Do you hear the word tiramisu and immediately think delicious but complicated dessert? If so, I cannot wait to explain how incredibly easy (and quick!) making a tiramisu really is.
Tiramisu is an Italian dessert typically made with lady finger biscuits, mascarpone cheese, sugar, eggs, and flavored with coffee, alcohol and cocoa. Like many Italian desserts it is luxurious in nature and simply bursting at the seams with flavor. The coffee, chocolate and alcohol tones compete with, and complement each other simultaneously, giving tiramisu a complex and bold flavor.
Perhaps this is why many of us assume that tiramisu is a complicated dessert to make. This could hardly be less true.
First of all, a tiramisu requires no baking. This can be a major time saver, and it eliminates room for error. It also means that you do not need to worry about things like cooling time, or any tricky finishing off techniques like icing. If you wish to, you could take the time to bake the lady finger biscuits yourself. However store bought lady finger biscuits are generally better suited to tiramisu making, as their texture is perfect and this plays a large role in creating a show stopping tiramisu.
The other factor which makes tiramisu a simple dessert to construct is that it basically consists of only two components. The finger biscuits, and the dessert ‘cream’, which is known as sabayon. So in essence all you need to do is make the sabayon cream, layer it with the finger biscuits, and chill. Excluding the chilling time (which should preferably be overnight) the whole process takes less than 30 minutes.
As mentioned above, a standard tiramisu consists of the lady finger biscuit and sabayon layers, and the typical flavoring is that of coffee, cocoa, and Marsala wine. In this recipe we have incorporated fresh mulberries, and replaced the Marsala wine with sweet sherry. The mulberries inject a bright burst of tart freshness into the creaminess of the dessert. And the sherry imbues the layers with additional flavor as it is a slightly more intense, nuttier wine than Marsala.
The result? Perfection on a dessert fork!
Whether you are a seasoned tiramisu maker, or a newbie who wants to try their hand at an Italian classic, making this recipe is a definite must. Warning: You may just become the most popular person you know.
Mulberry Sherry Tiramisu
- 6 large egg yolks
- ⅔ cup brown castor sugar
- 1 ¼ cups sweet sherry
- 1 ¼ cup mascarpone cheese you can substitute for cream cheese if need be
- 1 ¼ cup cream
- 400 grams of lady finger biscuits
- 1 cup cold espresso coffee you can also substitute for a cup of very strong coffee
- 400 grams fresh ripe mulberries frozen mulberries can be substituted
- 30-50 grams cocoa for dusting
First up, assemble all of your ingredients. Make sure that you take the mascarpone cheese out of the refrigerator and include it in your assembled ingredients, as this gives it time to come closer to room temperature.
Next line a 9 inch square dish with a piece of parchment paper by cutting the parchment paper to fit.
In a large metal or glass bowl combine the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until mixture appears creamy and mostly smooth.
Add ¾ cup sweet sherry to the bowl and whisk momentarily to combine.
Now place a saucepan of water onto the stove and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan, taking care not to let the base of the bowl touch the surface of the simmering water. If this does happen, pour or scoop out some of the hot water. This is what is termed a double boiler.
Keeping the water on a gentle simmer, continuously stir the egg yolk, sugar and sherry mix. As you stir the mixture over the double boiler, you will begin to notice it thickening and increasing in volume. After approximately 10 minutes of heating and stirring, the sabayon should be thick enough in consistency that a portion picked up on the whisk and dropped back in retains its form for a few moments. If you find that sabayon is not thickening, turn up the heat on the pot a little (the water should be simmering, but not boiling).
Once done, remove the sabayon from heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Then add in the mascarpone, whisking it into the sabayon until it is light and fluffy.
Now pour the cream into a separate bowl and whip until it forms stiff peaks.
Add the whipped cream to the sabayon mix, gently folding it in to combine.
In a small baking pan, bowl or other suitable container, combine the cold espresso and the leftover ½ cup sherry.
