The man credited with creating the most iconic Italian dessert recently died. At 93 he was no baby, and yet in the deeply historical roots of our country’s traditions his creation was barely a toddler. For my generation tiramisu was a miracle, fancy enough for the best restaurants and easy enough for a kid’s first foray in dessert making. An authentic tiramisu recipe has a few specific ingredients—more on that in a bit, but the fig tiramisu is an instant classic.
An Authentic Tiramisu Recipe Re-imagined
Today tiramisù has found a place on the world’s tables and chefs everywhere are playing with its base flavors. It is common to spike tiramisù with liqueur. Some prefer to lighten the butteriness of mascarpone with whipped cream or egg whites. I have eaten—and loved—tiramisu with matcha, with seasonal fruits, with nuts. Last year a “persimmonmisu” created by a restaurant in Rome for the holiday season took Instagram by storm.
I have long been making a version that swaps coffee with juice from macerated berries and makes it suitable – and loved by – children everywhere whose parents might object to espresso. A few years back, at a family party, I split the custard on a whim and kept half child friendly while flavoring the other with limoncello – lemon and berries are a heavenly match in my opinion. It was a hit and it’s been on teaching rotation ever since.
Dried figs are a tradition of the Italian holiday tables and a lifelong favorite of mine. Orchard Choice and Sun-Maid Mission Figs bring a familiar deeper jammy sweetness to the mascarpone whereas the delicate nutty sweetness comes through with Golden Figs. When the time came for that new dessert with limoncello that I like to concoct every winter holiday season, using dried figs to make a fig tiramisù, in lieu of fresh berries seemed like a natural slide.
Not Too Sweet
The transition from a high acid to a very sugary fruit needed some tweaks. The sugar is just down to what is needed to mix the yolks and the whipped cream tempers the sweetness of the puree while also lightening its texture. Finally the cocoa powder and cocoa nibs cinch it all with a bitterish crunch and a touch of acidity.
Mission Fig Tiramisu — Authentic Tiramisu Recipe with a Twist
- 1 cup Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Mission Figs
- 1 1/2 cups limoncello
- 1 pound mascarpone
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 (7 ounce) package ladyfingers
- 1/4 cup cocoa nibs
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Infuse the Figs
- Two days before making the tiramisu, cover the figs in limoncello and leave them to soak.
Prep the Tiramisu
- Take the mascarpone out of the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to make the tiramisu so that it will soften.
- Drain the figs and save the limoncello. Set 3 figs aside for garnishing and puree the rest in a food processor. Fold into the mascarpone.
- Whisk the yolk and sugar until they are pale yellow and the sugar has dissolved. Mix them with the fig puree.
- Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold it into the mascarpone and figs mixture using a silicone spatula in a top to bottom circular motion.
- Mix 1 cup of the soaking limoncello with ½ cup of water.
Assemble the Tiramisu
- Choose a shallow serving bowl with enough depth to hold 2 layers of cookies and mascarpone cream.
- Spread 1 or 2 tablespoons of mascarpone cream on the bottom.
- Grab one ladyfinger and quickly dip it horizontally in the limoncello only on the unsugared side. Let the soak come about halfway up the side of the cookie.
- Place it in the baking dish, dipped side up, as the first of a line of dipped ladyfingers to follow. Repeat until you have a full layer of limoncello dipped cookies.
- Be mindful not to over-dip the ladyfingers, or you will end up with a soggy mess. The trick of placing the dipped side up is also important as it lets the limoncello drip down towards the non-dipped part.
- Pour half the remaining mascarpone on the cookies and spread evenly. Follow with another layer of limoncello-dipped cookies and finish with an even layer of the remaining mascarpone cream.
- Place it in the refrigerator to set for at least a couple of hours and preferably overnight.
- When ready to serve, dust lightly with the cocoa powder and scatter the nibs all over. Slice the reserved figs and arrange them decoratively over the cocoa.
- Serve chilled.