For Kayla's eighteenth birthday celebration, we came up with the idea of an Italian dessert buffet. Her guests met at Bella's Italian Cafe for a dutch-treat dinner, then came back to our house for sweets and coffee.
     I made three of her faves... a dense fudge-cake, a berry-topped cheesecake and a rich, coffee-flavored tiramisu.
     The night was a great birthday celebration. As the dawn grew closer, we bid gentlemen callers adieu. Almost immediately, the atmosphere changed. The giggly girls changed into their pjs and grabbed some spoons to finish off the pan of tiramisu.
Girlfriends, laughter, coffee and chocolate... What a great way to celebrate the beginning of adulthood!!

birthday girl
1 14-oz package ladyfingers
2 c. strong, brewed coffee or espresso
1/3 c. coffee liqueur
8 eggs, separated
1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 pound plus 1/2 oz. mascarpone cheese
4 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate, grated
In bowl of mixer, fitted with whisk, if possible, beat the 8 egg whites and 1/4 c. of the sugar into stiff peaks. Take egg yolks, other 1/4 c. sugar and vanilla, beating them to a ribbon consistency. Mixing by hand, add mascarpone to egg yolk mixture a little at a time. Mix well. Fold in egg whites with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
Pour cooled coffee and liqueur together in a shallow bowl. Dip ladyfingers briefly in coffee mixture. Make a layer of ladyfingers in glass dish of choice... 9x13, 2 1/2 qt. round or trifle bowl. Top with a fine dusting of grated chocolate. Spoon on a layer of mascarpone mixture, then another layer of chocolate dust. Repeat, beginning with a layer of ladyfingers.
Continue process until dish is full or ingredients are gone. The deeper the vessel, the more layers you'll have. The final layer should be a dusting of chocolate shavings.
Place in refrigerator to cool for a couple of hours before serving. Cut into squares to plate or spoon into small bowls and serve.

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