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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Classic Tiramisu

I never realized how difficult it was to become a sommelier (wine professional) but after being in their shoes I have a much greater respect for what they do as well as the strength of their palate. To be able to discern the subtle nuances in wine is no easy task especially for those, like myself, who have difficulties moving past the alcohol taste. After several attempts at various bottles, it occurred to me that I was making little progress in this journey. I have not given up; merely putting my wine reviews aside for now until I can actually taste something!

In the mean time, I decided that I would try new recipes from my various cookbooks and review them. It finally gives me a good excuse to use them other than as paperweights or for display! As part of this journey, I decided that I needed a few criteria's in order to challenge myself as a cook and as a foodie. First, the dish should be something that I have never made before and enjoy eating. Second, it should involve an ingredient or technique that I am unfamiliar with. Lastly, it should be challenging enough for me to where it pushes me without overwhelming me. As long as it fits into one of these criteria, I know I will gain greater appreciation for food and higher respect for chefs and their craft. *I may not always review a recipe and instead will present my own little twist*

Time will only tell when my palate will be sophisticated enough to taste wine, but with persistence I am certain it will better. Let the cooking being!

For my first recipe I decided to make Tiramisu. I got my recipe from Bon App├ętit Desserts Cookbook. I decided to go with the Classic Tiramisu recipe.

You will need:

1 cup freshly brewed espresso (can substitute with instant espresso)
2/3 cup sweet Marsala, divided
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup sugar, divided
3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
26 crisp ladyfingers (Boudoirs, Champagne biscuits, or savoiardi) 
1/2 ounce bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 teaspoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
*Crisp ladyfingers can be found in the box cookie section of some supermarkets and at specialty food stores and Italian markets. I went to Safeway to find them but they only had the small, thin, spongy, oval cakes. To remedy this, I placed them in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, turning them over half way through. Make sure to check on them often because they can go from crisp to burnt really quick*

Step 1: Stir hot espresso, 1/3 cup marsala, and 1 tablespoon sugar in small bowl until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold.
Step 2: Vigorously whisk egg yolks, remaining 1/3 cup marsala, and 1/4 cup of sugar.
Step 3: Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); whisk until mixture is pale, thick, fluffy and doubled in volume and candy thermometer reads 160 F (about 3 minutes)
Step 4: Whisk in mascarpone cheese until blended
Step 5: Use electric mixer, beat egg whites in separate large, clean bowl until foamy. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and just until firm peaks form. Fold egg white mixture into mascarpone mixture (above)
Step 6: Beat chilled heavy cream in same bowl until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture
Step 7: dip ladyfingers one at a time into coffee mixture to submerge, turning to coat. *tip-don't leave in coffee mixture too long or else becomes soggy*. Arrange ladyfingers in a single layer in 9 inch square glass baking dish, trimming to fit as necessary.
Step 8: Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers. Use microplane grater, grate half of chocolate over mascarpone, then sift 1/2 teaspoon cocoa over.
Step 9: Repeat with remaining ladyfingers. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours!

Overall, the dish was a complete success! It wasn't pretty looking but tasted like the real thing. I was definitely surprised it came out so well especially when I am a terrible dessert maker. Would easily make it again, but next time maybe with a few twists.
With so many variations of tiramisu recipes, it's hard to know which one to follow. When it boils down to it, as long as you stick to the main components consisting of espresso flavor, mascarpone mixture, marsala wine, and chocolate you can make your own version of the classic tiramisu. For example, my friend bakes two simple yellow sponge cake, splits them, then soaks them in a mixture of coffee liqueur (Tia Maria) + Marsala wine. Afterwards, she spreads layers of the mascarpone mixture in-between the layers. Chills overnight and removes from fridge 30 minutes before service.
I hope you enjoy!