Why This Recipe Works
- Adding Kahlúa to the soaking syrup instead of sweet vermouth gives the dessert an extra kick of coffee flavor.
- Gently whisking 3 ounces of melted chocolate in with the mascarpone filling and a tablespoon of cocoa powder in the whipped cream results in a satisfying chocolate flavor that does not overwhelm the coffee notes or weigh down the dish.
No Italian dessert menu is ever complete without a tiramisu. This classic Italian dessert literally means "pick me up". It's comprised of a coffee soaked cake (usually lady fingers) layered with a sweetened mascarpone and cream, then topped off with whipped cream and a generous dusting of cocoa and/or cinnamon. It's a rich dessert for sure, but light enough to still enjoy after that hunk of braciole.
Though it's been around forever, this classic treat is still one of my favorite desserts. And I have to admit that when I see it on a menu, I'll even pass on the chocolate option in favor of the tiramisu. The reason? Not only does the combination of coffee and mascarpone rock, but though tiramisu appears to be pretty standard, it isn't always made the same way. I'm forever curious to see each restaurant's individual take on the dessert, and if it'll deliver the goods.
This also includes my own experimentation with tiramisu. I've made countless recipes over the years, experimenting with pans, individual desserts, and cake interpretations. Some of the tiramisu were super easy recipes, involving little more than stirring together mascarpone cheese and sugar for the cream, and some were super duper labor intensive behemoths, such as a vermouth and mascarpone sabayon set with gelatin and layered with homemade ladyfingers (yes it was worth it). To be honest, I've rarely met a tiramisu I didn't like—pretty much any version is good with me, as long as it's got good coffee flavor and is moist almost to the point of dripping. I mean seriously, there's nothing worse than a dry tiramisu.
Most recently I've experimented with a chocolate-mocha version. Along with making sure it was good and moist, I also wanted to keep it easy. Crisp, purchased Italian lady finger biscuits are soaked with a flavorful chocolate, coffee, and Kahlúa (coffee liquor) mixture, then layered in the pan with a quick-whisked chocolate mascarpone cream. There's more chocolate on the top with a satiny smooth chocolate whipped cream. Though I wanted it to be a chocolate dessert, I was conscious not to overdo it. There's "just enough" chocolate here to keep the coffee flavors strong and the texture light (too much chocolate will weigh it down). If you can stand waiting, a chill in the fridge fully softens the lady fingers and allows all the flavors to meld. And though sweet vermouth is the more traditional liquor of choice, my favorite addition of Kahlúa gives this dessert the extra kick that'll keep you coming back for more.
Easy Chocolate Tiramisu Recipe
Creamy, chocolatey, and a snap to make, this chocolate lover's tiramisu gets an extra pick me up with a shot of coffee liquor.
1 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee (see note)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
5 tablespoons coffee liquor such as Kahlua (optional), divided (see note)
28 ladyfinger cookies
2 cups (about 17 1/2 ounces) mascarpone, slightly softened
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
6 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, divided
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, divided
2 cups heavy cream, very cold
Cocoa powder for dusting
In liquid measuring cup, stir together coffee, granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa, and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) coffee liquor. Lay 14 ladyfinger cookies in single layer in bottom of pan. With pastry brush or spoon, douse ladyfingers with 1/2 of coffee mixture.
In large bowl, gently whisk mascarpone, melted chocolate, 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, remaining 1 tablespoon coffee liquor (if using), and 1 teaspoon vanilla until just combined. Take care not to over-whisk or the mixture may curdle. Spread over soaked ladyfingers in pan and smooth top. Place 14 more ladyfingers in single layer over mascarpone mixture. Soak with remaining coffee mixture.
Using stand mixer or handheld mixer, whip cream with remaining 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar, remaining tablespoon cocoa, and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla to medium peaks. Spread over soaked ladyfingers and smooth top.
Chill for 1 to 2 hours to allow ladyfingers to completely soften. Dust with cocoa, cut into squares, and serve.
9-inch square baking pan
If you choose not to use the coffee liquor, increase the coffee to 1 3/4 cups.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 52g||67%|
|Saturated Fat 31g||155%|
|Total Carbohydrate 29g||11%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|