Some of my dearest ladies came over to experience my reinterpretation of the Italian feast. And to finish the meal after a hearty heap of pasta, I thought there was no better accompaniment than the Italian dessert classic tiramisu. During my New York days, I made tiramisu a couple of times but it’s been at least six years since … I don’t know why, because it’s so easy! The hardest part is tracking down real ladyfingers, which was simple in Queens but is a little more of a challenge in Charlotte. Thank goodness for Pasta & Provisions.
This time around I felt that the traditional chocolate-espresso tiramisu needed a lighter makeover, since the Italian feast of meat and sauce is on the heavy side and our weather has been in the 80s already (in March!). So this is a summer-ized riff on the classic recipe with raspberries, whipped cream and orange liqueur. It’s fluffy and creamy, yet tart and really not too sweet.
I confess to breaking the cardinal rule of entertaining — serving something you’ve never made before — but the tiramisu turned out pretty well, even with my off-recipe personalizations. And no one died or threw up (that they told me). Success!
I even ate the tiramisu for breakfast on Sunday morning. I mean … it has fruit and orange juice in it, so that counts, right?
24 Italian ladyfingers*
Mix the raspberry jam and 4 tablespoons of liqueur in a small bowl and set it aside.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the mascarpone and cream cheeses with 2 tablespoons of orange liqueur. In a separate bowl, add the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla and mix with an electric mixer on a high speed until it forms whipped cream with soft peaks. Add 1/4 of the whipped cream to the cheeses and fold it in carefully so as not to lose the lightness of the whipped cream. Add the rest of the whipped cream and gently fold until combined. Set aside.
In a small, shallow bowl, stir together the orange juice and the remaining 4 tablespoons of orange liqueur.
Assemble the layers:
Dip each side of the ladyfingers into the orange liquid, allowing them to soak just for a few seconds. Line the bottom of a dish with half of the ladyfingers. Once they are in place, spoon over a couple of tablespoons of the liquid to make sure the ladyfingers will be moist.
Top the ladyfingers with half of the jam and spread it evenly. Add half of the whipped cream/mascarpone mixture, then top that with half of the raspberries. Repeat with the remaining layers of soaked ladyfingers, jam, mascarpone and raspberries.
Cover and refrigerate at least three hours, or even overnight. It’s better the longer it sits. Mangia!
*I used real ladyfinger cookies, but you could substitute vanilla cake or poundcake, just go light on the soaking part.
**The liqueur is completely optional. If you don’t want to use alcohol, just omit it entirely.
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis’s Raspberry Tiramisu.