Recipe: Tiramisu (Life-Me-Up Cake)

112copyCarla first tasted tiramisu in Rome 30 years ago. Ever after she ordered tiramisu whenever it appeared on a menu and made versions of it at home. This recipe was cobbled together by my two daughters, Deborah and Alison, and me. It represents our memories of Carla’s tiramisu and our interpretation of notes we found in several of her cookbooks. It is modeled after a recipe in Favorite Brand Name Country Italian, 2001.

    Carla frequently experimented with recipes but rarely documented her variations. We can’t be sure this one was her exact favorite, but it looked familiar and the result tasted good.

24 Italian ladyfingers (Savoiardi)
3/4 cup espresso (freshly brewed or prepared from instant powder as directed)
1 tablespoon Kahlua (or amaretto or rum) (optional)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) pkg. mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream                
2 to 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted
Curls of bittersweet chocolate (optional)

1. Combine the espresso and liqueur, if used, in a small bowl. Briefly dip 12 of
the ladyfingers into the mixture and arrange them rounded side up in an 8-cup rectangular or oval serving dish. Do not soak the ladyfingers; they will easily fall apart.
2. Using a medium bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream and powdered sugar.
Fold mascarpone into the whipping until they begin to blend. Using an electric mixer on low to medium speed, beat mascarpone and whipping cream until fluffy. At higher speed, beat until smooth. Spread half the mixture over the ladyfingers. Smooth with a spatula and dust with cocoa powder.
3. Dip the remaining ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and arrange them rounded side up on top of the spread cheese mixture. Cover the ladyfingers with the rest of the cheese and cream mixture, smooth and dust with the cocoa powder. Garnish with curls of bittersweet chocolate if desired.
4. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours or until serving time. Serve directly from dish.

Makes 6-8 servings