Katherine Thompson's Impromptu Tiramisu from Downtown Italian, written with Gabriel Thompson and Joe Campanale, is the perfect sorta cheffy, sorta lazy dessert. Let me say right off, you'll have to make a separate sweet for the kids' table, because this one is strictly 21 and over. She soaks store-bought ladyfingers in espresso and rum, then layers them with an eggless coffee-liqueur-and-rum-spiked mascarpone mousse. Each layer gets a sprinkle of crushed chocolate wafers, for crunch and a hit of cocoa. The tiramisu is only vaguely sweet and is recklessly boozy, like dessert and digestivi in one fail swoop. Much of the alcohol is in the soak for the ladyfingers, which could be cut back on if you don't like to get tipsy on tiramisu (which, as it turns out, I do). This comes together in a blink and requires no à la minute prep (but needs an hour or two of freezer time), making it perfect for whipping up well before your guests arrive.
Notes: Thompson calls for 12 ladyfingers, but the brand that I bought seemed quite small, and 12 did not go very far. I ended up using all 20 of the slender cookies that came in the 3.5 ounce pack, and it seemed like the right amount. If you do want to cut back on the booze in the soaking liquid, make up the difference with extra coffee, or your ladyfingers won't get properly saturated. I think it would be safe to simply omit some of the alcohol from the mousse with compromising the texture, but c'mon, live a little.
From Downtown Italian: Recipes Inspired by Italy, Created in New York's West Village by Joe Campanale, Gabriel Thompson, and Katherine Thompson, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:1 hour 20 minutes
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup fresh espresso or dark coffee
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark rum
- 1 (1-pound) container of mascarpone
- 1/4 cup coffee liqueur
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 12 ladyfingers, roughly broken up into 1-inch pieces
- 12 chocolate wafers, chopped into coarse crumbs
Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator. In a small bowl, combine the espresso with the 1/4 cup rum. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the 2 tablespoons rum, the mascarpone, coffee liqueur, and sugar until smooth. Gradually fold in the whipped cream. Whisk slightly to remove any lumps. Do not overmix, or the mixture will turn to butter.
Place a single layer of ladyfingers on the bottom of a shallow medium (1 1/2 - to 2-quart) bowl or casserole dish. Drizzle the ladyfingers with half of the coffee-rum mixture. Spread half of the mascarpone cream on top of the ladyfingers. Sprinkle half of the chocolate wafer crumbs over the cream.
Layer the ladyfingers, coffee-rum mixture, and mascarpone cream 1 more time, reserving the remaining chocolate wafers. Freeze for 1 to 2 hours before serving. (The tiramisu can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours before serving.) Just before serving, sprinkle the tiramisu with the remaining chocolate wafers.
NOTE: I absolutely love Nabisco chocolate wafers. They are rich and chocolaty without being too sweet. If Nabisco chocolate wafers are hard to find, feel free to substitute another purchased chocolate wafer, such as cocoa tea biscuits.