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Beginner-Friendly Tiramisu

According to the Telegraph, tiramisu is the Italian word non-Italian speakers know best — after pizza, spaghetti, espresso and mozzarella. Given it’s delightful texture and taste, that’s no surprise to me. Thankfully, the delicious confection is nearly as easy to make as it is to enjoy.

Tiramisu is a modern Northern Italian dessert with hotly contested origins. But as one former Italian Minister of Agriculture once put it, “If others have copied it, that’s because it’s the best and most genuine dessert in the world.”

Traditionally made with custard, this recipe using whipped cream and mascarpone instead is much easier to prepare and store in your refrigerator overnight (or several days) without fear of consuming raw eggs, and for kosher cooks, without needing to check the eggs for blood spots before preparing. From experience, I can tell you: It tastes even better the next morning than it does freshly prepared, making it a perfect way to end a Shabbat lunch — or a sweet treat to start or end any day.

If you don’t have brandy on hand, you can substitute another alcohol such as rum or whiskey (or more coffee if you’re trying to keep it booze-free). I personally like to use Patron Café, a delightful blend of coffee and tequila that I first discovered on a trip to Panama (and later discovered it’s very easy to find in the U.S. as well).


by Chef Irene Yager

2 packages lady fingers

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

2 cups heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

1½ cups espresso

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup brandy

Cocoa powder

1) Using an electric mixer, beat mascarpone with heavy cream and ½ cup sugar until soft peaks form.

2) Beat in 1 tablespoon brandy and vanilla until stiff peaks form.

3) In a small bowl, combine brandy, coffee, and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Stir until dissolved.

4) Place a thin layer of the cheese mixture in a deep square pan or dish. Place lady fingers on top side by side. Soak cake with coffee mixter. Smooth ⅓ of the cheese mixture over the cake. Continue layering, finishing with a layer of cheese.

5) Sprinkle with cocoa powder and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.

Click here to enjoy other “secrets” to serving a perfect Italian Jewish meal.

Laura E. Adkins is the Forward’s deputy opinion editor. Contact her at or on Twitter, @Laura_E_Adkins.




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