Desserts don’t get much easier than this delicious combination of coffee-dipped sponge biscuits layered with mascarpone lightened with beaten eggs. Meaning ‘pick me up’ in Italian, tira-mi-su is a relatively new creation, first appearing in Treviso (near Venice) in the 1960s. It’s a great dish to have in your repertoire as it doesn’t require any cooking, only needs a few hours chilling and can easily be doubled to feed a crowd. I’ve seen recipes using all sorts of alcohol – rum, brandy, amaretto, coffee liqueur – and some without any, so feel free to experiment. I think the Sicilian fortified wine Marsala is the original. Buy an authentic Marsala from a bottle shop with a good selection of Italian wines (such as Amato’s in Leichhardt if you’re in Sydney) and serve the rest of the bottle with dessert. I use Pellegrino Marsala Vergine Soleras Riserva DOC, which is quite dry – I like the way it balances the sweetness of the tiramisu, but if you have a sweeter palate you may prefer a sweeter Marsala. You’ll need about 6 shots of strong espresso coffee and a 2 litre serving dish.
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