers to remain almost completely dry, this is not me, I like to taste the coffee, I mean it’s tiramisu! It means the outer edges of the sponge finger will be soggy.
DIP OR BRUSH?
Some recipes call to dip the Savoiardi (sponge fingers) into the coffee mix, others say to brush it on, using a pastry brush.
For me, brushing isn’t enough!
I’m a dipper, note I want to say dip and not dunk.
I do not dunk the entire sponge finger, instead, I hold the finger lengthwise, I dip one side and then the other very quickly, I do not submerge the entire finger at once, it would likely fall apart and you would have a very soggy tiramisu, remember Tiramisu is best eaten a day or two after you have made it, the texture of the sponge fingers will change as they absorb the moisture from the coffee mixture and the mascarpone cream.
Dip or brush your sponge fingers, then layer them in your dish. The dish pictured is 30cm long by 20cm wide.
Pour over the first layer of mascarpone cream then repeat the process, I know it looks runny but don’t worry it will set firm enough to hold its shape. if yours is firmer than this it’s great! it can depend on the temperature on the day, the day I made this is was hot and humid, so the mixture was a little runny when pouring, if yours is thicker than pictured, even better!
INDIVIDUAL TIRAMISU SERVES
This is however you want to serve your tiramisu. If you made the proportions I make in this recipe, can make one large one for a crowd, it served 12, or you can make two small ones and freeze one!
You can freeze it for up to 3 months, be sure to tightly wrap it with multiple layers the mascarpone cream is delicious frozen, if you do plan on freezing I would be careful to not over-dip or brush the coffee mixture on the sponge fingers, or add a little more alcohol (it won’t freeze) otherwise your sponge fingers will be very watery.
dust with cocoa
Place your Tiramisu in the fridge, covered well so it doesn’t absorb and fridgy flavour and leave it, for at LEAST 24 hours, 48 is best!
This recipe is one I make for a crowd, usually Christmas time, it’s greatly looked forward to by everyone. As It is one of those recipes it is becoming the first recipe in the many recipes I have in store for the hostess, hosting is hard work, and while I love it, it’s hard to get the balance right, to create the atmosphere, food and entertainment, while still enjoying your time.
- 1 packet of I savoiardi biscuits (400gr)
- 8 egg yolks
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream
- 500 gr mascarpone
- 4-6 shots of espresso or 8-10 tsp instant coffee in two cups boiling water
- 1/2 cup Boronia all 'ouvo
- 1/2 cup of Irish cream (optional)
- tablespoon of dutch cocoa for sprinkling
- have your eggs and mascarpone at room temperature-remove from the fridge at least 20 minutes before you want to cook
- To make 2 cups of coffee to dip your biscuits into you need 4-6 shots of espresso than boiling water to fill the remainder of two cups. (depends on how strong you want your coffee flavour-six shots from homemade coffee-brewed or machine- is very strong) If you do not have a coffee machine then you can buy 4-6 shots, and bring them home in a takeaway coffee cup and refrigerate, or you can use 8 teaspoons of instant coffee in 2 cups of boiling water then cool.
- add the liquor of your choice to the coffee. ⅓ of a cup is minimum if you aren't big on the flavour I add ½ a cup, an idea is to dip a biscuit into the mixture and taste, it will be strong on its own allow it to weaken as it absorbs into the tiramisu, but if you can't handle the flavour at all, tip some out and add more water.
- to get an idea dip a biscuit into the mixture and taste, it will be strong on its own allow it to weaken as it absorbs into the tiramisu, but if you can't handle the flavour at all, tip some out and add more water.
- once your coffee mixture is cooling begin the sabayon.
- place the egg yolks and the 1 cup of superfine sugar (see notes if you don't have this) in a bowl that fits neatly over a pot of boiling water without the base of the bowl coming into any contact with the water. (double boiler)
- once you have the bowl over boiling water, using a whisk mix the egg yolk and sugar together and do not stop whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow in colour to do this without cooking the yolks can take up to 15 minutes.
