Dear Cousin Diana’s Tiramisu by da-AL
If angels exist in everyday life, my cousin Diana was one. Her life was far too short, but such is the case with angels.
These photos are generously provided by Stefano Ruberti, my first cousin and Diana’s son. She was born in Argentina. Recipes are a wonderful way to remember good times with loved ones.
From Diana’s teens on, she resided in Italy with her family. Then with her husband and their three children.
When my husband and I visited some years ago, she made a fantastic multi-course meal that ended with the amazing tiramisu here. As soon as my husband tasted the dessert, he asked Diana to teach me how to replicate it.
Making tiramisu is as much art as it is technique. It took several phone calls to work out the variances of ingredients across the seas and much trial and error to get it just right.
- Makes 9–12 servings
- 8” x 8” x 2” pan
- 3 eggs: Find the freshest ones, keep them cold, and use them quickly.
- 2 cups strong coffee: regular or decaf, lukewarm or cold. Instant works great.
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules to stir into pudding
- 24 regular-sized ladyfingers: Experiment with finding the perfect ones, neither too stiff nor too soggy. I tried making my own but had no luck. A box of Trader Joes’ works magic for me. The local grocery chain (which is as known for its quality and great prices as it is for its fair treatment of employees) carries them only during the winter holidays, so I stock up for the year.
- 8 ounce mascarpone
- 3.5 ounce bittersweet chocolate bits: Anywhere from 72% to 99%. Graters and food processors work fine. I prefer the uneven chunkiness from chopping it with a knife or putting the squares into a bag and whacking them with a wooden mallet until they’re a mouth-pleasing combination of small chunks and powder.
- 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
- 1 teaspoons grated orange rind
- unsweetened cocoa powder to dust over the final layer
Before You Begin
- It takes roughly an hour to assemble, especially when you’re just learning.
- Add another six to twelve hours for tiramisu to set before serving. I prepare the night before, then serve it the following afternoon. Pairs nicely with milk, coffee, or wine.
- Review everything entire recipe and visualize the most efficient way to organize everything for yourself. The recipe calls for raw eggs and chocolate melts when it’s manipulated too much, so I like to keep things cold and work relatively fast.
- Lay out all ingredients and tools, including bowls, pan, whisk or mixer, whatever you’ll use to grate chocolate, etc. Unwrap ladyfingers and put them into a separate bowl.
- Prepare chocolate as described in the ingredients list above.
- Crack eggs: egg whites into one bowl, egg yolks into another.
- Whip egg whites until stiff.
- In a bowl with only yolks: beat in 1/2 teaspoon instant granulated coffee, mascarpone, and sugar. If preferred, now add anything listed under ‘optional ingredients.’
- Into the bowl with fluffy egg whites, fold in yolk mixture.
- Layering tiramisu into a pan — two layers:
- 1st Layer: One by one, dip ladyfingers and line bottom of the pan. Careful: dip them too quickly and cookies won’t soften up enough — dip too slow and they’ll make the desert too liquid.
- Spread half of the egg and mascarpone mixture over the cookie layer.
- Sprinkle half the grated chocolate over the cookies and pudding.
- 2nd Layer: dunk and layer another twelve cookies, all in the same direction as the first layer.
- Fold any loose sugar from the cookies into the egg and mascarpone mixture, then spread mixture over the second cookie layer.
- Sprinkle what’s left of the chocolate evenly over the top. If desired, add a final dusting of unsweetened chocolate powder to even out any gaps.
Cover and refrigerate at least four hours (longer is better).
a) The remaining liquid is super yummy. Spoon it over sliced pieces.
b) Raw eggs must be handled carefully. Keep the tiramisu cold and either eat the whole thing within three days or freeze it. It freezes wonderfully and tastes heavenly frozen or thawed too!
Do you have special recipes that remind you of loved ones?
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