Tiramisu. First timer advice?

I have some mascarpone and some Italian-style ladyfingers. Thought I’d try making tiramisu for the first time. I’ve never attempted double-boiling. Without an actual double boiler, I’m not sure how I’d do it. I’m thinking maybe putting water in a sauté pan and a roasting rack on top, and put the bowl on top of that. I gather from reading recipes that the egg yolks will thicken in about 4 minutes if whisked in a bowl that’s placed over boiling water, but right now it’s only theoretical to me.

Recipes I’ve seen call for sweet marsala, but I see that a lot of people substitute Kahlua, Amaretto, or rum.

Any tips? (I probably won’t attempt it for a couple of weeks.)

Double boiler - put water in a saucepan to boil and then place a pyrex type mixing bowl over the water which should be boiling GENTLY in my experience (water should not touch the bottom of the bowl). Here’s a picture.

I’d use the marsala. But I LOVE me marsala. I don’t like Rum, Amaretto or Kaluha. So I’m kinda biased.

Don’t skimp when pouring the Marsala mixture over the ladyfingers. I find it disappointing when the tasty bits of cake are only half-suffused with delicious Marsala/coffee goodness. Pour it on! Soak those ladyfingers!

Any nested pans can form a double boiler. As Missy2U states, the top pan should not touch the water in the bottom pan. It heats the top pan to a desired temperature without the hot spots that would cause sticking and burning on the bottom of a pan directly on the burner. I make some things just by putting a pie pan into a 6 quart pot, when a deeper top pan is needed I use a stainless mixing bowl instead. Good luck, hope it comes out well.

Good advice about the double boilers - we use a stainless steel bowl in a saucepan.

The problem with making tiramisu in our house is that it takes quite a bit of time to make, but sadly it only take minutes to eat it ALL!

My suggestion is - as long as you are going to the effort and trouble to make it, make a double/triple/quadruple portion. In the history of time, I don’t think there has ever been any leftover tiramisu that needed to be tossed out.

Make sure your coffee is properly strong, use marsala (it’s worth buying a bottle because you’ll drink the rest of it, it’s delicious), and don’t just dip the biscuits. Let them sit around in the mixture for a while, so it soaks all the way to the middle. Nothing worse than a crumbly plain dry bit in the middle. Get them good and soggy. Also, don’t add too much sugar.

We bought tiramisu at the supermarket last month. It was the size of a loaf pan. It took the two of us at least a week to get through it all.

Ah, Teh-ah-cah-ke… You don’t know me very well! I take my coffee with a knife and fork! :smiley:

Go down to Starbucks and get some of their chocolate flavored instant coffee packets. Use that for the powder on top. It makes lousy mocha, but for tiramisu it’s divine!

Yes, nested pans of any type should work. For that matter, you can do it directly in a single vessel over the fire, if you’re careful enough. I make my Hollandaise, for example, straight in a normal saucepan. I just hold it a few inches above the flame and move it in and out if it looks to me like the mixture might be getting too hot. (This does, admittedly, take some experience). I learned this from working in a kitchen in a Michelin-starred restaurant when I was in college. The chefs looked at me when I asked them about a double boiler and were all like “double boiler? you don’t need a double boiler” and proceeded to make a sauce bernaise for me. It’s not that hard to do, but you have to be able to finesse it. Better to go too slow than too fast.

Thanks for the image. I don’t have any Pyrex bowls, so I’ll use my smaller stainless steel one and one of my sauce pans.

A man after my own heart. Nothing worse than weak coffee.

I tried making it myself once and I ended up with an expensive dessert that wasn’t quite as good as the one I could purchase for about the same price. But it was fun trying, and I had quite a bit of Kahlua left over as a bonus.

To me, the real difficulty of making tiramisu is getting the ladyfingers just right. Dip them too little and they’re dry. Dip them too long and they’re soggy. It’s really difficult to hit that sweet spot in the middle.

My only tip is don’t use instant coffee. I’ve only had tiramisu one time - the lady served me up what was damned near a dinner plate sized serving and all I could taste was ‘flavor crystals’ a la Folgers. So nasty I’ve not thought kindly of tiramisu since.

LOL! My roomates used to say I liked mine “al dente.”

Well… It’s all over but for the waiting.

The zabaglione came together nicely. The mascarpone and whipped cream folded well. (Who knew it was so easy to make whipped cream? :eek: ) I folded the cheese mix and the zabaglione together with a large, soft spatula. The only question is the ladyfingers. Did I use enough espresso? Did I use too much?

Six hours will tell…

I will be there in six hours and 2 seconds, spoon in hand.

Now that you know, here’s a great way to use whipped cream. I can’t call it a recipe because it’s too simple.

  1. Make a batch of whipped cream.
  2. Buy some fresh strawberries (they’re in season right now). Hull them and cut them into bite sizes.
  3. Get some Hershey’s syrup. Heat it in the microwave. Pour it over the strawberries.
  4. Spoon the whipped cream on top of the chocolate and strawberries.


Zabaglione? When did zabaglione enter into it? some 20+ years ago, when I was stationed in Hawaii, a friend of mine and I used to occasionally eat at an Italian ristorante called Trattoria. We’d usually have zabaglione for dessert, but nobody ever offered us tiramisu to go with it.

The whipped custard layer of a tiramisu is often made with Zabaglione. Some make just a whipped custard without the marsala, it’s a matter of taste.