Author Notes: This is the recipe that I've been using since I was sixteen years old. It’s a very simple dish that requires very little effort and only the patience of allowing some time between assembling it and eating it for that perfect moment that allows the mingling of flavours and the softening of biscuits. Perfect, really, for a busy cook preparing for a celebration as this can be made the night before. The original versions did not include alcohol as this was also a favourite children’s dessert (obviously nobody thought twice about the caffeine hit but it is the lesser of two evils in this case) and, despite the stick-form of the biscuits (and how they annoyingly never snap where you want them to), tiramisu was round rather than rectangular. —Emiko
cup fine sugar
packet ladyfinger cookies (10-14 oz worth; exactly will depend on the shape of the container)
cup strong black coffee
splashes marsala or rum (optional)
powdered bittersweet cocoa or grated chocolate
- To make the mascarpone cream, separate the yolks and the whites into two medium to large sized bowls. Whip the yolks with the sugar until you have a dense, creamy and pale mixture. Add the mascarpone until combined. Whisk the egg whites (make sure you use a very clean bowl, glass or metal is best, and very clean beaters to quickly get beautifully stiff whites) until you have stiff peaks that hold their shape even when you turn the bowl upside down. Fold the whites into the mascarpone mixture. Set aside, and if not using straight away, store covered in the fridge.
- Make a fresh pot of strong, black coffee and pour into a wide bowl. If using rum or marsala, you can add it here. Dip one side quickly and one side only of a lady finger biscuit into the coffee and layer, coffee side up in your prepared tin. Repeat with more biscuits until you have a nice, tight layer that covers the base of the tin. Cover the lady fingers with a thick layer of mascarpone cream. Repeat layering with lady fingers then cream again, finishing with a thick layer of cream.
- Leave in the fridge overnight, covered. Dust with plenty of bitter cocoa powder or grated chocolate before serving.