Back in the hey day of the ’90s, my family routinely went to Olive Garden to celebrate birthdays. I mean, what was better than the salad and breadsticks? Back then, I would argue not much of anything! It was pretty much the only time that I would happily devour more than one serving of salad. (Seriously – does anyone have a good copycat recipe for their salad dressing? I haven’t been there in nearly a decade… I could drink that stuff!) It was at this time that I not only became infatuated with the Andes candies delivered with the bill, but fell totally in love with tiramisu. It’s been an ongoing love affair ever since!
I’ve made a traditional tiramisu recipe for Christmas Eve quite a few years in a row… while it’s not a difficult recipe, making the custard is a little involved and can take some time. During the summer, I’m all in favor of simplifying desserts as much as possible. I wanted to do a tiramisu-themed dessert for Sunday dinner, but wasn’t feeling the whole custard and standard rectangular pan.
Instead, I did away with the custard and folded whipped cream into the sweetened mascarpone mixture. Then, I layered it together with coffee and Kahlua-soaked lady fingers in a glass trifle bowl. For some reason, trifles just scream summer to me and I think they’re always good for a fabulous presentation.
I was able to assemble this in only 30 minutes (and a day in advance, as well!) and it was a mega hit at dinner yesterday. There was nothing left by the end of the day, and this is a big dessert… that’s absolutely a sign that a recipe is a keeper!
Using an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium speed until frothy. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form. Place the bowl with the whipped cream in the refrigerator until needed.
Stir coffee, espresso, and 2 tablespoons Kahlua in a wide bowl or pie plate until espresso dissolves; set aside.
Beat the mascarpone cheese on medium speed until smooth and light. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoons Kahlua. Once combined, increase the speed to medium and beat until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain.
Working one at a time, drop one-third of of the savoirdi into the coffee mixture, quickly roll, and remove and transfer to a trifle bowl. Arrange the soaked cookies in a single layer on the bottom of the trifle bowl, with the cookies positioned on their sides (see photo above), breaking or trimming them as needed to fit into the dish.
Spread one-third of the mascarpone mixture over the soaked savoirdi, smoothing the top of the layer. Place the cocoa powder in a fine-mesh sieve and sprinkle over the top of the mascarpone layer.
Repeat the dipping and arrangement of the savoirdi, spreading of the mascarpone mixture and dusting of the cocoa powder twice more. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours before serving. Leftovers can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.