For the cream:
4 large egg yolks
¼ C granulated sugar
¾ C heavy cream
¼ C sugar
1 C (8 ounces) mascarpone
For the assembly:
1 ½ C very strong coffee or espresso
2 T brandy, cognac or rum
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
About 24 ladyfingers (one 7-ounce package) – can substitute stale madeleines, snickerdoodles, wafer cookies and even croissant
1 to 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, for shaving (optional)
Using a hand-held electric beater or a standing mixer, in a medium bowl whip together the egg yolks and sugar until very pale yellow and about tripled in volume. A slight ribbon should fall from the beaters when lifted from the bowl. Set aside and prepare the mascarpone mixture.
In a medium bowl, whip the cream and sugar until it creates soft-medium peaks. Add mascarpone and continue to whip until it creates a spreadable mixture with medium peaks. Gently fold the fluffy sweetened egg yolks into the mascarpone mixture until smoothly combined. Set aside.
To assemble the tiramisu, combine the coffee and brandy in a shallow bowl. Using a sifter (or tea strainer), dust the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish (and 8×8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan would also work) with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder. Quickly dip each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture and place them at the bottom of the baking dish. Since they are quite porous and absorb liquid easily, you will need to work quickly so they don’t fall apart. Keep filling the dish until you’ve got one even layer (about 10-12 ladyfingers). Spread half the mascarpone mixture onto the ladyfingers and repeat the process with a second layer of coffee- dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture. Dust the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon cocoa. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours or longer. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar and garnish with shaved chocolate. Serves 6-8.