Saturday, February 27, 2010

To do a Tiramisu

I'm sensing a theme in the Daring Bakers challenges I've done thus far*:

With cream.
From another country.

This month's challenge?

"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. "

And Tiramisu is...

With cream.
From another country.

I've noticed another consistent theme, at least in my own personal challenge results: The cream is always the best part**.

And the cream in this Tiramisu seriously rocked. You make your own homemade marscapone cheese. You make zabaglione. You make vanilla pastry creme. You whip heavy cream. You fold them all together. You have seriously made some of the best tasting stuff on earth.

My homemade ladyfingers were pretty, but dry. Scared off by instructions that had me petrified of disintegrating pastry, I failed to soak them long enough to get the hit of coffee and liquor that makes this such a wonderful dessert when done right. But it didn't matter, because I could just eat around that part to get more of the cream. Or better yet, just skip the formalities all together.

The Best Part of My Tiramisu

Step 1: Homemade Marscapone Cheese
Per Monty Python***, I am now among the blessed. You can be blessed, too, or get it already made at Trader Joe's.

2 cups pasteurized whipping cream, preferably organic (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium metal mixing bowl, then place the bowl over the simmering water to form a double boiler. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 180 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface. It will take about 15-20 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. You won't see a separating of curds. All that the whipping cream will do is become very thick, with a few streaks of whey when you stir. It's done when it covers the back of a wooden spoon thickly. 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.

Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

Step 2: Zabaglione
Again with the double boiler.

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine (or port or coffee) - I used a wonderful red dessert wine
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Heat water in a large pot. (See the whole marscapone set up). In a large metal 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.

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. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Step 3: Vanilla Pastry Cream
Still whisking over the stove, but no boiling water needed.

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

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. 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.

Step 4: Whipped Cream
I know this one!

1 cup chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a chilled metal mixing bowl. Using electric mixer with chilled beaters, beat until light and fluffy.

Step 5: Magnifico! Bravo! Fantastico!
Combine 1/3 c. of that marscapone, the zabaglione, and the vanilla cream until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream. Get out your spoon and prepare to be completely blissed out.

If you have baked up some ladyfingers and mixed some strong coffee with sugar and a splash of liquor, you can now make Tiramisu if you want by soaking said cookies in the coffee mixture for a second or so on each side, and then layering the cookies, the cream, the cookies, the cream, and so forth in a nice dish. Put the whole thing in the fridge overnight, dust with cocoa power and dive in.

Personally, I'd recommend skipping the whole ladyfinger thing, slicing some strawberries and spooning a whole bunch of the marscapone cream on top. You can have a cup of coffee (spiked or not) on the side. Multo bene!

* Multilayered hungarian torte, French puff pastry cups, French macarons, and Nanaimo bars from Canada. See what I mean?
** Mocha buttercream, braised short ribs with creme fraiche (perhaps stretching the definition of cream, but still), creamy peanut butter filling, and Kahlua cream cheese frosting, respectively.


  1. Oooh your tiramisu looks delicious, great job!! Numm!

  2. Ooooh, yours looks quite tasty...I like the side layer shot.

  3. Your mascarpone looks perfect. I had trouble making it - it had the texture of butter :-(.

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog, and for the well wishes, I am on the mend! Your challenge looks beautiful! Well done :).