Variation: Healthy Oven Espresso Tiramisu

If you've never had the pleasure of tasting Tiramisu, you're in for a treat. Today, there are many versions of this delectable "light" dessert.

A simple description of traditional Tiramisu is a cake made with an Italian sponge cake called The Pan di Spagna or with an Italian sponge cookie called Savoiardi (known in the U.S. as ladyfingers). The French know the cake as Genoise and to the Italians, it is Pan di Spagna, or literally translated, the "bread of Spain." The cake slices or pieces are placed in a serving dish, such as a pan, a trifle dish, or a deep bowl, and then are soaked in strong coffee or espresso, which can be further spiked with a coffee liqueur. The cake is layered with a custard-like filling, many times a zabaglione custard combined with either mascarpone or cream cheese.

You can substitute the cake with homemade Ladyfingers or store bought, if desired! Ladyfingers, known in Italy as "Savoiardi" are sweet, little, fairly dry, finger-shaped Sponge cakes. The amount needed will depend upon the size of the dish (sizes 9- x 9-inch up to 9- x 13-inch, two packages can be used). If you can't find the crisp ones, use the softer, sponge-cake type American supermarket lady fingers, drying them out in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes. Actually, you can use even any other cake, if they are dry or dried out, rather than absolutely fresh; it won't be authentic, but will still taste delicious!

stock photo 
Assembled with Ladyfingers and served with fruit in individual glasses.
CAKE RECIPE HELP

INGREDIENTS
1 recipe Italian Sponge Cake or Pan di Spagna
1 recipe Espresso Syrup, below
1 recipe Zabaione Filling, below

STEP I: MAKE THE ESPRESSO SYRUP
ESPRESSO SYRUP
Can use any flavor.
INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup very strong brewed espresso or very strong coffee; or 1/2 cup water with 2 to 3 teaspoons instant espresso powder - I prefer Medaglia d'Oro Brand
1/4 cup brandy

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.
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2. Cool and stir in the espresso and brandy.
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STORAGE
Use immediately or store indefinitely in a container in the refrigerator.

STEP II: MAKE THE ZABAGLIONE FILLING
While traditional Tiramisu calls for raw egg yolks, often recipes use Zabaglione, which is essentially a custard cooked on the stove. Of course, you also serve just the Zabaglione on its own over a slice of plain cake or ladyfingers or even with fresh berries.
Sarah Says: You can substitute with Pastry Cream Tutorial or make from Jell-O Instant Pudding. Follow the instructions for pie filling.   

ZABAGLIONE FILLING  / Recipe alone
NOTE: Mascarpone, used in this recipe, is a triple-creme cheese and is very expensive. It's made from the milk of cows that have been fed special grasses filled with herbs and flowers. This special diet creates a unique taste that has been described as "fresh and delicious." It can be found in the grocery store or you can make you own. Sometimes the mascarpone mixture can be a bit thick, in which case I add a tablespoon or two of cognac or orange juice to the mixture which also gives it an extra zing.
To make your own, for 3 cups: mix together 1 1/2 pounds (3 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, 1/2 cup heavy cream and 6 tablespoons sour cream. For a lighter version: For 3 cups: use 1 1/2 pounds Neufchatel Cream Cheese (1/3 reduced-fat), 1/2 cup evaporated skimmed milk and 6 tablespoons light sour cream, not fat-free. 

INGREDIENTS
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Sweet Marsala wine (available in the supermarket)
3 cups (22-ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons orange juice or Marsala wine
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Fit the mixer with a whisk attachment. 
Add the egg yolks in the bowl of electric mixer or heat-proof bowl, and beat on medium, for about 1 minute,   
Then, beat in the sugar and Marsala.
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2. Unclamp the mixing bowl. Whisk the egg yolk mixture over a pan of simmering water until thickened.
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The zabaglione filling will thicken just before it reaches the boiling point, when small bubbles appear.
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3. Remove and beat, either with a hand mixer set at medium speed or heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until aerated and cold.
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4. Mash the mascarpone with orange juice in a bowl with a rubber spatula until it is smooth.
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5. Add in the zabaglione and fold in well.
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6. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form.
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7. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture until smooth. Cover and chill until needed.
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STORAGE
Can refrigerate for a day or two. Cannot be frozen.

STEP III: ASSEMBLE THE TIRAMISU
Italian Sponge Cake
Espresso Syrup
Zabaglione Filling

INGREDIENTS
1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
NOTE: If using dried Ladyfingers, lightly soak in the Espresso Syrup in advance in a shallow dish before using. Use whole.
No need to apply the syrup, again, when assembling the dessert.
1. Cut the Italian Sponge Cake into vertical slices exactly 1/4 inch thick.
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NOTE: You have to make sure to keep the slices at 1/4-inch or you will not have enough cake to make three complete layers.
You can use the small pieces to fill in any gaps.

2. Place a layer of the slices in the bottom of an ungreased shallow 4 quart dish.
We used a (9 x 13-inch pan, which works perfectly.
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3. Soak with one-third of the Espresso Syrup, using a pastry brush.
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4. Stir the Zabaglione Filling, and then spread with half of it over the Espresso syrup soaked cake pieces.
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5. Repeat with the sponge, another third of the syrup, and the remaining filling.
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6. Place a last layer of sponge on the top and soak with the remaining syrup.
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7. With a whisk attachment fitted to a stand mixer, whip the heavy whipping cream with sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.
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8. Spread it on the surface of the dessert. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, preferably for a day before serving.
Also, this dessert cuts beautifully when it is cold. You can get nice neat squares for service.
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SERVE
Dust the top of the cake with sifted cocoa powder. Strawberries, chocolate shavings, toasted and chopped nuts, or mixed berries can also be used to garnish the dessert with.
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We decided to serve ours with a dollop of whipped cream, topped with a chocolate covered espresso bean.


STORAGE
Refrigerate for a few days. Cannot be frozen.

VARIATION
Healthy Oven Espresso Tiramisu

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