Introduction: Tiramisu for Purists

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This Tiramisu recipe is for purists.  No odd-ball flavours, no improvised ingredients "some things are just meant, not to be hacked and still called by there real name" and a minimum of ingredients used.  Even putting the slices of strawberry on top for garnish seemed to taint the dish - Sacrilege!

This dish is how I made it at the restaurant and Italian bakery where I met my beautiful wife of 16 years, Ecco Il Pane - "Here's the bread".  If i were to name drop, many a celebrity sampled this dish as we were right next to to 2 TV stations and several recording studios in Vancouver.

Here's from Wikipedia:
Tiramisu ([tiɾamiˈsu], Italian spelling: Tiramisù; lit. "pick me up" or "lift me up") is an Italian dessert. It is made of ladyfingers (Italian: Savoiardi) dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese, and flavored with Marsala wine and cocoa.[1] The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of puddings, cakes and other desserts.


You will need:
  • 500 grams of Marscapone
  • Approximately 40 Savioardi biscuits - Italian lady fingers
  • 5 eggs - separated
  • 1/3 cup of Marsala wine
  • 10 tablespoon of white sugar
  • 1 cup espresso
  • 1/2 cup of rum
Now this recipe is for purists and I really hate to deviate from a classic, but... certain substitutions can be made.  Namely the booze.  You can skip on on the Marsala wine, your yolks will still froth.  But you do have to add a liquid containing a mild acid, the acid reacts with the yolk, heat and intro of air to lighten the load!  I have made this with diluted orange juice, lemon juice and once using some juiced wine grapes from the garden.   You can also skip on the rum for those who really don't want any alcohol used.  Simply add a couple more shots of espresso mixed with about 1/4 cup of good quality chocolate syrup.  And i don't mean Nestle quick.  You should use a dark chocolate syrup that is a touch salty, the kind typically added to a Mocha at your favorite espresso shop.


For this task you will need a bowl that you will whip your whites in later, and the small non reactive pot or metal bowl you will be cooking your yolks in.

Separate the whites and the yolks.  Take great care to filter out the little nasty umbilical part of the egg sac, not only does this inhibit your egg whites from stiffening up, but cause the egg yolks to loose some of there smoothness.  Getting out the nasties is easier while in your hand, once in the bowl they will evade you like slippery goldfish.


Zabaglione, Zabaione or Sabayon, what ever you want to called it is the result of beating egg yolks mixed with white sugar and Marsala wine.  Typically eaten warm, with the Marsala wine evaporating in a sweet fume designed to tickle the nose.  By itself delicious spooned into the mouth of your loved one, its up their with oysters and other aphrodisiacs.  Here, it becomes a sweetener that helps lighten the marscapone.  In the past I have actually skipped this step entirely, simply beating in the sweetened yolks minus the Marsala.  This step though really does mean the difference between a good Tiramisu and an excellent one.

So lets get started.
  1. Start off by beating your 5 egg yolks with 5 tablespoons of white sugar, basically if you were upping the recipe its 1 egg: 1 tablespoon of white sugar.
  2. Next beat in your Marsala until well combined
  3. Now break out the double boiler, don't have one? No problem, neither do I.  I simply grab a deep stainless steel bowl and place it atop a small pot filled with some near boiling water.  If you haven't figured it out yet, it would be beneficial to have mixed your ingredients in the SS Bowl to begin with.  Less dishes that way.
  4. Right from the start begin beating the mixture with a wire whisk, as you incorporate more and more air combined with the heat an emulsion is created.  This results in a stable moussy like mayonnaise.  You do have to be careful with the heat.  To much and the eggs can curdle or rather make scrambled eggs - ew.
  5. Keep beating and slowly the mixture will begin to increase in volume, its color will go from sun yellow to more of a tan straw yellow.
  6. Once double in bulk remove from the heat and beat for a couple more minutes to cool.  You can speed this up by placing the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water or even the kitchen sink.  Allow to cool and set aside.

Step 4: WHIP IT

What special can I say about this part, aside from your making a medium stiff uncooked meringue.  Will go through the list and I will add any tips I can think of as we go along.
  1. Oh look, first tip.  Make sure that your egg whites have no yolk at all, none, zippo, nadda!  The fat content of the yolk makes it almost impossible to form stiff peaks.  The same goes for the bowl your mixing it in, if you use a plastic bowl you have a high chance of oils embedded in the plastic leaching out and ruining your day.  So to start, use only pure egg whites mixed in a glass or stainless steel bowl.
  2. Beat your eggs with a standup or hand held mixer if your cheap like me.  If you have a balloon whip use it!  Keep beating and after about 5 minutes you will have soft peaks with your volume doubled by almost 5 times.
  3. Similar to the Zabaglione you now add 5 tablespoons of sugar, 1 sugar : 1egg.  Continue beating until you have pretty stiff egg whites
  4. Make sure you have beaten all the egg white, some can be sneaky and hide at the bottom of the bowl unmixed.


