From America's Test Kitchen Season 9: Bringing Home Italian Favorites
There's a reason restaurant menus (Italian or not) offer tiramisu. Delicate ladyfingers soaked in a spiked coffee mixture layered with a sweet, creamy filling make an irresistible combination. Preparing tiramisu, however, can be labor intensive and the dessert is not without its problems. Some versions are overly rich and the ladyfingers, which should be moist, sometimes turn soggy to the point of mush. We wanted to avoid these issues and find a streamlined approach—one that highlights the luxurious combination of flavors and textures that have made this dessert so popular.
Instead of hauling out a double boiler to make the fussy custard-based filling (called zabaglione), we instead simply whipped egg yolks, sugar, salt, rum (our preferred spirit), and mascarpone together. Salt is not traditional, but we found that it heightened the filling's subtle flavors. And to lighten the filling, we chose whipped cream instead of egg whites. For the coffee soaking mixture, we combined strong brewed coffee and espresso powder (along with more rum). To moisten the ladyfingers so that they were neither too dry nor too saturated, we dropped them one at a time into the spiked coffee mixture and, once they were moistened, rolled them over to moisten the other side for just a couple of seconds. For best flavor and texture, we discovered that it was important to allow the tiramisu to chill in the refrigerator for at least six hours.
Serves 10 to 12
Brandy and even whiskey can stand in for the dark rum. The test kitchen prefers a tiramisù with a pronounced rum flavor; for a less potent rum flavor, halve the amount of rum added to the coffee mixture in step 1. Do not allow the mascarpone to warm to room temperature before using it; it has a tendency to break if allowed to do so. Be certain to use hard, not soft ladyfingers.