Tiramisu – which literally means “pick me up” – is a traditional Italian dessert incorporating layers of finger biscuits, mascarpone cheese, Zabaglione (light Italian custard), cocoa and coffee. I’m not much of a coffee drinker myself, but while the world is celebrating International Coffee Day, I can’t think of a better way to get in on the action!

Here’s what goes in

For the Zabaglione:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 quarter cup of sugar
  • a three-quarter water cup of marsala (or a good South African port or sherry also works)

For the Tiramisu:

  • 1 cup of cream
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tubs (2 x 250g) of mascarpone (or a good quality cream cheese)
  • half a cup of freshly brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • a quarter cup of cognac or brandy
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 3 packets of finger biscuits (or as many as you need for your bowl)
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
  • Grated chocolate, to garnish

How to do it

The Zabaglione is best made over a double boiler (or bain marie). This can be as simple as a heat proof bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. Combine the egg yolk and sugar, (in the top bowl), and whisk well until the mixture is pale yellow, heating it slowly over the boiling water. Turn down the heat and gradually beat the marsala into the warm egg yolk mixture. Continue stirring for another 5 to 10 minutes while the custard cooks over the simmering water. When the custard is fluffy and thick enough to form soft peaks, remove from the heat and give it another quick whisk. Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate while you prepare the tiramisu.

Beat the cream together with 2 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl, until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the mascarpone or cream cheese until evenly combined. Fold in the chilled Zabaglione and refrigerate the mixture for 3 hours.

Combine the coffee, cognac, vanilla essence and remaining sugar. Place a layer of finger biscuits in the bottom of your dish, brush them with the coffee mixture, then spoon a quarter of the cheese mixture over the biscuit layer. Sprinkle some chocolate over this, then repeat three more times, alternating layers of coffee-soaked biscuits, cream and grated chocolate.

Sift cocoa over the final layer with another grating of chocolate, and refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving.

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