- Be always monitoring the heat of the mixture. Place your hand on the side of the bowl, if the metal of the bowl is too hot to touch at the top of the bowl just before the rim, then the mixture is far too hot, remove and continue whisking until cooled slightly and then place back over the heat, repeat this process if need be to avoid scrambling the yolks.
- Once the mixture is pale yellow and thick, remove from the heat and whisk until cool, do not leave the mixture to cool from hot without whisking, the egg yolks could still cook on the bottom. (see notes if you can still feel the sugar in the mix)
- once whisked till cool, set aside to cool completely.
- now begin whisking your cream. Proper whipped cream is whipped over a long period on a low speed, if you whip your cream on a high speed it will gain lots of air quickly and look thick and whipped, but it will deflate after a few hours and leave you with a runny tiramisu.
- Whip the cream on speed 2-4 for 10-15 minutes, it depends on the temperature of your kitchen on how long this will take, but the end result should be a cream that holds its shape and looks like soft-serve ice cream. if you have whipped on speed 2-4 for ten minutes and are yet to see the cream whip too thick or at least getting there, then you can increase the speed by one notch.
- While you are whipping your cream, add the mascarpone to the cooled egg yolk and sugar mixture, fold it through with a spoon or gently whisk- don't go crazy. be sure to have the mascarpone not too cold or your mix could curdle, room temperature mascarpone is important.
- Add your whipped cream
- OPTIONAL- I like to halve the mascarpone mixture and add 1/3 of Irish cream to one half, which will go on top of the tiramisu. this is entirely optional and traditional tiramisu doesn't opt for this, I like the flavour so I do it.
- now that the egg mixture is ready, and your coffee is cooled it's time to layer them with the biscuits.
- you can dip the biscuits into the coffee mixture, this is what I do, but many recipes say to brush the biscuits with the mixture so they don't get too soggy in the days spent in the fridge. I like my biscuits soft and I like a full coffee hit so I dip. If you prefer them still tasty but a little dryer, maybe even completely dry in the middle, then just brush the coffee mixture on both sides of the sponge finger using a pastry brush.
- in a 20 by 30 cm dish which is what I used in the picture, it used an entire packet of the I savoiardi biscuits and the entire mascarpone mixture, you can make two small ones, 20-20 or the same size in approximation to mine.
- or you can make one smaller one (20 by 20 cm) and then 5-6 individual tiramisu's.
- dip or brush the biscuits and then layer neatly into the dish, pour over half of the mixture then dip or brush another layer of biscuits, and then pour over the next half of the mixture.
- for individual Tiramisu there are no rules, use what you like, think of how much you may want to eat in a sitting, and think of the sponge finger to mascarpone ratio-its all about the eating!
- Sprinkle the second layer of the custard mix with good quality cocoa.
- cover with glad wrap or tin foil, make sure there are no gaps, as it will be in the fridge for at least 24 hours before you eat it.
- Tiramisu is best eaten 24-48 hours after it is made, I always opt for 48 hours. The custard is properly set, the biscuits absorbed the full coffee flavour.
- Serve with coffee or tea.
If you don't have superfine sugar and you can't make it in a blender, then you can use what you have, but your sabayon may be grainy looking, this is fine, just continue with the recipe, the hours spent in the fridge will dissolve the sugar and firm up the custard (sabayon)
MAKE YOUR OWN MASCARPONE
to make the 500 grams of mascarpone you need 400grams of softened cream cheese, 1/2 a cup of heavy cream and 4 tablespoons of softened butter- whip these together until thick and completely blended together and use as mascarpone in the recipe.
ADDING COFFEE LIQUEUR TO THE SABAYON
You can add a coffee liqueur to the sabayon after you have added your mascarpone, it really depends on taste, I like to add half a cup of Irish cream but you can add more or less. Just taste as you go.
This is one of my favourite Christmas recipes! A crowd-pleaser plus it can be made days in advance during the busy Christmas season it’s nice to know you can make it ahead of time.
Another classic Christmas recipe is my slow roast lamb
The simple mamma!