Is there a greater stalwart of Italian dessert menus than tiramisu? Absolutely not. Which is why there are countless recipes out there claiming to be definitive. But what’s the trick to a truly great one? This 1980s classic from northern Italy is always a hit with guests, unless it's not, because the textures don't quite cut it (looking at you, soggy biscuits). So rather than jot down our humble version, we thought we’d share some time-honoured tips to get your tiramisu in tip-top shape.
1. Use the best quality coffee you can find
Coffee, cream and booze carry this delectable dessert. So you want the best of all worlds, starting with espresso. But if you don’t have a machine, then strong coffee from a French press or percolator will do just fine. Just remember to cool it before you dip your ladyfingers.
2. Dip the ladyfingers swiftly
You don’t want to thoroughly soak your ladyfingers (savoiardi biscuits), otherwise you’ll be left with the unfavourable soggy sponge effect. On the other hand, you want to avoid a dry middle, so aim to dip your biscuits until they turn a pale coffee colour. A couple of seconds on each side should do the trick.
3. Don’t over-whip the marscapone
Mascarpone has a high-fat content, so it will split more easily than whipping cream. You want to get the mascarpone to a point where it's smooth and luscious with no lumps. Try whisking on low speed for a minute, or use a wooden spoon.
4. Use eggs at room temperature
Never doubt the power of room-temp eggs. They’ll become more voluminous than refrigerated ones, and create better binding potential with your other ingredients.
5. Choose the right booze
Alcohol isn’t essential, but it gives the dish a more complex and interesting flavour. Brandy is a classic choice, while Grand Marnier or Triple Sec will add some citrus notes. For rounded tones that balance the bitterness of the coffee, try Marsala, amaretto or rum.
6. Chill your tiramisu for 6+ hours
Some recipes might require slightly less, but we’ve found that 6 hours ensures your flavours have developed and your liquid has been absorbed by the layers. This means you could make your tiramisu the night before, ready to dive into the next day without hesitation.