You know that saying, “When one door closes, another dessert appears?”
Well, now you do.
The door that closed on me this weekend was a completely disastrous attempt at blueberry pancakes. They stuck to the pan, they broke and then broke my heart.
And then, the Dessert Gods saved me with this miracle.
I’m not giving up on those pancakes, but this Tiramisu was a much need pick-me-up. Fun fact, that’s exactly what the word ‘tiramisu’ means. Don’t you just love how things work out sometimes 🙂
It looked the way it was supposed to, it tasted the way it was supposed to and it made me feel the way it was supposed to. Italy, you’re my one and only.
The thing about tiramisu is it isn’t very glamourous. At least, not the kind I ate in Italy. It arrived in a tiny bowl, with spongy ladyfingers (still can’t get over the fact that sponge biscuits can be called that) soaked in coffee, topped with a big blob of cream and mascarpone. Yum. But not earth-shatteringly beautiful. And if that’s how the Italians make it, it must be the right way, right?
The other strange thing. I didn’t taste the raw eggs in that particular tiny bowl either. But back home, I wanted to make an egg-free version, for my peace of mind and as an experiment. The only problem is ladyfingers whether readymade or homemade, usually have eggs. If you’re ok with that, but not with an eggy flavour, then this version of the topping is the one for you.
So. I did A LOT of research on what the best way was to make tiramisu. I found this from-scratch version and this egg-free, quick version. My kitchen is currently doing its best to barbeque me, so guess which one I went with 🙂
Foodesto (delivers home) is where you’ll find the ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese. A few of you know about my intense obsession to find whipping cream. The regular non-dairy versions are available at Crawford Market but I decided to make life harder for myself, and hunt down the Amul, 100% dairy version, India’s first apparently. Reliance Super at Mumbai Central finally took pity on me. Five sorry little Tetra Paks stood on a shelf. Obviously, no one uses this thing much.
And I admit, having to chill the cream, the bowl, the beaters, and preferably the room you’re working in, is a lot of trouble for a blob of white fluffy whipped goodness. But don’t hold back. It is so worth it. And when you have leftover tiramisu topping and you spoon it over ripe, chopped mangoes, you will want to go back to whipping cream for the rest of your life.
Whipping techniques and tips in this useful link.
So pretty much everything in this dish is done for you once you have the ingredients. Whip the cream, soak the ladyfingers and assemble. Ta da. No fuss, no pressure.
When that spoon dives in and hits all that coffee-soaked yumminess, don’t be alarmed if you see that the ladyfingers have released a bit of water or that they seem softer that you thought. We’re making tiramisu in criminal heat, these things happen. Plus, one bite and you’ll forget everything because it’s covered in whipped cream. Really, how can you go wrong?
It will taste PERFECT. Transport you to a little cafe on a little street in a little corner of Italy. You will taste coffee, cream and sweetness. Plus something more that we’ll call ecstasy.
I made some adjustments to the recipe so here’s my version 🙂 Be warned, this recipe makes a large amount of tiramisu so don’t make this if it’s just you at home. Unless you’re having a bad day.
What you’ll need:
1 200 gm pack of ladyfingers or Savoiardi biscuits
For the coffee syrup
2 cups strong brewed coffee (or 2 cups hot water with mixed 3 tbsps instant coffee powder; you might not use all the coffee but the original 1 cup finished way too fast)
1 tbsp caster sugar (ladyfingers are already sweetened so if you want a really good coffee hit, omit this)
For the topping
1 200 gm box of mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp coffee liqueur, optional
1 cup cold whipping cream (250 ml; if you get the 200 ml carton, that’s fine and won’t make a big difference to taste. I only found the 1 L carton so you can imagine my situation!)
1/3 cup caster sugar
What to do:
1. Make sure the cream is chilled in the carton itself at least overnight, if not more. Do not freeze.
2. About 2 hours before you begin, put the bowl you’ll beat the cream in, along with the beaters, into the fridge. The colder everything that touches the cream is, the easier and better the whip. If possible, work in a cooled room with the AC on.
3. In a small bowl, combine the coffee and sugar and set aside to cool to room temperature. Beat the mascarpone in a large bowl until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix. Set aside, preferably in the cooled room.
4. Begin whipping the cream in the chilled bowl. This shouldn’t take more than 4 to 5 minutes in our weather. You’re looking for the cream to go from frothy to thick and glossy with soft peaks that have rounded, blunt tops. The link I mentioned above is an incredible guide. When in doubt, do not over-beat or you’ll land up with butter.
5. Fold the whipped cream in two additions, into the mascarpone. Gently, so that you don’t lose all that lovely airy-ness.
6. Now assemble the tiramisu. Dip the ladyfingers for barely a second in the coffee and place them in a single layer in a large dish. Top with the cream and mascarpone mixture. Continue till you have 2 to 3 layers.
If you want to serve the tiramisu in individual glasses, start with the cream and mascarpone mixture first, then top with the soaked ladyfingers and continue.
Chill the tiramisu for 4 to 6 hours. The flavours will blend and the ladyfingers will soften. Before serving, dust the tops with cocoa powder and ladyfinger crumbs, if you have any left.
Happy Italy to you!