Tiramisù is one of Italian traditional desserts: it’s fresh, easy to make and absolutely delicious. And, as its name claims, really ‘lifts you up’. Its main ingredient is mascarpone, a triple-cream cheese originally produced in the area of Lodi (Lombardia) in Northern Italy, which is turned into a scrumptious cream only by adding eggs and sugar. Tiramisù is made by alternating layers of mascarpone cream and biscuits, traditionally soaked in coffee or Alchermes – the Italian crimson-colored liquor prepared by infusing neutral spirits with sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, cloves and kermes, the dye of animal origin that gives the characteristic color and name to the liquor. The biscuits conventionally employed in making tiramisù are the so-called Savoiardi, but I prefer Pavesini because they are thinner and can be better soaked. Of course, if you can’t find either of them, you can choose any kind of biscuits you like, provided they are spongy enough to be well soaked.
For this strawberry version I must thank a friend of my mother’s who gently passed the recipe to us (now we only make this kind of tiramisù!). Basically, it has the same quantities and ingredients of a traditional tiramisù, that is 100 grams of mascarpone for each egg and for each spoon of sugar; only the soaking liquid is different. As it’s made with strawberries, this ought to be a summer dish, but strawberries can be found all year round, so it’s perfect whenever you feel like.
The ingredients below serves 6-8 persons, but remember, tiramisù is never enough, so the more you make the more people will eat! —Rita Banci
- Serves 6-8
Pavesini biscuits (or other spongy biscuits)
pinch of salt
cocoa powder to decorate
- Wash the strawberries; remove stalks and cut fruits into small pieces. Put them in a bowl and stir in 2 tablespoons of sugar. Let the strawberries rest in the fridge for about an hour or more, until fruit juices are released (the more you wait, the more juices you have).
- Separate egg yolks from whites. In a bowl combine egg yolks and 5 tablespoons of sugar. Stir in mascarpone and mix well.
- In another bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric beater till they’re stiff and resemble whipped cream (egg whites are better and more easily beaten if you add a pinch of salt before starting). Stir the withes into the mascarpone mixture and mix well.
- Mash the strawberries into a puree with a stick blender (or a food processor). In a large and high-rimmed dish spread a thin layer of mascarpone cream. Soak the Pavesini biscuits one at a time into the strawberry puree and form a layer of biscuits over the first mascarpone layer. Spread a thick layer of mascarpone and again a layer of puree-soaked biscuits. End with a last thick layer of mascarpone. At the end of preparation, you should have five alternating layers: three layers of mascarpone and two layers of puree-soaked biscuits.
- Keep refrigerated for at least an hour or two before serving. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top for decoration. For a better result, sprinkle cocoa powder right before serving the tiramisù, otherwise it will be absorbed by the mascarpone cream.