Skip to My Tiramisu, My Darlin’

Sunday morning’s couch-vegging session was as cozy as ever, with the newspaper strewn across the ottomans, the dogs at my feet and a cup of green tea in hand. This is often prime time for me to catch up on my cooking shows I’ve recorded through the week, like Ina and Giada, to get some ideas for the week’s menu – and to wait while Hubby laboriously pours and flips the double chocolate chip pancakes in the kitchen… Yeah, OK, that one’s a stretch. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

On Barefoot Contessa, the theme was “Italian Restaurant Food at Home”. Joe Realmuto of Nick and Toni’s restaurant in East Hampton showed Ina how to make their famous Penne alla Vecchia Bettola, a simple yet unbelievably good creamy tomato pasta dish, followed by a silky rum raisin tiramisu. I’d already planned on watching the Oscars that night; but now that I had some serious inspiration for dinner, I was hoping I could lure Hubby into watching them with me.

Ladyfingers & Coffee

Just the mere mention of tiramisu sent my sweet tooth into a frenzy, and I knew I had to get to work quickly – tiramisu is not a thrown-together-at-the-last-minute affair. Tiramisu takes some time, some planning, some patience, and a heck of a lot of self-control to keep your fingers – or your face – out of the mixing bowl.

Although Ina inspired me with her rum raisin tiramisu, I have to say I’d pick chocolate over rum raisin any day. So I rummaged around in my trusty recipe folder and came up with a tried-and-true favorite: chocolate tiramisu. Now, while I can’t claim this recipe as my own (ma grazie, Giada!), it’s so good, you won’t care who came up with it after the first bite.

This recipe takes the basics of tiramisu – ladyfingers, coffee, whipped cream and mascarpone – and launches them to another level by folding in chocolate zabaglione to the cream filling. Zabaga-WHO, you say? Zabaglione (or sabayon, in French) is a light custard made with sugar, egg yolks, cream and sweet wine, usually Marsala. The ingredients are furiously whisked together in a double boiler to create a thick, fluffy, airy cream. This particular zabaglione incorporates melted chocolate, which makes it that much more over the top.

Chocolate Zabaglione Ingredients

With my ingredients prepped and my assembly line at the ready, I carefully constructed my tiramisu. Ladyfingers are delicate little things; be sure to dip them in the coffee for only the quickest of seconds, or you risk them falling apart in your hands. Once my chocolaty, creamy, coffee-y masterpiece was complete, I covered it with plastic wrap, stuck it in the fridge, and counted the seconds for the next six hours.

As Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin took the stage on Sunday night (I heart you, Steve Martin), Hubby and I sat down to a cozy, comforting Italian night in: crusty bread, olive oil, Penne alla Vecchia Bettola and mesclun with pesto vinaigrette – ending, of course, with my chocolate tiramisu. The chocolate mascarpone cream was silky and decadent, and the ladyfingers were soft and cakey. I’m not sure if my tears were for Sandra Bullock or for my quickly-disappearing dessert. Heck, I was so ready to dig in, I even forgot the chocolate shavings. Whatta shame. Enjoy!

Chocolate Tiramisu

8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. strong coffee, warm
24 ladyfingers (crispy, preferably Savoiardi)
cocoa powder for garnish
dark chocolate shavings for garnish
1 batch chocolate zabaglione

Chocolate Zabaglione:
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips
4 egg yolks
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. Marsala wine

For the zabaglione, add cream and chocolate to a heavy small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the chocolate chips are melted and smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

Assembly Line

Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, Marsala, and salt in a large glass bowl until blended. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, but do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. Whisk the egg mixture over the simmering water until it is thick and creamy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Using a large rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate to chill completely.

Place the mascarpone in a large bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the cream and ¼ cup of the sugar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Then fold in the chilled chocolate zabaglione. Cover and refrigerate.

Chocolate Mascarpone Cream

Whisk the warmed espresso and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar in another medium bowl until blended. Line a 9x5x3″ metal loaf pan with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic to extend over the sides. Working with 1 cookie at a time, dip the cookie into the espresso, and arrange cookies in a single layer side by side over the bottom of the prepared pan.

Spoon 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture over the cookies to cover and dust with cocoa powder. Repeat dipping the cookies in the espresso and layering the cookies, remaining mascarpone mixture and cocoa powder 2 more times. Dip the remaining cookies in the espresso and arrange side by side atop the tiramisu. Press lightly to compact slightly. Cover the tiramisu with plastic and refrigerate at least 6 hours.

Unwrap the plastic from atop the tiramisu. Invert the tiramisu onto a platter. Remove the plastic. Sift the cocoa over the tiramisu, and with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, make dark chocolate shavings and sprinkle over top.

*If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view the entire set of photos on Flickr.

Laura Hobbs is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, visit her author page.