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The BloggerAid Cookbook

Tiramisu (made from scratch)

For February, Daring Bakers' host Deeba of Passionate About Baking & Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen chose Tiramisu as the challenge of the month based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obession.

Et bien sûr, nothing is ever simple with Daring Bakers' (hence the name sake), this time around, we aren't taking the easy road like I did with my first Tiramisu in 2007 where everything was store bought and put together. The challenge is to make our own mascarpone cheese and our sponge fingers/ladyfinger biscuits, pastry cream and zabaglione (a cooked one) and piece it all together to make this pick me up dessert.

So what is this famous Tiramisu? As mentioned in my older post, it means "pick-me-up" (metaphorically, "make me happy") made of mascarpone cheese, sponge fingers or savoiardi & zabaglione.

When I first read what is needed to be done for this challenge, I nearly fainted on the spot. I assure you would too when you read the following list. But fear not, it's not as complicated and difficult as it looks. Once I got started, I got into the swing of things very fast and all jazzed up... all too soon, the fun ended and I felt a bit bereaved that it ended so fast.

Making pastry cream was a breeze since I have made it before for a Blueberry Tart last year. However I was unsure how a zabaglione should look like after it is done so I just relied on my ninja chef instinct.

For this challenge, I have split things into 3 posts for easy reference :

  1. Home-made Mascarpone Cheese (make this 1 day in advance)
  2. Home-made Spong Fingers, also known as Ladyfingers biscuits & savoiardi (can be made on the day itself or a few days in advance)
  3. Assembling Tiramisu (below)

As we are making all of it from scratch, it's easier and less stressful if you make the sponge fingers first and mascarpone cheese, zabaglione & pastry cream another day or vise versa. Then assemble the tiramisu the following day. The mascarpone cheese needs to be refrigerated overnight while the zabaglione & pastry cream need to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours. Are you still with me after reading the long list of things to be done? OK, whenever you are ready, I'm ready. Let's go!

Tiramisu (made from scratch)

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007)

Serves: 6

Ingredients

For the zabaglione

  • 2 large egg yolks (I used 3 medium egg yolks)
  • 50 g sugar
  • 60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest (finely)

For the vanilla pastry cream

  • 55 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ½ grated lemon zest (finely)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk (I used 1 medium egg)
  • 175 ml whole milk (I used partially skim milk)

For the whipped cream

  • 235ml chilled heavy cream (I used UHT 35% crème liquide)
  • 55gms sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu

  • 1 big cup brewed espresso, warmed
  • 1 tsp rum extract or (optional)
  • 110gms sugar (I left it out)
  • 75 g mascarpone cheese
  • 36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Directions

For the zabaglione

  1. Heat water in a double boiler or a bain-marie.
  2. In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or the bain-marie. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
  4. Let it cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
zabaglione

For the pastry cream

  1. Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Add in the egg yolk and pour in half of the milk slowly while whisking it. Whisk until smooth.
  3. Place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
  4. Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don't worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
  5. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
Pastry cream

For the whipped cream

  1. Place the bowl (in which cream is to be whipped) and the beaters of the hand held electric mixer in the fridge for about ½ to 1 hour before hand helps to whip up the cream whip very well.
  2. Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.
  3. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu

  1. Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
  2. Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar (I left out this in mine) in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold.
  4. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined.
  5. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
  6. Dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy.
  7. Line the ladyfinger on the dish, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered. (I sprinkle cocoa powder on top of every layer of spong fingers)
  8. Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
  9. Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer.
  10. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
  11. To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please on the surface of the tiramisu. Cut into individual portions and serve.
  12. The Tiramisu can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days. Once assembled, it can be frozen till you need to serve it, in case you are not serving it immediately.
Tiramisu (made from scratch)Tiramisu (made from scratch)
The Verdict

It's great! Very creamy and sinful but surprisingly it didn't taste as sweet as I expected it to be. There's not an incredible difference with the one made with your off-the-shelf ingredients, but this one is a bit more subtle and flavourful.

The next time I make Tiramisu, I wouldn't hesitate to make my own sponge fingers (ladyfingers) and mascarpone at home, but assemble it using the simpler version ie. make it with raw egg yolks and whipped egg whites. However if you or one of your guests is pregnant or has aversion about eating raw eggs, I would recommend making tiramisu using above methods with zabaglione and whipped cream.

Update: We defrozed one of the tiramisu totally the other day and found that it indeed tasted a little bit sweeter than usual. I have also just realized that I added all the mascarpone (180 g) I made in my tiramisu instead of the 75 g as required in the recipe. So if you are making this version, please reduce the quantity of sugar indicated in zabaglione and pastry cream or else your tiramisu will turn out to be very sweet.

