Introduction: How to Make a Virgin Italian Tiramisu

Italian Tiramisu is a terrific dessert that’s culturally unique with a historical track record to prove it.  It doesn’t take much time to prepare—only 30 minutes—and always impresses those you serve it to, both in presentation and in flavor. By making this dish you’ll not only find yourself a new favorite dessert, but you’ll be culturally enhanced as this recipe comes from present day Italians living in Italy; real Italians, real food, and really good. Although this recipe takes out the coffee and alcohol, it still maintains an incredible texture and taste without compromising the overall experience.  Some cooking experience is suggested when making this dish, but anyone can make this mouthwatering dessert, and with enough practice it becomes second nature.  It will take quite a bit of time before you can enjoy it—it takes about 30 minutes to make and at least 4 hours waiting time, preferably 8 hours, making the optimal time 8.5 hours—but I promise that it will be worth the time you put into it.  You thought your family liked Italian food, now they’ll love it.  Buon Appetitto!

*Note: You are working with raw eggs in this recipe.  Be sure that you use the freshest ones that you can find to avoid salmonella poisoning.  The Cooking Channel recommends the following for testing freshness of eggs.  “Test the eggs by putting them in a bowl of water; if they fall to the bottom they are fresh and safe, if they come afloat they are ready to be tossed” (Tiramisu. Web. June 2013.)
(The following recipe was described to me by Italians in the Campania Region.)
(Comments and notes made by me throughout this recipe will be contained in parenthesis.)

Step 1: Fun Filled Fact

Now that you’ve started to get excited about Italian food, let me share some further Italian language know-how about Tiramisu.  Italian grammar is slightly different from that of English.  In Italian command form you will often see a verb identifying who is doing the action.  If someone else is involved, their pronoun is attached to the verb and a prepositional phrase can then be added to the end of the verb structure.  For example, if I was to say “help me across” in Italian, I would say “auitami attraverso”.  ‘Auita’ is the applied verb meaning help, ‘mi’ is the pronoun meaning me, and ‘attraverso’ is the prepositional phrase meaning across.  The word tiramisu is the same idea.  The verb ‘tira’ is the applied verb meaning to pull, ‘mi’ means me as we just learned, and ‘su’ means up.  Therefore, Tiramisu means "pull me up".

Step 2: Things You'll Need: Ingredients

6 eggs* (see intro)
14 ounces of mascarpone (an Italian soft cheese.  It can be found at Italian stores and at some grocery stores.  Check with your local grocer.)
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (suggested)
14 ounces savoiardi cookies (also known as lady fingers)
Dark Chocolate, Shaved (optional)
Chocolate Syrup (optional)

Step 3: Things You'll Need: Tools

9x9 cake pan
Mixing Bowls
Room in your refrigerator
2 Whisks (if you have only one you’ll need to wash it in the middle.)
Electric Hand Mixer (optional)

Step 4: Directions

First, in two separate bowls, separate the six eggs putting the egg yolks in one bowl and the egg whites in another.  (If you have an egg yolk break on you…not a big deal; try to get the least amount of yolk into your egg whites and keep going.  You’ll want to make sure that both bowls are big enough to do some mixing later on.  If you’re like me and forget sometimes then just move them to a bigger bowl.)

Step 5:

In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and mascarpone in with the egg yolks until all lumps are out and you have a creamy mixture.

Step 6:

Beat the egg whites until firm (meaning when you pull your whisk straight up the peak formed by the egg whites remains vertical and doesn’t fall over).  (To truly have an Old World Italian experience you should use a whisk.  If you want to save your arm and lots of time use an electric hand mixer.)

Step 7:

Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk-sugar mixture and mix together.

Step 8:

Find a bowl that’s big enough to put a whole savoiardi cookie into without the cookie getting stuck or breaking.

Step 9:

Fill the bowl with milk. (Connect with your inner Italian and take a guess at what looks good. If you need extra help; for a moderate sized bowl you could try about 2/3 full.)

Step 10:

Mix the cocoa powder into the milk.  (This is really up to how much milk you’ve placed in your bowl and how much you like chocolate. I usually use a small bowl and put in about 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder.)

Step 11:

Dip one half of a savoiardi cookie into the chocolate milk mixture.

Step 12:

Rotate the cookie 180 degrees (turn it over) and dip the other half.  (Timing is everything on this one.  You don’t want your dessert to be mushy because of excess chocolate milk, but you don’t want it to be hard and crunchy either.  I will usually dip each half for about 4-5 seconds each.  If you feel the cookie starting to disintegrate while you hold it, you’ve held it in too long.)

Step 13:

Once you’ve dipped the complete cookie, place it in the 9x9 pan.  (You’ll want to start on an edge and fill it as you go.  You’ll want a dense product at the end, so make sure that the cookies are snug against each other.  If there are gaps you can break cookies to help fill those gaps.)

Step 14:

Repeat steps 9 and 10 until the bottom of the pan is covered with a layer of cookies.

Step 15:

Spread a layer of the prepared mascarpone cream over the cookies using the spoon to help even it out.

Step 16:

Put cocoa powder into the wire strainer and sprinkle the top of the cream with cocoa powder.  (If you’d like a more American sugar rush, add a few running swirls of chocolate syrup as well.  If you’re like me and sometimes forget to sprinkle the cocoa, it won’t be as chocolaty tasting, but you’ll still get a great tasting Tiramisu.)

Step 17:

Repeat steps 11-13 until you get to the top of the pan or until you run out of cookies.  (If you run out of the chocolate milk you can always make up some more.  You should end your Tiramisu building with a layer of your cream.)

Step 18:

If you haven’t already, sprinkle cocoa powder across the top of the final cream layer.  (If going for looks you can now adorn your final cream layer with your shaved chocolate.  P.S. Milk chocolate doesn’t quite work the same.)

Step 19: Chillin'

Place your newly built 9x9 pan of Tiramisu in the refrigerator.  (The Tiramisu needs to sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  If you want a better flavor then it should stay in for 8 hours.)

Step 20: Si Mangia!

Remove your Tiramisu from the fridge and enjoy!  Buon Appettito!

Step 21: Now Be Sure to Stash It With Your Favorites

You just made your first "Pull Me Up"!  Have you tasted it?!  No wonder it’s called that.