Foodie Files: Tiramisu

Ben Whelan

Tiramisu is not only one of the most traditional Italian desserts and an essential to have in your dessert arsenal but it is also deceptively easy to make and, get this, does not require cooking in the oven! How awesome is that? When oven space is at a premium, this pastry will “cook” in the fridge.

The other great thing about Tiramisu is that during the winter, it provides a nice lift on a cold winter day due to the amounts of coffee, booze, and sugar in the recipe. In fact the name even translates roughly in English as “pick-me-up” (tirami su).

The dish itself is a kind of layer cake consisting in layers of espresso soaked lady fingers and an Italian custard cream known Zabaglione, which is a sweetened egg custard that has some sort of liquor in it (in this case Amaretto). As the cake sets in the fridge, the dry ladyfingers will absorb all of the espresso and will also take some liquid from the Zabaglione and the proteins in the eggs will solidify, so even though the thing will look soupy when it goes in, it will come out solid and delicious.


1lb Mascarpone Cheese

1 Package Ladyfingers (about 24)

½ C. Sugar

4 Egg Yolks

½ C. Milk

1 nip Disarrano (Amaretto)

8oz Espresso

Cocoa Powder

The first step here is to lay out your ladyfingers and using a pastry brush or basting brush, gently paint your ladyfingers with the espresso, gently and evenly. They shouldn’t be soggy but should be a little damp. You may not need all 8oz of espresso, but you can just drink the rest to power you through the rest of the process. Set these aside to absorb for a little bit and we’ll start on the zabaglione.

In a mixing bowl, combine your sugar and egg yolks with an electric mixer or, if you’re for real, use a whisk and some elbow grease. When everything has combined into a custardy-looking thing, add your mascarpone and milk to the bowl and continue mixing. When everything at this step has pretty much combined, mix in and blend your amaretto to finish the zabaglione.

Next, begin to place your painted ladyfingers into the bottom of a 9×9 baking dish. About twelve, or half, should fit in the first layer. After the bottom layer is complete, take something like a third of your zabaglione and pour it over the top until everything is pretty much covered. Repeat this process with the second layer until all the ladyfingers are totally covered. Garnish by sprinkling the cocoa powder over the top to make a complete topping and refrigerate for three to four hours.

Less than ten components, no cooking, liquor as an ingredient, and explosive flavors?! Winner in my book. As usual, let me know how it goes and don’t forget to always respect your food.