Notes

Placing the bowl (in which cream is to be whipped) and the beaters of the hand held electric mixer in the fridge for about ½ to 1 hour before hand helps to whip up the cream whip very well.

As there were already sugar in pastry cream and zabaglione, I omitted sugar in the coffee as I didn't want the tiramisu to be too sweet.

You can assemble the tiramisu in wine glass, cups or verrines as you wish. Leave it to creativity and imagination. Obviously a transparent container will show it's layered structure better;-)

Tiramisu (made from scratch)
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Tiramisu

It means "pick-me-up" (metaphorically, "make me happy") ). It is said that Tiramisu is a recent italian creation and not an old recipe passed from generations to generations as one would have thought. According to an article written in 1981 by a certain Giuseppe Maffioli (1925-1985: a famous member of the Italian Cuisine Academy, also actor and journalist): «Tiramisu' was born recently, just 10 years ago in the town of Treviso. It was proposed for the first time in the restaurant Le Beccherie. The dessert and its name became immediately extremely popular, and this cake and the name where copied by many restaurants first in Treviso then all around Italy».

I have always been fascinated with this dessert ever since I first tasted it in an Italian restaurant. I thought it was a very complicated recipe that only trained chef (the kind that wear a gray mustache and scream orders at their terrified kitchen assistants) could whip up. Boy, was I surprised when I found out how to make it a few years ago: it was REALLY a piece of cake (pun not intended) to prepare... in fact even a kid could do it. It was a success at the very first try, however I relied on my usual guinea pigs, Pierre and my parents-in-law to fine tune it to today's recipe. They are so supportive of my experimental cooking...I'm a very lucky girl indeed.:-D

Tiramisu
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs (separate yolks & whites)
  • 3 tsp icing sugar
  • 1 cup strong espresso coffee
  • 1 or 2 packet sponge fingers or ladyfingers
  • 500 g mascarpone cheese
  • cocoa powder
  • Amaretto liquor
Tiramisu ingredients
Directions
  1. Prepare 1 cup strong espresso coffee (black & no sugar) and set it aside to cool.
  2. Separate the egg yolk from the egg whites.
  3. Beat the egg white till the peaks are stiff. It's stiff enough when you can turn the dish upside down without anything giving up to gravity.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks and the icing sugar till it is creamy.
  5. Add in the mascarpone and blend it into a smooth mixture (no lumps).
  6. Fold in the egg white delicately till it is incorporated with the mascarpone mixture.
  7. Add a few spoonful of Amaretto liquor into the coffee. (up to your preference - weak or strong).
  8. Dip the sponge fingers (top & bottom) slightly into coffee and lay them on the base of a dish or container.
  9. Using a small sieve, sprinkle the top with cocoa powder.
  10. Spread a layer of the mascarpone mixture on top of it
  11. Lay another layer of coffee coated sponge fingers and sprinkle the top with cocoa powder.
  12. Spread the final layer of the mascarpone mixture on top of it.
  13. Cover it and leave it in the refrigerator overnight (best) or at least 7 hours.
  14. Sprinkle a coat of cocoa powder on top of the Tiramisu before serving.
Putting the layers
Conclusions

What can I say ... it's as delicious as ever, with a smooth creamy texture, and not overly sweetened as some other recipes I've seen.

I have tried 2 different methods of making it: the lazy one and the 'make an effort' - both give me the same delicious results. The lazy method: just blend the sugar in with the egg yolk without really whisking it and then add in the mascarpone. The only difference I noticed is that with the whisked creamy egg mixture, I get more volume of the mascarpone mixture.

Notes

Kiddie friendly Tiramisu
Omit the alcohol (obviously:-p), replace coffee with Milo or ovaltine or hot chocolate...voilà you have a delicious Tiramisu for kids.

Spong fingers or lady Finger Biscuits
Be careful when coating it with coffee, some absorb liquid very fast while others takes a longer soaking. Always test it out first to see how fast or slow it absorbs the coffee.

Liquor
The original Tiramisu use Marsala wine however I use Amaratto instead and others uses rum or brandy or even kahlua liquor. Also some prefer to add the liquor to the egg yolk mixture instead of into the coffee like me.

Using raw eggs
The original Tiramisu' uses raw eggs but there is a risk of salmonella so some people prefer to cook the yolks bain-marie and to substitute whipped cream for the egg whites. Never had any issue over here using quality eggs.

Tiramisu
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