D: I love what tiramisu means—“pick me up.” But it wasn’t until I had it in Tuscany that I came to appreciate it. All the tiramisu I’d had before were overlayered, containing too much cream, and intensely sweetened. More like, “pick me up then watch me crash.”
G: That’s because American tiramisu often uses heavy cream and sugar. Real mascarpone cream is actually an unsweetened cream cheese, buttery but not sweet. A proper tiramisu achieves the right balance of coffee, cookie, chocolate, and cream.
D: It’s like getting a complex dessert without cooking or baking.
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You Will Need
In a medium bowl, beat together the egg yolks and ¼ of the sugar until light and creamy.
In a separate medium bowl, work the mascarpone with a wooden spoon until all lumps are eliminated. Add the egg yolk mixture and mix well.
In a third medium bowl, combine the egg whites, salt, and remaining ¼ cup sugar, and beat until they reach a slightly firm but fluffy consistency. Gently fold the egg white mixture into the mascarpone mixture, one ladle at a time, stirring from the bottom up to help maintain as much volume as possible, until the egg whites are fully incorporated. Stir in the rum (if using).
Place the coffee in a fourth medium bowl. Dip each cookie into the coffee (don’t soak them; you want them to retain their firmness) and then arrange in a 7 x 11-inch glass baking dish until the bottom is covered. Over the first layer of cookies, spread half the mascarpone cream, and dust with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Repeat with another layer of cookies, mascarpone cream, and cocoa powder.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours. Garnish the top with the shaved chocolate and serve chilled.