In Ghana, where I grew up, there was no mascarpone. So I am not a traditionalist when it comes to tiramisu. In fact, I think my mother’s no-mascarpone tiramisu is the best I’ve ever had. The consistency is a a little denser, and even creamier than what you typically get in restaurants. I make this rarely because it is, hands down, my favorite dessert, and I will eat ALL the leftovers on the day that I make it. Had some for lunch (to make sure it was good), had mine and half of V’s portion at our dinner party, then got caught in the kitchen around 1am, spooning the remainder out of the bowl. And then I lay in bed the next morning, bemoaning the fact that there was none left over for breakfast. “What’s wrong with that?” you say (unless you’re my husband, then you say “all that cream an sugar is terrible for you.” He doesn’t have a sweet tooth. He doesn’t get it!). What’s wrong is that I strongly believe in moderation. I think it makes us happier in the long run. However, this thought never occurs to me when there’s tiramisu in the fridge. So I don’t make it very often.
Store-bought ladyfingers work perfectly well, but I couldn’t find them, so I made some. It’s really quick. Don’t worry about it if your local grocery store doesn’t have them either. They don’t even have to come out looking pretty, because you will soak them in coffee.
I had forgotten that the recipe calls for raw eggs and I had a moment of trepidation, so I called my mother. She said “oh please! You ate raw eggs throughout your childhood. Just make sure they’re fresh.”
This recipe makes about 10 servings (or 1 or 2 if you’re like me)
No Mascarpone Tiramisu
Brew 2 cups of very strong coffee and let them cool. Maybe add a splash of liquor (I’ve used rum and Cointreau, but I’m sure anything that would be good in coffee would be good here).
For the Cream:
1 lb cream cheese (reduced fat is fine, though it’ll hardly make this any lighter. But we can pretend.)
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 pint heavy cream
zest of 1/2 lemon
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whip the cream and keep in the refrigerator. In a mixer, beat the cream cheese with the sugar until soft. Fold in the whipped cream, vanilla and lemon.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. You can add the cream of tartar when the eggs get to a very frothy stage.
Using a slotted spoon or a spatula, fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the cream mixture. The gently fold in the rest, making sure everything is well blended. Taste it and add more lemon zest if necessary.
4 eggs, separated
2/3 cup granulated sugar
7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper. If you have a convection oven you will want to stick the corners down with a bit of batter before baking.
Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. While the mixer is on, slowly add the sugar. Your egg whites should be stiff and glossy.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, until they are pale and thick.
Sift together the flour and baking powder.
Fold half of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the flour. Fold in the remaining egg whites.
Transfer the mixture into a large piping bag with a large round tip. Alternatively, use a large zip lock bag with a hole cut in the corner.
Pipe 3″ strips of batter onto the parchment, leaving at least 1″ of room between them. Bake about 8 minutes, or until they turn golden.
You can make these in individual bowls, ramekins or glasses. Or you can use one large bowl.
Start with a layer of cream on the bottom. Soak each ladyfinger in coffee, and then spread them out in a layer on the cream. Add another layer of cream. Then another layer of coffee-soaked biscuits. Keep going until the bowl is full or you run out.
Just before serving, dust with cocoa powder.