But, after a while, I came to my senses. Tiramisu is not supposed to be pretty, even though it is served in all the finest restaurants in the U.S. and Italy - and everywhere else! And they do their best to make it pretty by stiffening the cream, so that it can be cut in cake-like slices. To me that takes away from the wonderful texture of a great tiramisu. At home, it isn't necessary to make it look perfect, but tasting perfect is required.
Still, no matter what you do, no matter what you call it, it is still basically a tiramisu and it still ain't pretty when served. But no one will complain...
6 large fresh eggs*, separated
4 tablespoons sugar
2 cups mascarpone cheese (about 1 pound), drained of any excess liquid
1 cup sweet (red) vermouth
2 7-ounce packages amaretti cookies
In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons of the sugar until foamy and pale. Beat in the mascarpone until smooth. Stir in the egg yolks and set aside.
In a large bowl, using a standing or hand-held mixer, whip the egg whites until frothy. Add the remaining tablespoon of sugar and beat until they hold soft peaks. Fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg whites. Set aside.
Pour the vermouth into a small bowl. Reserve five amaretti cookies to crumble and sprinkle over the top of the dessert. One at a time, dip the remaining amaretti cookies into the vermouth for 3-4 seconds. Place the soaked amaretti in one snug layer on the bottom of a 9-inch ceramic dish or pie plate. Evenly spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the amaretti. Place another layer of soaked cookies over the mascarpone. Repeat the layering, spreading the remaining mascarpone mixture, then ending with a layer of soaked cookies; this layer should be loosely arranged so that the cream mixture below is visible. Sprinkle with the crumbled dry amaretti. Refrigerate to set for at least 2 hours or overnight.
* As in many tiramisu recipes, the eggs do not get cooked so it is imperative that you use the freshest eggs possible. Women who are pregnant, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems should refrain from eating this.