At this time of the year, a ritual takes place in every Italian home. It is a ritual that is lost in time and in tradition. As the days get shorter and colder outdoors, an ancient and surprising warmth begins to pervade every corner of the kitchen.

The time has come to browse through those evergreen family recipe books in which, over the years, ideas have been untidily jotted down before the stroke of genius would fade away; recipe books in which every culinary secret has been jealously guarded.

With love and patience, preparations are on their way for the holidays, the most magical time of the year.

Feel-good moments whose aroma permeates the home and gathers the loved ones. They have been handed down for generations, just as those recipes whose name is enough to evoke the warmest and most pleasant of memories.

The one above all others is the tiramisù, an ever-present dessert for any special occasion. It’s just perfect when you need to shelter from the cold and brighten up the Christmas holidays.

At just the sound of such a funny word (literally “pick me up”, a miracle cure for body and spirit) many people start mind-wandering; they begin to smell the coffee aroma spreading quickly from the kitchen and onto every corner of the house.

They close their eye and once again find themselves children, with cocoa-smeared hands ready to give the final touch to this dessert that is as simple to make as it is creamy and dense, as well as bitter and sweet, all at once.

Yet – as much as it is hard to believe – it would seem as if the tiramisù didn’t even exist prior to the early ‘70s. That is when this culinary masterpiece, loved by all well beyond national borders, first took shape, by combining ever-used ingredients such as mascarpone, eggs, sugar, ladyfingers, coffee and cocoa powder.

A success beyond any wildest imagination, to the extent that, of the Italian cuisine, today tiramisù is the fifth best known word abroad, the first as far as desserts are concerned.

A success towards which in 1993 a famous motion-picture quote by a young Tom Hanks in “Sleepless in Seattle” also contributed, by making this Italian delight known and popular also overseas.

Curiosity aside, the simple nature of this dessert continues to conquer the tastes of all ages and to unleash the imagination of many, within as well as beyond the four walls of the homes, by experimenting a number of delicious variations.

Our favorite? The one which adds to it the crunchy touch of Loacker wafers. A recipe designed by Tuscan chef Gabriele Corcos, Food Network TV host, NYT bestselling book author and James-Beard award winner: “I am ecstatic at the texture that wafer provides to this tiramisù spin off, there is such a bright distinction between the creaminess of the custard and the real cookie bite… every spoonful is a surprise!”

Have fun preparing it. Enjoy your guests’ amazement when you serve it, and don’t forget to jot all the information down into your family recipe book!

TIRAMISÙ with LOACKER QUADRATINI by chef Gabriele Corcos

Serves 6

24 Dark Chocolate Loacker Quadratini
24 Chocolate Loacker Quadratini
1.5 lb Mascarpone
3 Eggs, separated
¼ cup of granulated Sugar
Dark Cocoa Powder for finishing

Gently split the cookies in the middle and set aside.
In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to soften up the mascarpone, remove any lumps, and work it until smooth and silky.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and half of the sugar, then pour into the mascarpone bowl and mix well.

In a medium bowl, mix together the egg whites and the remaining sugar; use an electric beater at medium-high speed to work them until soft and straight peaks appear. Using a rubber spatula, in increments, gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone batter until all is absorbed and mixture looks fluffy and soft.

Place a first layer of crumbled cookies at the bottom of your favorite vessel, cover with a thin layer of mascarpone cream and gently flatten it with a cold and wet metal spoon. Repeat this process to obtain a total of three layers, then cover with plastic wrap and cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Dust with cocoa powder right before serving.

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