Do as I say, not as I do.
First, if you’re opposed to the consumption of raw eggs, stop right here. Come back tomorrow, when I share with you all how I manage to turn some unattractive TV trays into (hopefully) pillars of retro beauty.
Superfluous photo of Yolky, my goofy egg separator (which fits perfectly on a Fire King soup bowl) by JO!E.
Today, I’m going to give you the recipe for Tiramisù exactly as it is written on this (Italian) package of (Italian) ladyfingers (imported from Italy).
Are you catching that? I want to make this clear: this is an authentic, traditional, Italian recipe. As promoted by Vicenzi, the “No. 1 in Italy” brand of savoiardi (ladyfingers). This tiramisù may not be what you’ll find in your local supermarket bakery, and it may not be what you’re accustomed to. It is, however, delicious. And incredibly easy. When made according to these instructions.
Ingredients for 6–8 servings
400 g Vicenzovo ladyfingers
400 g mascarpone
4 eggs, separated
100 g sugar
2 cups espresso
30 g cocoa powder
Beat the egg yolks with sugar until thick and foamy. Whisk in mascarpone. In separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg whites. Line a rectangular dish with halve of the Vicenzovo ladyfingers dipped into coffee and cover with half of the mascarpone cream mixture. Top with a second layer of dipped Vicenzovo ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. Sift cocoa powder over the whole surface. Refrigerate until serving time.
The very first time I made this, it was exquisite. The only change I made was to use, instead of the Vicenzovo “hard” ladyfingers, an equivalent amount of Trader Joe’s Soft Lady Fingers, which had fallen into the back of my pantry and gotten stale anyway. They fit perfectly into my large Pyrex baking dish, and with the addition of the eggy mascarpone cream and a dusting of cocoa powder, the result was heavenly.
But I still have 400 grams of these Italian ladyfingers in the pantry. And an invitation to dinner with friends. “I’ll bring dessert,” I say. But this time…this time, things will be a leeeetle bit different.
Egg yolks, sugar, faux-mascarpone.
Have you shopped for mascarpone lately? My local supermarket carries two brands, at $5 and $6 per container. This recipe requires two containers. Now don’t get me wrong, I like my friends and all, but that’s a steep price for someone as
cheap frugal as I am. Enter: the Internet. And an assortment of recipes for making a mascarpone substitute. I can’t imagine that any of them will taste like proper mascarpone, but I pick a substitute formula that I think will come closest: a mixture of neufchâtel, sour cream, and heavy cream. The ratios required will make too much “mascarpone” for this particular recipe, but I figure hey, did anyone in history ever once complain that their tiramisù was too creamy? Probably not. So I mix up a batch, thus cutting calories while doubling the prep time and dirtying an extra mixer bowl.
Lay, lady, lay.
I start lining my Pyrex dish, and these ladyfingers are not the same size as their Trader Joe counterparts. I have to break them to fit, and even then, each layer of ladyfingers is coming in well shy of the prescribed 200 grams. Oh heck, it’ll be fine, right? Right? I spread the layers of floofy (technical term, that), creamy cheese mixture, I dust with cocoa, it looks lovely. See photo at top of this post. Delightful, right? Because of all of the extra cream mixture, the dish is precariously full. I set it into another, larger dish for travel, and head to see my friends.
We dine on delicious black bean and corn tacos, we chat, we laugh, and now it’s time for dessert. I grab a spatula and some plates, and start serving…tiramisoup. The scant amount of ladyfingers can’t soak up all of the extra cream mixture. Well, that’s okay, it will still taste like…cream cheese. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I mean, look at cheesecake, right? But this does not taste, or feel, like tiramisù. It has a vague tanginess that cream cheese has, and which mascarpone does not. And it’s soupy. So, follow the recipe as instructed. Use a big enough pan. Learn from my mistakes. And enjoy!