At this point you need to combine the Zabaglione and your Marscapone mixture.  This is less like cooking and more like a Japanese sword maker folding steel midair.  The difference here being instead of folding for strength, your folding to trap bubbles within your Marscapone
  1. Empty your Marscapone into your large bowl and break it up into smaller pieces.  Take a dollop of your Zabaglione and plop it on top of the Marscapone and stir it in.  The Zabaglione will help the Marscapone thin out as you stir it in.  Now take the rest of the Zabaglione and fold it in, you will loose some of the lightness but that will be restored with the addition of egg white.  Stir until almost combined.
  2. Lighten the Marscapone mixture with a scoop of whipped egg white. Drop a generous scoop of whipped egg whites onto the Marscapone. Stir it gently until the Marscapone mixture looks lumpy and barely combined. This helps to lighten the base and make it easier to work in the egg whites without deflating them.
  3. Add the rest of the egg whites to the Marscapone mixture. Scoop the rest of the egg whites  on top of the Marscapone mixture.
  4. Slice straight down through the middle of the whites. With the blade of your spatula, slice straight down through the middle of the egg whites until you hit the bottom of the bowl. (LIKE A NINJA)
  5. Scoop and fold the Marscapone mixture and egg whites. Scrape your spatula along the curve of the bowl, gently scooping up the Marscapone mixture and egg whites. Fold them over on top of the remaining egg whites.
  6. Give the bowl a quarter-turn and repeat. Turn the bowl with your other hand and repeat: slice down through the middle, scoop from the bottom of the bowl, and fold over on top.
  7. Stop when the Marscapone mixture and egg whites are incorporated. Repeat this folding motion until the Marscapone mixture has been completely incorporated into the egg whites. This mixture does get folded a little more then let’s say making waffles, so the eggs do deflate a little, but it’s all good.


This is where the "pick me up" part of Tiramisu comes into play.
  1. Make about a cup of good espresso in an espresso maker.  I normally use a Nespresso espresso unit, this is a littel extravagant but I gave one to my wife for Christmas.  At the time of this recipe we had ran out of pods so had to settle for our old crappy unit.  Even that is better then drip style.  Using regular coffee just doesn't cut here, you really need a good quality espresso for this, it makes all the difference.  If you don't have an espresso mixture it would be worth your while to visit a coffee shop and have them make you a quadruple shot of espresso.  Worst case scenario would be to make it in a french press, allow it to fully bloom and hope for the best.
  2. To this, add about a cup of rum, I've also had it made with Madeira, Amaretto and various other spirits or liqueurs, but run is classic
  3. Your done this step, no sipping....
    1. Now, this can be made without the booze, but it will be lacking somewhat.  Double your espresso and add a good quality chocolate syrup designed for mocha's.  It will be slightly salty and intense. Perhaps 1/4 cup.   DON'T USE CHOCOLATE MILK MIX , please.  You've been warned....

Step 7: LAYER 1

Now the easy part, take about 1/4 of your sweetened lightened Marscapone mixture and plop it in the bottom of the bowl, spread it to about 1/2" thick

Next step

Step 8: DIP IT

Take your savioradi biscuits and start dipping them one at a time for about 3 seconds each and make a layer on top of the Marscapone mixture.  Don't dip them too long, they go from slightly soft to mush in seconds!

next step


Keep going layering biscuits and cream mixture, keeping mind you want to finish off with a layer of Marscapone.  i always allow my last layer to be the thickest at about 1 inch thick or more.


Ugh, sure you could eat this right away, but... This is the sort of desert that improves with age.  You should wait at least 4 hours before serving.  Throw it in the fridge and forget-about-it....  really the next night is best, but who can wait that long.

Step 11: GARNISH

About an hour before serving take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature a bit.

Take this time to put on a little garnish
  • Classic is just a little sprinkled cocoa powder
  • Some berries add a touch of color, just make sure they are fresh and keep it to a minimum.
  • Shaved chocolate gives a nice tactile look, but be warned, you'll get passer-byers trying to sneak some
  • Whip cream - you often see it out on top, but that's really not traditional.  Similar to Americanized Chinese food it can be tasty but detracts from the clean flavors of the dish, resist the urge to add whipped cream!

Step 12: SERVE

Serve this in small portions, no more then a cup per person.  Even that is a little extreme.  Its light yet rich all at the same time, very easy to over eat.  The first time you have properly prepared Tiramisu, the memory gets locked in to that moment - its that good.
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