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This Decadent Italian Dessert Makes a Delicious Humble Pie

<i> Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles. </i>

In a recent column I declared that I had quit drinking coffee. The public proclamation was meant to raise the humiliation factor associated with losing my resolve. It didn’t work. This week, I’m eating humble pie, washing it down, of course, with a mug of Colombia Supreme infused with warm milk.

Actually, the pie isn’t all that humble, and it isn’t really pie. It’s Tiramisu, an Italian dessert, made with lady fingers dunked in strong espresso and layered with coffee liqueur-spiked cream.

After nearly two years of healthful recipes week after week, I figured you might be as ready as I for a decadent sweet. There is absolutely nothing good for you about this dish, which comes courtesy of my friend Susannah Blinkoff.

TIRAMISU

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4 eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar

1 pound mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup half and half

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1 ounce coffee liqueur

2 cups strong brewed espresso

1 ounce dark rum

2 dozen Italian lady fingers

1/4 cup shaved semisweet chocolate

1/4 cup powdered cocoa

Beat egg yolks and sugar together until smooth and lemon-colored. Using hand mixer, beat in mascarpone and blend well. Beat in half and half and coffee liqueur.

Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Fold gently into yolk mixture.

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Combine espresso and rum in pie plate or other deep dish. Lightly dip lady finger into mixture, just enough to moisten bottom, and place in casserole dish. Continue, forming even layer of 1 dozen moistened lady fingers.

Spoon half cheese mixture over layer. Top with another layer of moistened lady fingers. Cover with remaining cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with shaved chocolate and dust with cocoa. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 6 hours. Best served after refrigerating 48 hours. Makes 8 servings.

Note: Mascarpone cheese is highly perishable and not widely available. Call ahead to make sure cheese or specialty store has 1 pound in stock, or call local supplier, Italcheese Inc. to ask for retailer, (213) 515-1481.

Italian lady fingers, which come in packages of 2 dozen, are available at most Italian specialty stores and gourmet food markets.


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