Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers-Tiramisu'

It is that time of the month already, can you believe it? I can't, life is so busy, I can't seem to catch up and I am not even working right now. This time I am prepared though, done with the challenge on time. Pictures are really bad, I waited until now to take them and there is no light left, all obscured by a dark cloud. One day I will have a good camera! For now, the i-phone has to do.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

I love this dessert, I named the blog after it because of the sinfulness and the simplicity. Tiramisu' means pick me up in Italian, a name that fits this rich dessert containing espresso, cheese, eggs and sugar. What I liked about the challenge was the thought of making mascarpone (something I have always wanted to try), and the biscotti Savoiardi, what we call lady fingers in Italian. I had only seen recipes for homemade mascarpone using tartaric acid, not lemon juice, so I was intrigued as tartaric acid is not something you can easily find. And the cookies turned out easier that I thought, so fear you not, if you have the time, these recipes are really fool proof.

I started making Tiramisu' soon after moving to the States since I grew up eating it and the ones I tried in restaurants were always disappointing. I didn't start with a recipe as I knew the ingredients, the method, and how it was supposed to taste. It took me three trials until I found the perfect combination. I normally make Tiramisu' with fresh eggs, and I love making it because it is one of the easiest dessert to make, if you use store bought ingredients it can be ready in 15 minutes, yes 15. Not to mention the effect it has on people! I normally use imported mascarpone since the domestic ones are not quite right, if you had tasted the real thing you would know what I am talking about. Yes, you can call me a snob, which is kind of true in many things Italian. Two blocks from my Venetian home there used to be a cheese store, or latteria Plip, knows as La Plip, and they used to make their own mascarpone. It was stored in little plastic tubs, nested in waxed white paper. It was so creamy and sweet, you could eat it by the spoonfuls. During the summer they wouldn't make it as it spoils really easily. Sadly, like many other small stores that couldn't survive the slow death Venice is suffering, the latteria is now defunct, and in its space there is a snack bar. RIP.

Mascarpone is pronounced with the "e" at the end, not like mascarpon, and the "e" is pronounced like in red not like in reed. Every letter is pronounced in Italian, and if you want to actually "hear" how it is pronounced check this post at Briciole, go to the bottom and click on the audio file to hear Simona's voice. The post has also wonderful instructions on how to make mascarpone.

This comes from the original post by Deeba and Aparna, to illustrate the history of this dessert:

So when, where and how was tiramisu born? Tiramisu is said to have its origins in Treviso (Italy), and there are quite a few stories about how it came to be created. One story traces the tiramisu as far back as the Renaissance claiming that it was first made in honour of the visit of Grand Duke Cosimo di Medici to Tuscany. Yet another one points to the tiramisu being an adaptation of the "Zuppa Inglese" referring to the sponge cake and cream layered English Trifle. However, experts in this area generally agree that the tiramisu as we know it today, was born in the ‘70s. Some believe that the Tiramisu was created in the the Le Beccherie (a restaurant in Treviso). Others suggest that Tiramisu was first made in 1971 by an Italian baker named Carminantonio Iannaccone in a small bakery in Treviso, Italy.

I am not sure where this dessert originated, the common version is that it comes from the Veneto region of Italy, where Venice is located. Tiramisu' is a staple in Italian restaurants, probably because it is so easily made and everyone loves it.

You can find the complete recipe and admire other bakers' creations here.

My notes:
* The gently heating the recipe calls for didn't work. My cream never reached 190F in the double boiler even with the little bubbles raising to the top. I had to heat it directly in a pot. Like the recipe says, the cream was really liquid and when I poured it in the sieve, half went right through, raising concerns that I would not have enough the next day. I then consulted the daring kitchen forum and it turned out that the cheesecloth was the problem, I used a napkin instead and the problem was solved. The cream thickened in the fridge and tasted amazing. I will never look back again and will only make my own mascarpone from now on.

* The recipe for ladyfingers is really easy, don't be scared, they look beautiful and are really light. I thought they needed a little bit more sugar, but for this purpose it wouldn't matter as they are soaked in coffee anyway.

* I decided to skip the pastry cream and the zabaglione since they are not traditional in the recipe and we were not required to make them. I just used my method of separating the eggs, whipping the yolks with half the sugar, adding the mascarpone, whipping the whites with the rest of the sugar, and folding all together. This version is light, not too sweet and oh so creamy. I normally use 3-4 eggs per 500 gr of mascarpone, and sugar to taste. I add only enough whites to create a creamy light texture, and whip the mascarpone with the yolks to make it stiffer. The savoiardi are dipped in cold espresso coffee to which I might add some brandy, or cognac, depending who is going to eat it.

* I ended up making few things with the cream: a traditional Tiramisu' that will be served for dinner tonight, and then I folded ground espresso powder in the cream and froze it to create a semifreddo, then I sandwiched the disk in between round ladyfingers.

Tiramisu' semifreddo sandwich

Thank you Aparna and Deeba for this month's challenge and to Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, the creators of the Daring Bakers' challenge.


Mary said...

I love the semifreddo sandwich! I froze some of the filling too, but just scooped it into a bowl. Yours looks much nicer!

Dragon said...

Your Tiramisu is lovely. :) Great job on this challenge!

