For my 16th birthday, my lovely mother took me on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New York City. Because my birthday is in December, Manhattan was decked out in all its Christmas glory…and I fell in love. The air had a sharp bite in it, but the snow hadn’t started falling yet, all of the department stores had their windows filled with glamorous displays, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree had just been lighted, and the City was filled with tourists soaking up the absolute joy and beauty that is Christmas in New York. During that trip, we had lunch one day outside (yes, it was cold, but it was glorious) at a little Italian restaurant that I can’t for the life of me remember the name of. That was the very first time I tasted authentic Italian tiramisu, and I remember thinking that it was one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten. Over the years, I always order tiramisu when I can at restaurants, but I’ve never even considered the prospect of trying to make one myself. It’s such a complex masterpiece of flavors and textures, I just really never thought it was something any but the most accomplished chefs could whip together into the fluffy, coffee-flavored confection that is Italian tiramisu. Well, I was wrong! For my recent Around the World Dinner party, Italian style, I decided that I finally needed to tackle the tiramisu. I searched extensively for great recipes, and although there are tons out there on the Internet, some called for powdered gelatin, or too many ingredients, or the reviews from other people tackling the recipe revealed extremely problematic logistics and unimpressive results. But, when I found this one from Tyler Florence over at Food Network and read over 100 glowing reviews touting absolute success, I knew I’d found a winner.
Please, don’t be scared of this recipe like I was. It is so easy and the result tastes as if you just came back from a summer in Italy learning from the best chefs how to create the perfect tiramisu. I know it’s ridiculous, but when I read the word zabaglione in the original recipe and saw the term double-boiler, I got spooked. I did some research, watched a few videos, and found out that zabaglione is the Italian word for a dessert custard made of egg yolks, sugar, and marsala wine. The videos I watched showed many different ways of creating an authentic zabaglione, but in essence, you just need to lightly heat the egg yolks while continually whisking the mixture once the sugar and wine has been added. By using a double-boiler, or my version with a small saucepan and heatproof bowl resting on top, you very gently heat the eggs with the steam from the boiling water. If you add direct heat, you’ll end up with sugary scrambled eggs, so the gentle indirect heating is really the key to a zabaglione. It’s a fancy word, but the process isn’t. If you’re having a dinner party, I recommend making this recipe the night before and allowing it to sit in the refrigerator for as long as possible to allow the flavors to meld. The final result tastes creamy, with the delicate flavor of the rum and coffee mixed together into absolute perfection. I wouldn’t recommend this for children, but adults will love it, I can guarantee.
7 egg yolks [385 calories]
½ cup granulated white sugar [387 calories]
1/3 cup sweet marsala wine, plus 2 tablespoons [57 calories]
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature [800 calories]
1 cup heavy cream [800 calories]
1 cup brewed espresso coffee
1 ounce dark chocolate [140 calories]
¼ cup dark rum [198 calories]
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
36-48 ladyfingers, preferably from Italy [1170 calories]
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
Makes about 15 slices
Calories per serving: 265
Take a small bowl and put into the freezer to chill.
Fill a small saucepan ½ – ¾ way full with water and bring to a boil on the stove top. Set a medium heatproof bowl over the boiling water (not into the bowling water, over it), then add the eggs and sugar. Using a large whisk, cream the eggs and sugar together well, then add the marsala wine. Whisk the mixture continuously for about 5-8 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick and has just about doubled in volume. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool completely, about 10-15 minutes.
Brew the espresso, or use instant espresso powder to make 1 cup worth of espresso. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the espresso, chocolate, rum, vanilla extract, and remaining 2 tablespoons of marsala wine. Stir constantly until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool completely, about 15 minutes.
* Depending on how hot your espresso is, you may not even need to heat this mixture to melt the chocolate. If you’ve brewed the espresso in advance and allowed it to cool, you will need to heat everything up together over the stove top. *
Arrange a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish, saucepan with chocolate mixture, and ladyfingers on a work surface. Quickly dip each ladyfinger into the chocolate mixture, just enough to moisten both sides of the ladyfinger, but not enough so that the ladyfinger becomes mushy, and then arrange in the baking dish until you have one full layer of ladyfingers in the baking dish.
Spread ½ of this mixture over the ladyfingers in the baking dish. Repeat the dipping process with the remaining ladyfingers, arrange on the cheese layer, and then spread the remaining ½ of the cheese mixture over top of the ladyfingers.
This recipe was adapted from the original recipe by Tyler Florence that was highlighted on his show Food 911 on the Food Network channel. If you’d like to see the original recipe, please feel free to read through the reviews for more tips and tricks on how to make this recipe perfect.