Tiramisu without cocoa/chocolate
Strange, but true. I am not a chocolate fan and would like to make tiramisu without chocolate. Heretical? Would I lose the essential flavor combination of tiramisu? What would you recommend I use instead, if anything?
Also, in various recipes, I see the liqueur(s) of choice as cognac, brandy, rum, or masala wine. Does any hound have experience with the suitability of each liqueur?
I'd really try to keep the cocoa topping. It's only a dusting on the top and does not scream "chocolate" at all. But the dark color and slight bitterness offer great visual and flavor contrast. I would say that dusting of cocoa only makes up 5-10% of the entire flavor profile and in no way overpowers the dessert as chocolate can easily do.
As for liqueurs, Marsala or rum seem to be the most popular to incorporate into the mascarpone mixture. The Marsala is a little more subtle but both are excellent choices. Since tiramisu is all about balance and harmony, I think Cognac or other brandies are too strong to use in the filling.
On the other hand, for your espresso/soaking mixture, a touch of brandy could be a nice addition if you don't overdo it. Otherwise, as suggested above, a coffee liqueur gives a great kick to the coffee mixture.
My preference is to not add the coffee liqueur to the filling. Again, I prefer the flavor and visual contrast of the coffee-soaked ladyfingers with a non-coffee flavored filling.
Haven't made them, but Epicurious has recipes for non-traditional tiramisu like pumpkin:
along with a few other fruit flavors, all chocolate-less. They've gotten good reviews.