Cakes · Desserts · European (Western and Eastern) Cuisine

Tiramisu and the Quest for Instant Gratification.

Despite my love of cooking, I secretly admit that it is kind of nice when you can just fork over a couple dollars and get what you want immediately. Instant gratification at its finest.

Let’s not bring up the scenario where someone else makes food for you — now that would be just…well, a girl can dream, can’t she?  Back to the kitchen, Cinderella.

So begin chapter 1 of my book (rant) for obtaining instant gratification: Tiramisu.

The setting: A quaint Italian restaurant in the heart of Little Italy (4.5 star rating on Yelp)

The scene: Team dinner with the coworkers, awkward conversation, pasta, bread, and a secretly excited Tiffanie waiting to order tiramisu.

The twist: What is this I read on the dessert menu? Strawberry tiramisu?

Please do not confuse tiramisu with strawberry shortcake. What are Italians doing messing with strawberry shortcake? Where is my tiramisu?

No where to be found.

Looks like that pile of dishes had to be cleaned up. No more procrastinating this time – tiramisu must be made, even if it was 930 PM on a weeknight.

Perhaps based on fate, I happened to have all the ingredients in my fridge and 40 minutes later, I tucked a blanket of plastic wrap over the top and nestled my tiramisu into the fridge. My life was at peace again.

This is a recipe that I’ve been using for a couple years and have found no need to continue searching for the ‘perfect’ tiramisu recipe. It has the perfect balance of sweetness from the cream to contrast the bitterness from the espresso and cocoa. The ladyfingers are perfectly soaked, but not soggy in a espresso, coffee, and rum mixture. The only problem with this recipe or any well-made tiramisu is that you’ll keep eating it and eating it.


  • 2 1/2 cups strong black coffee , room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 9 tablespoons dark rum
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds mascarpone cheese
  • 1 and 1/4 cup heavy cream (cold)
  • 14 ounces ladyfingers (42 to 60, depending on size)
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa , preferably Dutch-processed
  • 1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , grated (optional)


1. Stir coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons rum in wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.

2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 2 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.

3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Set mascarpone mixture aside.

4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.

5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.

6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated


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