That’s Amore!

hourglass (1)

My husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary recently with a fancy Italian dinner, complete with mandolin music playing in the background. It reminded me of a book I read awhile ago: The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum. It’s a time-travel romance, a little off my beaten genre path, but I thoroughly enjoyed it nonetheless. In fact, I’m reminded that I need to get back to reading the third and final book of the series.

The romantic interest in The Hourglass Door is a handsome time traveling Italian. What better way to win the heart of an Italian man than through good cooking? (Not that my husband is Italian: he just likes to eat the food!)

I prepared several traditional dishes for my anniversary dinner, but I was most proud of the tiramisu I made for dessert. I’ve often drooled over photos of tiramisu, with its custard and ladyfinger layers, but I’ve never tasted it because of the coffee traditionally used to prepare it … I avoid coffee like the plague. The good part of making your own Italian dinner is that you can substitute ingredients to your own taste and style. And so, I present my Mormon Tiramisu. It’s best eaten with Italian crooners softly singing in the background and someone you love by your side!

tiramisu

Mormon Tiramisu

1/4 c milk
3 egg yolks
3/4 c sugar
8 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
3 c mascarpone cheese (at room temperature)
1/4 tsp vanilla
24 lady finger cookies
3/4 cup hot chocolate, cooled to lukewarm
2 tsp cocoa powder

1. Use a double boiler, or 1 large pan with a smaller pan that will fit on top without falling into the larger pan. Fill the large pan, or the bottom of the double boiler, with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together milk and yolks in smaller pan, or top of the double boiler. Whisk in sugar until well combined.
3. When water is boiling, reduce heat to medium-low (keeping water to a low simmer) and place smaller pan on top of larger pan. Cook and stir the egg mixture for 10 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese with mascarpone cheese and vanilla. Beat well with an electric mixer. Once the chesses are smooth and creamy, slowly add the egg yolk mixture and mix well, until smooth.
5. Prepare an 8×8 baking dish, or 2 bread pans, by spraying with non-stick cooking spray.
6. Pour about half of the hot chocolate onto a plate. Dip lady fingers in chocolate, sugared side up. Don’t allow them to sit very long in the liquid, as they will quickly soak it up. The top half of each lady finger should remain dry.
7. Arrange the lady fingers side by side in the prepared dish. Spoon half of the cream cheese mixture (or 1/4 of the mixture, if using bread pans) over the lady fingers. Add another layer of soaked lady fingers and cover with remaining cream cheese mixture.
8. Put cocoa powder into a fine-meshed strainer and gently shake over the dessert to add a dusting of cocoa powder.
9. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.
10. To serve, slice into 9 even portions and place each on a plate.

I was surprised and pleased to find both mascarpone cheese and lady finger cookies at my small-town grocery store! I found the cheese in the specialty section, near the deli. However, it was rather expensive. I wasn’t ready to empty my pockets for the whole 3 cups called for in the recipe, so I substituted more cream cheese for half of the mascarpone. I think it still tasted fabulous, especially if you love cheesecake, like me! The lady fingers were located on the cookie and cracker aisle, and one package was just the right amount for this recipe.

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