Elra said...

I want to be honest with you Laura. I don't really follow the step exactly. You know when I heated the cream I never really measure the temperature, cause I don't own candy thermometer. So, I just use my own intuition. And cooked the cream on a very low heat, until a bit thicken (maybe more then I should) but, it worked for me. I used cheesecloth and had no problem at all. In fact, only very little liquid came out from it. Anyway, like you, I'll never go and buy store bought mascarpone again.

Well done on this month challenge!
Have a wonderful weekend,

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love your take on this recipe! Lovely!



bakercoz said...

I love how you did your photography, everything looks wonderful

Aparna said...

Its nice to know from someone who has had "real" mascarpone that this one is good.
Like your "sandwich" Tiramisu. Thanks for baking with us.

Dharm said...

great job on the challenge! I love what you did with the Tiramisu especially the sandwhich. I think a lot of us had issued with the cream temperature but mine actually thickened up quite a bit. You did just great. Well Done!

Deeba PAB said...

Laura, your Tiramisu is divine. Love your blog, and love the name you've given it. I could virtually live here!! I've done the mascarpone with Vera's recipe for really long, but now use a thin steel inner bowl and keep the water on a rolling boil. I abandoned the thermometer a while ago, and once bubbles start appearing, I know it's ready to welcome the lime juice. I love your sandwich-misu! It's adoreable! Was here yesterday in search of dessert, and back today! Thank you for playing along!

Laura said...

Mary, I froze mine in round cookie cutters. I guess you could pipe it in rounds and freeze that way.

Dragon, long time no see. Thanks!

Elra, part of the fun is to challenge yourself right? We finally have some sunshine today! It is going to be a great Sunday!

Rosa, thanks for always stopping by, you are the best!

Bakercoz, thanks for stopping by!

Hi Aparna, and thanks for choosing the recipe! I wouldn't have waited longer to make mascarpone if it hadn't been for you guys. YUM!

Dharm, thanks for the encouragement!

Deeba, thanks again for opening my eyes to this method, and it is so much cheaper to make than to buy it and it tastes 10X better. Happy baking!

chef_d said...

The tiramisu semifreddo is interesting and looks very delicious, I loved reading your entry on tiramisu, it's very informative. Great pictures!

enza said...

eccomi ad ammirare e a pensare che prima o poi torner√≤ ai db, prima o poi :)§

Simona said...

Le tue creazioni sono sempre carinissime. Il sandwich e' delizioso. Anche io prima di imparare a fare il mascarpone lo compravo di importazione. Il metodo che uso io e' un po' diverso, ma si puo' fare sia con l'acido tartarico che con il succo di limone. Buona domenica.

Gaia said...

che meraviglia e che bell'idea questa versione!

Laura said...

Great to see your take on tiramisu. Lovely job!

Marcellina said...

What a delicious tiramisu! Great ideas! I love your blog too.

Anonymous said...

It looks fabulous! I know what you mean about not having time to photograph it though, I made a Japanese plum wine tiramisu for a dinner party and ran out of time, I could hardly ask the guests to forgo dessert because I had not done a photo shoot could I?

Jenny Tan said...

Laura, love your tiramisu and your semifreddo sandwich. I'll have to try this recipe when I get the chance...had to skip this challenge this time...just had too much on my plate! :P Well done! ;)

Anonymous said...

The semifreddo sandwich loosk awesome!!! Good job on the challenge.

Laura said...

Chef_D, the cream can be frozen and it is delicious. Thanks for stopping by.

Enza, ti aspetto, sono sicura che sarai pronta prima o poi.

Simona, mi piacerebbe provare con l'acido tartarico quando riesco a trovarlo, per confrontarlo. Devo dire che e' venuto molto buono con il limone.

Gaia, un piacere vederti e grazie per la visita ;o)

Laura, thanks for stopping by.

Marcellina, yes the tiramisu' tasted heavenly. I would love to check out your blog too.

Peasepudding, you made me laugh, stealing the plate from the guest to take a pictures. I had lot of those moments were I wished I could take a picture of the dish.

Jenny Tan, sorry to hear that you couldn't do the challenge, but please try the recipes, they are really good.

as269, thanks for stopping by!

natural selection said...

I'm really happy I found this blog it's brilliant, you have great skill!

Bake in Paris said...

Love tiramisu semifreddo, simply tempting!!!

I was just wondering whether using fresh eggs (both egg yolks and whites) is actually the traditional Italian way of making tiramisu?

Sawadee from bangkok,

Laura said...

Natural Selection, I am really touched and flattered, thank you!

Kris, thanks for stopping by. There less fear of salmonella contamination in Italy, I am not sure why. I really never had a problem making tiramisu'. I use fresh eggs, always keep it refrigerated, eat it within a day. I read somewhere that studies showed that only one in 10,000 eggs actually contain salmonella bacteria and even when there is trace of it, it really takes bad handling to cause the bacteria to multiply to a dangerous level.

Lisa Michelle said...

I love that this month's challenge is the name of your blog..hehe. That said..your tiramisu turned out beautiful, as did the photos..and 'wow' to that tiramisu filling semifreddo sandwich!

ice tea: sugar high said...

Tiramisu semifredo... how ingenious of you! Thanks for the inspiration =)


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