Tuesday, March 2, 2010

six layer tiramisu

the first tiramisu i tried was in cinque terre, italy, with my study abroad travel buddies. in such a rugged, open natural park, my remembrance of the food is, similarly, straightforward, classic, and for that reason simply stunning. tiramisu is just that: elegant without being pretentious.

for one of our reunion dinners, i decided to try and whip up a quality serving. most recipes are made for a cake-style dessert. why not modify them into cute little individual servings?

traditionally, this italian dessert uses ladyfingers, mascarpone (a sweet, creamy cheese), and rum and coffee flavors. my take on tiramisu uses a brick of angel food cake instead of ladyfingers (because i can't find any at the grocery!), less rum and flavored coffee. this recipe also needs to be made a day early for the flavors to chill, merge, and develop.

--> three parts of tiramisu
typically, there are three major aspects of the dessert: ladyfingers soaked in rum and coffee; a custard made of mascarpone and egg yolk; and a thick whipped cream. it's typically sprinkled with cocoa. wikipedia tells me there is a little controversy over the origins of the dessert, but a friend of mine revealed the origin of the name, "tirami su" to mean in italian "pick me up," which it certainly does! the original recipe allegedly used honey as an ingredient, so let's see how that goes-- why not!

six layer tiramisu
6 egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup almond milk
1 pound mascarpone cheese (found in the specialty cheese or italian food section in the grocery store; the brand i used was sold in tubs by the half pound)
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup coffee (divided) (this means actual brewed coffee! so just order a basic cup of joe somewhere and bring it back to your place to go. any blend is good, i ordered a crème brûlée flavor, but make sure there's not a lot of creamer or milk added on)
1 + 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 tsp vanilla extract
angel food cake (i used a "brick" sized cake)
1 tbsp rum
1 tbsp amaretto
unsweetened cocoa powder
12 clear plastic punch cups

part A: mascarpone custard (allot an extra hour for this to chill!)
whisk egg yolks, sugar, and both milks together in a medium sized saucepan until blended.
heat over medium. stir constantly and bring to boil.
let boil gently for one minute, then remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes or so.
cover and chill in a plastic tub in the refrigerator for at least an HOUR.
after chilled, pour into a bowl and whisk in the mascarpone, honey, and 1/4 cup coffee until smooth.
refrigerate until you have completed the other parts.

part B: whipped cream
beat cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
--> try your best to time this JUST SO. when you get a sudden feeling of resistance from the cream, stop the beater and check the peaks. just lift the [turned off] beaters straight up from the mix. if there are literal peaks that stand on their own, congrats! if they are rounded or melt back down, you need to beat them some more.
set to the side or in the fridge until part C is complete.

part C: cake base
in a bowl, combine the rest of the coffee, rum, and amaretto.
slice and dice the angel food cake into one inch squares. i used about 7 squares per cup, so try for 90-100 just to be safe.
put the squares in another bowl, and pour the coffee sauce on top. the squares should soak up most of the liquids, but if not, stir them around to make sure everything is evenly coated.

now...time to layer! (note that what's listed first is what's on top!!)
(*) a pinch of unsweetened cocoa powder
(6) a spoonful of whipped cream, spread
(5) a smaller dollop of mascarpone custard, spread
(4) 3-4 squares of angel food cake
(3) a spoonful of whipped cream, spread
(2) a large dollop of mascarpone custard, spread (see above photo for a dollop)
(1) 4 squares of angel food cake

let chill in the fridge for a day, covered with foil or saran wrap. should make about 12 servings. then serve and enjoy!

*recipe modified from here. i changed some ratios, added honey and amaretto, and made this a layered, individual serving recipe.

**make it your own: add almond extract, hazelnut syrup to the whipping cream and more amaretto instead of rum; add some seedless raspberry jam to the custard or raspberry syrup to the whipped cream; use maple syrup instead of honey.

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