You can make this in about and serve it about after prep to about 16 people
This recipe is part of a collection of recipes from my Italian in-laws, originally from Catanzaro, Italy. It is as close to real tiramisu as it is possible to get with American ingredients. The only changes to this recipe from its original is the technique (I found a more reliable method of combining the ingredients) and the substitution of American mascarpone for the required italian mascarpone. American made mascarpone changes the flavor and texture or the tiramisu somewhat.
This should be made the night before you intend to serve it. The lady fingers will absorb the espresso and become moist.
Don't use American coffee in place of espresso. If you do use coffee, don't call the result tiramisu, because it is not, and don't tell anybody where you got the recipe. Don't use 'espresso blend' coffee of any type. It is not Italian espresso. Use an Italian brand such as Cello, Lavazza, Kimbo, Mauro, Illy, etc. You should be able to find it at an Italian market. It will either be packaged in a 250gr. (8 oz) foil brick or an 8oz can. If you are in the USA it will be expensive. You don't have to use the most expensive brand, but make sure it is Italian. Starbucks doesn't make any coffee that is even remotely close to Italian espresso. Don't bother trying to use it. This recipe uses RAW eggs. You have to choose between 'real' eggs and pasteurized eggs. The pasteurized eggs will not whip up as easily or as nicely, but they will not kill all your guests either. Real eggs will make a lighter tiramisu, but you will run the risk of making you guests sick with salmonella poisoning. If I am serving this to my family, I use pasteurized eggs. My wife's family gets real eggs. ;-) We use Savoiardi lady fingers. Other types may absorb the espresso at a different rate and change quantity of espresso, and hence the flavor of the tiramisu. The mascarpone is the most important ingredient. Unfortunately we are rarely able to obtain real Italian made mascarpone in our city. Substituting American made mascarpone makes a heavier, denser tiramisu. The espresso maker can be either a cheap steam driven one, an even cheaper stove-top model, or a more expensive pump model. The steam and stove-top espresso makers will make more espresso with less coffee, but the espresso will not taste quite as good. We use a steam espresso maker for tiramisu and a pump for our morning jolt. I use a stand type mixer. Tiramisu can be made without a mixer. Many Italian families don't have power mixers. They are be able to make good tiramisu. I'm not sure that I could though.
Make the espresso and poor it into shallow flat-bottomed bowl. Add one shot of cognac, one teaspoon cocoa, and allow to cool to room temperature.
If at this point you've decided to use coffee instead of espresso, take the coffee you've made and drink it. Then make espresso.
Separate egg yolks and whites.
In the second mixing bowl, beat eggs whites until fluffy. If you use pasteurized eggs, this may take a while.
Fold beaten egg whites into mascarpone mixture. Mix only enough to blend. Over mixing will deflate the egg whites.
Quickly dip a savoiardi in the espresso bowl. To get the right amount of espresso on the savoiardi, lay the finger flat in the bottom of the bowl sugared side UP and immediately pull it out. Place each finger flat in the bottom of the pan sugar side DOWN. The savoiardi will quickly absorb the espresso. If you soak the savoiardi in the espresso you will end up with soggy savoiardi instead of moist savoiardi.
Spoon a layer of egg/mascarpone mixture across the layer of savoiardi. Use about 1/2 of the mascarpone mix. The layer should be about 1cm. (3/8in.) thick.
Dip another layer of savoiardi and lay them on the mascarpone mix. Layer them as before, sugar side down. Drip espresso on the savoiardi that don't look dark from the coffee.
Spoon a second layer of egg/mascarpone mixture across the second layer of savoiardi. Use the remaining mascarpone mix. The layer should be about 1cm. (3/8in.) thick.
Sift cocoa on top of the second mascarpone layer. Scoop a tablespoon of cocoa into a small sieve. Hold the sieve over the tiramisu and tap the sieve on the side with your finger. The cocoa should sprinkle down in an even layer. Use this technique to cover the tiramisu with a very thin layer of cocoa.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. The Tiramisu will taste quite good for several days if refrigerated.