A Daring Attempt to Make Tiramisu!

a perfect slice of tiramisu

homemade ladyfingers!

Another month and another Daring Baker’s Challenge.

You might remember last month’s challenge, when I made gluten free graham crackers and nainamo bars.

This month was more in my wheelhouse. Tiramisu. From scratch. Oh, I’ve made tiramisu a few times. Traditional with espresso and mascarpone. Not so traditional with strawberries and cointreau. But I’ve always purchased the ladyfingers and the mascarpone. This time, these clever bloggers were challenging me to make my own.

l to r: mascarpone, zabayon w/walnut wine, whipped cream, pastry cream, espresso, ladyfingers

And all this happened during the Week of Eating In, so cooking anyway, and could just divvy up the time for all the different steps involved in tiramisu over the course of a few days. During the week, we were hosting a party for 12, so I thought the heavens had aligned. I wouldn’t have to eat an entire tiramisu by myself. (Dennis likes tiramisu, but doesn’t LOVE it, and has far more self-control than I do.)

I recommend this dessert for those of you who are adventurous. It’s not hard, it’s just a matter of planning. A little time (about an hour) each day for three days.

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.

Here’s the way I planned my approach.

Tuesday: Mascarpone Cheese – Baking Obsession for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Wednesday: Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home,
And pastry cream and zabayon from the tiramisu recipe
Thursday: Tiramisu – Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post

Friday: serve

(not as pretty as I had hoped, but…. tastes amazing)

I made the mascarpone with the freshest most delicious cream,and the pastry cream and zabayon with beautiful farm fresh eggs
and milk that had just arrived at the market, in the classic glass bottle.
I substituted my homemade walnut wine for the Marsala, adding a spicy Christmas-y kind of undertone to the zabayon.
I brewed decaf espresso. No kidding. I gave up caffiene 10 years ago, and one piece of tiramisu could make me climb the walls if it was fully-caffienated.
I loved making the ladyfingers. Simple and satisfying. Felt like a good skill to have. They’re made from the most basic baking ingredients with no more than a sieve, a bowl, a big rubber spatula for folding, and an electric mixer. While the recipe suggested ladyfingers 5″ long and 3/4″ wide, I found a 3″ x 1″ ladyfinger was prettier and more useful.

I substituted homemade blood orange liqueur whenever the recipes called for vanilla extract.

And I warmed 1/3 c homemade raspberry jam into which I stirred 3 Tbls. orange liqueur, cooled, then poured over the bottom layer of ladyfingers, making this tiramisu a distant cousin to the trifle I made over Christmas.

I formed the tiramisu using a 10″ springform (no bottom pan) right on the platter on which I wanted to serve. I selected perfect small ladyfingers to make the outside layer.

I gave the finished tiramisu a full 24 hours to soak, macerate and develop.

So worth it. So worth it.
At the very least, make the mascarpone. It’s ridiculously easy, and you can stir the leftover into your grits the next day. Or stuff dates. Or do anything you would do with creme fraiche. Use very fresh cream.

By the way, the party was cancelled as there were storms, high winds, and the fear of more snow. I’m so sorry to have missed the chance to chat up the farmers and other members of the CSA, and hope we can reboot in about a month.

So, I have a huge tiramisu. It’s more than delicious, it tastes like the labor of love it is. If you are in the neighborhood, give me a call and come have a piece of tiramisu, and please please save me from eating the whole thing.

Here are some additional photos. The recipes are all linked.

the most demanding part of making mascarpone is waiting for 190• whipping egg whites for ladyfingers

sift flour over the eggwhites & yolks, folded together

gently fold until just combined
crackly topped ladyfingers

5 thoughts on “A Daring Attempt to Make Tiramisu!”

  1. Great job Cathy!
    I skipped this challenge for a bunch of reasons but now I am jealous. I'd come over for a bite if I could, believe me!

  2. Great job! Making mascarpone was fun, wasn't it? I'm bringing my tiramisu over to a party tomorrow so I don't eat all of it myself.

  3. oh man! now i'm reeeeeally sad parsnip appreciation night was cancelled. i too adore tiramisù and as a caterer i am often called to make it for big groups. since i don't want to deal with lots 'n' lots of lady fingers, i make genoise in a sheet pan and overbake it a titch. i like the genoise recipe in the '97 version of joy (p.948) — 1x recipe will fill a standard 1/2 sheet pan (12×17") and will yield enough cake for a tiramisù for about 12. the other advantage with this approach is you can cut the cake to any shape and build your dessert accordingly.

    and thanx for the "hoppin' john's" plug!

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