Daring Bakers’ February Challenge- Tiramisu!

Like a lot of the other Daring Baker’s challenges, I found myself second guessing myself during the process. With this challenge, I was extremely worried (even calling it a fail at one point) but when I tasted it . . . when I tasted it I couldn’t stop eating it and I normally have some control! Tirimisu or “heaven on a dessert plate”. Wow if that isn’t the truth. And if you love the flavor of coffee then you are doubly in heaven.

Several books have been written about Italian Desserts. I have only made a few in my time but my parents had the opportunity to taste quite a few while they lived in Italy. I planned to make this during one of their visits to really impress them. While in the kitchen, I heard my dad ask my mom, “What is that weird flavor?” I yelled out the kitchen, “Espresso!” to which my brother commented, “Mmmm expresso.” Thus began endless teasing about the pronunciation of espresso.

This was a joy to make even if mine was a little softer than I had planned. I have several ideas now for a Tirimisu-inspired cheesecake and can’t wait to make that next as one of my big “special occasion” desserts. Good thing we have a special occasion coming up in a few weeks ;)

I ended up serving these with Espresso Biscotti dipped in chocolate and almonds. I wish I would have made more ladyfingers to serve with it but I’m the type of person that likes to make most recipes once so I didn’t go back and do another batch. I had never made biscotti so that is why I decided to serve my Tiramisu with that.

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.


TIRAMISU

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

Ingredients:
For the zabaglione:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
  • 1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
  • 1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:

  • 1/4 cup/55gms sugar
  • 1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
  • 1/4 cup/55gms sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:

  • 2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup/110gms sugar
  • 1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
  • 36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
  • 2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:
For the zabaglione:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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:
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.

To assemble the Tiramisu:

  1. Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice.
  2. Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
  3. 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.
  4. Drink some espresso.
  5. Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
  6. Workings 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

Ingredients:

  • 474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Method:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS

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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Method:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

9 Comments

  1. Posted February 27, 2010 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Great pictures! My tiramisu also turned out kind of soft, so I stuck one version into the freezer, which was quite fine then.

  2. Posted February 27, 2010 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    That is the yummiest looking “fail” I have ever seen! Great job on the challenge!
    Oh, and I love your marshmallow/toothpick tinker-toys. I think we may have to try that! :)

  3. Posted February 27, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Thanks! I just could not get that mascarpone up over 170 no matter how long I stood over the stove! I wish I would have done what others did and froze it for a prettier presentation but it tasted just fine and I guess that’s what’s important :)

  4. Posted February 27, 2010 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Beautiful photos! I don’t see any evidence of a fail here! Glad you enjoyed it in the end.

  5. Posted February 27, 2010 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    Anything you can’t stop eating is never a fail. This is gorgeous!

  6. Posted February 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    mmmmm yeah this was delicious. not so great for the lactose intolerant but delicious nonetheless

  7. Posted February 27, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Lovely tiramisu. Very nicely done.

  8. Posted February 27, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    You definitely passed this challenge. Wonderful photos also.I’m already in the mood to make another one. I just picked up some creme de menthe for one.

  9. Posted February 28, 2010 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Looks so good. Glad to know you enjoyed it so much.
    Thanks for baking with us.