The Food/Drinks section of my blog has been grossly neglected over the past several months, and hence, I thought it was time to rectify that and put up a Rad Recipe that I know you all will love and that will become a staple in your repertoire! Actually, I had finished shooting for this recipe almost ten days ago and the edited images were lying on my laptop ready for a post, but I got quite side-tracked last week. I got some really great news last weekend - that I got into my top choice PhD program (actually the only program I was trying for, to be honest), with full funding and a pretty good stipend. I have been working extremely hard for this for the last seven months and am so so relieved that it worked out! I cannot wait to begin classes formally this fall. I say 'formally' since I've already taken classes and have been working on a research project within the department over the last several months. But anyhow, end of digression and back to the decadent, indulgent Italian classic - tiramisu!
Level: Beginner's - Intermediate
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
For the Mascarpone Custard:
- 6 Egg Yolks, at room temperature (I highly recommend farm-fresh and organic)
- 8 oz. tub of Mascarpone Cheese (I prefer the Belgioioso brand)
- 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar (just regular sugar, that is)
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup Heavy Cream or Half 'n' Half (the amount varies depending on the texture of your mascarpone)
- 2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
For the Lady Fingers layers:
- 1 packet Italian Lady Fingers or 'Savoiardi' (these usually come in 200g or 7 oz. packs)
- 16 - 20 oz. of freshly brewed Italian espresso, at room temperature (add a dash of vanilla extract and 2 tbsp. of sugar)
For the topping and garnish:
- 1 cup Heavy Cream, beaten to soft peaks (with 6 tbsp of confectioner's or powdered sugar and 2 tsp. of vanilla extract)
- 2 tbsp. mixture of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and Instant Espresso Powder
- The first thing I suggest you do is brew your coffee since that needs to cool down and come to room temperature. I used a french press here, even though I'm using an Italian espresso ground coffee, because my Italian espresso machine has a capacity of only about four espresso shots. I needed about 2 to 2 1/2 cups (16 - 20 oz.) of fresh coffee, much more diluted than an espresso shot would be. I think it's better to err on the side of too much coffee since the last thing you want happening is having another layer of lady fingers left to go and running out of coffee! If you do not have ground coffee, feel free to use instant espresso powder and make 2 1/2 cups of strong coffee. Then add in the sugar and a splash of vanilla and set it aside to cool down completely.
- Next, carefully separate the egg yolks from the whites. In the picture you only see five egg yolks, but I added a sixth one in later (I promise!). You can use the egg whites to make yourself and your family some healthy omelets!
- Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk up the egg yolks well. As you beat in more air into the eggs, the mixture should change in color from the beautiful sunshine yellow to a paler, pastel yellow.
- The first image shows you the color of the egg yolks after adding the sugar and beating for about 3 minutes vigorously.
- Next, you want to add the mascarpone cheese, a couple of tablespoons at a time, so as to not knock out all the air that you beat into the eggs. Be firm as you whisk in the mascarpone, and don't panic if at first it seems like the mixture is seizing up and getting clumpy. I suggest you add the heavy cream, one tablespoon at a time, to help keep the mixture at a more liquid consistency.
- Once you've whisked in all the mascarpone, add your vanilla extract and fold in gently. Please don't go overboard with the heavy cream. In the last image you can see how when I drop a spoonfull of the custard back into the bowl, the thin ribbons of custard hold their shape. That is the consistency you want: voluptuous and creamy, not runny and watery.
- Next it's the turn of the lady fingers. Make sure your coffee is at room temperature - else, your lady fingers will get too soggy too soon! Pour your coffee in a shallow, wide bowl so that you can dunk the fingers easily.
- Grab each lady finger and dunk into the coffee for three-four seconds at the most. Now, this is where I differ from some others who consider themselves tiramisu experts. You see, every time I've had tiramisu at a reputable Italian establishment, the lady finger layers have been just perfectly moist but not falling apart. However, at non-Italian places I've found the sponge layer dry and frankly quite unpalatable. I prefer deliciously moist lady finger layers. What's the point of dunking it in the bittersweet coffee if you don't let the fingers absorb a reasonable amount of the coffee and become at least partially saturated?! A dry layer of lady fingers, miserly dunked in coffee just makes for really awful tiramisu, if you ask me. But just suit yourself, ok?
- Start laying down the lady fingers in a single, uniform layer, trying to go as far into the corners of your dish as possible. I highly suggest going for a rectangular casserole dish for this dessert (even better if it's clear glass so that you can see the gorgeous layers from the outside; but I didn't have one such dish).
This tiramisu goes down a storm every time I make it. I tell you, the expression on the husband's face when he woke up on this particular morning and opened the fridge to find this baby sitting there - priceless! I usually make this for parties and big gatherings, since it's so easy to double or triple this recipe depending on the number of servings I need, and there's no baking involved! Just a bit of elbow grease since I mix with a regular whisk (you can, of course, use an electric whisk if you want to - I just don't think it's necessary) and you have an indulgent dessert that everybody fawns over!
I hope you give it a try and please do let me know how you got on! I'd love to hear! Also, if you make it, click a picture and tweet it to me @MrinHearts on Twitter or post a picture on my Facebook page here. I love reading your comments and hearing that you loved a recipe or a recommendation!