What’s for Supper – pretty little Tiramisu

Tiramisu is so quintessentially Italian it has become a cliché. That’s a shame, as this fairly simple dessert can be blissfully delicious if made properly. The name means “cheer me up” or “pick me up” in Italian. Made without too much fat, and in small portions, that is exactly what a good Tiramisu offers – not least on account of its content of strong coffee.

Some recipes include double cream, which is not authentic and makes for a cloying result. I use Savoyard biscuits, cold coffee, Kahlua liqueur, egg, sugar and Mascarpone. Plus a little grated chocolate, or cocoa powder, to dust on top. I quite like to top with a very inauthentic juicy raspberry, to add a bit of acidity to an otherwise sweet dessert. I have been known to add a few raspberries between the biscuit and cream layer too, but I am aware that this is totally off piste.

First, make a really strong, espresso type coffee and pour it into a shallow bowl or into a small shallow tin to cool down. If you are using proper small espresso shots, use two for this quantity. And the same volume in booze, I reckon.

I tend to start with how many eggs I want to use. For this recipe, which made 10 small desserts, I used 3 eggs which I started by separating. I added 3 tablespoons of caster sugar to the egg whites and used my hand held electric beaters until the whites were firm enough to be turned upside down without leaving the bowl. Next, I used the same whisk attachments to beat the egg yolks with 125g caster sugar until thick and pale. So that’s about 3 minutes and only one pair of whisk attachments to wash up! I then add about 180g Mascarpone as lightly as I can, to the yolks, before carefully folding the egg whites into the creamy yolks, taking care not to over work it. The texture is essential – it should be ultra light. If you stir rather than fold the two egg mixtures together you get a heavy dessert.

Next, I add coffee liqueur to the cold coffee.

I can be a little OCD in the kitchen and I love lining things up. When I eat shell-on prawns, which I love if the prawns are proper cold water, Arctic beasties with a good elastic texture and a proper salty  flavour (few things are worse than “pappy” freeze-dried prawns – they should not be eaten), I peel the juicy prawns one or two at a time and greedily dip them in mayo, and then I start to line up the heads around the rim of my plate. It’s part of the pleasure for me. Looking at the rows of little black prawn eyes and heads – and shells – afterwards gives me as much pleasure as eating them. I know, I should get out more.

Anyway, lining up my pots or little glasses before filling gives me the same kind of pleasure, as does the repetitive conveyor belt like work which ensues.

Dip a couple of biscuits rather hastily in the liqueur coffee. Break as needed to arrange in the base of your chosen vessels. Scoop in some of the eggy cream. If you choose to make one large dessert then you crate several layers, ideally in a glass bowl and in such a way that the layers show very neatly. When making mini versions, there is only room for a base layer of biscuit and a top layer of cream.

Dust on some cocoa powder, or sprinkle on some grated dark chocolate. Or place a raspberry on top.

Chill before eating.