Leonardo Romanelli’s Tiramisu: An Illustrated Recipe

Making Tiramisu: What You'll Need

Making Tiramisu: What You’ll Need

Leonardo Romanelli is an old friend, and, as one might expect from someone who teaches cookery (and more) at an Istituto Alberghiero, an excellent cook. This time he turns his talents to tiramisu.

A good tiramisu is an extraordinarily lascivious dessert that is perfect for almost every situation, from the family get-together through the romantic occasion. However, most Italian Tiramisu recipes call for raw egg, which is potentially dangerous.

Leonardo avoids the problem by making his tiramisu with zabaione, a delicate creamy custard made from egg yolks. Considerable enjoyment and no risk!

To make a tiramisu for 4-8 (depending upon portion size; expect people to ask for more) you’ll need (going clockwise in a spiral):

  • A square of baking chocolate (Leoanrdo added more to this piece)
  • 2 eggs
  • 9 ounces (250 g) mascarpone cheese (on the plate with the eggs)
  • Espresso coffee (the powder shown here)
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons (80 g) sugar
  • Powdered cocoa, about a half cup
  • 2 tablespoons liqueur or sweet wine (optional; Leonardo used Armagnac)
  • 3/4 cup (200 ml) heavy cream
  • Savoiardi (buy these from your Italian deli, or use twice as many ladyfingers)
  • Not shown: Powdered sugar for sweetening the cream
Making Tiramisu: Separate the Eggs

Making Tiramisu: Separate the Eggs

Begin by making coffee to soak the savoiardi in. You’ll need about a cup, and you can use either espresso, diluted with water, or undiluted black drip coffee.

While the coffee’s brewing set a pot with an inch of water in it to boil.

Next, separate the eggs. You’ll only need the yolks here, and you should put them in a pot that will fit into the pot of water on the stove.

Making Tiramisu: Add sugar and the Liqueur

Making Tiramisu: Add sugar and the Liqueur

Add the sugar to the egg yolks, and the liqueur. Leonardo chose to use Armagnac in this case, but says you could also use brandy or bourbon, or use a sweet wine such as Vinsanto or a Moscato Passito. Or Marsala. Or you could use a little coffee, or, if you’re making the tiramisu for kids, water.

Stir the mixture with a whisk to combine the ingredients.

By now the pot of water will be bubbling. Set the pot with the yolks over it, and continue to whisk briskly for 3-5 minutes, until the zabaione thickens and becomes creamy. At this point you could (and many people do) serve it in little cups, with spoons or wafers.

But we’ll be using the zabaione to make the tiramisu.

Making Tiramisu: Whisk Over a Gentle Flame

Making Tiramisu: Whisk Over a Gentle Flame

Put the Mascarpone cheese into a bowl. When I asked Leonardo what he might substitute for Mascarpone he shook his head and said “it’s essential.” However, if you cannot find it, you could make do with 6 ounces of mild cream cheese diluted with a 3 tablespoons sour cream and 2 tablespoons unwhipped heavy cream.

Whisk the zabaione into it, a bit at a time, because if you add it all at once it will overheat the cheese.

Making Tiramisu: Make Mascarpone Cream

Making Tiramisu: Make Mascarpone Cream

Incidentally, this cream makes a fantastic dip when served with ladyfingers.

Making Tiramisu: Line the Dish With Savoiardi

Making Tiramisu: Line the Dish With Savoiardi

Put the coffee in a bowl, diluting it some if you used espresso. Some people also add a shot of brandy or similar to the coffee; you can or not as you prefer.

Dip the savoiardi for a few seconds in the coffee mixture (you want them moist but not dripping) and use them to line a baking dish. When you have finished lining the dish, spread half the mascarpone cream over the savoiardi.

Making Tiramisu: Dust the First Layer with Chocolate

Making Tiramisu: Dust the First Layer with Chocolate

Shred the baking chocolate (the easiest way to do this is to put it on a cutting board and chop it as if you were chopping an onion, by walking the knife across it). Sprinkle half the chocolate over the mascarpone cream.

Making Tiramisu: The Second Layer...

Making Tiramisu: The Second Layer…

Put down a second layer of savoiardi, soaking them as you did the first. When you are done, spread the remaining mascarpone cream over them, followed by the remaining shredded chocolate.

Next, whip the heavy cream until fluffy, adding a couple of tablespoons of powdered sugar to sweeten it some, or more to taste.

Making Tiramisu: Finish with a Sprinkling of Cocoa

Making Tiramisu: Finish with a Sprinkling of Cocoa

Spread the whipped cream over the chocolaty Mascarpone cream. Dust the tiramisu liberally with powdered cocoa, using a strainer to lay down a uniform layer and catch lumps of cocoa.

Chill your tiramisu thoroughly in the refrigerator, And Enjoy!

A Shorter version of this recipe

On the Origins of Tiramisu, and More Recipes


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Categories: Illustrated Recipes And More, Puddings and Spoon Desserts

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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  1. HoT NeWs » savoiardi - March 4, 2013

    […] This dessert was a staple of every Italian American restaurant, and every Italian … Leonardo Romanelli's Tiramisu: An Illustrated Recipe | Cosa Bolle in … Begin by making coffee to soak the savoiardi in. You'll need about a cup, and you … Dip […]

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