A great make ahead option to prepare a dessert in advance. It’s a divine combination of a chewy, fudgy, brownie and an authentic Italian tiramisu.
This is both easy and complicated. The brownie layer is the easy part because it uses things that you already have on hand. While the tiramisu with its mascarpone, espresso and ladyfingers are complicated because you make the authentic custard and cookie from scratch. The tiramisu was a good Italian recipe. Not some short-cut store bought variety. I guess those Italian's really knew what they were doing.
Warning! This dessert contains 3 different liqueurs; marsala wine, dry white wine, and cognac/brandy. If you love the booze factor one cup of alcohol will bring, refrigerate constructed cake 1 - 2 hours before serving. Otherwise this is best when made 24 hours in advance, as the alcohol will mellow overnight.
The instructions in this recipe call for a 9-Inch spring form pan or 13 x 9-Inch baking pan. I actually used a 9-Inch round removable bottom cake pan. If you would like the sides of the cake to appear "iced," use the round removable bottom cake pan. By pushing upwards some of the tiramisu will automatically ice the side in an even elegant layer.
For Brownie Layer: Heat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray. Or you can use a 13 x 9-Inch baking pan. Note: If using a spring form pan, tare a piece of parchment paper off and trace the bottom insert onto paper. Reserve for use with homemade ladyfingers.
In large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and butter. Stir in ½ cup cocoa, sugar, eggs and ¾ teaspoons vanilla; mix together well. Pour mixture into pan.
Bake 15 minutes or until set. Cool completely.
To Prepare Zabaglione: Place egg yolks into of double boiler; add sugar. Beat with portable electric mixer at medium speed or rotary beater until mixture is pale yellow and creamy.
Place water in bottom of double boiler. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low. Place into of double boiler over simmering water. Gradually beat ¼ cup Marsala into egg yolk mixture. Beat 1 minutes. Gradually beat in remaining ¼ cup Marsala and white wine.
Continue cooking custard over gently simmering water 6 – 10 minutes until mixture is fluffy and thick enough to form soft mounds when dropped from beaters, beating constantly and scraping bottom and sides of pan frequently. (Watch carefully and does not overcook or custard will curdle.) Immediately remove top of double boiler from water. Whisk custard briefly and allow cooling to room temperature.
To Prepare Tiramisu: Meanwhile, beat cream in a cold metal bowl with cold metal beaters for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until soft peaks form.
Gently fold in mascarpone cheese, then cooled zabaglione. (If zabaglione has separated, beat until well mixed before folding into mascarpone.) Refrigerate 3 hours or until well chilled.
To Prepare Ladyfingers: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line one baking sheet with reserved parchment paper if using spring form or line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Beat together egg yolks, vanilla, almond extract, and salt at high speed until light and fluffy.
Using clean beaters, beat egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.
Fold flour into egg yolk mixture. Fold one-quarter of beaten egg whites into batter. Fold in remaining whites.
Using pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip:
For Spring Form Pan: Start piping batter ¼-Inch from penciled circle on parchment paper working your way to center leaving 1/8-Inch space between rings. Or…using a tablespoon (#40 ice cream scoop; 2/3 oz.), drop batter ¼-Inch from penciled circle on parchment working your way around outer circle and filling in the center. Do not spread batter; see picture.
For 13 x 9-Inch Baking Pan: Pipe batter into 4 x 1-Inch strips onto prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies until just golden, 8 - 10 minutes. (Do not over-bake) Transfer pans or baking sheets to wire racks to cool slightly. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely; leave cookies on parchment paper. (Cookies will stick slightly to paper.)
Dessert Construction: Combine espresso, cognac/brandy, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla extract. Pierce brownie layer generously with a fork. Pour one-quarter of espresso mixture over brownie. Let rest 2 minutes. Layer one-quarter of the tiramisu mixture over brownie. Generously brush remaining espresso mixture over ladyfingers.
Gently peel ladyfingers from parchment and lie over first tiramisu layer. Sprinkle three-quarters of the grated chocolate over ladyfingers. Spoon remaining tiramisu mixture over ladyfinger's and grated chocolate.
For finished top, sift cocoa powder over the cheese mixture with a small sieved or tea strainer. Then sprinkle remaining ¼ of grated chocolate around edge of dessert. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until chilled. To remove from spring form pan: release clip and push upwards from bottom. The band should be around your arm and carefully place on cake plate with dome. Garnish with edible flowers, if desired.
Tip #1: Zabaglione can be served as its own recipe. Pour into 4 individual serving dishes. Serve immediately with fresh berries and/or cookies.
Tip #2: Mascarpone is available at Italian markets and some specialty stores. If unavailable, blend 2 packages (8 oz. ea.) softened cream cheese with ½ cup heavy cream and 5 tablespoons sour cream.
Tip #3: You can use store bought ladyfingers if you can find them. When using the spring form pan, lay the cookies in an plus sign (+) and break remaining cookies to fill in open space.
Tip #4: Freeze metal bowl and beaters at least 4 hours. This will aid in keeping the heavy cream cold for a better whip. But do not use a cold bowl or beaters for the meringue.
I included an link for the #40 - 2/3 ounce ice cream scoop if anyone is curious. The scoops come in different sizes. I love using the different size ice cream scoops for different things. Cookies, muffins, melon balls, meatballs and best of all... large, medium and mini cup cakes. They make for even, mess free goodies.