Tiramisu......Valentine's Day Special

Tiramisu....(which means "pick me up"), is a very popular coffee flavored Italian dessert. It is basically made of ladyfinger cookies dipped in expresso or coffee which is then topped off with layers of rich and creamy custard and whipped cream mixture and is finished off with lighted dusted cocoa powder on top.

I first had this lip smacking dessert in an Italian restaurant located in Mumbai few years back. It was hubby (who, back then was my boyfriend :P) who introduced me to this fabulous melt in your mouth Italian delicacy. I simply loved the combination of cookies and custard with coffee. The second time I had it was in the form of a cake for my very first birthday after I moved post marriage to New Jersey. And boy ohhh boy.... I was in love with Tiramisu!!!

Curiosity kicked in and I started searching for the recipe online. And to my surprise I found out that it was one of the easiest dessert to make at home. So the first time around I followed the original recipe which calls for raw egg yolks and it turned out really good. But this time around I played safe and tried the other version in which the egg yolk mixture is cooked on a double boiler. This turned out even better than my last version and tasted absolutely divine. So this recipe is definitely a keeper if you want to avoid raw eggs altogether. 

Here's what you will need:

(Makes 6 servings)

18- 20 Italian ladyfinger cookies (savoiardi
3 egg yolks
8 oz (225g) - Mascarpone cheese 
1/4 cup and 1 tbsp of sugar 
1/3 cup of milk
3/4 cup (175ml) of heavy whipping cream 
2 tsp of vanilla essence 
1/2 cup of expresso or strong brewed coffee (I used freshly brewed expresso)
Cocoa powder for dusting or bittersweet chocolate shavings (optional)

For the custard:

First up, whisk the egg yolks, 3 tbsp sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla essence in a heat proof bowl until the mixture turns pale yellow in color. Now place this bowl on a saucepan with simmering water. Cook the egg yolk mixture on a medium flame while stirring it continuously. Now gradually add the milk in parts. After about 8-10mins the mixture will thicken. Remove the bowl from the double boiler and allow it to cool. 

Add the mascarpone cheese to the cooled egg yolk mixture and mix well with an electric mixer or a wire whisk until smooth. Set this aside. 

In another bowl add heavy cream. Whisk the heavy cream with an electric mixer and add about 1 tbsp of sugar gradually to the heavy cream. Whisk until the heavy cream forms stiff peaks or you can simply turn the bowl upside down, if the cream doesn't fall off its ready :P

Now fold the heavy cream slowly and gradually into the egg yolk and mascarpone mixture. 

In a wide bowl pour the expresso or strong coffee. Add about a tbsp of sugar (optional) and 1 tsp of vanilla essence. Many people also add marsala wine or even rum to the coffee. I did not add any. 

Now its time to assemble the tiramisu.

Have an approximately 9 inch square dish ready. Dip both sides of the lady fingers in the expresso/coffee very quickly and line them on the bottom of the dish. Now spoon in half of the custard and spread it over the ladyfingers. Dust it with cocoa powder. Repeat the same procedure to make a second layer.

Cover the dish with a plastic cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hrs until set. Tiramisu tastes best when made a day before. So it would be best if kept overnight in the refrigerator before serving.  

The eggless version:

Now for those who are vegetarians and wish for an eggless version you can easily skip the egg yolk mixture part. Instead just whisk the mascarpone cheese with sugar and fold in the whipped cream and follow the rest of the recipe.

And the best part...you can make this ahead of time for any of your special occasions.

This dessert is my hubby's favorite and I made this for him today :)

So guys, isn't this an absolutely easy dessert to make especially for valentine's day? I think it is.....so go ahead and give it a try and let me know how it was.

Happy Valentine's Day. :D

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