Leonardo Romanelli’s Tiramisu

Making Tiramisu: Finish with a Sprinkling of Cocoa

Making Tiramisu: Finish with a Sprinkling of Cocoa

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 recipes for Tiramisu call for raw egg, which is potentially dangerous. Leonardo Romanelli gets around this 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:

  • A square of baking chocolate, shredded
  • 2 eggs
  • 9 ounces (250 g) mascarpone cheese
  • Coffee, either espresso or drip
  • 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)
  • Powdered sugar for sweetening the cream

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. Add the sugar to the egg yolks, and the liqueur, if you’re using it. 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 a spoon or wafers. But we’ll be using it to make the tiramisu.

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.

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. Briefly dip the savoiardi in the coffee mixture and use them to line a baking dish (you’ll be serving the tiramisu from it, so use a pretty one). When you have finished lining the dish, spread half the mascarpone cream over the savoiardi.

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.

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

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!

This Recipe, Illustrated

On the Origins of Tiramisu, and More Recipes


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Categories: 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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