My morning was Spanish and my afternoon was Italian. Marilena came over so our girls could play together and we could cook together. I taught her how to make pie crust and a very nice apple pie and she taught me how to make the most delicious tiramisu ever. The secret to the tiramisu is the Italian coffee… something that I’ll have to learn to make (basically requires the purchase of the coffee and a cute little cast-iron pot about 7″ tall and 3″ wide.)
We had a nice time talking. She is so nice. Of course, I told her that I was going to make her Sicilian Couscous recipe this week and she said, “You can’t.” “What? Why not?” “You can’t get the couscous here – only in Sicily.” So she teaches me the recipe and now I can’t even make it???? That is really not fair. She laughed at me. Apparently her Italian friends are complaining too. Next time she teaches a class, she needs to have extra supplies on hand!
She was surprised to see me making the apple pie dough. I don’t think that it compares with anything that she’s made before and she thought that there would be eggs in it. She said that it would probably be the perfect crust for the Ricotta cake that she makes – just ricotta cheese, lemon juice, sugar, and cinnamon mixed together and baked in a crust. Yum. She’s invited us to visit her in Sicily next summer and all we need are bikinis and towels and then we can eat gelato the Sicilian way – not in cones, but served in brioche!
- 3 eggs, separated
- 500g mascarpone
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup strong Italian coffee (espresso)
- cocoa powder for dusting
I brew Lavazza espresso in a small Italian style percolator on my stove just before making my tiramisu so that it has a few minutes to cool before using. Put in into a shallow dish or bowl wide enough to dip a ladyfinger in horizontally.
Whip the whites of 3 eggs until they form soft peaks, then set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar.
Add 400g of Mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture and mix well.
Slowly fold in the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture.
Dip the bottom side of each ladyfinger in strong Italian coffee (or espresso) briefly, the place in 8×8 baking dish, breaking pieces to fit and covering the entire dish.
When the bottom of the dish is covered, spoon half of the mascarpone mixture onto the lady fingers and spread it evenly.
Repeat dipping more ladyfingers until the mascarpone is covered again, then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
Dust lightly with cocoa powder.
Notes: The key to success lies in these two ingredients. The mascarpone and the espresso. Ladyfingers are important, and some brands are better than others, but this sinks or swims based on this stuff above. Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese that is much lighter and creamier than Philly. It’s delicious stuff. Brand doesn’t seem to matter, but use mascarpone. As for Espresso, use good stuff. The espresso is the flavor here. It is key. You can add a bit of alcohol to your espresso if you’d like or sprinkle crushed amaratini cookies over a layer for an alcohol free amaretto flavor, but use good espresso. Really strong American coffee isn’t good enough.