Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Recipe: Tiramisu

My sister and I were tasked to provide dessert for a family dinner on Sunday, and since she hadn't done it for a while, my sister decided to make tiramisu. This recipe makes a lot of tiramisu, and though I don't usually like it, this produces a very delightful version that is rich without being suffocating.

If you don't count the calories then you won't scare yourself.

This is not my recipe, so don't blame me if it doesn't work. But since I personally tasted the result, I'd say it does. Tiramisu requires refrigeration time, so don't expect to make this in the afternoon for dinner.

Tiramisu (Serves 10 - 12)

4 packets (60) ladies' fingers (not the vegetables)
1 cup coffee powder
2 cups hot water
1/2 cup kahlua or coffee liquer
7 eggs
500g mascarpone cheese
1½ cup sugar
1½ tsp vanilla
200ml whipping cream
Cocoa powder

Tiramisu Meez

It's a lot of ingredients, but tiramisu is one of those things that are hard to make in small amounts. You might as well go the whole hog and whip up a batch to take with you to a party.

Dissolving Coffee Powder

Dissolve the coffee powder in the hot water, and pour in the kahlua. Mix well and try not to breathe in the fumes - you won't be able to sleep for a week. Obviously for more of a caffeine fix you can always up the dosage, but this is quite enough for me.

Lady's Fingers

Soak the ladies' fingers in the coffee mixture for just a few seconds, enough to get them completely drenched, and lay them out in a layer on the base of a large glass dish.

Egg Whites 1

Beat 7 egg whites with 1/4 cup sugar at high speed...

Egg Whites 2

Until they become foamy. This shouldn't take long, since the added sugar will make the egg whites rise extremely quickly.

Egg Whites 3

Then reduce speed to moderate and continue beating until the egg whites are really stiff and can be inverted over your head. This very conveniently avoids the problem of having to decide whether you've reached "soft peaks" or "stiff peaks". Of course, if you haven't quite reached the right amount of stiffness, you'll just get egg whites all over you. Still, I think that's a risk worth taking.

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Beat the egg yolks with the mascarpone cheese until they're well-mixed, then add the remaining sugar and beat till the sugar has dissolved.

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Add in the vanilla and mix it in. Your yolks and cheese mix should have a consistency approximating churned butter.

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Beat the cream till it's fairly stiff. You could do this with a whisk, I suppose, if you had arms of steel. Otherwise just use an electric beater. Once that's done, mix the cream and the egg yolk mixture together, making sure they're well incorporated.

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Fold in the egg whites. Usually you would do this with a spatula, but my sister claims using a whisk makes no difference. Such unorthodoxy appeals to me.

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Anyway, once your egg whites have been nicely folded into your cream mixture, you should have a big bowl of something that looks remarkably like porridge.

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Spoon a layer of this over your ladies' fingers, smoothening it with a spatula or the back of your spoon.

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Place another layer of coffee-soaked fingers over the cream, and then spoon more cream over that layer, rather as you would build a brick wall. Presumably, if you had a deep enough dish and enough ladies' fingers, you could have a tiramisu with as many layers as your dish was deep, but I think two will do nicely.

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Once you've finished applying the final layer of cream, cover the dish with clingwrap and place the entire edifice in the refrigerator and chill overnight. This sets the tiramisu, otherwise you'd get a big gloppy mess as soon as you tried to cut it.

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When you're ready to present your masterpiece to the world, remove it from the refrigerator and cover the top with a light dusting of cocoa powder. Try not to be too heavy-handed, I hear cocoa dust can cause pulmonary problems.

With so many yolks and a large amount of cream and cheese, tiramisu doesn't keep very well, so try to finish it within a day or two, perhaps three at the most.

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