Tiramisù is another "catch-up-with-Marie" recipe--she baked it in July 2009 before the bake-along started in October 2009. I'd never tackled tiramisù before--I've had it in restaurants several times, but it was never a huge personal favorite and I never was drawn to making it myself. Maybe that was because each time it seemed different: a mushed up trifle sort of thing, an almost firm, close to cheesecake thing, strongly coffee, barely coffee, this is a recipe that can come out a number of ways.
I took advantage of my frozen half-recipe of homemade ladyfingers left over from the Lemon Canadian Crown, and decided to make a half recipe of tiramisù. The most complicated and time consuming part (and it was not very) was making a light custard flavored with marsala which involved beating egg yolks, sugar, and the marsala over simmering water and not ending up with scrambled marsala-flavored eggs. Maybe there was a little cooked egg yolk on the rim of the pan, but mostly I had a light fluffy egg mixture when the temperature hit the target of 165 degrees. Once the custard cooled down it was added to beaten marscapone, and then all folded in with whipped cream. I do have to stick in this shot of the pans I assembled as my "equipment mise en place" before getting started--this recipe does need a lot of dishes for all the components, and that's not counting what it took to make the ladyfingers. (Which I could have bought, after all.)
The luscious dairy layer is layered with the ladyfingers, which are dipped quickly in espresso syrup. Coffee-flavored ladyfingers on the bottom, then a layer of the marscapone mixture, then more ladyfingers, and the rest of the marscapone. Sprinkle on cocoa or grate on some bittersweet chocolate (that's what I did, or more like, what I had younger niece do), and then let the whole thing sit in the fridge for the flavors to meld.
The tiramisù was the second dessert option at one of sister-in-law's Hanukkah parties, and it was a big hit. Nancy W. (who considers herself something of a tiramisù connoisseur due to frequent tasting of restaurant versions) really liked this one, especially the noticeable coffee flavors and the good balance of ladyfingers to marscapone. Older niece really liked it, Sam W. and Claire W. did as well, and sister-in-law demanded that I get rid of any leftovers before she got home on Monday so as to not have the temptation around. The dissenter was younger niece, who thought the ladyfingers were too soggy with the espresso syrup. She likes the coffee flavor, but disliked the texture. That's certainly one of the tricky parts of putting this dessert together, as a couple of seconds too long and you can have ladyfinger mush in your pan of syrup. Even if things don't go too far as you soak, there's still a measure of personal preference in how the tiraamisù components are put together, so perhaps you can't expect to please everyone with a single version.