Saturday, February 23, 2008


I'm not a big fan of coffee. I like the taste but I can't stand the aftertaste, so I'm only willing to drink peaberry. And I really don't like coffee-flavored things.

The Committee, on the other hand, is a coffee fiend. So when my mother served us a Nilla wafer-pudding-Cool Whip abomination that she was trying to pass off as tiramisu, I promised to try my hand at the real thing.

(Tangent: My mother is a good cook. She appreciates fine dining far more than I did as a kid or my father does even now - I remember being very disappointed when the macaroni & cheese she said was for dinner turned out to be tagliatelle alla puttanesca. But not only does she cook less now, but her food snobbery seems to be waning. As mine is increasing pratically by the minute, this puts us at odds. I won't go into my reaction to the "tiramisu;" suffice it to say it was not particularly becoming.)


3 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt

Separate the eggs. Beat yolks, sugar, and vanilla for about 4 minutes until pale and thick; it's important to beat long enough. Add flour and beat until combined. Add salt to the egg whites and beat until stiff. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip, pipe 4-inch lengths onto greased and floured cookie sheets. Bake at 325˚ for 15-18 minutes, until light and golden all over. Makes about 24.

(I have a pasty bag but couldn't find non-decorating tips so I had to improvise. The cookies came out flat and spongy, which worked for the tiramisu but not really like ladyfingers you'd buy at the store.)


6 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1.25 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
16 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup espresso, room temperature
unsweetened cocoa powder

Beat together yolks and sugar in a saucepan; add milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture boils. Let boil gently for 1 minute, then remove from heat and chill for 1 hour. Beat with mascarpone until smooth. Whip cream and vanilla.

Line bottom of dish (original recipe calls for 7x11; I used 8x8) with half the ladyfingers; sprinkle with half the coffee. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over it, then half the whipped cream. Repeat the layers and finish with sifted cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate at least 24 hours.

(The original recipe also calls for a couple of tablespoons of rum mixed with the coffee, which I didn't use. I might try a splash a KahlĂșa next time, though. And there will be a next time. This was really good.)

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