It’s become an unofficial tradition for me to make tiramisu for New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure how it came about, but it’s definitely not a bad thing. Tiramisu has always struck me as a kind of elegant dessert, with its layers of ladyfingers and mascarpone cream. That said, it is also very easy to put together and can be made well in advance – huge plusses for just about every dessert. It also uses a bit of alcohol, which makes it fit in nicely with the usual festivities of a New Year’s Eve gathering (or even just a nice dinner), and a bit of coffee, which might give you an edge in staying up until midnight.
It’s pretty easy to vary the flavors of a tiramisu by using different liquors. Rum and marsala wine are often featured in it. For this version, I used Baileys Irish Cream with coffee (though classic Irish Cream would be fine) to dip the ladyfingers and I infused a vanilla bean into the cream I used to make the mascarpone cream layers. Because it is easier, I included instructions for using both vanilla extract and vanilla-infused cream with this recipe. It is also worth noting the the size of ladyfingers varies by brand, so don’t be concerned if you need more or less than I’ve called for here, as long as your dish is fully covered as you construct the dessert.
The finished dish is delicious. It is ultra creamy and very light. I really liked the hint of Baileys in with the coffee, too. It’s easy to eat a big piece, but since it is rich it is best served in slightly smaller portions.
Baileys and Vanilla Tiramisu
8-oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy cream, cold*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream or other coffee liqueur
approx 30-36 ladyfingers
unsweetened cocoa powder, for finishing
In a large mixing bowl, beat mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream and vanilla at high speed until mixture is fluffy and very smooth.
In a small, shallow bowl, combine coffee and Baileys. Dip each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture to let it soak up some of the liquid (2-3 seconds) and place in the bottom of a 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish. The bottom of the pan should be completely covered with the ladyfingers in a single layer. Do not completely soak the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture.
When there is a full layer of ladyfingers, spread half of the cream mixture on top of them.Repeat with remaining ladyfingers and cream mixture.
Dust with cocoa powder
Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
*Note: While this works fine with vanilla extract, and that is certainly the easiest way to make the recipe, you can also infuse the heavy cream with a vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream before using it. Combine the cream and a split bean in a small saucepan, bring almost to a boil and remove from heat. Let stand for about 10 minutes, then scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the cream and chill cream until it is very cold. This can be done a few days in advance. Then you can proceed with the recipe as written.