It is totally possible to buy ladyfingers for making a tiramisu, and you can still consider it homemade. However, if you want to build everything from scratch, follow along for a dessert that will wow those who try it. Zach did this today because August had a meeting at school and it was her turn to provide snacks; the other teachers were delighted!
• For the ladyfingers:
1 cup of all purpose flour
4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup and 2 tbs. of white sugar
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. of baking powder
Powdered sugar for dusting
Sift the flour and baking powder together so as to distribute the baking powder evenly throughout the flour and break up any flour chunks.
Add the egg yolks to a mixing bowl with 2/3 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract. Mix on medium-high until thick and very pale in color, and the volume will have increased significantly. You can beat manually, but it will be difficult. Set aside this egg yolk mixture for a moment.
Put the egg whites in a bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add 2 tbs. of sugar and continue to beat until glossy, stiff peaks form.
Add about a quarter of this egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture and fold 5-6 times with a spatula. It is important to fold and not whisk, beat, or stir excessively, because you don’t want the batter to collapse; if this happens, you will have a denser, not as fluffy consistency. Add half the flour and fold about 10 times. Add another quarter of the egg white mixture; fold 5-6 times more. Add the remaining flour, fold 5 times, then the rest of the egg white mixture, and fold only 7-8 more times. You want to fold until incorporated but it’s okay if you see a little egg white not fully mixed in – at this point you don’t want to overwork and collapse the batter.
Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag or Ziploc bag and pipe 3″-long strips onto the prepared baking sheets. Dust heavily with powdered sugar to help prevent excessive spreading, and bake for 10 minutes.
• For the tiramisu itself:
The ladyfingers you just made
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
8 oz. of mascarpone cheese
8 oz. of cold espresso or cold strong coffee
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup and 1 tbs. of Marsala wine
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/4 cup and 2 tbs. of white sugar (Zach used the vanilla sugar leftover from when he made peanut butter ice cream)
1/2 of one bittersweet chocolate bar (Zach picked up Lindt with 70% cocoa)
Select a wide-based boiling pot and a medium sized glass or stainless steel bowl with a big enough width so that it sits atop the boiling pot, not in it. Fill the boiling pot with about 3″ of water to use as a makeshift double boiler (but make sure the water won’t touch the bottom of the glass/stainless steel bowl; in fact, set aside the bowl for now). The steam produced from the boiling water will cook the egg yolk mixture in the bowl but not too quickly, therefore the mixture won’t coagulate.
Heat the water on medium-low to bring to a slow simmer. Mix 1 tbs. of Marsala wine with the espresso or coffee in a mug and set aside.
In the glass or stainless steel bowl, whisk the egg yolks, white sugar, and the rest of the Marsala wine. Set the bowl on top of the simmering water pot. Whisk slowly but continuously for about 7-8 minutes until thick (not as thick as yogurt, but not as thin as nappe). Put in the refrigerator to cool for 1 hour. Once cooled, this is called zabaglione. Apart from its use in this dessert, it also goes well with strawberries and other fresh berries for a refreshing dessert on a day warmer than today.
Mix the mascarpone into the zabaglione with a whisk, then set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl, make whipped cream by mixing the powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream with a hand mixer on medium until soft peaks form.
To layer all the elements in a medium sized glass or ceramic baking dish, first pour the Marsala and espresso/coffee mixture from the mug into a shallow wide dish, so that you can soak each lady finger before placing it in the baking dish.
Lay the soaked ladyfingers across the whole bottom of the baking dish, about 1/4″ apart from each other. Scoop the zabaglione and mascarpone mixture and spread evenly over the ladyfingers so that they are covered.
Layer another round of soaked ladyfingers in the same fashion, then spread the whipped cream evenly over the second layer of ladyfingers.
Shave the chocolate bar directly over the whipped cream; you can’t shave it somewhere else and then try to sprinkle it because the shavings will melt when you touch them.
Chill for 4-5 hours, then serve.