We are old hands at tiramisu, dating back to 1980 for bob, the year he was out of the country and Reagan was elected POTUS (that's President of the United States for you foreigners). But like anything often repeated, variations relieve the monotony, however delicious this dish usually proves to be. So we have tried various variations (can I say that?), first with strawberries in Italy, then pumpkin, later with limoncello, then lingonberries or their close relatives, and finally pistacchio, ani's favorite gelato flavor. We like the Italian spelling with two "c"s.
We are pretty unimaginative when it comes to these variations, since we keep coming back to the original and making minimal flavor changes. We grabbed a pistachio liqueur after a free sampling at the duty free exiting St Martin a few years ago—ani gave the green light—and this is one of the applications we did not have in mind, but a trendy restaurant around the corner from our rented summer residence in Rome planted the idea in our wish list for duplication back in philly with an amazing finish to a pretty good dinner with friends there.
So 1/4 c of the pistachio liqueur in the zabaione base of our classic tiramisu recipe gives the mascarpone mousse its green color and pistacchio flavor. Without this liqueur, however, you are out of luck and will have to figure out some more complicated alternative to injecting flavor and color. We had tried to incorporate some cream of pistacchio into the mascarpone in our first attempt, but just a little bit made the mascarpone unhappy, losing its smooth texture, so we gave up that idea. Then to keep the cocoa contrasting flavor in the mix, we sprinkled the first of the two layers of ladyfingers and mousse lightly with cocoa (our idea), and finished off the second layer with roughly chopped roasted pistachios, as we had experienced in Rome. The crunchy topping contrasts with the smooth soft strata below. Another option to try would be to sprinkle some chopped pistachios in the center as well as on top, but no need to overdo it.
The result was pretty good, the guests seemed to like it. We saved two slices for our neighbors, but she was out of town a few days and the temptation was too great for him to resist—no PT left when she returned. Next time...