Do angels exist in everyday life? Indeed, Cousin Diana was one. Her life was far too short, but such can be the case with the sweetest among us…
Years ago, when my husband and I visited her in Italy, she prepared a fantastic multi-course vegetarian meal that ended with this nirvana-inducing tiramisu. Upon our return to the States, Diana sent me the instructions and helped me with it over the phone.
Recipe can evoke great memories…
Born in Argentina, she moved to Italy as a teenager and later worked as a teacher, married, and raised three great kids. Her son, Stefano Ruberti, generously lent us these photos of her.
- 8” x 8” x 2” serving dish or pan
- 3 medium eggs, extra fresh
- 2 cups strong coffee, either lukewarm or cold. Decaf and instant work great.
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules to stir into pudding
- 8 ounces mascarpone, which tastes like an amazing cross between butter and cream cheese.
- 3.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks, 72% to 99%. Grated, or knife chopped, or put the chocolate into a plastic bag and take a hammer to it.
- 24 regular-sized ladyfingers
- 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
- unsweetened cocoa powder to dust over the final layer
Before You Begin
- Assembly takes anywhere between half an hour to an hour, depending on how fast you are around the kitchen. It won’t be ready to eat for another six to twelve hours, as it needs time to set in the fridge. I like to prepare it the night before, then serve it the following afternoon with milk or coffee — or wine!
- Review the recipe and visualize the best way to organize things.
- Then you’re ready to lay out ingredients and tools such as bowls, pan, whisk or mixer, and mixer or blender for pudding, stuff you’ll use to grate chocolate.
- Unwrap ladyfingers and put them into a separate bowl.
- Raw eggs are called for and chocolate melts when it’s manipulated too much, so I like to keep things cold and work steadily.
Mixing the pudding
- Egg whites: in a separate bowl, whip until stiff.
- Yolks: in a separate bowl or a blender, beat in 1/2 teaspoon instant granulated coffee, mascarpone, and sugar. Now’s the time to add any “optional ingredients.”
- Fold egg whites with egg yolk mixture.
Layering into a pan (you’ll be making 2 layers)
- One at a time, dip 12 of the ladyfingers into the coffee liquid and use them to line the bottom of the pan. It’ll take a little practice to figure out how long to let the cookies soak. Too little, and they’ll stay stiff. Too much, and they’ll dissolve. Either way, though, it’ll still be tasty.
- Top the cookies with half of the pudding.
- Finish the first layer by sprinkling half of the chunked chocolate over it. Now it’s time to do everything the same for the second layer.
- Same as above, dunk another twelve cookies in coffee and layer them across the first layer, all in the same direction as the first bunch.
- Fold any loose sugar from the cookies into the remaining half of the pudding, then spread everything over the top.
Complete the second layer with what’s left of the chunked chocolate. Dust with cacao powder, then cover and refrigerate at least four hours (longer is better).
Once it has been refrigerated for at least four hours, cut it into squares — It serves 9 to 12 lucky people. If there’s any of the yummy liquid at the bottom of the pan, spoon it over pieces. Keep any leftovers refrigerated and eat them within three days. Tiramisu, once it’s set in the fridge, freezes wonderfully and is also delicious served frozen or thawed!
Does a food or special recipe remind you of a loved one?