The first, of course, was a partially eaten apple–hardly an appropriate gift for a house-warming party or birthday celebration. The second, rumour has it, was the recipe for tiramisu. Roughly translated as “lift me up,” the Italian dessert is a feast for the eyes and food porn for the palate.
Made with lady fingers soaked in espresso and then layered with a whipped mixture of mascarpone cheese, sugar and then sprinkled with cocoa, the dessert even appeals to those lacking a sweet tooth. Most served in restaurants is lackluster at best, suffering from soggy ladyfingers, and inexpensive vanilla custard substituted for the creamy and sweet mascarpone. For those who want to make it at home–and believe it or not, it’s easier than you think–you need to start with the finest ingredients you can locate. At the top of your list should be imported, Italian ladyfingers. This should not be perceived as food snobbery. The Italian version of the cookie, you see, is baked twice. Why ? By baking the delectable and delicate cookie twice, it ensures that as you layer your dish with the mascarpone, they will soften…and not become soggy.
For those of you who live and work in the Washington area, finding the imported version is a breeze with the opening of the Mediterranean Way at 1717 Connecticut Avenue. The store is great place for Italian, Greek and Spanish specialties, all of which are reasonably priced. The staff is jovial, well informed and most willing to assist.
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