Meyer lemons only seem to appear here for a scant few weeks every year. When they do, I buy more than I can use and cook up a storm in hopes that the lemony goodness will last me until next winter. It never does, but that’s all right because there are sweet, delicious Meyer lemons right now.
As much as I love a traditional tiramisu, coffee and chocolate seem to make the dish a bit too rich for my taste. Replacing them with lemon removes any heaviness from the dish, replacing it with a tart freshness that acts as a perfect foil to the slight sweetness of the ladyfingers. A sprinkling of lemon zest and shaved white chocolate provide a perfect finish.
Probably the best thing about tiramisu is how easy it is to make, and how mind-bogglingly impressed people are when you make one. I buy ladyfingers pre-made, because although they’re not difficult to make, getting the sides perfectly straight isn’t a trick I’ve mastered yet, and I have no complaints about the flavor of store bought cookies. I do use raw egg, which bothers some people, but if your eggs are fresh and clean the risk of Salmonella infection is minimal. If you prefer, you can use pasteurized eggs to remove the possibility entirely.
Other than an egg and some ladyfingers, all you need is marscapone, a touch of sugar, the juice and zest of a Meyer (or regular, if you prefer) lemon, and a splash of vodka or limoncello.
Ingredients (makes a square three-layer tiramisu, serves two)
8 oz Marscapone cheese
2 T sugar
juice of one Meyer lemon, divided use
2 T vodka or limoncello
zest of one Meyer lemon
white chocolate shavings, to garnish
Measure out 2 T of lemon juice.
Combine the marscapone, egg yolk, sugar, and 2 T lemon juice, and 1 T of vodka in a mixing bowl.
Mix until uniform in color and texture.
Whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Scoop the egg white over the marscapone mixture.
Fold it in gently to incorporate.
Set the bowl aside and combine the rest of the lemon juice and the remaining 1 T of vodka in a shallow dish. Dip three ladyfingers in the mixture for about 2 seconds each side, being careful not to oversaturate. You’ll know it’s oversaturated if it crumbles in your hands. Arrange the three cookies on a serving plate.
Spread about 1/3 of the marscapone mixture over the three ladyfingers. Dip the next three, add them perpendicular to the first stack (this add structural stability, like in Jenga), then another 1/3 of the marscapone mixture, and finish with the rest of the ladyfingers and marscapone.
Refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Before serving, grate the zest of a Meyer lemon over the top of the tiramisu, and grate a bit of white chocolate over that.
The flavor is bright but not overwhelming. The lemon is present, but takes a backseat the the creaminess of marscapone and the delightful contrast of texture provided by the ladyfingers. If you want something simple and elegant for Valentines day, add a couple of raspberries for the obligatory pink color and you’re set for dessert. In any case, make this soon. It’s amazing.