Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Recipe: Tiramisu

Of all the cakes and desserts that I could have chosen to learn first, I chose Tiramisu. Not by choice though... It's actually one of my mom's specialties and I adopted it fairly quickly. By the way, there's absolutely no baking involved in making tiramisu. I hate baking. Therefore, I like making tiramisu. Logic works.

Here's an example of a standing tiramisu cake. I made this last year for my girlfriend's birthday. She approved.

This amazing dessert actually comes in many different forms and styles. Urth Cafe in Los Angeles serves a Green Tea and Earl Grey variety, both of which are amazing. Tiramisu is great because it's not a seasonal item, able to be enjoyed year round. This allows for creativity, to create it with your own personality and twist!

I've made tiramisu in cake form, in deep dish form, and in a martini glass as well! It's actually incredibly hard to mess up this dessert, which makes it perfect for me (considering how much I hate baking)! Essentially, it's a coffee soaked biscuit (cookie/cake/etc) served in combination of a flavored marscapone cheese. In fact, I can argue that the marscapone is the star of this entire dessert. So please, don't buy a skim or low fat version of marscapone.

Let's first talk about the "no baking" part of this recipe. That's actually part of a clever marketing scheme, created by me, to make you interested in making this dessert! There's actually no baking involved, ever, in tiramisu! In fact... taking care of the pastry component is by far the easiest task! I recommend using store bought Lady Fingers, Chiffon Cake, or Angel Food Cake as the base of this dessert.

This is also where our paths can slightly deviate! To create a "standing" tiramisu cake, I suggest not using lady fingers for it does not have enough structure to stand on itself. I somewhat inherited an amazing chiffon cake recipe from my mom (ok, I guess I can bake, but I still hate it!) and with it, can bake a large, fluffy, sponge cake shaped to my liking. This personalization in shape, thickness, and structure is needed to allow your cake to stand upright.

Ok so I lied a little bit, you may need to know how to bake if you decide to make a standing cake as shown above. But if you decide to make tiramisu in the classic bowl/dish/glass method, it simplifies the process! This is definitely my go-to-recipe when I'm in need of a dessert. From start to finish, you can have this tiramisu ready in less than three hours!

- Cake/Pastry Base
- Espresso/Green Tea
- 1/4 cup Marsala Wine
- 1/4 cup White Wine
- 1/4 cup Sugar + 1 tbsp for whipping
- 1-4 shots Rum/Brandy/Sake (for the Green Tea variety)
- 4 Egg Yolks
- Chocolate (Dark + Espresso, White + Green Tea for combinations)
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 lb Marscapone Cheese
- Cocoa Powder/Green Tea Matcha Powder

- For those of you who want a more fragrant and decadent tiramisu, I suggest adding 1/4 cup more Marsala and 1 more egg yolk (total 5 egg yolks, 1/2 cup marsala).

- Work slow! Temperature is a key factor in this! If you work slow and the ingredients warm up to room temperature, your tiramisu is going to become a slop!
- Skimp out on the Marscapone Cheese! Use the highest quality one you can buy!

Prepare Your Zabaglione

Perhaps the hardest part of this recipe. We must temper and froth our eggs with Marsala and Wine to create zabagalione.

Add your egg yolks, sugar, marsala, and white wine into a large mixing bowl.

Place on top of a double boiler and whisk until you see ribbons. For those of you who have never used the double boiler technique before: Bring a pot filled with 2 inches of water up to a boil. Afterwards, bring the heat down to medium low and place the bowl on top.

The consistency should appear as a medium drip off your whisk and the volume will almost double in size. Once this is done, cover the bowl and chill until cold. This should take 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Prepare Your Cheese

Once your zabaglione is chilled, fold it into your marscapone cheese.

Pastry chefs! Do not yell at me! I know, you're supposed to fold them in batches to keep the fluffy consistency! But I make up for it in the next step! By first folding together the marscapone cheese and zabaglione, we lighten up the mixture for the addition of the next air component!

Whip 1 cup of heavy whipping cream with 1 tbsp of sugar. If you're trying to stretch out or lighten up your cheese mixture, use 2 cups of whipping cream and 2 tsbp of sugar instead.

If you don't have a standing mixer, you can always whisk by hand! 

Be sure that the heavy cream is cold. Warm or room temperature cream will not whip correctly!

Fold the whipped cream into your cheese mixture gently. For those of us trying to make a standing cake, I recommend chilling this cheese mixture for 1 more hour. This firms the mixture up for better cake building.

Prepare Your Cake And Assemble

When I made this tiramisu, I was in desperate need of ingredients. I could not find any quality lady fingers anywhere, so I ended up buying one package of soft lady fingers from Ralphs, and Angel Food Cake. I have two different sets of pictures here, detailing both coffee and green tea varieties.

Layer the bottom of your deep dish.

In this picture above, I did not use enough espresso. I brewed only 2 cups for the entire dessert. I should have doubled this amount. I also prefer using brandy as opposed to white rum as some recipes suggest. 1 Cup of espresso to 1/2 shot of alcohol will do the trick. If using Green Tea, brew Matcha Green Tea (make it potent, with more tea) and add 1/2 shot of sake per cup of tea.

Add in half of your cheese mixture. Make sure to tap your dish onto a towel on your counter to set the cheese mixture and eliminate air pockets. 

Chop chocolate/white chocolate up into bits and layer some on top of your cheese mixture! I prefer high quality dark chocolate, and baking white chocolate (other types of white chocolate melt too quickly when working with it).

Be sure to dust a layer of cocoa powder or matcha powder in between the layers. After assembling, chill your tiramisu for at least 1-2 hours before serving, depending on size. The marscapone zabaglione will firm up, giving a rich, decadent, and fragrant cheese filling. All that's left to do is to serve with a large spoon!

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