Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tiramisu



An Italian dessert consisting of layers of sponge cake soaked in coffee and brandy or liqueur with powdered chocolate and mascarpone cheese. Don't know if that description really does it justice.Tiramisu is a cool, refreshing Italian dessert that once tasted, leaves an indelible impression on you. But that description just doesn't do it justice, It's Heaven in your Mouth!


for the coffee dip* 1 -1/2 cups (360 cc) espresso coffee ( if you do not like strong coffee flavor use regular coffee)* 2 Tablespoons sugar
for the zabaglione filling Tiramisu is made in Italy using raw eggs. Today the danger of salmonella is always present, and I prefer to cook the yolks bain-marie and to substitute whipped cream for the egg whites. * 4 egg yolks* 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar* 1/2 cup (120 cc) Marsala wine (if unavailable, substitute with another sweet wine like Port or Madeira)* 1 lb (450 g) mascarpone cheese at room temperature* 1-1/2 cup (360 cc) heavy whipping cream



For the base* 10 oz (285 g) savoiardi (ladyfinger cookies) (approximately  40)
* 2 tablespoons bitter cocoa powder
Chocolate shavings for garnish



I begin by assembling four large egg yolks, 1/2 cup sweet marsala wine, 16 ounces mascarpone cheese, 12 ounces espresso, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and enough lady fingers to layer a 12x8 inch pan twice (40). I stirred two tablespoons of granulated sugar into the espresso and put it in the refrigerator to chill.



In a heatproof bowl, I whisked the egg yolks until they became a light and fluffy cream.


I poured in the sugar and wine and whisked briefly until it was well blended.


I poured some water into a saucepan and set it over high heat until it began to boil. Lowering the heat to medium (enough to keep the water boiling), I placed the heatproof bowl over the water (a convenient double boiler) and stirred as the mixture began to thicken and smooth out. I stopped when the mixture began to slowly bubble.


I removed the mixture, which has now become a custard, from the heat and put it on the side. This custard by itself is a great Italian dessert called zabaglione (sabayon in French cooking) and can be served as is or made into a more complicated dessert by mixed with fruit, serving with cookies, or made into tiramisu (and many more possibilities).


While the zabaglione cools a bit, I whipped (with my stand mixer to save time) the heavy cream until soft peaks. Soft peaks is when the whipped cream can almost stand on its own. Dip your whisk or finger into the cream and see if the spike that forms when you withdraw just curls over at the tip. If so, you've got soft peaks. If it stands up by itself, you've over beaten and produced stiff peaks. If the peak just sinks back into the cream, you don't have whipped cream yet. Keep beating.


Now, in a medium bowl, I beat the mascarpone cheese until smooth and creamy. I used alternated between beating with a whisk and mashing it with a spatula to make quick work of the cheese.


I poured the zabaglione onto the cheese and beat until smooth.


I then folded in the whipped cream. Folding prevent the whipped cream from continuing to progress on the path toward butter and separation (which is what happens when you over whip cream). To fold, simply use your spatula to cut into the mixture and scoop up mixture from below and "fold" it over the cream. Rotate and repeat. The final mixture should be have a fairly even distribution, but it's okay to still see some patches of yellow and white.


Now, I began to assemble the tiramisu. The recipe called for filling a 12x8 in. pan, but that's not a readily available size. I decided to try my luck with a 13x9 in. pan, so I prepared enough ladyfinger cookies to fill the pan twice (for two layers). Then I quickly dipped each ladyfinger into espresso. I poured about half the espresso into the bowl at a time, to make it easier to work with and ensure that the bottom layer didn't soak up all the espresso.  . I gave the each ladyfinger cookie a one second soak on each side and then arranged it on the pan. Do each ladyfinger individually or you'll have ladyfingers falling apart.


After the first layer of ladyfingers are done, I used a spatula to spread half the cream mixture over it. Then, I smoothed it out in preparation for the next layer. You can also sprinkle some cocoa on the first layer if desired


I covered the cream layer with another layer of soaked ladyfingers.


The rest of the cream was spread onto the top and cocoa powder sifted over the surface to cover the tiramisu.


The tiramisu was now complete and would require a four hour chill in the refrigerator.


The flavor of this "original" tiramisu is very similar to restaurant tiramisu incarnations, except that the espresso flavor is extremely strong. The soaked ladyfingers were so strong that eating a piece of that layer by itself produced a strong bitter taste. Not something I've experienced with restaurant tiramisu (since many use coffee to dilute the espresso). Also, most of the restaurant recipes have a very strong alcohol component (perhaps because it's served in the evening as dessert instead of in the afternoon as a "pick me up").Remember expresso is very strong, so if you are not a big coffee lover use regular coffee as most of the restaurants do.




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