Chef Angela D’Urso: Easy tiramisu the perfect pick-me-up

Chef Angela D’Urso

Spring is here, and the leaves are blossoming on trees and flowers are bringing an assortment of colors to our gardens. These are the first signs spring has arrived and summer is on its way. After all the gray winter skies and bitter cold, spring is my pick me up, and thinking of this automatically makes me think of my all-time favorite dessert: tiramisu, which literally translates to “pick me up.”

Traditionally tiramisu is made up of espresso and liquor-soaked lady fingers layered with a rich mascarpone cream that is finished with a dusting of cocoa. This traditional Italian dessert became popular in the United States in the late 1980s and has been a favorite ever since.

The best part about tiramisu is that it’s truly one of the easiest desserts to make. It only contains a few ingredients, and there is no baking involved, just some mixing, dipping and layering. Since it’s so easy, it’s a great dessert to make with kids. I remember my mom would have me soak the lady fingers for her while she would layer them carefully over the fluffy cream. 

There is no secret to tiramisu; it just needs good-quality ingredients. Here are some tips: Use real brewed espresso and sweeten it to taste with sugar while it’s still warm. Try not to use instant espresso powder; it tends to have a bitter, unpleasant taste. Be sure to use pure vanilla extract rather than imitation — it makes a huge difference. Lastly, use a liquor that you would drink as a cordial, not something that is so strong you quiver as you sip it. Some of the best recipes in the world use few and simple ingredients, but they are pure and true, and it truly makes a world of a difference. I hope you enjoy this simple and easy tiramisu recipe that I have enjoyed through the years.

Tiramisu

Yield: 9”-by-13”-by-2” high baking dish

Ingredients:

Mascarpone cream

1 pound heavy cream

10 ounces of mascarpone cheese

3 egg yolks

2 tablespoons vanilla

7 ounces granulated sugar

Preparation:

Whip the cream with half the sugar until it reaches stiff peaks.

In a mixer bowl place mascarpone, balance of sugar and egg yolks. Place on the mixer with a paddle and blend until combined and smooth.

Fold by hand the whipped cream in three stages into the mascarpone mixture.

Tiramisu assembly ingredients:

1 package dry lady fingers  

2 cups fresh brewed espresso

1 cup liquor (I use Kahlua or Marsala but anything you prefer that goes with coffee will work well.)

Cocoa powder for dusting

Tiramisu assembly:

Mix espresso and liquor together and place in a bowl.

Spread a little cream over the bottom of the baking dish or trifle dish.

Soak lady fingers in coffee liquor mixture and place in baking dish over cream until the entire dish is covered with one layer of cookies.

Spread half the cream over cookies evenly.

Add another layer of soaked lady fingers.

Cover with balance of cream and dust with cocoa.

Pastry chef Angela D’Urso co-owns Sweet Creations, 609 Davol St., Fall River, Mass., with her husband, Paolo. For more information, see www.scdesserts.com.