Pictures are coming!
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.
This is my third time making tiramisu and my first time making the mascarpone and lady fingers from scratch. I was impressed at the amount of work involved – the cream has four components! – but it went faster than I expected.
The cream involved:
1. zabaglione/zabaione (the former spelling is apparently a more old-fashioned one, but still the most used here; in Italy, I believe the second is more popular. Regardless of the spelling, the pronunciation is roughly what you see in the second way.) – a Marsala wine stirred custard (or foam, because it’s actually more whisked than stirred). I was really glad to see this used in the recipe, because 1) it means the eggs are cooked, which is safer, and 2) the best tiramisu I ever had, in a little restaurant in Fiesole, used zabaione.
2. pastry cream – a milk/cream stirred custard with a little starch
3. whipped cream
4. mascarpone cheese – cream curdled by being heated with a little acid (lemon juice)
These were all simply mixed together.
The lady fingers, or savoiardi biscuits, are made of a French meringue mixed with egg yolks and cake flour. This is piped onto a cookie sheet and baked. I cut my piping hole a little small (I’m a ziplock bag piper), so I made squiggly lines to make mine fat enough, and it came out really cute.
The tiramisu is three layers of the following: lady fingers dipped in espresso (or my roommate’s leftover coffee; sue me) topped with a layer of the cream mixture. The recipe didn’t say to, but I think we can all agree that cocoa powder is to be sifted on the top at the very end.
My friends and I enjoyed it immensely. The mixture of every cream-based substance under the sun ended
up with a very nice flavor. However, having tasted each component as I went along, I was a little sad to see all of these specific uses of cream mix into a homogeneous creaminess. I decided that the pastry cream doesn’t add much – the mixture is already all cream, eggs, and sugar, and it doesn’t have any special flavors or much of a different texture from the zabaione – and that next time I’ll double the zabaione and leave the pastry cream out. The zabaione carries the flavor of the Marsala – and if I got one critique from my tasters, it was “Make it boozier.” I’d also probably use more mascarpone and compensate by making a little less whipped cream. The lightness of this is great, but what’s the point of making your own mascarpone if you can’t even tell it’s there? I am now a huge fan of homemade lady fingers – they’re easier to make than I expected (and you don’t need a mold) and you can make them in different shapes.