Saturday, February 27, 2010

Yet another challenge - Making Tiramisu with Daring Bakers

My blog is gaining popularity. I never aimed it to be popular because I felt a dwarf when i first started blogging. Some great blogs exist which are well-rounded in terms of recipes, photography and loads of creativity. My blogversary is in a month's time and I am really happy that the thing which started just as an attempt to document and share my recipes is growing and was a source of enormous learning for myself. The only thing I make sure is that all my recipes are kitchen tested several times and received great feedbacks. This has paid me off. Thankyou all.

Talking about popularity, many of my friends suggest ideas on what to post next and their ideas are very valuable for me. Tiramisu - a classic Italian dessert was one such suggestion. Honestly I had never tasted it, or even if I did, I don't remember. I tried it in a local Italian dessert to check what it tastes like. I did all the research on making it from scratch and was about to give it a shot when this challenge came up. I was jumping with joy since a lot of research undergoes when selecting a challenge and hosts are pro-active to address any issues, DBs (Daring Bakers) are having. 

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

Moreover, I had a big dinner for 10 families coming up on 25th so I thought it was the perfect timing to double the quantity of the recipe and present it as a side sweet-dish. No need to tell that it was an instant hit and it was finished before i got a chance to taste it. I couldn't even take decent photographs of that dish. I did however assembled an individual serving for tasting and photographing. 

Now to the problems, I had trouble in getting the dessert properly set. Although I chilled it overnight, yet the 'cream' wasn't properly set and there were no neat layers. May be I didn't whip the cream stiff enough. Any suggestions, please comment.

The recipe can be divided into 5 stages. Don't worry, if you are pressed for time or in no mood to make everything from scratch, Lady fingers biscuits/Savoiardi and Mascarpone cheese can be purchased from the supermarket. Rest is pretty straightforward. As a part of challenge, we had to make Savoiardis and Mascarpone cheese. I loved how they both turned out specially cheese. Mascarpone is very expensive here and equally opposite cheap to make it at home. The other three 'stages' are whipped cream, vanilla pastry cream and Zabaglione. These are the components of a perfect Tiramisu along with a generous dusting of cocoa powder. 

How I approached the challenge was 
1. Making Savoiardis on Sunday - Store them in air-tight container for upto one week
2. Make Mascarpone on Monday
3. Make Zabaglione, Vanilla Pastry Cream, whipped cream on Tuesday
4. Assemble everything on Wednesday
5. Serve it on Thursday

Yes it does require planning but is worth it.
Following is the recipe from the original Daring Baker's post and my comments in red colors.

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings [you can double is easily as I did]
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee) [I used 1/4 cup coffee made with 1/4 cup water and 1/4 tsp coffee]
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk
For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%) [I used normal whole milk whipping cream, the only cream available here]
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed [I used 2 cups coffee made with 2 cups hot water and 2 tsp instant coffee]
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)  [I didnt' use it for religious reason]
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese [see recipe below]
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less) [see recipe below]
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder
For the zabaglione: 
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water. [I used stainless steel bowl]
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the pastry cream: 
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.
To assemble the tiramisu: 
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Working quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do) [I just used full fat whipping cream, the only cream available here]
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Note: I made half quantity of above and it yielded enough cheese for double the Tiramisu recipe.
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.
(Source: Recipe from 
Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers. [I doubled the recipe]
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,
Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.


  1. ok!!! looks great but tooooo complicated :( i have been dying to try n make this but ummm its kind of freaking me out ! bravo on ur effort!:)

  2. You Mini-Tiramisu looks good. Great job on this challenge.

  3. @ Me, i posted an option of quick version too, buy mascarpone and lady fingers from supermarket, rest is pretty straightforward
    thanks Mamatkamal

  4. Lovely tiramisu. Very nicely done.

  5. Good job! I also had problems with the fridge version - it wouldn't really set. The freezer version was fine, though.

  6. It looks delicious and I can see why your guests loved it! Mine set up fine, so I can't help you there. Was your pastry cream really thick? I also beat the zablagione when it was cooking so it was really thick too.

  7. both were really thick and i was quite sure that it would setup well, may be i should have freezed it for a while

  8. Your tiramisu is beautiful don't worry. This dessert was really never intended to stand alone. I froze mine otherwise I found it just melted too easily. Others added gelatine. I really think it is meant to be a scoop out dessert. Yours is perfect!

  9. Your tiramisu looks good. The cream tends to be soft sometimes. Whipping the cream really well helps. Also if your mascarpone was a bit soft, that might have also contributed.
    But Tiramisu is meant to be a bit soft, semi-freddo like.

    Nadia, if you freeze your tiramisu, you cut it into neat slices. Then put it back in the freezer and bring it out and put it in the fridge for about 1/2 an hour to an hour before serving.
    This will work.

  10. Well done Nadia. Your tiramisu is whimsical and so pretty! It was actually meant to be a sccop out dessert, and not a stand alone one.
    Well done on the challenge... we loved hosting it!!

  11. thanks deeba and arpana, i loved making it :)

  12. my ladyfinger buscuits are failing miserably:( i am a sad sad baker today !
    they are not spongy very runny...and weird !

  13. Mehwish, how did ur batter look like? were the egg whites really stiff beaten?


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