Better late than never, right? After my camera went on a field trip with Nick and a power outage kept me from actually getting on my computer, I bring you… Tiramisu!
Nick’s family came up to celebrate his birthday this weekend and his parents wanted to take everyone out to dinner. Nick knew I was a little disappointed since I love to entertain, have people over and feed them, so he asked if I wanted to make tiramisu for dessert. (Thanks babe, you know me so well, and knew I’d love to be able to make something – you’re the best!) Nick must have figured (hoped?) that I had experienced some growth in my baking muscles over the last year or so, because my last attempt at tiramisu did not turn out well. AT.ALL. I used a copycat recipe for the Olive Garden tiramisu and the custard turned out much too cheesey in taste, too dense in texture, and the savoiardi were not sufficiently soaked.
A few months ago I came across a tiramisu recipe in the most recent Cook’s Illustrated issue, and I made sure to save it, knowing that someday I would try to redeem myself. That someday finally came! I’ve got to admit that I am becoming quite smitten with Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchens. It seems that everything I have made has come out absolutely perfect. I’m pretty convinced that their recipes are spot-on and foolproof. The only modification that I made to the tiramisu was to substitute Kahlua in place of the rum, and cut that amount in half. The CI recipe notes that its recipe results in a strong rum flavoring, and to create a more subtle flavor to cut the amount in the coffee/espresso mixture in half. I also decided to cut in half the amount that went into the cream mixture. I think this was a good decision, as there was still a distinct flavor, but it complemented the other flavors and was not overpowering. I was initially nervous about using completely raw eggs, but Nick made a great suggestion and told me I should just buy pasteurized eggs, which I did, and my fears resolved themselves 🙂
This tiramisu was absolutely fabulous. The savoiardi were perfectly soft and loaded with flavor, while the mascarpone mixture had a light and smooth flavor, as well as texture, which I attribute to the addition of the whipped cream that is incorporated. The dish received high praise, and it is easily just as good, if not better, than tiramisu you would find at the nicest of Italian restaurants. Cook’s Illustrated definitely perfected this recipe.
(Source: Cook’s Illustrated November & December 2007 issue)
2-1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature
1-1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso granules
9 tablespoons dark rum [I substituted Kahlua and cut the amount down to 4-1/2 tablespoons]
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1-1/2 pounds mascarpone
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
14 ounces (42 to 60, depending on size) dried ladyfingers (savoiardi)
3-1/2 Tablespoons cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
1/4 cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional) [I omitted this]
1. Stir coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons rum [2-1/2 tablespoons Kahlua] in a wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.
2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum [2 tablespoons Kahlua] and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.
3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.
4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove and transfer to 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.
5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.
6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprnkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.