February 24, 2010

Daring Bakers - Tirimisu

Groan.... I have to make it entirely from scratch? Yes, that is what the challenge says, so I read it again and it said the same thing. At the beginning of the month, I was pretty pumped up. I thought making this dessert from scratch (a 2-3 day process) sounded like a really intense challenge I was up for. Towards the end of the month when I actually started the recipe... and realized how long it was going to take... I lost a little of that adrenaline (if you could call it 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.

I started with the Mascarpone Cheese. I have been interested in making a cheese at home since reading Barbara Kingsolver's novel, Animal Vegetable Miracle where she describes this process in detail (and makes you believe you can do it too). The directions for the Mascarpone were not the most descriptive. Maybe I expected too much since making cheese seems so much more scientific than heating heavy cream with lemon juice until it becomes thick like custard. Apparently not. I did struggle to get the cream to a high enough temperature (I later learned that many DBers had the same problem and that you should use stainless steel in the double boiler) and although it was a good thing to try once, I think I would rather just buy it from the store.

Night numero dos, I made the Zabaglione. I didn't feel like buying a bottle of Marsala (sweet wine kind of like port) and used coffee instead. Again, it took a lot longer than the suggest 8 minute time frame to get this to custard consistency. [insert grumbling about making this from scratch].
Day three. I need a break. Hosting dinner for a small group. Stare into the fridge and check on the Zabaglione and cheese. looks good. I've only eaten Tiramisu about three times in my life (never while I was living in Italy) and each of those times, it was so so. Maybe I lost my ambition, maybe I remembered how uninteresting Tiramisu was, mostly I just started running out of nights. I bought store bought Savoiarde. They are imported from Italia (justification) and I would have been late with the challenge if I hadn't. I was supposed to make the cookies from scratch, but this challenge was really about getting back in the swing of things. It had been a long time since participating in a DB challenge, so cheating a little on this one is good - or else I may have given up.
Day Four. Pastry Cream, Whipped Cream, Assembly. Pastry cream is another of the finicky stove top heating procedures that can make or break a delicate cream. If you heat it too fast, the egg yolk will curdle, too slow, and you're standing over the stove entirely too long. Mine turned out fine. Whipping cream is always a fun event. The mixer gets to do all the work while you monitor for consistency. Stiff peaks. I prepared the cookie dunking liquid and folded the cream together with my home made Mascarpone (which is actually good) and Zabaglione.
I decided using glasses as my vessel was prettier than the blob that might have happened if I tried it free form. 1 1/2 cookies for each layer with a bit of the cream on top. Dusted with cocoa powder they look so magnificent. I really enjoyed this recipe after tasting it. It was not overpowered by coffee, and I omitted the rum extract, so the mild vanilla/lemon flavors came through nicely. I'm not sure I would go to the trouble of making this again unless I met someone who absolutely adored Tiramisu (and needed one for their birthday).
Mascarpone Cheese
Click the link above for the recipe!

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,


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.

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. Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the shee

ts 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.


(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post) This recipe makes 6 servings

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

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 stainless 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 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

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

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: 2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed 1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional) 1/2 cup/110gms sugar 1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less) 2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

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. Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. (If you use store bought cookies dip as fast as you can and let a little of the liquid drain out before placing them in the dish). 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.

Thanks M for snapping some of these lovely shots!


  1. Nice post! I groaned too when I was we had to make it all from scratch. You did a great job and i love how you served the tiramisu. Splendid!

  2. Despite all your misgivings, your Tiramisu seems to have turned out good. Welcome back to the DB and tahnks for baking with us.

  3. Enjoyed reading your post. My free form version also was a "blob", so I stuck some into the freezer which turned out fine.

  4. I have marsala wine if you want some for next time. ;)

  5. Stunning photos! Looks like a view from some Italian bakery =). Bet that tiramisu tasted as good as it looked.

  6. Beautiful! I want to try this!

  7. I stumbled on your blog from a comment you left on another blog and I am soo glad I did! I love cooking and baking myself and love to meet others that do as well! I think it's awesome that you participated in a baking challenge, I would love to do that someday! Your tiramisu looks DELICIOUS and the images are great!


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