Saturday night was the “BioWare Food Club @ Home”: a house party, hosted by Theresa and Alain, for the food enthusiasts of BioWare. (Yes, I had a hand in setting it up.) Dozens of guests and dishes converged on Theresa and Alain’s place, and we got to enjoy an immense variety of meals and desserts before laughing our asses off playing Rock Band. As you can guess, a good time was had by all. I remember fondly the huge dessert prepared by Shauna in a punch bowl, as well as Sebastian’s mac & cheese, Ben’s indecent bread (featuring bacon, garlic and cheese) and Jocelyn’s cherry pie, among other delicacies.
As my “signature dish”, I brought home-made tiramisu. I just enjoy making tiramisu: it doesn’t require any cooking, and it”s one of these “magical” dishes that transubstantiate its ingredients. You put lady fingers and a mascarpone mixture in the fridge, and overnight, it magically transforms into a moist tiramisu cake. Magic!
My tiramisu turned out pretty magnificent, if I may say so myself. I was very pleased with the taste, and apparently so were the people at the party: it literally flew off the counter the second I pulled it out of the fridge!
And so, in the spirit of sharing, here’s my recipe. It’s adapted from a number of sources, most notably Helene’s own recipe (passed on to her by an Italian college friend) and this traditional recipe. (Although I guess the author won’t appreciate the link since I’m not advocating Italian espresso at all costs…) Helene’s recipe was simpler than this, and still very tasty, but I think the changes in this one are a solid step forward.
- Mascarpone cheese: This is the central ingredient of tiramisu, along with the coffee of course. I recommend going out of your way to get quality mascarpone. There’s an American variety of mascarpone, and although I haven’t tried it myself, I’m told it leads to inferior results. I purchase mine at the Italian Centre Shop Ltd. in Edmonton.
- Coffee: Tiramisu purists will tell you to exclusively use Italian espresso. Truth be told, I’ve tried it with organic coffee and a French press, and the results were good. I still want to get a cheap espresso maker for the sake of making tiramisu, though. I would shy away from making filter coffee, but it’s your call. If you don’t make espresso, make sure you make the coffee stronger than you would otherwise.
- Lady fingers: These are elongated cookies with one side coated with sugar. You want the type of Italian lady finger called Savoiardi. Again, check out your Italian grocery store.
- Eggs: This recipe uses raw eggs. If you’re not comfortable with this, tough luck! I don’t know about American eggs, but I’ve never had any problems with raw eggs in Canada provided they’re fresh and come from a good source. Personally, I try to go for eggs from the Farmer’s Market, or use organic eggs, for instance from the Planet Organic Market.
- You should prepare the tiramisu the day before you plan on eating it. At the minimum, you’ll need to leave the tiramisu 4 hours in the fridge. Overnight is fine too.
500 ml coffee (preferably espresso)
1 pack Savoiardi lady fingers
500g Italian mascarpone cheese
6 fresh eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
2 shots liqueur (cognac, brandy, amaretto, etc.)
2 mixing bowls
flat bowl, large enough to fit a lady finger
1. Make your coffee, and put it in the fridge or freezer to bring it to room temperature. Also bring all ingredients to room temperature. (You’ll need to do this approximately 1 hour before you start the actual recipe.)
2. Separate egg yolks from whites. (Here’s my technique.)
3. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and the sugar until you get a pale yellow, creamy texture. Add 1 shot of liqueur, and the mascarpone cheese to the mix. Mix until they blend and the texture is smooth and even.
4. In a separate mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until they’re fluffy.
5. Blend the beaten egg whites into the mascarpone mix. Mix only until the mix is uniform, as mixing too long might deflate the egg whites.
6. Pour the coffee in the flat container. Add the second shot of liqueur, and a teaspoon of cocoa. Stir.
7. Quickly dip a lady finger. I do mean quickly: you want to immerse the lady finger and quickly pull it out. Resist temptation to dip it too long, as it will turn your lady finger soggy. What you want is a uniform brown color, and moist.
8. Dip lady fingers one by one, and layer them at the bottom of the pyrex to create a layer of lady fingers. (I break off some of them to fit the pyrex.)
9. Spoon approximately half of your mascarpone mix on top of the lady finger layer. Spread it around with a spoon, to make sure the lady fingers are properly covered.
10. Dip lady fingers in coffee, and create a second layer of lady fingers on top of the mascarpone.
11. Spoon the rest of the mascarpone mix on top of the lady fingers, again making sure it is evenly distributed.
12. Put the remaining cocoa in a sieve, and tap the side of the sieve over the tiramisu. This’ll allow you to create a thin layer of cocoa on top of your cake.
13. Cover the pyrex with foil, and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
The tiramisu can remain in the fridge for a few days. You’ll notice the next day that the lady fingers and mascarpone mix have now blended… Observe also that the bottom layer is darker, from coffee having gone down through the mix to accumulate at the bottom. See what I mean? Magic!