The classic Italian dessert of tiramisu can be found in restaurants throughout Morocco, where it’s usually served without the addition of alcohol. We enjoy it most, however, when made at home using the recipe below. Ladyfingers are dipped in strong coffee then layered with a mascarpone cheese and pastry cream mixture, as well as a little whipped cream. A generous dusting of cocoa powder serves as garnish. Creamy, decadent and so delicious!
Mascarpone is available in some Moroccan grocery stores, but it’s quite easy and usually less expensive to make your own at home. Instructions for making homemade mascarpone are included in the recipe. If taking that extra step, plan to do it a day or two before assembly.
Tiramisu Recipe with Homemade Mascarpone
The recipe includes instructions for making your own mascarpone. This should be done a day ahead of time or you can use store bought mascarpone instead.Allow time for chilling the tiramisu before serving.
For the Tiramisu
- 10 oz. ladyfingers
- 1 1/2 cups rich pastry cream (recipe below)
- 18 oz. mascarpone cheese (2.25 cups)
- 1 1/4 cup whipping cream (to make 2.5 cups whipped)
- 2 cups very strong coffee or espresso, cooled
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder, unsweetened
For the Pastry Cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds removed
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tbsp butter
For the Mascarpone (optional - can use store bought instead)
- 3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
One or Two Days Ahead of Time - Make the Mascarpone Cheese (Optional Step)
- Bring the heavy cream almost to a boil. Simmer gently for 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice then continue simmering gently for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Line a strainer with 3 layers of cheesecloth and place over a deep bowl. Pour the cooled cream mixture through the strainer. Cover and leave to strain overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, when the cheese is very thick, transfer it to a container and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
One to Two Hours Before Assembly - Make the Pastry Cream
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and flour. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan, heat the milk with the vanilla bean just until scalding. (A skin will start to form; tiny bubbles will begin appearing at the edges.) Discard the vanilla bean and any skin on the surface of the milk.
- Little by little, whisk the milk into the egg yolk mixture. Do this slowly to avoid heating the eggs too rapidly or they will begin to cook in the hot liquid.
- Strain the milk and egg mixture back into the sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
- Lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream and set aside to cool to room temperature. Once completely cooled, you can proceed to assembly of the tiramisu, or refrigerate the pastry cream until needed.
Assemble the Tiramisu
- Make the cheese filling. By hand or with a mixer, beat the mascarpone for a minute to soften and lighten it. Add the cooled or chilled pastry cream and mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Make the whipped cream. Beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Gather ingredients and assemble the tiramisu. Set out a deep 11 x 7-inch (or 9 x 9-inch) pan. Have the cheese mixture, whipped cream, ladyfingers and bowl of coffee nearby.
- One by one, dip ladyfingers into the coffee (long enough to absorb some coffee but not so long that they fall apart) and arrange them snugly into the dish in a single layer. Spread half of the cheese mixture over the ladyfingers and then top with half of the whipped cream. Repeat to make a second layer.
- Generously dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa powder (this is easiest done by sifting the cocoa through a small strainer). Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.
- The tiramisu will keep for several days. You can garnish it with a fresh layer of cocoa powder to freshen its appearance at later servings.
- When making mascarpone, whey will collect in the bowl. You can either discard it or save it for baking bread such as Moroccan batbout (stovetop pita).
- If more convenient, the pastry cream and whipped cream can be made the day before assembly.
- If you don't have a vanilla bean to make the pastry cream, you can replace it with one teaspoon of vanilla extract, which should be added with the butter after the pastry cream has thickened.
- You may need to break some of the ladyfingers to fit them into a complete layer in your dish. I do like to pack them snugly as suggested to make a denser cake layer. You may or may not use all of the lady fingers.
- I don't like to saturate the ladyfingers when dipping them into the coffee. A two- to three-second dip is just right for my tastes.
- Note that the whipped cream and cocoa powder have no sugar added. The mascarpone cheese mixture too will not be overly sweet. This is intentional as the dessert is more rich than sweet.