One by one, dip half of the lady finger biscuits into the coffee and sherry. Do this quickly, and definitely do not let the biscuits sit in the liquid as then they will become soggy and fall apart. The quicker they go in and out of the liquid the better.
As the lady finger biscuits come out of the coffee and sherry, place them in rows in the bottom of your lined 9 inch square dish.
Once the base of the dish is lined with finger biscuits, it is time to do a layer of the sabayon. Spoon in a generous amount of the sabayon over the finger biscuits and smooth with the back of a spoon.
Now place a thick layer of mulberries onto the layer of sabayon cream, and press them down a little. You can use up most of the mulberries, reserving a generous handful for decoration.
Spoon a second layer of sabayon over the mulberries, and smooth.
Repeat the dipping process with the other half of the lady finger biscuits, and place them onto the sabayon, pressing them down slightly to level them out.
Finally add a last scoop of sabayon on top of the lady finger biscuits, and with a cake knife or other suitable knife, spread evenly to create a smooth top. Place the completed tiramisu in the refrigertor and leave to set for 12 -24 hours.
Once set, remove from the refrigerator, dust generously with cocoa and top with fresh mulberries. Serve immediately.
Notes: It is possible to serve tiramisu after chilling it for as little as 4 hours. However the longer the tiramisu is allowed chill, the deeper the flavors tend to develop and the fluffier the texture. After the recommended chilling period, tiramisu will keep up to 4 days within the refrigerator, and can even be frozen at a pinch. If you do freeze a portion of the tiramisu, for best results when serving, serve before it is fully defrosted. This will ensure a firm, cold and almost ice-cream like texture.
STEP ONE – ASSEMBLE ALL INGREDIENTS
The first thing to do is assemble all of your ingredients. Ensure that as part of this, you remove the mascarpone cheese from the refrigerator, as it needs to come up to room temperature (or close).
STEP TWO – LINE A 9 INCH SQUARE DISH WITH PARCHMENT PAPER
After getting your ingredients in place, line a 9 inch square dish with parchment paper. Do this by measuring out the parchment paper to fit snugly in the bottom.
STEP THREE – IN A BOWL, COMBINE EGG YOLKS AND SUGAR
Now combine the egg yolks and sugar in a large metal or glass mixing bowl. Beat with a whisk until mostly smooth. This is the start of what is termed a sabayon, the base of the dessert cream component which makes up most of the tiramisu.
STEP FOUR – ADD ¾ CUP SHERRY
Once the eggs and sugar are smoothly combined, add in ¾ cup of sherry, whisking in shortly to combine.
STEP FIVE – FILL A SAUCEPAN WITH WATER AND SET TO SIMMER TO MAKE A DOUBLE BOILER
Now it is time to set up a ‘double boiler’ over which you will thicken your sabayon. Do this by placing a pot or saucepan on the stove and bringing it to simmer. Once the water is simmering, place the mixing bowl containing the egg yolks, sugar and sherry on top of the pot. It should fit snugly, and the bottom of the bowl should not touch the simmering water. If it does, discard some water.
STEP SIX – STIR OVER LOW HEAT FOR 10 MINUTES
With the bowl sitting snugly over the simmering pot of water, stir continuously for approximately 10 minutes. During this time you will see that the sabayon starts to thicken, and will expand in volume to approximately double its amount. If close to 10 minutes have elapse and these things are not happening, try turning up the heat a little, but keep it low enough so that the water in the pot does not boil.
When some of the mixture can be picked up and dropped back in, and retains its shape momentarily, then it is ready to be removed from the heat.
STEP SEVEN – COOL AND ADD MASCARPONE CHEESE
After removing the sabayon from the heat, allow it to cool for a few minutes. Then add in the mascarpone cheese, whisking it in until the mixture is light and smooth. (This does not take very long).
STEP EIGHT – WHIP CREAM IN A SEPARATE BOWL
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Do not skimp on the whipping time, as the stiffer your cream is, the better structure the tiramisu will have.
