This may sound strange coming from a non-coffee-drinking teetotaler, but I am huge sucker for tiramisu. I think it’s because it triggers all the trifle pleasure centers in my brain, of which there are very, very many. I mean, it basically is a trifle, right? Soft cake-like layer? Check. Creamy layer? You betcha. Beautiful layered presentation? Yes indeedy. Fancy Italian name? Oh, behave.
So I decided to make tiramisu my way—hold the coffee, nix the booze, and dump in a ton of chocolate. (Sing with me now: “It’s the SugarHero way!”) This dessert still has the traditional lady finger cookies, and definitely still calls for that delicious mascarpone cheese-based layer of deliciousness, but in this chocolate version, the cookies are dunked in strong hot chocolate to soften them, and in between each cookie layer is a thick layer of rich, dark chocolate ganache.
I’m sure this version is sacrilege for tiramisu purists, but in the immortal words of surly teenagers on Twitter, #sorrynotsorry. Tiramisu means “pick me up” in Italian, and even though these don’t have the caffeine content of the original, I know that a big glass of cookies, cream, and chocolate always picks me up, if you know what I mean.
I’m always a sucker for individual desserts, and these tiramisus, with their beautiful layers of white and brown, are a natural choice to be served in small glass cups. Top them with a scattering of chocolate shavings and a few chocolate doo-dads (that’s a technical pastry term, try not to be jealous of my vast knowledge) and you have gorgeous, party-worthy desserts without a lot of work!
If you need to feed a crowd, or don’t have the right size serving glasses, this recipe can also be made in a 9×13 pan—I’ve included both instructions down below. Enjoy!
- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate finely chopped
- 1 3/4 cup heavy cream divided use
- 6 egg yolks at room temperature
- 7 oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 1 lb mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 24-30 lady fingers the soft variety, (up to 40 if using a 9x13 pan)
- 2 cups prepared hot chocolate strong, cooled to room temperature
Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Pour one cup of heavy cream into a small saucepan, and place the pan over medium heat. Bring the cream to a simmer, heating it until bubbles appear along the sides of the pan, but it is not yet boiling.
Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit and soften for a minute. After a minute, whisk the cream and chocolate together until the chocolate is smooth, shiny and melted. Press a layer of cling wrap over the top and refrigerate the chocolate briefly until it thickens to the consistency of soft peanut butter.
While the chocolate is chilling, prepare the mascarpone mixture. Place the egg yolks and sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat the yolks and sugar together on medium-high speed until they are very thick and pale, about 2-3 minutes. When you stop the mixer and lift up the whisk, the yolks should slowly drip from the whisk in a thick ribbon.
Add the mascarpone cheese, salt, and vanilla extract, and beat on medium-low until the cheese is incorporated and the mixture is free of lumps. Don’t overbeat, or beat too quickly, since mascarpone is prone to breaking if it’s overworked!
Transfer the mascarpone cheese to another bowl, and in the same mixing bowl—no need to clean it—place the remaining 3/4 cup heavy cream. Whip the cream to firm peaks, then gently fold it into the cheese in several batches.
To assemble the tiramisus, spread a thin layer of chocolate on the bottom of six 10-oz dishes or cups. Working one at a time, dip a ladyfinger quickly in the hot chocolate so that it is submerged, then place it in the serving dish. You may need to break the cookies into several pieces to make them fit into an even layer in the dishes. Repeat until all of the dishes have a first layer of soaked lady fingers.
Spoon a thick layer of the mascarpone cream over the ladyfingers—you may find that it’s easier to put the cream into a pastry bag with a round tip, or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off. Once all of the tiramisus have a layer of mascarpone, spoon a thin layer of chocolate on top. Repeat the layers, adding more ladyfingers, mascarpone, and chocolate, until you reach the top of your container. Make sure that you end with a layer of mascarpone cheese. Finish the tiramisus with a topping of shaved chocolate, unsweetened cocoa powder, or a big rosette of whipped cream. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and serve!
Tiramisu keeps very well, and this dessert can be made up to five days ahead of time and kept, well-wrapped, in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
This recipe can also be made in a 9x13 pan. You will need more lady fingers to make it in a large rectangular pan, but the exact number will depend on the size of the brand you use. To make it in a 9x13 pan, start with a thin chocolate layer, then add dipped ladyfingers, mascarpone, chocolate, lady fingers, and mascarpone, in that order. Top with shredded chocolate or cocoa powder, refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and then serve!
You can substitute hard lady fingers (savoiardi) for the soft ones, if that is what you have available, but you will want to soak them for an extra second or two in the hot chocolate to make sure they soften.