Tiramisu is traditionally made with ladyfingers dipped in coffee that are layered with a rich mascarpone cream. I like it because I love the coffee element of the dessert, and I also like the fact that it is so easy to put new flavor variations on it that it’s hard to get stuck in a rut with it. Rum and marsala wine often appear in tiramisu recipes, and I make a version with Bailey’s that I like. This time around, instead of playing with adding new flavors, I wanted to play around with the cheeses used to make the recipe.
This Ricotta and Cream Cheese Tiramisu uses a blend of ricotta and cream cheese in place of where a mascarpone-based cream would usually appear. The ricotta gives the cream a little bit of texture and lightens up the cream cheese, which adds a rich and tangy flavor to the ricotta. I kept my flavoring simple and added a little vanilla to the creamy filling and a little to the coffee mixture that I dipped the ladyfingers in. The finished dish had a lovely texture to it and was slightly more dense than other tiramisus, but it was also a bit more satisfying to dig into. The coffee flavor came through very well, too. This dessert is finished perfectly with generous dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream to add a bit of extra sweetness and lightness every time your spoon picks up some of the cream with the rest of a bite.
I opted to make my tiramisus into single-serving sizes and put them into coffee cups to serve. As your coffee cups will probably differ in size from mine, I’m only approximating the number of ladyfingers that you’ll need to finish off your desserts. In general, you’ll probably need a couple of half-ladyfingers for the middle and bottom layers, and several whole ladyfingers to ring the desserts. If you prefer, you could assemble this in a small baking dish rather than as individual portions. The coffee mugs make for a great presentation – and also make the tiramisus very easy to hold if you choose to enjoy yours while watching a movie on the couch after dinner!
These need to chill for a few hours before serving to let the flavors meld a little bit. They will keep well for a day or two, covered, if you want to make them in advance.
Ricotta and Cream Cheese Tiramisu
1 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
1 1/4 cups strong coffee, chilled
approx 3 dozen ladyfingers
whipped cream, to serve
In a food processor, or using an electric mixer, whizz together ricotta cheese, cream cheese, sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract until well combined and smooth. The ricotta will give the cream a little texture (some brands are slightly creamier than others).
Take out 4 coffee mugs.
In a shallow bowl, combine remaining teaspoon vanilla extract with strong coffee. Dip the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture one by one and arrange a layer at the base of the coffee mug (ladyfingers may need to be broken in half for best fit). Continue dipping ladyfingers, arranging 6-7 of them around the sides of each of the mugs. Add a generous spoonful of the cream to each of the mugs.
Arrange another layer of ladyfingers (breaking them again, if necessary) horizontally on top of the layers of cream. Divide remaining cream mixture between the cups. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Top with whipped cream before serving.