Spooning up rich-tasting tiramisu but not picking up too many grams of fat


Joyce Shue, from Annapolis, recently wrote that while she and her husband loved tiramisu, they could rarely afford the indulgence with the amount of saturated fat in the recipe. She wondered if her recipe for tiramisu could be adapted so they could enjoy this treat more often.

With a few adjustments we came up with a creamy alternative with far less fat.

Italian for "pick me up," tiramisu is as intriguing as it sounds: a rich dessert of coffee-and-brandy-soaked ladyfingers piled high between layers of mascarpone and cream filling.

Mascarpone, a cheese made from sweet cream, gives the filling its intoxicating richness. With almost twice the fat of most cheeses, mascarpone can be found in specialty cheese shops and some supermarkets. We used reduced-fat cream cheese as a partial substitute, but kept about a third of the amount of mascarpone to preserve the dessert's characteristic flavor.

To replace the rich custard base, we turned to an old-fashioned American recipe: seven-minute frosting. The resulting tiramisu is delicious, with 6 grams of fat per serving compared with 25 in the original.

Eating Well's Tiramisu

Serves 12

60 ladyfingers

4 tablespoons brandy

1 tablespoon instant coffee (preferably espresso) granules

3 large egg whites

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

chocolate shavings, powdered sugar

If ladyfingers are soft, toast them in a 350-degree oven for 6 to 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons of the brandy, coffee granules and 1 cup water. Brush over the flat side of the ladyfingers. Set aside.

Bring about 1 inch of water to a simmer in the bottom of a large saucepan. Combine egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and 3 tablespoons cold water in a heatproof mixing bowl that will fit over the saucepan. Set the bowl over the simmering water and beat with a hand-held mixer at low speed until an instant-read or candy thermometer registers 140 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes. Increase to high and continue beating over heat 3 minutes. (The mixture should form a ribbon trail.) Remove bowl from heat and beat until cool and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat mascarpone and cream cheese until creamy. Add about 1 cup of the beaten whites and the remaining brandy and beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl. Fold remaining whites.

Line bottom and sides of a 3-quart glass bowl with ladyfingers, flat sides toward the center. Spoon in a third of filling and top with layer of ladyfingers. Repeat with two more layers of filling and ladyfingers, arranging the final layer of ladyfingers over the top. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.

150 calories a serving: 2g protein; 6g fat; 19g carbohydrate; 68mg sodium; 16mg cholesterol

Reader's Tiramisu

Serves 12

6 ounces ladyfingers

1 1/2 tablespoons brandy

2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

6 large egg yolks

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups mascarpone cheese

1 3/4 cups whipping cream

whipped cream and chocolate shavings for garnish

In a small bowl, stir together brandy, coffee granules and 3/4 cup water. Brush over the flat side of the ladyfingers. Set aside.

Combine yolks and sugar in top of double boiler. Beat with mixer at medium speed until thick and lemon-colored. Place over simmering water and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add mascarpone; beat until smooth.

Beat whipping cream in a medium-sized bowl until soft peaks form; fold into the cheese mixture.

Line the bottom and sides of a 3-quart bowl; spoon in half the filling. Layer remaining ladyfingers on top and cover with remaining filling. Pipe whipped cream decoratively over the top and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

335 calories a serving: 5g protein; 25g fat; 25g carbohydrate; 60mg sodium; 189mg cholesterol.

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