Tiramisu

INTRO

Ciao a tutti!

After short kitchen exile, I am back and ready to bake!  Just in time for the humid summer heat no less.  Also, I was spurred back into the kitchen because this last week at work two of my c0-workers had birthdays.  Though I sometimes lament the passage of time and the inevitable doom of aging, I do enjoy celebrating birthdays.  No reason to be down in the dumps about turning another year older, as most of us wouldn’t rather have the alternative…

Anyway let’s talk tiramisu

When I found out T’s (I will refer to my co-workers by their first initials)  birthday was coming up, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to try my hand at making tiramisu.  Not only would it be a perfect recipe to document on this blog, but it is also one of T’s favorite foods, as I have heard him praise it on many occasions.

Fun Fact: the word “tiramisu” comes from the Italian “tirami sù” and translates to “pick me up”–which is a nod to the espresso and coco powder found in this sweet treat.

So I decided I would take on the challenge of making tiramisu.  My main concern was whether or not the end product would be worthy of consumption.  As it would be a gift and I would be serving it to the people I work with, I really did not want to fail.  But the possibility that I may fail and end up with a pile of rubbish was something I had to risk.

RECIPE

Here is the recipe I attempted to go by:

TIRAMISU

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 2 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour. (I failed on my first attempt at making this custard because I stopped paying attention to what I was doing and the milk burnt slightly and ruined everything.  I had to dump it and start over, because burnt milk is disgusting.  There was a lot of cursing involved at this stage of making the tiramisu.)
  2. In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form (Not any longer, or else the fat will separate from the cream and you will have a bowl of butter.) Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise (I did not split mine) and drizzle with coffee mixture.
  4. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7×11 inch dish. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.
Now I say ATTEMPTED because I followed it somewhat loosely.  This is not because I was feeling cocky or overconfident, but because I ran into 2 problems.
  1. The first problem was that I couldn’t find lady fingers in the grocery store.
  2. The second problem was that I couldn’t find mascarpone.
Now I could have gone to one of the two Italian markets in the area and found these ingredients (my local grocery did not have them).  But I was just too tired (after working an 8 hour shift M-F I also go to the gym for 60 to 90 min) and not motivated to go.  Plus, I thought I’d go the Martha Stewart way and make everything myself.
Because I am insane.
First thing it made sense to make were the Ladyfingers, though mine spread out into fat elephant fingers…
LADYFINGERS

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 7/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Line two 17 x 12 inch baking sheets with baking parchment. Fit large pastry bag with a plain 1/2 inch round tube.
  2. Place egg whites in bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. In another bowl beat egg yolks and remaining sugar. Whip until thick and very pale in color.

Below you can see my egg white alongside my egg yolks:

3. Sift flour and baking powder together on a sheet of wax paper. Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites.

4. Transfer mixture to pastry bag and pipe out onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes.

As you can see, these sort of spread out to be a bit wider than I think they should be.  I read somewhere that this can be avoided by piping the batter into long cookie cutters, but I didn’t have anything like that around.

Here you can see that they have been throughly baked:

Then it was time to make cheese!

This is a thing you need to do a day before you need to use it, as the cheese has to ‘dry dip’ overnight in the fridge.

MASCARPONE (mahs-car-PO-nay)

ingredients:

  • 16 oz heavy cream
  • 16 oz half and half
  • 2 Tbl lemon juice

1) Warm heavy cream and half & half  in double boiler.  Heat gently to 185 F (85 C).

2) Add the lemon juice.

2)  Hold the temperature at 185 F for five minutes, with occasional stirring.

I cooked it a bit longer than five minutes, not sure how long, but I kept it over the heat until I could see a “trail” (light yellow in color) left by the whisk as I stirred (this is a sign of the whey separating I think? Not positive).

3) Let the mixture cool for about 30 minutes to an hour, then pour it into cheesecloth (I used coffee filters, which is a good substitute according to Google) and let it drip into another container.

4) Cover and place the thickened cream in the refrigerator overnight to cool thoroughly.

As you can see, I created some make-shift cheese dripping devices.  I placed a coffee filter into sifters and then placed the sifters into bowls/pots.  This worked very well for me.

4)  Below is my finished product.

This was the first time I have attempted to make cheese.  I was so thankful that it was a success, as it would’ve been a big waste of time and material if it has failed, not to mention, HOW WOULD I MAKE THE TIRAMISU?!

ASSEMBLING THE TIRAMISU

1) Mix espresso and rum together (I doubled the espresso amount the recipe suggested, as some reviews of the recipes said to in order to have enough liquid to cover all ladyfingers).  I also used the entire mini bottle of rum, which was regular Bicardi, and not dark.  I just got it at random, though maybe next time I will get the dark rum.

Some recipes use marsala wine to flavor the tiramisu in place of rum.  Nothing wrong with that!

2) Place soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a pan, cover with   The recipe calls for 11×7, but I just used what I had.  I really wanted to use a disposable tray, as it was a gift and I didn’t want to have to bother with having to retrieve a dish.

I don’t know the measurements of it.  Maybe it was like 8×12?

Spread half of mascarpone mixture (see tiramisu recipe posted above for mixture directions) over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.

CONCLUSION

After letting the tiramisu sit for a day in the fridge, I knew it had matured fully and I could take it with me to work.

When T came in, I informed him I had made him a tiramisu for his birthday.  He was delighted and soon tiramisu was had by all the end.

Everyone really seemed to like it, and I was also very pleased with its taste, texture, and appearance.  Overall, a success!

Below are some leftovers I took back home for my mom to taste (she also liked it a lot, and when she doesn’t like something I cook/bake, believe me, she is not afraid to tell me, so I trust her compliments).

Ciao for now!

Maddalena aka THE HOPEFUL HESTIA

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