STEP NINE – FOLD THE WHIPPED CREAM INTO THE ‘SABAYON’
Now fold the well whipped cream into the sabayon mix. Do this gently, as you wish to keep all the aeration and lightness of the whipped cream that you can. Mixing vigorously will cause the tiny air bubbles you created while whipping the cream to be crushed and popped.
STEP TEN – COMBINE TOGETHER COLD ESPRESSO AND LEFTOVER SHERRY IN A SMALL DISH
With the dessert cream component finished, now it is time to get going on the lady finger biscuits. Start by combining the cold espresso and left over ½ cup sherry in a flat dish or pan into which you can easily dip the lady finger biscuits.
STEP ELEVEN – DIP THE FINGER BISCUITS INTO THE SHERRY AND COFFEE
Swiftly dip the lady fingers into the cold espresso and sherry. Be as quick as you can with this, as they will absorb the liquid very quickly. You just want to moisten the outer layer of the biscuit, not saturate them completely, as this will cause the biscuits to fall apart.
STEP TWELVE – LINE THE BOTTOM OF THE 9 INCH SQUARE BAKING DISH WITH THE FINGER BISCUITS
As you dip the lady finger biscuits into the cold espresso and sherry, place them to cover the bottom of your lined pan. This will form the first layer of the tiramisu.
STEP THIRTEEN – SPREAD THE FINGER BISCUITS WITH A LAYER OF SABAYON
Once the base of the pan is covered, stop dipping biscuits, and move on to the second layer of the tiramisu by spooning on a portion of the sabayon. Spread this evenly over the biscuits.
STEP FOURTEEN – ADD A LAYER OF MULBERRIES
Now it is time to add some mulberries. Place a good amount of mulberries into the creamy layer. You can use most of the mulberries. Just make sure to reserve a generous handful for decorating the top of the tiramisu once it is done.
STEP FIFTEEN – COVER WITH ANOTHER LAYER OF SABAYON
Now it is time to scoop and spread another layer of the sabayon, while making sure that you reserve some of it for the top of the tiramisu.
STEP SIXTEEN – DIP AND PLACE A SECOND LAYER OF FINGER BISCUITS
Now dip the second layer of biscuits and place them into the sabayon layer. You can press them down slightly with your fingers to level them. The more level they are, the easier it will be to create a level top.
STEP SEVENTEEN – SPREAD A FINAL LAYER OF SABAYON CREAM AND CHILL FOR 12- 24 HOURS
Spread the final layer of sabayon on top of the biscuit layer. This time take an icing spreader, or a long knife, and smooth the top until it is nice and flat.
The last thing to do is simply to allow the finished tiramisu for chill for 12-24 hours. You can break tiramisu law and eat it after 4 hours, but, for best texture and flavor, let it go for its full recommended time.
STEP EIGHTEEN – ONCE SET, DUST WITH COCOA, TOP WITH MULBERRIES AND SERVE
After chilling, simply dust the top of the tiramisu with a good coating of cocoa, and place a nice big handful of mulberries in the centre for decoration.
As you can see, tiramisu, although complex in flavor and texture, is actually very simple to put together. Which makes it the perfect ‘elegant’ dessert recipe to keep up your sleeve for times when you wish to impress or spoil, all within a tight schedule.
Serving tiramisu to guests after a lovely dinner is bound to seal the deal that the food was off the charts, and it is the perfect choice of dessert for those times when you want to make a classy dessert, without spending hours preparing it. Because one needs to make tiramisu the day before serving it, this makes it one of those dishes that innocuously rests in the refrigerator, improving in flavor, up unto the time you wish to serve.
The creaminess and substance of tiramisu make it a comforting and fortifying dessert to make in the colder months. However at the same time it is also suitable for summer, thanks to its cool serving temperature.
When is your favorite time to make or eat tiramisu? Let us know in the comments.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.