Rick Cooks Home Tiramisu

Tirami Sú means "pick-me-up" in Italian—and this dessert of espresso-soaked sponge cake, custard and chocolate makes a perfect finish to a hearty Italian meal. It is said to have originated in Siena, Tuscany. In some parts of Italy it's known as Zuppa Inglese, probably due to its popularity among the English community in nearby Florence.

The classic tiramisu is made with an Italian sponge cake cookie called savoiardi (known in the U.S. as ladyfingers), a zabaglione custard (egg yolks and sweetened heavy cream), mascarpone cheese (a triple cream cheese from cows on a special diet), espresso coffee, cocoa powder, and shaved chocolate. The custard can be spiked with sweet marsala wine or rum, and the espresso can be spiked with a coffee liqueur.

Some recipes are very complex, reflecting the cook's pride in making the savoiardi and zabaglione from scratch, and accessibility to imported mascarpone. You can find these recipes on the web and in cookbooks. This recipe is at the other end of the complexity scale. It requires no cooking or baking (just beating and chilling), is easy to prepare, and uses common ingredients found in any supermarket. In place of the zabaglione and mascarpone, the custard is made from eggs, cream cheese, and sweetened condensed milk. The ladyfingers may be hard to find, in which case you can substitute sponge or pound cake. We use a 17½ oz package of Forno Bonomi Ladyfingers. The number needed will depend upon the size of the dish (sizes 9x9 up to 9x13 or similar volume can be used).

Tiramisu is best made a day in advance.

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by Erzsebet Frombold, Santiago, Chile
*Serves 8*

8 oz semisweet chocolate
16 oz (500g) cream cheese, cut into pieces, room temperature 1 can (14oz/400g) of sweetened condensed milk
4 eggs, separated
3 T rum (or cognac or sweet marsala)
3 T coffee liqueur
6 T espresso powder (Nescafé Clasico works well)
36-48 savoiardi (ladyfinger cookies) (about 12 oz)

Make chocolate shavings, then finely chop remaining chocolate in food processor (or use cocoa powder). Set aside.
Beat egg yolks until pale yellow, add cream cheese and beat until smooth, then add ¾ can of condensed milk (reserve remaining for coffee) and rum and beat until uniform in color.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to a soft peak and fold into the cream mixture.
Dissolve coffee powder in 2 c hot water, stir in reserved condensed milk, coffee liqueur, and 2 c of cold water.
Dip cookies in coffee, turning to coat all sides lightly (do not soak). Arrange on bottom of shallow glass serving dish (2½ to 3q), ensuring the bottom is fully covered. Spread half the custard mixture over the ladyfinger layer. Top with a second layer of ladyfingers and the remaining custard mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.)
Prior to serving, sprinkle remaining chocolate over, and garnish with chocolate shavings.