No one knows exactly where the divine tiramisu’ comes from. You ask Italians and invariably they’ll claim their hometown has some ownership of this national favourite but the truth is, this dessert is done well all over Italy. My personal recipe is a little departure from the classic because I like to add a layer of berries which cuts through the richness of the mascarpone. I also like to use grated dark hazelnut chocolate instead of cocoa powder as it adds another element of texture and is slightly less bitter.
Tiramisu’ should always be made with mascarpone cheese and eggs – if a restaurant is just using whipped cream then you’ve been ripped off and they’re trying to save money on ingredients. Without these two crucial ingredients you don’t get that rich creaminess and thick texture. You can obviously make this in a rectangular dish and serve square portions as you’ll often find in restaurants. However, if you’re throwing a dinner party, I would suggest elegant individual portions in big bulbous wine glasses. While standard tiramisu’ has you placing Savoiardi biscuits whole in the dish, it’s easy to crush them up once they’re softened in coffee and then mold them to the shape of the glass. This is the ultimate pre-discoteca dessert to charge your dinner party with sugar, chocolate and caffeine to ensure you’re dancing tutta la notte!
You can see me make this recipe in the Rome episode of our show When Patrick Met Kylie on the rooftop of my friend Saverio’s house, which looks out over the church steeples and terracotta rooftops. And even with our hectic filming schedule I managed to sneak them into the fridge for a couple of hours before Patrick and I hit Rome’s discotecas. This step is CRUCIAL!! Don’t serve your tiramisu’ without chilling or you won’t have people groaning in delight.
1 tablespoon vanilla essence/extract or scrape out seeds from one fresh vanilla bean
1 tablespoon cinnamon (I know, it’s a lot but it makes the dessert feel Christmassy and who doesn’t love that?!)
1 block hazelnut dark chocolate
1 packet of Savoiardi biscuits or 1 packet of sponge (pan di spagna)
1 bag of frozen fruits of the forest (frutti di bosco)
3 cups of strong espresso at ROOM temperature (don’t get impatient and burn your fingers like I often do)
Separate eggs and whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks (or beat them if you’re lucky enough to own an electric beater and you’re not old fashioned like me).
In a separate bowl beat the sugar and egg yolks. Add cinnamon and vanilla.
Gently combine the three wet mixtures: mascarpone, egg yolk batter and egg whites. You don’t want to lose the light fluffiness of all the air you’ve beaten into the whites but at the same time this mixture will not be cooked so it needs to be well combined.
Crush up a handful of biscuits or sponge in a shallow dish of coffee, squeezing out any excess liquid (you don’t want it absorbing too much otherwise your layers won’t be clean and distinct) before creating your first layer in the wine glass.
Add a layer of your now combined mascarpone mixture and top with grated chocolate. Carefully add a layer of berries well drained with no liquid.
Repeat the layers until you run out of room in your glass then… VERY IMPORTANT… put your finished glasses in the fridge to set and cool for at least 4 hours. Trust me, the difference between a sloppy tiramisu’ just-made and a beautifully set and chilled dessert is not to be underestimated. The sexy flavours of cinnamon, coffee, vanilla and chocolate all fuse into one another and the mascarpone and biscuits have time to take on this sweet heady mix. So do this either the day before or the morning of your dinner party for best compliment-inducing results.