Tiramisu is a decadent desert, which translates as 'pick me up' in Italian. This delicious, rich desert has many variations, but here is the recipe I use most often. It produces a rich and creamy desert, with relative ease and has become a family favourite.
This desert is traditionally served in deep-bottomed dishes, so the lovely layers, which are an integral part of the dish, can be stacked on top of eachother. However, I often serve tiramisu (especially for parties) in individual martini or wine glasses (tumblers also work well), which allow the different layers to be seen through the glass.
I use amaretto and Tia Maria in my recipe, but you could use Marsala wine, port, bandy or dark rum if you prefer.
Some recipes use fruit. I think a black cherry version, with the cherries soaked in the same mixture as the sponge fingers, would be especially good; with the cherries scattered on the sponge fingers and then layers of whipped cream added.
You will need these ingredients to follow my recipe:
(1) Amaretto – approximately 2 desert spoons (I use the excellent amaretto, available at Aldi) and the same quantity of Tia Maria;
(2) A cup of freshly made strong, black coffee (allowed to cool slightly);
(3) One and a half packs of sponge fingers (I use the variety available in M&S but sponge fingers are available in all major supermarkets);
(4) Two large pots of double cream;
(5) Two pots of mascarpone cream (use full fat only).
In a deep-bottom dish, mix a good dash of the amaretto to half of the pre-made (slightly cooled) coffee and let the sponge fingers (sometimes referred to as 'lady fingers') sit in this mixture for approximately 5 seconds. Turn and then remove, and set aside on a clean plate, until you assemble the desert. Leave the sponge fingers in the mixture any longer, they will absorb too much liquid and become too soggy (when left to set in the fridge all the liquid ingredients continue to meld with one another, so even if some of the sponge fingers still feel a little hard, they will absorb more liquid and be perfectly soft by the time you serve the Tiramisu).
Do the same with the remaining pre-made coffee, but this time add some Tia Maria to the coffee, then soak the sponge fingers as before. Set the Tia Maria soaked sponge fingers to one side (separate to the amaretto ones), as we will use alternatively flavoured sponge fingers in the different layers.
Once you have prepared all your sponge fingers as above, layer the bottom of a deep dish with one layer of the soaked sponge fingers.
In a large bowl, whisk the pots of double cream until stiff. Then add the two pots of mascarpone cream. Ensure that the mascarpone is evenly distributed amongst the cream. At this stage some recipes suggest adding caster sugar, but I don't feel it is necessary, as the amaretto is quite sweet.
To the layer of sponge fingers, add a layer of the cream and mascarpone. Then add a layer of the Tia Maria soaked sponge fingers. Then repeat.
Cover with a layer of the cream, then sprinkle with Green & Blacks cocoa powder or finely grated dark chocolate. Cover with cling film and put in the fridge for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
Do exactly the same if you are using glasses, rather than a deep-bottomed dish.
This recipe is suitable for lacto-vegetarians.
Claire Meredith, 1 March 2012
Also from the head chef at Tŵr Cymru Culture Towers: