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February 28, 2010 in daring bakers, desserts5 comments

daring bakers: tiramisu!

the whole tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

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.

Boy was I excited earlier this month to find that February’s Daring Bakers challenge would be tiramisu. It’s a dessert I’ve always enjoyed in restaurants — that is, when I’ve had room…and who ever has room? Mom and I agree that one day we should order dessert first, and then if we’re still hungry get something after. Who says dessert has to be last, anyway?

ingredients for tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

Not shown: whipped cream.

Tiramisu is the classic Italian dessert, made with ladyfingers soaked in sweetened espresso and layered with a mixture of marscarpone cheese and zabaglione, a Marsala wine-tinged egg custard. The challenge recipe adds vanilla pastry cream and whipped cream to the marscarpone/zabaglione mixture.

marcarpone cheese for tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

One aspect of the challenge was making your own marscarpone cheese. I was looking forward to this as my aunt gave me a yogurt cheese maker for Christmas. It’s a wavy fine-meshed strainer that sits in a plastic container, making cheesecloth-sitting-over-a-bowl a thing of the past. Making marscarpone would have devirginized my cheese maker, but sadly I couldn’t find the right kind of cream. Ultra-pasteurized cream was all that was available, and ultra-pasteurized isn’t quite active enough to properly turn into cheese. So, sorry, I wasn’t able to do that part of that challenge. ;(

zabaglione for tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

This tiramisu recipe has several parts: the ladyfingers, the zabaglione, the pastry cream, the whipped cream, and the putting-it-all-together bits.

finished tiramisu with slice out, daring bakers feb. 2010

My gods, it’s worth it, though

You’ll see why in a bit.

vanilla pastry cream for tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

Allow a few days’ lead time when making tiramisu. The ladyfinger biscuits can be made a week ahead and kept airtight or frozen. The zabaglione and pastry cream need at least 4 hours to chill, so simply make them the night before.

whipped cream for tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

I diverged from the challenge recipe for whipped cream because earlier this week I made strawberry shortcake. I made enough whipped cream for both recipes, and I needed it to be stable enough to wait a few days while I made the tiramisu, so I used the stabilized whipped cream recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.

marscarpone filling for tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

Once all the components are ready and the marscarpone/zabaglione/pastry cream/whipped cream is mixed together, the production line begins!

tiramisu production line, daring bakers feb. 2010

That’s sweetened coffee spiked with a bit of rum in the middle. Just a bit. Had to save some for myself, you know.

first layer of soaked ladyfingers for tiramisu, daring bakers feb. 2010

After getting the ladyfingers liquored up and caffeinated a tad, they’re laid out in a layer.

finished tiramisu, before dusting with cocoa, daring bakers feb. 2010

And the creamy stuff is spread on, and the layering continues until it looks like you’d like to just fill a tub and swim in it. I thought briefly of making it look nice — assembling the tiramisu in a springform pan or parfait cups.

finished tiramisu, after dusting with cocoa, daring bakers feb. 2010

But I wanted it messy

I wanted it freeform and gloppy and a bit risque. I wanted it to be loose and unabashedly sexy. I would even call it insouciant, but I’m not sure what that word means, so I won’t.

finished tiramisu, half gone, daring bakers feb. 2010

Fits, though, doesn’t it? Insouciant. This is a dessert that drips grown-up hedonism. A bit of this tiramisu sings deep red wine. It sings rum, and coffee, and creamy textures wrapped around gently crumbling, moistened ladyfingers.

I love this tiramisu recipe. It’s involved, yet not particularly persnickety or time-consuming. It has quality notes like the lemon zest in the zabaglione and pastry cream: you don’t taste lemon at all in the final iteration, you simply sense a brightness shining up the dark flavors of the wine and coffee and the quiet flavor of the ladyfingers.

Tiramisu isn’t an everyday dessert. But for a dinner party? Absolutely. I can’t think of a better way to end a meal.

That is, if you still have room.


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

For the zabaglione:

    2 large egg yolks

    3 tablespoons sugar/50gms

    ¼ cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)

    ¼ teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:

    ¼ cup/55gms sugar

    1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour

    ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

    1 large egg yolk

    ¾ cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:

    1 tablespoon cold water
    ½ teaspoon unflavored gelatin
    1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream
    ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    ¼ cup (1 to 1½ ounces) confectioners’ sugar

To assemble the tiramisu:

2 cups/470ml brewed espresso or instant coffee, warmed

    1 teaspoon/5ml rum (optional)
 (I didn’t use rum extract because it was imitation)
    ½ cup/110gms sugar
⅓ cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits — or 1 recipe’s worth from below (you may use fewer)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

Making each part

For the zabaglione:

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 pastry cream: 

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:

Place the water in a small heatproof bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over the water and let it sit for 5 minutes to dissolve. Met the gelatin in the microwave on low power for 10 seconds, just until melted. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whip cream in a large mixing bowl until it begins to thicken and the whisk begins to leave tracks as it moves through the cream. With the mixer at medium speed, pour in the gelatin. Once the gelatin is incorporated, stop the mixer and add the confectioners’ sugar. Resume beating the cream until it forms medium peaks. Set aside or chill until needed.

To assemble the tiramisu: 

Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice.

Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.

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.
 Working quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not 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.

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


Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home. This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long).

    3 eggs, separated
    6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
    3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
    6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, 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.

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.

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your comments

  1. Aparna says:

    I especially like that picture with the cream and ladyfingers peeking through. That’s an idea – ordering dessert first! :)
    Thanks for baking with us.

  2. deeba says:

    Oh I absolutely love the way you served – it unabashed and sexy indeed! Glad you enjoyed the challenge. We loved hosting it!!

  3. Nicole says:

    Great photos! Your tiramisu looks great!

  4. fairy_mi says:

    Your tiramisu version is beautiful-
    so soft and creamyyyyyy… Beautifully done!
    Great job

    (also a DB)

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