TIRAMISU,the one that can make me smile all the time. I am so crazy about this dessert that I had even named P’s name as TIRAMISU on my mobile phone:). The best one I have had is in Olive Garden’s which is one of my fav restaurant . The word “Tiramisu” literally means “pick me up”.The original recipe was round in shape and had no liquor in it.These days its made in different shapes and sizes. It is made by dipping Savoiardi biscuits(ladyfinger) in espresso and liquor and layering them with Zabaglione ,a custard or pastry cream made with Marsala wine and mascarpone cheese.ie., MASCARPONE + SAVOIARDI  BISCUITS + ZABAGLIONE  = TIRAMISU

A lot of people confuse Ladyfinger to Lady’s finger(the other name for Okra) .Tiramisu has nothing to do with Lady’s finger(okra):-)

The CHALLENGE here was to make everything from scratch.Even in my wildest dreams, I wouldn’t have thought about making Mascarpone Cheese at home .My first attempt with the cheese was a disaster. I kept stirring the cream and didn’t realize that I didn’t have enough water in the vessel below because of which the upper glass bowl filled with cream almost burnt and I ended up with cheese which was yellow in color, with an oily texture.So I had to re do it.Guess practice makes it perfect.The store bought ones can be very expensive too,this is surely an easy option.

Tiramisu can be made with different flavors, one such interesting one that I came across was “Strawberry Tiramisu” in Aparna’s blog.I am not a “coffee/tea” person,so the idea of using espresso was ruled out.I mixed a tbsp of cocoa powder in warm milk instead of the espresso.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

RECIPE SOURCE:

Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

THE CHALLENGE:

They have chosen Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone’s version of tiramisu for a couple of reasons.

  • Firstly, his recipe is different from most other tiramisu recipes as he makes a zabaglione, an egg custard which is flavoured with Marsala wine (you may use coffee instead). Even more important is that his zabaglione is cooked so there is no risk from using raw eggs.
  • He also makes a vanilla flavoured pastry cream which we haven’t seen in other tiramisu recipes.

I started with : Ladyfinger/ Savoiardi Biscuits

Mascarpone Cheese

Tiramisu (includes zabaglione & vanilla pastry cream)

MANDATORY:

It was a MUST to make our own savoiardi / ladyfinger biscuits and mascarpone cheese with the given recipes. Also, to make the zabaglione and pastry cream using the given recipes.
Sponge cake may be not be used as a substitute. After all, a large part of this challenge is making those biscuits.

VARIATIONS:

Tiramisu is usually made in square dishes and cut into squares to serve. If you want to be different, please feel free to give full rein to your creativity as to how you want to present, decorate and serve your tiramisu. Make it square, round, as individual servings, or whatever! However, your version of Tiramisu must contain the mascarpone cheese and the savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits you made.

PREPARATION TIME:

Tiramisu is made up of several components which can be made separately and ahead of time and put together the day before serving.
Making Tiramisu from scratch requires about 2 to 3 days (including refrigeration) from when you start making the mascarpone to the time the tiramisu is served. So this challenge requires some prior planning.


TIRAMISU

(Recipe source: Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

I first started with the biscuits.The below mentioned recipe was just perfect,I ended up with 46 small biscuits.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)

Ingredients:

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar,

Method:Preheat your oven to 350 F , then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.

Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.

Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.( It might be a good idea to decide the size of the dish in which you intend to set the dessert, and make the fingers to a size which would fit that dish. This makes it easier when assembling the tiramisu later. Do remember that ladyfingers/ savioardi puff up a little while baking.)

MASCARPONE CHEESE

  • (Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
    This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese,though we need 1/3 Cup for this recipe.

Ingredients:
474ml / 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Method: Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Method – Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
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.

Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. 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.Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk

Method: Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
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.) 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.

For the whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

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

For dipping the Savoiardi:

1.5tbsp Cocoa powder

2 cups of warm milk(I used 2% milk)

2 tsp rum extract

2 tbsp sugar

Mix all the above ingredients in a shallow dish and set aside to cool.

To assemble the tiramisu:

Assembly : Line an 8”round pan with plastic wrap. 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. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the Tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened dipping mixture, about 1 second per side. (Do not dip the ladyfinger/ savoiardi into the coffee solution for more than ONE second, or they might become very fragile & disintegrate. Extra soaking is likely to spoil the end product, making it soggy). Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, 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.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.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.(Keeping it overnight didn’t help me much,I ended up freezing it which worked well)

To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer. Cut into individual portions and serve.

Verdict: Tiramisu was out of the world.Its one of the finest Desserts I’ve ever made.If not for DBC ,I wudn’t have thought about making this from scratch.It was very moist,creamy and delicious.Using cocoa instead of expresso din’t make much of a difference.I had some friends home for dinner and served this for Dessert and everyone loved it.I adore this  dessert and can die for this one :)

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