Not exactly what you would get in an authentic Italian restaurant, this version of Tiramisu uses ricotta cheese instead of mascarpone for a lighter taste. Tiramisu is surprisingly easy to make, but will require 4-6 hours to chill at the end - even better when made the night before and chilled overnight.
- 6 egg yolks
- ½ c. white sugar
- 1/3 c. brandy (divided into 1/4 c. + extra)
- 1/3 c. Marsala or, if you don’t have it, coffee (divided into 1/4 c. + extra)
- ¾ c. extra strong coffee
- 1 lb ricotta (see note below)
- 1 ½ c. whipping cream
- 24 giant Italian ladyfingers**
- 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, grated
- Optional extras: 1/2 tsp. of instant coffee granules, splash of Amaretto, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
** Try to get ladyfingers without the sugar coating; scrape off the sugar if that’s all they have. Sometimes the store-bought ones can be kind of skinny - you want a wideish cookie so as to cover the whole dish - but this recipe is pretty forgiving so just use whatever you can find.
Put a pot of extra-strong coffee on to brew.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in the top part of a double boiler. Using a hand beater, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale yellow (2-3 minutes).
Mix in ¼ c. of the brandy and ¼ c. of the Marsala or coffee. (The easiest way to do this is to measure 1/3 c. and then pour the 1/3 c. measure into a 1/4 c. measure, placing the excess aside in a small bowl).
Set the mixture in your double boiler over gently boiling water. Add an extra splash of brandy for good luck. Heat, beating constantly, for about 7 min or until thickened and a light golden colour. Do not allow to curdle. Set the custard aside and let cool a few minutes.
Place the ricotta cheese in a large mixing bowl (if there is some liquid left in the bottom of the container do not pour it in - you want a solid mixture). Mash the ricotta cheese up a bit and fold in the custard. Whip the cream and fold in gradually.
In a small bowl, take the remaining coffee or Marsala and remaining brandy from the previous step, and add ¾ c. extra strong coffee. Add the optional extras if you like.
Begin layering your Tiramisu. Arrange half of ladyfingers in dish and drizzle half of coffee/brandy mix over ladyfingers. If you like, you can flip the ladyfingers over and drizzle some on the other side of the cookie (this is more important if you won’t have much time to chill your Tiramisu - it will speed up the soaking process).
Spread half the cream mix on top. Arrange the last half of ladyfingers on top; drizzle the last half of coffee, flipping the cookies if desired; spread the last half of the cream mix on top.
I.e. your Tiramisu should go ladyfingers >coffee mix >cream mix>ladyfingers >coffee mix >cream mix.
Grate your semi-sweet chocolate in a food processor until about the size of cous cous. Sprinkle cake with chocolate.
Cover and let chill for as long as possible, ideally overnight, but at least 4-6 hours if you’re in a hurry.
A note on using ricotta
If you want to make your Tiramisu even more awesome, you can drain your ricotta. This is more important if you will not be chilling your cake overnight - it will make your cake more solid and less like Tirami-soup - but an entirely optional step.
To do this, wrap your cheese in cheesecloth and tie with a string. Tie the cheese package to a spoon or some long implement and suspend over a bowl or the sink for an hour or even overnight. If you’re in a hurry, simply squeeze out the excess liquid from the cheesecloth.
You could also drain the ricotta in a colander, or squeeze through a old, worn dish towel if you don’t have cheesecloth.