Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Taste of Italy-Tiramisu

Tiramisu (from Italian, spelled tiramisu, meaning "pick me up", "cheer me up" or "lift me up") is a popular coffee-flavoured Italian custard dessert. (Wikipedia)

I have never been one for soggy cakes like Tiramisu, Trifle, or some puddings that are really cakes in disguise. But when in Rome..literally, I tried tiramisu. Okay..it wasn't really Rome it was Florence, Italy. I had other treats in Rome. When in Italy, I loved Tiramisu. It was heavenly and didn't have a soggy cake texture at all.

So I thought I would try my hand at making this fun dessert at home. I used mascarpone cheese, which is worth the extra expense. I used ladyfingers which were hard to hunt down but worth it. I was telling my daughter that it was very similar to a recipe I have for "Mexican Lady Cake". The process was similar, ingredients different, and the end result different. I liked the recipe I found at Mel's Kitchen Cafe because it used hot chocolate instead of coffee which we do not drink or care for the flavor of.

The cake is delightful. It does bring cheer to the soul as does reminiscing about the wonderful place where I discovered that I really loved Italian food, Italian people, and the beauty of Italy. This adult went on an after hours adventure to find great dessert! I succeeded.

Tiramisu-Italian Lady Cake
Mel's Kitchen Cafe Recipe (with my changes)
  • 1 ½ cups good-quality hot chocolate, 1 1/2 cup water and 6 TB hot chocolate powder (Ghirardelli)
  • ½ teaspoon rum extract
  • ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • About 36 crisp ladyfingers cookies/biscuits (I used 1 package with 28)
  • 1 tablespoon natural cocoa powder- I would half this-my kids thought it was too bitter
  1. Make the hot cocoa with 1 1/2 cups hot water and 6 TB Ghirardelli hot chocolate powder. Once it is lukewarm, add the vanilla and imitation rum extract. Due to the high cocoa to water ratio, whisk the cocoa mixture frequently to keep the cocoa suspended.
  2. Set a medium saucepan over medium heat and fill with about 1-2 inches water. Let it come to a simmer while you proceed with the recipe. In a medium bowl (an appropriate size to be placed on the pan that is heating), beat the egg yolks at low speed with a mixer (hand or electric) until just combined. Add the ½ cup sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Add ¼ cup cream to the yolks and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape the bowl. Set the bowl with the yolks over the saucepan of water that has come to a simmer. Cook the egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly and scraping along the bottom and sides of the bowl with a heatproof rubber spatula, until the egg yolk mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 4 to 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir vigorously to cool slightly, then set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese to the cooled mixture and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, about a minute. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside. In the now-empty bowl (no need to clean the bowl), beat the ½ cup heavy whipping cream at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set the mixture aside.
  4. Give the hot cocoa mixture a good whisk to combine. Pour it into a shallow baking dish like a pie plate. Dip 1 ladyfinger into the hot cocoa at a time, allowing it to soak up the hot cocoa for about 1-2 seconds per side (I way over soaked mine-soggy in places). Transfer each ladyfinger immediately to an 8-inch square baking dish. Lay the cookies side-by-side to create one even layer. You may have to trim/break the soaked cookies to fit the pan. After finishing the first layer of ladyfinger cookies, spread half of the mascarpone cream mixture evenly over the ladyfingers, spreading to the edges of the pan. Using a small fine-mesh strainer, sprinkle (I would half this) 1/2 tablespoon of the natural cocoa powder over the mascarpone layer.
  5. Repeat the soaking process with the ladyfingers, creating one more layer of ladyfinger cookies over the mascarpone/cocoa layer. Spread evenly with the remaining mascarpone mixture. Dust with the final 1/2 tablespoon of natural cocoa powder. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to chill and set. This can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cut into squares and serve.

Thank you Mel for sharing a wonderful recipe and giving such clear instructions.

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