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Tiramisu slice Note that Finnish eggs are among the safest in the world to be eaten uncooked. To find out why, read here.

about 20 sponge fingers
250 - 300 ml chilled, strong espresso coffee
3 eggs
3 tbsp sugar
(½ tsp vanilla sugar)
250 g mascarpone cheese
pinch of salt
cocoa powder for dusting

Start by first making the sponge fingers following the instructions given here. The biscuits can be made for several days in advance. Store them in a sealed tin before use to maintain their crispness. Only use thoroughly dry biscuits in making tiramisu. Instead of making your own sponge fingers, you can use store-bought biscuits (savoiardi biscuits, ladyfingers, etc).

For the mascarpone filling, separate the egg yolks and whites. I usually remove the chalazae from the egg whites (the white bits resembling spiral thread) and rub the yolks through a sieve to get rid of their casings and any other particles that might feel lumpy in the filling.

Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form (not as dry and stiff as for making meringues). Beat the yolks and sugar (and vanilla sugar, if using it) until light and fluffy. Whisk the cheese until soft and smooth. Mix the egg yolk mixture into the cheese and stir until smooth, then gently fold in the egg whites.

Spread a very thin layer of the cheese mixture on the bottom of a square or round deep dish. It would be best to use a dish with sloping edges (eg a large, deep plate), as this makes lifting out cake slices easier.

Pour the cold coffee in a shallow dish or pan. Take the sponge fingers, one at a time, and very briefly but thoroughly dip them in the coffee on both sides. Do not let them become soggy.

Arrange the biscuits snugly in one layer in the dish. Spread them with a thicker layer of the cheese mixture. Arrange another layer of coffee dipped biscuits on the cheese mixture and top with the rest of the cheese mixture. You may add more layers depending on the width and depth of the dish you are using.

Smooth the surface with a spatula and dust with a thin layer of cocoa powder. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to set until firm, at least for 2 to 4 hours before serving, preferably overnight.

When firm enough, the mascarpone mixture should just hold its shape when cut and the sponge fingers should be thoroughly softened, but not wet or mushy. Note that some store-bought biscuit brands are rather hard and dry and require a longer time to soften, ie overnight.

Cut the cake in squares or wedges and lift gently on serving plates using a spatula.

If you are serving tiramisu for grownups only, you can alter this basic recipe by flavouring the coffee with a big splash of Marsala wine or some liqueur or/and spirit of your choice (eg Kahlúa, Cointreau, Galliano, cocoa/vanilla liqueur, cognac, brandy, whiskey, calvados, etc).

Recipe source: chef Paolo Pancotti, NRK/Barmeny: "Barmen i Toscana", 2002.


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