I’ve long been tinkering about with a bottle of Baileys, seeing how it could best be called upon in the kitchen, and I think, with this, I’ve found it. An Italian friend of mine, who makes a killer tiramisu herself, was an instant convert. I was relieved; the Italians generally are conservative about their food, which goes some way to explaining the longevity of their cherished culinary traditions. But this only sounds like some sort of joke — “Did you hear the one about the Irishman and the Italian ... ?” — and in reality is an elegantly buff-tinted, creamy-toned variant of the punchy if comfortably clichéd original.
Yield: Serves 12, though it doesn’t have to ...
1½ cups espresso coffee, made with 1½ cups water and 9 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 cup Baileys Irish Cream liqueur
2 7.05-oz packages Savoiardi (Italian ladyfinger) cookies or other ladyfingers
1/3 cup sugar
1 lb/2 cups mascarpone cheese
2½ teaspoons cocoa
Make the coffee and let it cool (the espresso powder does mix fairly well in room temperature water).
Mix the coffee and ¾ cup of the Baileys together in a shallow bowl.
Dip the ladyfingers into this liquid; let them soak on each side enough to become damp but not soggy. Line the bottom of an 8½-inch square glass dish with a layer of lady-fingers.
Separate the eggs, but keep only one of the whites. Whisk the two yolks and sugar together until thick and a paler yellow, then fold in the remaining quarter cup of Baileys and the mascarpone to make a moussey mixture.
Whisk the single egg white until thick and frothy; you can do this by hand with such a little amount. Fold the egg white into the yolky mascarpone, and then spread half of this mixture on top of the layer of ladyfingers.
Repeat with another layer of soaked ladyfingers, and then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to serve, push the cocoa through a small fine-mesh sieve to dust the top of the tiramisu.