Okay, I have to admit…I’ve been pretty unfair. Looking back throughout the bucket list posts of the summer, I’ve noticed how much attention the (great and tasty) country of France has gotten. Despite the fact that there are really fantastic cuisines to be found there, I feel like I should be paying more attention to France’s equally as tasty European buddies. Therefore, this week, I turn to Italy.
When hosting my latest end-of-summer dinner party, my goal was to do an “around the world” theme. But, then, against my nature, I decided to simplify and just go with one country…hence the shoutout to Italian desserts you’re currently reading.
When you think of Italy… what dessert do you think of? For me, two pop into mind: cannoli and tiramisu. Considering my love of all things coffee, tiramisu was the obvious choice. By the way…fun fact! Did you know that the singular version of cannoli is a “cannolo”? I always assumed a cannoli was a single dessert, and multiple would be called “cannolis”. Wrongo! Finding this out further confirmed my choice in tiramisu…a dessert I could apparently pronounce the name of more successfully.
Tiramisu is actually a really easy dessert to make, with only three components: espresso or coffee soaked ladyfingers, a mascarpone cheese mix, and cocoa. Now, you can find pre-made ladyfingers in most stores in the international isle, but I tend to question how good cookies can be if they’ve been made to stay in a plastic package on a shelf for a few months. So, call me snooty, but I decided to go all out and make a no-shortcuts, classic tiramisu. The recipe can be found at the bottom! (By the way, if you can get your hands on some good lady fingers, make the recipe even easier by using those!)
First, let’s start with those lady fingers. To make these fancy looking little cookies, you’re essentially going to be making a meringue and gently folding in an egg yolk mixture and your dry ingredients. This is very similar to when I made macarons, only with the ladyfingers, we’re using flour. A few tips…first, really do be gentle when you’re folding the ingredients together. The more air you conserve, the fluffier your cookies will be. (That means they’ll soak in more of that coffee goodness later.) Second, if you’re looking to be precise, make a template of three inch lines spaced one inch apart, on a blank sheet of paper, before baking. You can put that under your parchment as you pipe, for uniform cookies.
Up next, your tiramisu filling! The main component of this mix is mascarpone, an Italian cream cheese. Again, you’ll be separating your eggs, working with the parts individually, and then putting them back together again. Along with the eggs, mascarpone, and sugar, you can also add in some liqueur to this step. I went with Kahlua, but you could go with a darker rum, brandy, amaretto…the options are endless.
And, just like that, we’re already at the assembly stage! There are literally three steps here…that you have to repeat only once. First, dip those cookies in the cooled coffee or espresso and lay them in a flat layer on the bottom of your casserole dish. Top tip: just dip, don’t soak. (Ain’t nobody got time for soggy cookies.) Then, spread half of the mascarpone mix over the cookies. Last, dust that layer with cocoa. Repeat! Once you’ve finished, refrigerate for at least three hours to let the flavors become friends. Honestly, this is one where time only makes things better.
Ta-da! Classic Italian tiramisu! Not only was this super easy and a general crowd pleaser, it’s a great make-ahead choice.
From now on, the world is my oyster. Sure…I’ll probably continue to be a lover and trier of all desserts French, but I won’t be forgetting about his neighbors either! If you have any suggestions for international sweets experiments, leave a comment…who knows what we can come up with together 🙂 Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!