Happy parents = happy kids. So here’s a simple-to-make sweet for grown-ups, beloved of the Italians: tiramisu. It requires no cooking or baking whatsoever, just assemble and chill.
First, you need to track down Italian sponge fingers (also known as lady fingers). The Italian name for these fingers are savoiardi. They are quite easy to find: in Jakarta, at Ranch Market or Hero Kemang, in Phuket, at the bakery by the supermarket in Central. If you can’t find them, I have included the recipe at the bottom of this post. But let’s start with the tiramisu first.
1 packet savoiardi
500g mascarpone cheese
6 eggs, separated
350ml espresso coffee, cooled
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
50ml cognac or brandy
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 bar good quality dark chocolate, shaved
I banana, sliced, optional
Add the sugar to the egg yolks. Beat well until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the mascarpone and half of the cognac or brandy, and beat well. Add the orange zest.
With clean utensils, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the beaten egg whites into the mascarpone mixture.
Pour espresso into a shallow dish along with the remaining cognac and 1 teaspoon of the cocoa powder. Stir well. Quickly dip each lady finger in the espresso mixture, working one at a time, and line the bottom of a glass dish, approximately 20cm round or square.
Once the bottom of the dish is covered in an even layer of espresso-soaked lady fingers, top with 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture. Add the sliced banana. Dust with 1/2 of the cocoa. Repeat with another lady finger layer, then finally the remaining mascarpone and a final dusting of cocoa powder. Top with shaved chocolate.
Chill in the fridge for about 4 hours, then serve!
For the savoiardi:
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
115g plain flour
Preheat oven to around 180 C. Line three baking trays with baking parchment. Prepare a pastry bag with a plain 1.25cm piping nozzle.
Separate the eggs. Whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 of the sugar and all of the vanilla. Beat until very light coloured.
In a clean bowl beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. While beating, slowly add the salt and the remaining sugar until combined. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.
Sieve the flour over the egg mixture and gently fold it in.
Fill the pastry bag with half of the batter and pipe 9cm fingers, 4cm apart, in rows on the baking parchment. Continue with the second half of the batter in the same manner.
Bake at 180 C for about 15 minutes until firm to the touch and golden. Remove the paper and fingers from the baking tray and place on racks to cool. After cooling, remove fingers from the paper and use or store between layers of greaseproof paper in a airtight container. These freeze well.