This famous Italian layered dessert, which literally means “pick-me-up,” was said to have originated when Italian ladies wanted a snack to get them through a long night of entertaining. Try our version, and we think you will agree that a piece of this dessert will add sparkle to any get-together or special celebration, whether for lunch, dinner, or the wee hours of the evening… Just follow our step-by-step instructions on how to make each component of the dessert, and assemble it all into the delicious layers that will form a kind of cake when refrigerated overnight.
Make the zabaglione* custard:
*Italian custard made with Marsala wine
6 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup Marsala wine
Off heat, beat the egg yolks and sugar on the top pot of a double boiler with a whisk
until combined and the yolks become pale yellow.
Fill the bottom pot ⅓ of the way up with water and heat to a simmer on the stove.
Place the pot with the egg yolk mixture over the pot with the simmering water.
Stir the beaten egg yolks constantly with a whisk while slowly pouring in the Marsala wine.
Continue to stir, scraping the bottom of the pot often, for about 5 to 6 minutes.
When the mixture has thickened, transfer to a bowl and chill for 30 minutes.
Make the cream filling:
1 cup whipping cream (cold)
4 Tbsp sugar
1 lb. Mascarpone cheese
chilled zabaglione custard
Beat the whipping cream and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
Fold in the Mascarpone cheese, and then the chilled zabaglione custard, into the whipped cream until well blended.
Make the coffee syrup mixture:
2 cups espresso coffee (cooled)
¼ cup Marsala wine
1 tsp vanilla
Combine the espresso coffee, Marsala wine, and vanilla in a measuring cup.
Assemble the tiramisu (have the following ready):
- Cream filling
- Coffee syrup
- 2 (7 oz.) packages of lady finger cookies
- 3 Tbsp cocoa powder for dusting
Arrange 16 lady finger cookies in a 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
Pour 1 tsp of the coffee syrup on each cookie.
Spread ⅓ of the cream filling mixture over the cookies.
Dust with 1 Tbsp of the cocoa powder.
Repeat cookie layer, coffee syrup, cream filling mixture, and cocoa powder two more times, finishing with a layer of cream and a dusting of the cocoa powder on top.
Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight to allow the cookies to absorb
moisture and flavor.
Cut into squares to serve and enjoy with a cup of espresso coffee!
—Adapted from the cooking classes given by the Italian-American Society of Peoria. Thanks to Rudy Litwin, IAS President in 2012, for this recipe!
Kathryn Occhipinti, MD, is the author of the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books and a teacher of Italian for travelers to Italy in the Peoria and Chicago area.
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Dessert Recipe from Italy: Make Our Famous Tiramisù