Saturday, January 21, 2006

Tiramisu #2 Well, I think it's perfect

Last night, I decided I was going to make the best Tiramisu on earth. My only problem was that I had the wrong Marsala...

When I asked the guy at the LCBO for Marsala wine, I should have specified that I wanted sweet Marsala for making Zabaglione. Instead, I got "Dessert Dry Wine". I didn't know there was such a thing as a dry dessert wine - I thought the definition of a dessert wine was that it was sweet... *sigh*... Well, I didn't want to open the bottle only to find out that it was horribly bitter, so I Googled Marsala wines, and tried to figure out if Zabaglione could indeed be made with dry Marsala. I found a few sites that seemed to indicate that it was possible (the Sperone wine I bought only had Italian information, so it wasn't much help), I just needed to add more sugar. But I didn't want to add too much sugar, so I decided to wait until the wine was in before adding the extra sugar.

I put on a pot of double-stength coffee for the Ladyfingers, then when about making the Zabaglione. I took 6 eggs, divided them (and remembered to save the egg whites for something else), and popped the yolks in the double boiler with 6T white sugar. I whisked over the steam until the eggs thickened, then took them off the heat and slowly stirred in 1/2c Marsala. The recipe called for a full cup, but I didn't want to overdo the liquor and waste another batch. I decided to split the Zabaglione in half and make a smaller batch with half the Marsala, and then decide afterwords what to do for the second.

I creamed a 275g tub of Mascarpone cheese, then added it to my divided Zabaglione. After it was nicely mixed in, I tasted it see how much more sugar I should put in. I figured it needed twice the sugar, and it also needed more liquid to make up for the 1/2c of Marsala I left out. Since the Zabaglione was divided, I boiled some water and dissolved 3T of sugar in 1/4c of water. The Marsala was still noticeable (I decided I didn't really like the taste), but fairly pleasant altogether. I was worried that it would be too watery (it had the consistency of sweetened whipped cream before you whip it), but figured it would stiffen up in the fridge over night.

The Italian Ladyfingers (which looked suspiciously like French Ladyfingers - hard, with sugar on top) were next. The coffee had cooled by this point, and was ready for dipping. I made a last minute decision to use some Kahlua, so I took 1/3c strong coffee (really bitter straight up) and 1/3c Kahlua. I quickly dipped the biscuits in the mixture, rolling them over to make sure they were nicely coated (maybe 1 second on each side), and placed them in a 7 inch springform pan. I then scooped over a little less than half of the custard, did another layer of dipped Ladyfingers, then finished off with the remaining Mascarpone mixture.

At this point, I was really worried about how liquidy the custard layer was. I also noticed that it was seeping through the spring form pan, so I covered the bottom with plastic wrap, and gently placed my concoction in the fridge, praying that it would turn out.

While I was making dinner this evening (mushroom, garlic, thyme & goat cheese stuffed chicken thighs with wild rice and corn niblets), I decided to test my Tiramisu to see how goopy and tasty it was. I took a small spoonful from the side, figuring I could cover the hole with a Ladyfinger...

It was fantastic! I don't really remember what a classic Tiramisu tastes like, so I couldn't really compare, but what I was tasting at that moment was beautiful. The Mascarpone layer had stiffened up nicely, and the Ladyfingers were damp, but not soggy with the coffee/Kahlua (another day and I think they'll be more evenly saturated). I rushed off with another spoonful to let DH try my wonderful comcoction. Unfortunately, he's coming down with a cold, so he couldn't taste it... at least he couldn't tell me it tasted bad ;)

The small whole in my Tiramisu was slowly growing. I couldn't wait until Monday at Jared's. I had to take a full piece. I told myself that I can always make another one...

The custardy layer on its own was more cheesy than I would have liked (I'm not a huge fan of Mascarpone cheese), and the Ladyfinger layer on its own was really sweet and the coffee was overpowering, but together - together they were marvelous.

After dinner, I realized that I had forgotten to sprinkle cocao on top, so I just had to try another piece... the whole has grown to about 1/4 of the pan... I think I'll be making another Tiramisu tonight, and I think I'll add the extra 1/4c Marsala, and see if it's too much.

Final recipe for Tiramisu, 7 1/4" springform pan, serves 8

3 egg yolks
6T white sugar
1/4c Sperone dry Marsala wine (if using sweet wine, then use 3T sugar instead of 6)
1/4c water
275g tub Tre Stelle Mascarpone cheese

1/3c doubly strong coffee
1/3c Kahlua
2 packages of Ladyfingers (hard, sugar coated)

Unsweetened Cocoa to dust

At least 24 hours before serving:

1. Put on a small pot of doubly strong coffee.

2. In a double boiler, whisk egg yolks and sugar until mixture thickens.

3. Take off heat, whisk in Marsala and water to make Zabaglione.

4. In a medium bowl, beat Mascarpone cheese until soft. Slowly stir in Zabaglione, whisk until smooth.

5. In a shallow bowl, combine strong coffee and Kahlua.

6. Quickly dip Ladyfingers in coffee mixture, making sure to coat both sides. Place in a single layer on a small (7 1/4") springform/cheesecake pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with plastic wrap to prevent spillage.

7. Spoon half of Mascarpone/Zabaglione mixture over the dipped Ladyfingers.

8. Dip more Ladyfingers into the coffee mixture, and place over the Mascarpone layer.

9. Spoon the rest of the Mascarpone mixture over the dipped Ladyfingers.

10. Cover the top with plastic wrap, make sure the bottom layer of wrap is secure, and place in the fridge. The Tiramisu must set for at least 24 hours, however the flavours are most satisfying after 2-3 days in the fridge.

Just before serving:

11. Gently open the spring form pan, using a knife to separate the sides from the cake.

12. Cut leftover Ladyfingers in half and apply them vertically to the sides of the Tiramisu, cut side down.

13. Liberally dust the top with Unsweetened Cocoa powder. If desired, use strips of baking parchment to make stripes.

Serve with coffee and sliced strawberries.

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