Jan D’Atri | May 3, 2012, 3:27 p.m.
I always think of May as Momma’s month. It’s a great time to thank her for all of the wonderful recipes she has passed along to me so I can share them with you.
One of my favorites is her tiramisu, which originated in the Veneto region of Italy, where Momma was born. She recalls tiramisu as a simple, homemade panacea during World War II, created specifically as an immune booster—especially for pregnant women—when times were tough and nutritious food was scarce. You see, tiramisu means “pick me up” in Italian, and it’s created with a mixture of wholesome ingredients like eggs, cream and cheese for nourishment, and a little espresso to boost energy.
Imagine Momma’s surprise when this “medicinal” concoction became one of America’s trendiest desserts. The ladyfingers, or savoiardi, are readily available in most grocery stores today, but I’ve included Momma’s recipe for the homemade version in case you want to go scratch all the way. This recipe is a showstopper and full of character—just like Momma!
5 large eggs
1 pound mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup strong espresso coffee, cooled
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
18-24 ladyfingers (savoiardi)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
Separate egg yolks from whites and place in separate bowls. In one bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
In another bowl, combine egg yolks, mascarpone and 1/4 cup powdered sugar, mixing in one egg yolk at a time until mixture is a creamy. Gently fold the whites into the mascarpone mixture just enough to blend together. Do not overmix.
In a third bowl, whisk together coffee, Kahlua and 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar.
On the bottom of a casserole dish (approx. 12 x 9 x 3 inches) spread 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture. Quickly dip each ladyfinger into the coffee/Kahlua mixture. Do not soak or let ladyfingers get soggy. Place the dipped ladyfingers side by side in a row on top of the mascarpone mixture to form two rows. (If using a round bowl or trifle dish, line the glass bowl with soaked ladyfingers first, then begin placing in rows.) Spread a second layer of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Add one more layer of ladyfingers and cover completely with third layer of mascarpone mixture. Sift the cocoa powder evenly over the cake.
Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. Spoon onto dessert plate or into a parfait glass. Serves 8.
3 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cake flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Beat egg yolks and sugar together until creamy yellow and foamy. Add in sifted flour and salt, mixing until smooth. Add vanilla. Beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold into egg yolk mixture until well incorporated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill pastry bag with mixture using a 1/4-inch round tip. Squeeze out batter the size and length of one ladyfinger (about 2 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide). Pipe ladyfingers one inch apart. Let stand a few minutes. Sprinkle first with powdered sugar and then with granulated sugar.
Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan and cool. Makes 24.
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