Friday, December 02, 2011


I was really looking forward to Rose's Tiramisu as it is one of my favorite desserts. All that creamy deliciousness! Sadly, my creamy deliciousness never thickened up and remains a very rich and yummy runny mess.

(Subpar) Tiramisu

November 16, 2011
Name of Cake: A Yummy Runny Mess
Occasion: HCB
Constituents: espresso-soaked savioardi biscuits sort of layered with a improper zabaglione/mascarpone mixture and heavily dusted with cocoa powder

A proper Tiramisu, for those who aren't in the know, should be layers of ladyfingers lightly soaked in espresso, layered with a thick and creamy substance that is partly egg yolks, sugar and marsala wine (a sweet wine) heated and whipped until thick and foamy, mixed with mascarpone cheese which is a triple-cream cream cheese (less tangy than a regular cream cheese), and lastly folded into whipped cream (or actually the whipped cream is folded into the other stuff).

I have made Tiramisu a couple of times before, both times using sheets of gluten-free biscuit instead of ladyfingers. The creamy mix was from Anna Maria's Open Kitchen. There are lots of nice how-to photos in that post if you are interested. With the second of the two cakes, the insides were perfectly creamy and thick. Sigh.

First off, you either need to bake a batch of ladyfingers, or buy some savioardi biscuits at the store. At first I was planning on baking my own ladyfingers, but when I counted up the eggs needed for both ladyfingers and tiramisu filling it came to at least 14 eggs! That's more eggs than you can shake a stick at, so I decided to just buy the biscuits and call it good.

Next up, the zabaglione. This is the egg yolks, sugar, and marsala wine, which is whipped up to a thick and frothy custard. In these bacteria-laden times, the yolks need to be gently heated to 165°F. Rose suggests the double boiler method, but also says if you have an unlined copper bowl, you can put that straight on a low flame and heat the eggs that way. I have such a bowl, thanks to my mother who bought it during her copper phase in the 1970's. I have an electric stove, and I needed to turn the heat up to almost medium-low before the yolks started to heat up. This all took a lot longer than the five minutes recommended in the book, and the mixture went from light and fluffy to sticky and deflated by the time the eggs were up to temperature. Alas.

This mixture needs to cool down to room temperature before the mascarpone and whipped cream can be added, so in the meantime I got the espresso ready. A little bit of the marsala and some sugar are added to take the edge off the bitterness, and half of it is poured into a shallow dish for dipping.

I couldn't find imported mascarpone (in retrospect, I didn't look that hard), so used what I could find. The mascarpone is beat until creamy, then the custard is mixed in, then a little vanilla. In a separate bowl, heavy cream is whipped to stiff peaks with sugar and vanilla. The whipped cream is folded into the cheesy-egg stuff and there you have it: tiramisu filling!

(Subpar) Tiramisu

The ladyfingers are quickly dipped into the espresso--enough to soften the outsides but not make the cookies soggy--and are used to line the bottom of a pan. This recipe originally calls for one 9x13 inch dish, but I decided to gift most of it to Cookie and her family for Thanksgiving next week. (The tiramisu can be refrigerated for three day or frozen for three months before serving.) I used a 9x9 inch dish to give away, and a loaf pan for myself. After lining the bottom of the pan(s) with soaked ladyfingers, half the cheese mixture gets spread on top. I became really concerned about the state of my cheesy stuff when instead of spreading, it poured, in a very liquidy way, over the bottom of the pan. Now it was time to lay down the second layer of soaked biscuits and the top layer of cheese. Things were so liquidy that some of the ladyfingers floated up to the top of the dish when I was sprinkling the tops with cocoa powder.

I sighed a heavy sigh, muttered several choice curse words, wrapped my two pans of stuff in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight.

The next morning I tried some of the tiramisu. Definitely soupy. Pretty darn good. I can't taste the espresso however and that bums me out. Despite being a runny mess it is still enjoyable, especially with a cup of coffee.

Tongiht I tried another little bit and the stuff seems a tad firmer, but still really loose. I'm not sure what I'll do with the larger pan. I'm not too keen on giving it to Cookie to serve to her family since it is subpar. But I can't eat an entire tiramisu myself. Perhaps I will freeze it for another day. (ETA: I froze it.)

I can't remember what my previous tiramisus tasted like. I liked them, but was it better than this version? (Provided I made this version correctly.) I would like to try this recipe again and hopefully do a better job, and maybe if I am inspired (and have a ton of eggs) I'll make the other recipe and compare.

(Subpar) Tiramisu

Here's Marie's perfect Tiramisu which was before the group bake-through, so there's no Last Cake, Next Cake roundup.

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