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Tiramisu (Creamy Layered Italian Dessert)

Serves 6 to 8

I love Tiramisu and have tried several different recipes. This version of the dessert is based on a Jeff Smith recipe. It is a little different, but I like the whipped cream frosting, as well as the loaf pan shape, because they make a pretty presentation when sliced. Other than the required refrigeration time, this is a quick, easy and delicious dessert for a family dinner or special occasion that can be prepared ahead.

Ingredients

In a medium bowl, mix together the coffee, sugar and brandy until the sugar is dissolved. Remove 1/3 cup of the mixture and place in a medium bowl. Add the eggs to the 1/3 cup coffee mixture and whisk until well-blended. Add the mascarpone and whisk just until smooth; do not overmix.

Line a 9-1/2 x 5-1/2-inch loaf pan with wax or parchment paper, being certain to crimp it into the corners and bring it up all sides. Dip the ladyfingers, one at a time, into the remaining coffee mixture. Dip very quickly, about 1 second per ladyfinger, or they will absorb too much liquid. Place them in one layer crosswise on the bottom of the loaf pan. In order to cover the entire bottom, some may need to be cut smaller. Spread 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the shaved chocolate. Repeat the layering one more time, then top that with one more layer of ladyfingers. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Chill a mixing bowl and beaters. Add the whipping cream, vanilla and confectioners' sugar. Whip until stiff. Place a serving plate on top of the loaf pan. Flip it over and gently remove the waxed paper. Frost the cake with the whipped cream, using a piping bag for decoration, if desired. Dust with cocoa shaken through a small sieve. Garnish with the additional shaved chocolate. Place in the refrigerator until slicing and serving.

Notes: If you are concerned about using raw eggs or serving those who should be, use pasteurized eggs or egg beaters. Mascarpone cheese is available in most grocery stores. However, if you cannot find it, substitute 3/4 pounds cream cheese, 6 tablespoons cream and 1/4 cup sour cream, mixed together. Sometimes, the only ladyfingers I can get are sliced in half horizontally for filling. Do not separate the slices; use them as a whole piece. The chocolate can be shaved on a box grater, with a vegetable peeler or with a cheese plane.