Oh, Tiramisu! Your origins are a mystery. It is well accepted that the current version with its coffee soaked ladyfingers and thick marscarpone custard was developed Trevisio by the Goddaughter of a local pastry chef but the actual circumstances of it's creation are shrouded in mystery.
Some say that the dessert was a created in the 16th century as a tribute to Grand Duke Cosimo de' Medici III upon his visit to Sienna. Others attribute it to the famous "Zuppa Inglese" or English Trifle that combines cubes of sponge cake, zabalgione and fresh fruit. It was rumored to be popular with the English scholars living in Florence in the 19th century.
The name of the dessert, tirami su, literally means pick me up - and is thought to be in reference to the sugar and espresso as a boost to pick up ones lagging energy as sweets of this nature are generally consumed by Italilans mid afternoon with a strong espresso and not at the end of a large meal as we do here in America.
But whatever the origins, tiramisu has quickly taken over the hearts (and stomachs) of many of my friends and family. It is a favorite here in the office and has been made for showers, birthdays, going-away and welcoming parties. My own recipe for the confection is one that I have perfected over time. Having found many too cloyingly sweet or having custards too soupy, I developed a recipe that could satisfy the most raging sweet tooth without hiding the flavor of the mascarpone. Also, having a fear of serving raw eggs (at least the ones I buy in my local supermarket...last time I checked Washington Heights was not farm fresh) I find the recipes that make a cooked custard to be much more appealing.
So here it is kids. My secret weapon to make you all love me more than you already do. My pick me up - my tiramisu!
Combine 2 cups boiling water, 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 2 tablespoons Frangelico liquer. Set aside to cool.
Over a double boiler with barely simmering water, whisk together 4 egg yolks 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. Whisk for 7-8 minutes until the mixture has doubled in volume and forms a ribbon when you pour it back into the bowl.
Remove from the heat and gently mix in 16 oz. mascarpone cheese. In a separate bowl, whip one cup of heavy cream until it forms peaks (not too stiff - we're making whipped cream - not butter) and fold it gently into the custard.
Dip saviorardi (lady fingers - not the soft ones as they absorb too much liquid and become mushy) in the coffee mixture very briefly (don't let them soak up too much) and line a casserole dish (or tupperware - or bowl of your choice). Pour about 1/2 of the cream over the cookies and repeat ending with a layer of the cream. Dust the top liberally with good quality cocoa and allow to set in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
Serves one Development Department, one Communications Department and one Executive team.