I don’t like many Americanized versions because they are usually too sweet (because that’s what most Americans like in a dessert). I think you need a perfect mesh of the sweet, creamy zabaglione, the sharpness of the espresso and the mellowness of the liquor you choose.
I like brandy, but you also could use rum or marsala. And, ladyfingers are easy, but you also can use thin sheets of sponge cake instead.
5 egg yolks
Heaping 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brandy *
3 packages (72 single) Stop & Shop ladyfingers
9 ozs. mascarpone, at room temperature
2 cups freshly made espresso
1/3 cup brandy
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Let the ladyfingers get a little stale (or keep an eye on the day-old shelf for a bargain). Or, if you can find Savoiardi Italian ladyfingers, use those. They are perfect for tiramisu — a good, firm cookie.
Beat egg yolks and sugar until smooth, pale yellow (almost white) and bubbly. Put in a double boiler with 1/2 cup brandy (or in a small pan over a larger pan of hot water) over a very low heat. The water should simmer, never boil. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens, increases in volume and becomes velvety. Cool to room temperature. Add mascarpone and mix with a wooden spoon.
Mix espresso and 1/3 cup brandy. Very quickly, dip ladyfingers in espresso mixture and cover the bottom of a rectangular dish** in a single layer, sugar side down. You want the cookies to soak up some of the coffee mixture, but not get soggy (don’t let the espresso soak through the sugared side). You might not use all the espresso. It depends on how stale the ladyfingers are and how quickly you dip them.
Spread ladyfingers with half the zabaglione/mascarpone, then make another layer of dipped ladyfingers, spread with remaining zabaglione and remaining ladyfingers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 hours or overnight. Before serving, sieve a dusting of cocoa powder over the top.
* Can use marsala or rum instead of brandy.
** I use an 8×12-inch glass casserole dish and the ladyfingers fit perfectly.
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