THE DIVA STEALS A CHOCOLATE KISS involves a family with Italian roots. Nonni, the grandmother, and her husband came to the States from Italy and opened a chocolate business. When things go haywire, Nonni asks Sophie for help. She's a darling little old lady whom Sophie finds very difficult to turn down anyway but Nonni makes a deal with Sophie. In exchange for her help, Nonni will teach Sophie how to make her special Tiramisu.
If you're not familiar with this delicious dessert, it's flavored with coffee, but the star of the dish is definitely the fabulous beaten eggs which are mixed into a marvelously light concoction when blended with mascarpone cheese and whipped cream.
This recipe easily makes enough for an elegant dinner party of eight or so people with leftovers. Use a 9x13 inch pan.
Finding the correct ladyfingers proved to be a challenge for me. I thought I was the only one who remembered soft ladyfingers from my youth. I'm not. I had to ask a friend to bring ladyfingers from out of town, and she feared she had bought the wrong thing because they weren't soft. They're crisp and dry. If you use Whole Foods brand ladyfingers, you will need 1 1/2 to 2 packages. If you use the boxed type, you will probably need more (3 boxes?) because they're smaller than Whole Foods, which are about an inch wide. Either size will work for the recipe. You need enough to make two layers of ladyfingers.
It's my understanding that Italian grandmothers are usually called Nonna, but in the Merano family, the first born grandchild called Nonna Nonni and, as these things often happen in families, it stuck.
Please note that Nonni is from a chocolate family, so she uses chocolate shavings on top of her Tiramisu. The traditional topping is cocoa powder.
1 1/4 cup strong espresso or coffee (3 tablespoons instant to 1 1/4 cup boiling water)
1/4 cup Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Marsala wine
2 8-ounce containers mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2-3 packages of crisp ladyfingers (savoiardi) see above for more information
1 square semi-sweet baking chocolate
1. Mix the coffee with the Kahlua and set aside. Take the mascarpone out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
2. Find a bowl that fits on top of a pot with simmering water. A double boiler would work, or just a bowl and a pot. Bring the water to a simmer. Beat the eggs about five minutes, until they are fluffy. Add the sugar and the Marsala wine and whisk over the simmering water for about 8 minutes. It will almost double in size and be quite thick.
3. In another large bowl, use a spoon to mash the mascarpone cheese against the sides to soften it. Don't skimp on this step. Mash and stir until it's creamy. Pour the egg mixture into it and combine until smooth.
4. Whip the cream and fold it into the egg and cheese mixture.
5. Briefly dip each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture and place in the pan, lining them up so that the pan is covered. Pour half the creamy mixture over them and spread. Repeat with a second layer.
6. Use a grater or vegetable peeler to shave the semi-sweet chocolate over the top as decoration. Refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.
|Doesn't this look creamy and decadent?|
|Folding in the whipped cream.|
|Nonni uses shaved chocolate on top.|