As in, I could just copy and paste the original recipe in Italian, and we could all follow the pretty pictures to make it. That doesn't sound very reliable to me, so I shall do my best to translate it. Maybe also not very reliable. My point is, this is a good, sound, Italian written recipe of Tiramisù. Raw eggs, real mascarpone (pronounced mas-car-pohn-AY no matter what those chefs on Food Network say. I cry a little on the inside when people insist on saying mars-cah-pone. There is no R before the C. Mas-car-pone is acceptable, as that would be how to say it in English. But deep down we all want to be a bit more Italian, no?) no cream cheese involved. It's so simple, and the ingredients are few. Mascarpone can be quite expensive in the States, which is why many substitute cream cheese, but it is so worth the splurge. If you do feel the need to use cream cheese, (I don't know, maybe your 3 year-old wants tiramisù for a birthday party of 50??) then maybe don't call it tiramisù, call it something else. Tiramigiù, maybe. :)
Just like any replication, it will never be as good as in the place where it was founded and crafted and came to fame. Some of the best mascarpone will be found here in Italy, and at much cheaper costs. In fact, it's cheaper than cream cheese. Even if you take the exact same method and make mascarpone in another country, those cows will be different cows, who eat different sustenance, and produce milk that tastes different . Not to mention if the first time you ever tried tiramisù was on your first trip to Italy, surrounded by cobblestone streets, freshly hung laundry on the corner, magnificent old buildings, and the too-loud Italian conversations and even louder hand gestures whirling about, that is something very hard to replicate in anywhere but Italy.
That said, this is the best recipe for Tiramisù I have yet found. No, it's not from a wonderful Italian nonna (grandma) I know from down the street or a recipe handed down for generations in one of my friend's families, but I did listen to a podcast once in Italian where a girl was making tiramisù with a nonna and it was essentially the same as the one I'm about to share with you. That counts, right? Ok, andiamo! (Let's go!)
Original recipe in Italian, with video and step by step photos, on GialloZafferano.
220g / about 4 medium eggs, as fresh as you can get them
100g / 1/2 cup sugar
300g / about 1 medium package Savoiardi (lady fingers)
300g / 1 1/4 cup brewed coffee from a Moka pot or very strong coffee, sweetened to taste and cooled
Cocoa powder for dusting the top
Separate the egg yolks from the whites, placing the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer and setting aside the egg whites, or placing them in two medium bowls if you plan on using an electric hand mixer.
Beat the yolks, slowly adding half the sugar.
When the mixture becomes light and frothy, beat in the mascarpone, a little at a time. Once all the mascarpone is beat in, you should have a dense and creamy mixture.
Clean the beaters well or transfer mascarpone mixture to another bowl and clean the stand mixer bowl and beater. Beat the egg whites, slowly adding in the rest of the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Add one spoonful of the beaten whites to the mascarpone mixture, stirring energetically with a spatula, to begin to lighten it. Then continue adding the egg whites, folding in delicately one spoonful at a time, until all has been incorporated.
In a 30x20cm / 8x11in pan, spoon about 1/3 of the cream mixture into the bottom and spread evenly. Place your cold coffee in a shallow bowl or dish. Dip your savoiardi in the coffee for a few seconds and place in rows over the cream until an even layer has been established.
Spoon another third of cream evenly over the savoiardi and repeat another layer of coffee soaked savoiardi. Top with the remaining cream and smooth evenly.
Dust with cocoa powder using a sieve and refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
Most grocery stores and supermarkets carry mascarpone and lady fingers in the States, mascarpone being with the cheese or special cheese, lady fingers I had to look in the "imported" section.
Remember that in order to beat egg whites there must not be any trace of egg yolk or grease or they won't beat up properly.
One way to tell if your egg whites have been properly beaten is to hold the bowl upside down. The egg whites shouldn't move. Of course, at this point you should already be confident that your whites are stiff enough so you don't end up with, um, egg whites everywhere. It is possible to overbeat egg whites, so don't over do it or they become dry.
The Italians making this recipe said they added only 1 tsp of sugar to the coffee, I don't usually add any. If you prefer sweeter desserts, you may decide to add more.
If you don't have a 30x20cm / 8x11in pan on hand, you can use a 9x13in. Or halve the recipe and use an 8x8in / 20x20cm or 9x9in.
When dipping the Savoiardi I found 4-5 seconds to be ideal. Any less and the coffee didn't soak all the way through, any more and the cookies became over-saturated and broke. When you start running out of coffee you may need to dip one side of the cookie and then the other to get an even soak.
Some say it's almost a sin if you cut into the tiramisù if it has been in the fridge for any less than 24 hours. I think it's optimal after just a few hours, and best if eaten within a few days.
Can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.