Over the years I have made many variations of tiramisu, some incredibily elaborate with multiple liquors, but my favorite is the one I share here. I use fresh eggs from my mother’s farm, but when I don’t have them I buy the best, organic brand I can find. Cooking the yolks is part of the trick, but carefully so that you don’t have scrambled eggs. I also use the raw whites. If you don’t want to use raw whites — skip that and just use the whipped heavy cream. But the whites make it so much lighter. A confession: my son developed an allergy to egg white and in looking back I blame my passion for tiramisu. When I was very pregnant with my son, and in the early months of breast-feeding him, I developed a craving for tiramisu and ate so much of it I am sure that’s the reason my poor little guy became allergic. Thankfully, he outgrew the allergy. In Italian tiramisu means cheer-me-up.
6 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 pound mascarpone
1 cup heavy cream
2 (12 ounce) packages ladyfingers
lots of espresso (maybe as much as 2 cups)
Combine yolks and sugar in top of a double boiler, over boiling water.
Turn off heat. Beat with a hand-held mixer for ten minutes until thick and lemon colored. Remove from double-boiler and add mascarpone.
Beat until combined. In separate bowls, whip heavy cream and whip whites—separately. Gently fold together. Set aside in the refrigerator. Dip ladyfingers in espresso, saturating but don’t let the ladyfingers fall apart. I use a bowl, but many people use a flat glass baking dish. If using a bowl, arrange the ladyfingers so that they cover the interior of the bowl, up the sides.
Fill the bowl half way with the cream-yolk mixture.
Dust cacao on top of the cream, then arrange a layer of ladyfingers so that they cover the cream. Then cover the ladyfingers with the remaining cream. Dust with cacao. Do this by putting the cacao powder into a sieve and shaking gently on top of the cream. If doing this in a glass baking dish, use an 8 by 10 size and arrange in two layers starting with ladyfingers, ending with cream. Dust with cacoa. Chill at least 6 hours.