Top | Nigellissima
(recipe, Nigella Lawson)
For someone who started off as a tiramisu scorner, I have turned out to be its most slavish proponent, finding any excuse to whip up a new one. From Anna Del Conte's all-white meringue version, and something more trad (and I say this being well aware that tiramisu as such came into being only in the latter half of the 20th century), to one made with Frangelico and another with Baileys. Some say, challenging more generally accepted ideas about the provenance, that it was invented in a casa chiusa (a house of ill repute) to give the working girls a pick-me-up, as the name (tira-mi-su) suggests. Whatever its inception, this one reverts to the original formulation — although a dinkier format. This is not because I am a huge fan of the cute — you know that — but because it means you have a tiramisu worth making for fewer people (you don't need a partyful), and in less time. By which I mean very much less time, since, unlike the big, trifle-style tiramisu, these tiramisini — think coffee-soaked Savoiardi cookies, topped with the familiar, whipped Marsala-spiked mascarpone in small-portioned martini glasses — don't even need to sit overnight before being ready to eat. These are a tiny bit lighter, too, as I don't use the egg yolks — the mascarpone is plenty rich enough — but keep the whites to add moussiness and air. These I buy in a carton (pasteurized) and have always at the ready. I make sure the Savoiardi, mascarpone, and Marsala are also on hand; and coffee is always in the house, as well as the liqueur that echoes it, but it's fine to leave out the coffee liqueur and just bump up the coffee quotient, if you prefer.