You can’t deny the fact that you’re back at uni now, Christmas holidays are still a world away, the weather’s getting worse and all you really want is a little pick me up to get you through the week… And what better way to cheer yourself up than a little tiramisù!
Tiramisù is the staple of any Italian restaurant’s dessert menu, even though its origins are not quite clear. With its lovely medley of mild mascarpone, strong coffee and a hint of chocolate, it is easy to see why it’s literally called ‘pick me up’! Some people prefer it with alcohol, some people add subtle flavours along the way – this version is the plainest and simplest possible. This way, you can enjoy it as it is, or really make it your own by playing around with various flavours. If you would like your tiramisù to be a bit boozy, try adding a bit of rum or amaretto – Marsala wine (which is similar to port) is the standard, but any of these will go. Don’t add too much alcohol to your recipe – I would suggest a swig or a tablespoon to be precise. Tiramisù is a rather delicate dessert, despite its strong coffee, so make sure you don’t use anything too overpowering.
Apart from the savoiardi (which are just ladyfingers or ‘sponge fingers’) the coffee is the star of this dessert. The higher quality your coffee is, the better your dessert will taste. Now, I know that we are all students here but please refrain from using filtered or even instant coffee. It will taste horrible, and we both know it. You don’t need to have a pump espresso maker to make good coffee at home. You can get a small coffee machine for the hob, such as the moka express by Bialetti, or if this is just a one off, go down your local coffee shop for some espresso shots.
If you’re not keen on the idea of having coffee, you can try and substitute the coffee for some chocolate milk. I would suggest avoiding overly sweet brands as this could affect the overall sweetness of the dessert. This is also a good alternative for a children’s version of tiramisù. Finally, if you want to add subtle flavours such as vanilla or a hint of orange, do so in the mascarpone. Simply add the seeds of a vanilla pod or some grated orange peel into the mascarpone and you will be surprised to see how far just a little tweaking can take you.
Feeds 6-8 (enough for a 25x25cm dish or equivalent)
5 egg yolks
1 pack savoiardi (200g)
approx 500ml espresso or very strong coffee
cocoa to dust
Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!
Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.