Living on Monhegan Island, about 12 miles out to sea. I often look to recipes for inspiration and then get creative with what I have on hand. The other day, I had a craving for tiramisu, one of my all-time favorite desserts. I happened to have mascarpone cheese leftover from the holidays, and I had a friend that was coming back to the island the next day, so I had her pick up ladyfingers. In a pinch, I would make the ladyfingers from scratch, but don’t do it if you don’t have to.
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Aside from these two items that aren’t always in my pantry or refrigerator, I figured I could get the rest of the ingredients together with what I have on hand.
I took two recipes, Ina Garten’s recipe from Food Network and the recipe on the back of the Roland ladyfingers box. By combining these two along with my own substitutions, I came out with a delicious dessert that was uniquely mine.
This decadent dessert uses very few ingredients, is easy to make and is sure to impress. By using what you have on hand — and a little creativity — you can make a classic dish uniquely yours. It is relatively low in sugar and this recipe is about 200 calories less than others on the internet.
- 1 (16-ounce) container of mascarpone cheese. The creamy cheese is traditionally used in Tiramisu, but if you are in a pinch, you can make a substitute with cream cheese, sour cream and heavy cream. I had mascarpone, so no need for a substitute here.
- 6 large eggs, separated — a staple I order by the case.
- 1/4 cup sugar. Here is where I started to get creative. I used a stevia/sugar blend to reduce the sugar by half. I have tried and tried to like stevia over the years, mostly I find it to have a stringent, bitter flavor. In this recipe though, it worked. If you are looking to reduce your sugar consumption, this is one place to try stevia/sugar blend or just try reducing the total amount of sugar to 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons
- 1-1/2 cup brewed espresso. If you don't have espresso available, you can absolutely still make this dessert. I brewed a strong French roast coffee, but you can also try instant coffee for this application.
- 1/2 cup liqueur. A lot of recipes call for Kahlúa, dark rum or brandy. Unfortunately, I had none of these. I try to have on hand a variety of liquor in the small airplane size bottles just for these small recipe needs. What I did have was Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur and Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy. I used half of each, and it turned out perfect. Bourbon, rum, brandy any caramel-colored and/or coffee or nut flavored liqueurs will also work.
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, pantry staple
- 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon, pantry staple
- 30 to 40 ladyfinger cookies
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- Blend the 6 egg yolks with the sugar on medium to high speed for 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes light yellow in color.
- Add half (1/4 cup) of the liqueur and 1/4 cup espresso, incorporate completely.
- Add the mascarpone cheese on low speed until all of the cheese is mixed in well.
- In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until firm peaks form. (This part of the recipe comes from the Roland ladyfingers box.)
- Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone/egg yolk mixture. Many recipes call for heavy cream here, with this method of using the egg whites, the same fluffy consistency is achieved without so many extra calories.
- On a plate with a high edge, mix the rest of the brewed coffee (1-1/4 cup) and the liquor (1/4 cup) together.
- Dip each ladyfinger in the mixture before laying them in a 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan. A clear pan gives the finished product a nice aesthetic.
- Lay the espresso/liquor dipped ladyfingers side by side leaving 1/4 inch space between each.
- After you complete one layer of ladyfingers, spread the mascarpone mixture over the top. There will be three layers total, use 1/3 mixture per layer.
- Combine the cinnamon and cocoa powder together.
- Use a strainer or sifter to sprinkle the cocoa/cinnamon powder over each layer.
- Repeat three times.
- Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 8 hours, overnight is better.
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