This delicious Italian cake is deceptively simple: no cooking involved! It's adapted from the lovely Mediterranean Cookbook, which has great, easy recipes and beautiful photography from around the Mediterranean. I recommend making this cake two days before you plan to serve it: ours took that long for the layers of cookies and cream to "gel" and take on the creamy, decadent texture and flavor I associate with really good tiramisu. This cake originated in Italy in the 1960s, and it's been delighting fans ever since. My recipe calls for pasteurized egg whites instead of raw egg whites, since I can't stand raw eggs! Also try to get really high-quality ladyfinger cookies, and use a really good baking chocolate (I always have good luck with chocolate from Guittard).
2/3 cup pasteurized cage-free egg whites
2-3 Tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
8 ounces mascarpone cream
4 ounces creme fraiche
2 cups decaf espresso, chilled
1/2 tsp. almond extract OR 2 Tbsp. amaretto liquor (not that sugary amaretto syrup you put in your coffee, BTW!! If you want more info on how to substitute for liquor in recipes, please click here)
7-ounce package of ladyfinger cookies (about 24 cookies)
1 ounce block of 70% (or darker) cacao baking chocolate, chilled in the fridge and then grated (you can use a cheese grater)
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form (this will not take long). Pour them into a separate (medium-sized) bowl and set aside for now. Next, beat mascarpone, creme fraiche, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed with the wire whisk attachment until smooth. Now you can scrape the mascarpone mixture into the bowl with the egg whites, and then very gently (using a plastic spatula) fold the creamy mixture into the egg whites until nice and smooth.
Pour chilled coffee (for instructions on how to make delicious French Press coffee, please click here) and almond extract (or amaretto liquor, if you're using that instead) into a shallow dish with sides. Dip half the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture, and spread them evenly on the bottom of an 8 x 8 glass baking dish. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the cookies (as you would layers in lasagna), and then repeat the layering process by dipping the rest of the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and evenly layering them on top next. Then spread the remainder of the mascarpone mixture evenly over the cookies.
Finally, sprinkle the grated chocolate over the top of the tiramisu, cover the 8 x 8 baking dish with its lid (or plastic wrap), and allow to chill for about two days before serving...the cake will be nice and moist by then! You can (of course) devour it sooner, but the ladyfingers may be a little crunchy.