The Washington Post

Praline Tiramisu

Praline Tiramisu 5.000

Renée Comet for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick; glassware from Crate and Barrel

Plate Lab Jul 4, 2014

Pastry chef Susan Limb has provided a real service in reworking the tiramisu recipe used at Praline Bakery and Bistro in Bethesda. She whisks the egg yolk-sugar component in a double boiler while heating it to 160 degrees, which eliminates the risk involved in using raw egg. Marsala, dark rum and espresso powder add oomph to the coffee soaking liquid for the ladyfingers, and an unsweetened whipped cream layer on top keeps the dessert from being overly sweet.

The process is streamlined enough so you can knock out a batch in an hour or so. The best part: The desserts are portioned individually and can be made in advance.

You’ll need five or six 6-to-8-ounce coffee cups or ramekins, preferably ones that can be frozen, and an instant-read thermometer.

Make Ahead: The cream can be whipped a day in advance and refrigerated. (You may have some left over; it shouldn't be hard to use up.) The mascarpone-egg yolk mixture can be made several hours in advance and refrigerated. The assembled individual tiramisus need to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours before serving. They can be frozen for up to 1 month; defrost in the refrigerator before serving.

Where to Buy: Galbani brand mascarpone and Balocco ladyfingers are available at the Italian Store in Arlington.

5 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 5-6 servings

  • Scant 3/4 cup (6 ounces) chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Marsala
  • 2 cups lukewarm brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 8 ounces mascarpone, preferably Galbani brand
  • 3.7 ounces (1 sleeve, half-package) ladyfingers, preferably Balocco brand
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for garnish
  • Coffee bean, for garnish (optional)


Whip the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, or use a hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low speed, then on medium-high to form medium-firm peaks (like marshmallow cream).

Gently fold in the vanilla extract; cover and refrigerate.

Heat a few inches of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together in a heatproof bowl. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then seat the bowl directly on top of the saucepan without letting it touch the water underneath. Whisk constantly until the mixture has thickened and become lighter in color. It should create ribbons. (If little bits of hardened egg have formed, you can use a spatula to push the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.) The temperature of the mixture should register 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove the bowl from the saucepan; transfer the egg-sugar mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, or use a hand-held electric mixer. Beat on high speed for about 5 minutes, until lightened and cooled.

Combine 2 tablespoons of the Marsala, the brewed coffee, espresso powder and 2 tablespoons of the rum in a tall liquid measuring cup.

Stir the mascarpone, the remaining 2 tablespoons of Marsala and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of rum into the beaten egg-sugar mixture until well combined. The mixture should have some body and should be slightly stiffened. Add a little of the vanilla whipped cream to lighten the mixture, then gently fold in half of the remaining vanilla whipped cream.

Pour the Marsala-coffee mixture into a shallow bowl; the ladyfingers will soak in it.

Break each of the ladyfingers in half; you'll be using 2 1/2 ladyfingers (total) per 6-to-8-ounce cup.

To build each portion of tiramisu, spoon about a quarter-inch of the mascarpone cream into a cup. Quickly dunk the ladyfinger halves into the Marsala soaking liquid (so they don’t get soggy), laying 2 halves side by side on the mascarpone layer. Spoon another layer of the mascarpone cream over them, then repeat the ladyfinger-layer step, using 3 halves. Top with a generous amount of the remaining vanilla whipped cream; use a small offset spatula to create a smooth, even surface.

Repeat to fill the remaining cups.

Refrigerate for 6 hours before serving.

Just before serving, place the filled cups on top of a sheet of parchment paper. Sift a light, even layer of cocoa powder over the top of each portion. Garnish with a coffee bean, if desired.

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Recipe Source

From Susan Limb, pastry chef and co-owner of Praline Bakery and Bistro in Bethesda.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

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