Dolce Amore. In Italian, this literally means: sweet love. It also happens to be the name of my favourite dessert. And if you’ve ever tasted it, you’ll understand how perfectly titled it is.
The coffee flavoured confection is very similar to Tiramisu, except for one key difference. Tiramisu is made with mascarpone, a sweet cream cheese. Dolce Amore, however, calls for a whipped cream made with egg yolks, vanilla and sugar. This gives it a lighter density and texture.
Other than that, both desserts are made with the same basic ingredients: espresso, Savoiardi cookies, vanilla, and liqueur, such as Kahlua. Depending on personal preference, Tiramisu and Dolce Amore can either have the consistency of a cake or a trifle. This is determined by how long you soak the Savoiardi cookies, an Italian version of ladyfingers, in espresso and liqueur. We like our Dolce Amore moist and well-soaked.
My mother makes the best Dolce Amore that I’ve ever tasted. In recent years, she’s introduced this dessert into our Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve menus. So this year, I played the role of dutiful assistant, sneaking a few photos along the way.
The basic recipe, made in a 7 to 9 inch spring form pan, serves about 10 people. The recipe can easily be doubled, if you’re using a larger glass or ceramic baking dish. For Christmas, we used a glass baking dish, which served about 15 to 20 people.
My mother wanted me to convey a piece of advice to all Dolce Amore bakers. Although the presentation is more aesthetically pleasing when you line either the spring form pan or baking dish with unsoaked Savoiardi cookies, this does not enhance the tastiness of the dessert. The dry cookies look good, but are bland. We usually end up casting them aside on our plates, and eating the tasty innards of the cake instead. As you’ll see from the pictures, our New Year’s Eve Dolce Amore was cookie lined, while our Christmas version was not. When serving from a ceramic or glass dish, it’s easiest to cut the cake in square-shaped slices.
Another helpful hint from my mom, use the amount of espresso in the basic recipe as a starting point. If you find the cookies are too dry, add more espresso. Conversely, add less if you want a firmer, drier cake.
Mom’s Dolce Amore (Make in 7 to 9 inch spring form pan. Serves about 10 people)
- Six espresso-sized cups of espresso (Literally use espresso cups to measure). Allow espresso to cool.
- About 31 Savoiardi Cookies. (Available at Italian bakeries and most grocery stores) If you choose to line the perimeter with dry cookies, you’ll need about 22 more.
- One pint whipping cream
- ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 egg yolks
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons of coffee-flavoured liqueur, such as Kahlua. (This is optional. Add more or less to taste)
- Coco powder, for garnish
- Make espresso, and allow it to cool completely.
- Whip sugar, vanilla and egg yolks in an electric mixer until creamy.
- In a shallow bowl, combine cooled espresso and liqueur.
- Optional step: Line the perimeter of your spring form pan with dry Savoiardi cookies, standing vertically. This will form a visually pleasing supporting wall for the cake.
- To make the first layer of the cake: dip each Savoiardi cookie in the espresso mixture, and then line the bottom of the spring form pan with the wet cookies. Once the bottom is covered, spread half of the whipped cream mixture over top of the wet cookies.
- To make the second layer of the cake: dip each remaining cookie the espresso mixture, placing them over top of the whipped cream mixture. Spread the rest of the whipped cream mixture over top of the wet cookies. Use a spatula to smooth the top layer of the whipped cream mixture. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Dust with coco powder before serving.