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Tiramisu from Scratch – Daring Baker’s Challenge

Tiramisu

And I thought I made tiramisu in the past…Store-bought ladyfingers, store-bought mascarpone cheese, whip up a no-cook raw egg-mascarone cream in seconds, slather it in-between the soaked-in-coffee ladyfingers, and call yourself the tiramisu queen… Until the daring bakers announced the challenge for the month of February! TIRAMISU from SCRATCH! Yes, yes, ladyfingers from scratch, mascarpone cheese from scratch, cooked zabaglione, cooked pastry cream and all that from scratch. Now, that’s the real deal.

After painstakingly completing this challenge, I have secretly crowned myself the queen of tiramisu. Ok, I’m in my generous mood today so I will crown all the wonderul daring  bakers who have handled the challenge with grace the queens of tiramisu (there may be occasional kings among us as well). Let’s get straight to business now and see what led to our glorious crowning.

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. The following is a great writeup about tiramisu put together by Aparna and Deeba:

“This divine Italian dessert translates to mean ‘pick me up’, supposedly referring to the ‘kick’ provided by the strong coffee, sugar and alcohol in it! On the other hand, a slight mistake in spelling it as “Tiramuso” could end up meaning that you were “pulling a sulky face”! Classic tiramisu is made of alternate layers of espresso soaked ladyfinger biscuits and a cream made from mascarpone cheese and zabaglione (an egg custard). 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. So when, where and how was tiramisu born?

Tiramisu is said to have its origins in Treviso (Italy), and there are quite a few stories about how it came to be created.One story traces the tiramisu as far back as the Renaissance claiming that it was first made in honour of the visit of Grand Duke Cosimo di Medici to Tuscany. Yet another one points to the tiramisu being an adaptation of the “Zuppa Inglese” referring to the sponge cake and cream layered English Trifle.
However, experts in this area generally agree that the tiramisu as we know it today, was born in the ‘70s. Some believe that the Tiramisu was created in the the Le Beccherie (a restaurant in Treviso). Others suggest that Tiramisu was first made in 1971 by an Italian baker named Carminantonio Iannaccone in a small bakery in Treviso, Italy. ”

So, my experience with making tiramisu from scratch was nothing short of exciting. I didn’t stumble upon any major problems…except when I was making mascarpone. That thing just would not heat up to 190F! I don’t know why. It just stuck at 150F and refused to move any higher. I patiently waited for 1 hour! But no, it just wouldn’t heat up ! I had serious doubts about the final result and was contemplating sending the whole thing down the sink, but since I hate wasting anything edible, I decided to just go ahead and refrigerate the cheese and wait to see if it would ever harden. Surprisingly, it did! It was creamy and tasted good. I am not sure where I did wrong as I followed the recipe to the point. But the good thing is, the cheese turned out great, and that’s all that mattered.

Zabaglione and ladyfingers, on the other hand, were a piece of cake. Real easy. Overall, I just loved the challenge! The cake turned out delicious. Aparna and Deeba, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

TIRAMISU
Barely adapted from Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

Makes 6 servings

Note: Tiramisu is made up of several components which can be made separately and ahead of time and put together the day before serving.

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:
1 cup brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum or brandy extract (optional, but recommended) – I used brandy
1/4 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese (recipe follows)
30-36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (depending on their size) (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

Method:

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:
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:
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.

Tiramisu

Workings quickly, dip 10 or 12 of the ladyfingers (depending on their size) 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. If you are not serving tiramisu immediately, freeze it.

Mascarpone Cheese
From Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Yields 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

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

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.

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.

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. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

Ladyfingers

Ladyfingeres / Savoiardi Biscuits
From Le Cordon Bleu At Home

Makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 28-30  small (2   1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.
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)
5 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar (original recipe says 6 tablespoons, but I found it it was too much)

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.

Step by Step Ladyfingers

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.

Sift 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.

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 sifted sugar.

Step by Step Ladyfingers

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.

18 Comments
  1. Your tiramisu is so beautiful! Really tempting!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Great looking classic. Kudos for all of your patience to make everything from scratch.

  3. Lovely tiramisu. i liked your presentation

  4. Oh but calories, calories….tiramisu is like THE WORST ever. and the best…LOL

  5. Great photos. Your tiramisu looks really tasty!

  6. Stunning pics!! Tiramisu looks fantastic!

  7. Great tiramisu!! it looks delicious!!

  8. Wow, I’ve never heard of making TIramisu from scratch! That’s amazing! What a talented lady you are! It looks absolutely delicious… thank you for sharing!!

  9. excellent clicks..too good..love this dessert a lot..

  10. mouth watering pictures. great tiramisu. love it.

  11. Fari, that is perfection. Che meraviglia! Didn’t think I knew Italian, did you? Well, that makes two of us.

    Tiramisu is the only dessert my daughter requests for her birthday every year. But, I don’t have any trouble coming up with excuses to make it for me.

    I make my own ladyfingers, but I have never made mascarpone, so I’m looking forward to trying this recipe.

  12. Farida, your tiramisu is so beautifully done :-)

  13. Farida
    I think your rendition is wonderful; I bet not even Italians eat one made from scratch like this one. Bravissimo.

  14. I have never tried this recipe but have had it several times. Your recipe is a good one to try and looks delicious too.

  15. Hi Farida,

    Your tiramisu looks so appetizing and appealing.
    Bravo for making it from scratch. Obviously, it takes more time but I guess the result is worth it.

    I made Nigella’s Bailey’s Irish Cream Tiramisu last weekend. This recipe was chosen as a Cookalong Recipe of February on Nigella’s forum. I was completely charmed but its creamy taste and fluffy texture.
    You can see it on my blog.

    Thanks for giving the recipe of ladyfingers. It can be useful.

  16. that looks absolutely gorgeous. It takes quite an effort to make it from scratch .. awesome

  17. Your tiramisu looks perfect, fit for a queen. :)
    When I was here a few days back, I couldn’t leave a comment for some reason!
    Thanks for baking with us, Farida.

  18. Looks fantastic and very tempting Farida! Have not eaten a Tiramisu made with ladyfingers. It does look like a LOT of effort.. Whew!!! But sure would like to try it out!!

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