Saturday, February 27, 2010
Daring Bakers - Tiramisu
Tiramisu! It's one of those fascinating words like "entschuldigung" which, when said out loud, remind me of Mary Poppins and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (which according to Wikipedia, means "Atoning for educability through delicate beauty"). "Tiramisu" is in fact Italian for "pick me up", and does indeed pick one up with a healthy dose of sugar, coffee and marsala.
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.
According to the Daring Bakers forum:
The perfect Tiramisu is a balance of flavors of a sweet zabaglione, strong coffee, marsala wine, creamy mascarpone cheese and the dusting of unsweetened cocoa.
My first experience with tiramisu was not in its pure dessert form, but rather, as a flavour of gelato that my university friend Jen bought on a trip to New Farm. Before that, I'd never even heard of tiramisu. My next encounter with tiramisu was at the movies, when Tom Hanks' character in Sleepless in Seattle, Sam Baldwin, asks his friend what is tiramisu. At that stage, I couldn't have told you what tiramisu was either. Now, I not only know what it is, I have made a low fat version of it and made it in cake form (twice!), and it was served at my friend Charet's wedding in lieu of traditional wedding cake, made by the Italian groom (both the traditional version and a raspberry version).
For this Daring Bakers challenge, we were asked to go one step further. Instead of buying the mascarpone and savoiardi, as you normally would, we were challenged to make our own, together with zabaglione and pastry cream for the filling.
I have never made mascarpone before, and in fact would never have dreamed of doing so. I was very surprised to learn that mascarpone is effectively cooked cream with a little lemon juice, strained through a cheesecloth (or in my case through a Chux superwipe!):
Making savoiardi made me slightly nervous, as the one and only time that I have tried to make them in the past, they turned out dry, hard and horrible. Ho, ho, how far we have come, because this time they were perfect - light, spongy and delicious:
I suspect that when I made them a few years ago, I hadn't a clue that the egg whites should be treated gently and folded in, not beaten vigorously into the other ingredients. However, my yield from the recipe was only 14 biscuits - rather short of the 24 promised, so I was only able to make a double layer tiramisu rather than the triple layer version in the recipe.
Here are my zabaglione, pastry cream and whipped cream respectively for the filling:
None of these components was hard to make, just time consuming. I used Marsala in the zabaglione as called for by the recipe.
Here are the four filling components (zabaglione, pastry cream, whipped cream and marscapone) combined to form the filling:
The final step involved dunking the savoiardi in rum-spiked coffee and lining an 8" x 8" tin with them:
then slathering over the cream filling and starting again to build up two layers:
The final step is to dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa (or otherwise decorate it as you wish):
This tiramisu is of course delicious, and I am serving it at a dinner party tonight. (I have already taste-tested it.) It also froze well, and on defrosting the flavour and texture was still very good.
There will be various versions of the tiramisu popping up everywhere today, and if you'd like to check them out, visit The Daring Kitchen.
Thanks to Aparna and Deeba for being our hosts this month. They will have the tiramisu recipe that we used on their websites, if you are interested in trying it for yourself.