Last-minute dessert: Spring Berry Tiramisu

Spring Berry Tiramisu

A favorite dessert in many Italian restaurants, tiramisu usually features espresso-soaked ladyfingers and a thick dusting of cocoa. I had neither in my pantry on Easter morning, when, just a few hours before my parents were to show up for a fancy-pants buffet lunch, I suddenly realized I didn't have anything for dessert.

However, I did have a bag of Amaretti cookies I'd bought the day before at Pennsylvania Macaroni in the Strip District, and a container of mascarpone I'd been planning on spooning into homemade ravioli.

I ended up using the ingredients, plus a few containers of fresh berries, in an adapted version of one of my favorite recipes from my all-time favorite cookbook, Ruth Reichl's "The Gourmet Cookbook." Have to say, it turned out pretty well.

No big surprise my husband scraped his wine glass clean of the creamy, custard-like concoction. But so did my parents.

Note: The eggs in this recipes are not cooked; if this is a concern, use pasteurized eggs. -- Gretchen McKay

  • 3 large eggs, separated

  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided

  • 8 ounces mascarpone

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup very cold cream

  • 1 container each raspberries, blueberries and blackberries

  • 2 cups warm water

  • 3 to 4 tablespoons pomegranate (or other fruit) liqueur

  • 30 Amaretti cookies

Have 8 (8-ounce) wine glasses ready.

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.

Beat whites and salt in another bowl with cleaned beaters until whites just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, then continue to beat until whites just hold stiff peaks.

Beat cream in another bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds soft peaks. Gently fold cream into mascarpone mixture, then fold in whites.

Place a mixture of berries in the bottom of wine glasses. Spoon some of the tiramisu mixture into each glass (until it is about half full).

Stir together water and pomegranate liqueur in a shallow bowl. Dip 24 Amaretti cookies, 1 at a time, in the pomegranate mixture, soaking each one for about 5 seconds on each side. (You want them to get soft.) Place 3 cookies in each glass of tiramisu, then top with the remaining mascarpone cream. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Just before serving, place the 6 reserved Amaretti cookies in a baggie and crush with a rolling pin. Sprinkle each glass of tiramisu with some crushed cookies. Top with 3 or 4 berries.

Serves 8.

-- Adapted from "The Gourmet Cookbook" (Houghton Mifflin, 2004)

Gretchen McKay:, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


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