Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tiramisu da Francesca

My friend Francesca is golosa (a sweet-tooth). She loves and craves sweets and will gobble up a handful of cioccolatini or polish off a tray of pastries before she realizes how many she has eaten. But while she loves to eat dolci, she doesn't much like to bake them. That's why she makes tiramisu` whenever the need for a homemade dessert arises. No baking required and it is a simple and straight-forward dish to prepare, yet it seems like she spent half the day laboring on it. Give it a try!

Tiramisu` in Italian literally means "pick-me-up" (tirare='to pull or to pick up'; mi=obviously 'me'; and su`='up'), mainly because of the espresso used to soak the ladyfingers, though the booze doesn't hurt any, either! ;) You'll need to find a package of dry ladyfinger cookies, mascarpone cheese, and some fresh ricotta. It's best with espresso or Moka coffee, but you could also use very strong brewed coffee (but don't tell Francesca I said that!) You'll also need a glass serving dish or compote.

Francesca's Tiramisu`

4 eggs, separated
4 TBSP sugar
1 container mascarpone cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
¼ cup rum or brandy (plus another dash for good measure!)
½ cup espresso or strongly brewed coffee
1 package ladyfingers (Savoiardi)
cocoa, dark chocolate

Combine the espresso and rum. Set aside.
Whip the egg whites until stiff. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat 2 of the egg yolks with the sugar. Stir in a dash of rum or brandy. Add the mascarpone and ricotta and blend well. Fold in the egg whites, stirring until it is just combined.

Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the ladyfingers with the espresso/rum and line the serving dish with them. When the bottom and part of the sides are lined, add half the cheese mixture. Sift a little cocoa on top. Repeat with another layer of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, then the remaining cheese mixture. Sift a little cocoa on top. Use a vegetable peeler to grate the dark chocolate on top if desired.

Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.