I’m a sucker for cookies, cake, coffee and ice cream, and I love when I can combine all these ingredients and turn it into a cold coffee ice cream float. Really yummy but just too much work for something I can finish at one go (gluttony at its best). Who has time to first brew coffee, then allow it to cool before freezing it and then blend the whole concoction up? Being a mom, time is scarce, so this is kept for special occasions.
There are just a handful of sweet things I crave and most of it, you guessed it, must have some coffee in it.
Tiramisu is one of my favourite cakes. The layers of luscious smooth cream with the aromatic espresso soaked sponge fingers and just the faintest hint of the heat from liquor. I could eat a whole cake, over the course of four days. C’mon, you thought I could eat it at one go? That’s crazy.
For my husband’s birthday, I decided to bake, hmm perhaps the right term should be make since no baking is required, a tiramisu cake. Even though he isn’t fond of Tiramisu, I went ahead with it because it had all the ingredient I loved
The recipe calls for mascarpone cheese which is a rich, velvety smooth cream and quite pricey. This is one recipe in which you cannot substitute the cheese with another (cream cheese or ricotta). Some recipes allows for this substitution but the end result, though it may look like Tiramisu, will not taste like it at all. So if you cannot get your hands on good grade mascarpone cheese, I suggest you drop the idea of making it.
Most recipes call for the same ingredients so you can pretty much pick any recipe from the world wide web because there isn’t much changes you can do to the original recipe. But how you make it, can differ.
Generally there are two ways of making Tiramisu. The simplest way requires no cooking at all. It’s entirely raw but since tiramisu has eggs in it and I wanted to turn it into an ice cream, I decided to go with the next option, where a little cooking is required. Plus, I wasn’t entirely sure how fresh my eggs were. So to be safe, let’s go with option two, with a little cooking involved.
2 teaspoon coffee* dissolved in 1/2 cup hot water, let it cool
6 egg yolk
1 cup sugar*
250gm mascarpone cheese
1 1/2 cup heavy cream ( I used whipping cream)*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 boxes lady fingers
Some cocoa powder (look for unsweetened)
You start by bringing everything (except for the cream) out of your refrigerator so that it will come to room temperature by the time you are ready to whip up the cheese and putting a large clean stainless steel bowl into the fridge.
Start with the coffee if you are using instant coffee but freshly brewed espresso is always the best and let it cool. *Somehow coffee has a bitter taste but this time you are allowed to substitute coffee for espresso as the difference isn’t noticeable.
Next, prepare a bubble bath for the egg yolks and sugar *(you can use granulated sugar or fine for this recipe because it will dissolve in heat). You have turn these two ingredients into a velvety ribbon like, light yellowish custard. Start with boiling some water in a pot and cover that pot with bowl. Bring down the heat to a simmer and add the egg yolks into this bowl. Whisk it to combine and slowly add in sugar. This is the hardest part, you have to keep whisking it. You cannot leave it alone, not even for a second. This could take anywhere between 5 minutes to 10. Just keep at it and you will end up with a rich beautiful custard. If the mixture thickens too much, once the sugar has dissolved into finer grains, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk ad keep whisking it. You know you are done, once you have reached a smooth, runny texture and put it aside to cool. It is fine if all the sugar has not dissolved because it will as you put it aside while you work on whipping cheese and cream. You may want to transfer this custard into a larger bowl that can hold mascarpone cheese and whipped cream.
Take out the cream and pour it into the cooled bowl. Whip this until you reach stiff peaks. If you don’t own an electrical whip, this can take a while, a long long while. Almost 20 minutes. Look at it as a good arm workout before you indulge and pack back all the calories your burned.
By the time you get to the mascarpone cheese, it would have reached room temperature and ready to be added into the rest of the ingredients. Run a fork into the cheese to make sure there are no large lumps before adding it to the cooled egg yolk and sugar mixture (I’ll refer to this as custard). Mix to combine the cheese and the custard. Once well combined, slowly add the whipped cream. Gently fold in the whipped cream into the custard and cheese mixture. Don’t overmix it as you don’t want to lose all air that you so painfully incorporated into the cream while whipping it. Use the folding technique; check out youtube videos on how to fold whipped cream.
Phew! Finally we reach the last stage. The assembling stage like we do for lasagne.
Start by dipping (really quickly) the sponge fingers into the cooled coffee and arranging it in your tray or glass serving dish. Make sure to neatly and tightly pack these fingers. Once you have fully covered the bottom of you dish with fingers, scoop in the cheese mixture on it. Use half of the content in the bowl. Repeat with the sponge fingers, followed by the remaining cheese mixture. Usually many would dust cocoa powder on the assembled Tiramisu before putting it in the fridge for at least 8 hours but I didn’t.
I cling wrapped my Tiramisu and left it in the fridge for 8 hours. Take it out and enjoy a slice or two. I found it a little too sweet for my liking so i decided to turn it into an ice cream by adding two layers of foil onto the existing cling wrap and transferring this cake to the freezer.
The beauty of this, you can keep for a couple of months and cut out a slice whenever you feel like it. You cannot completely thaw this. It will turn mushy. The best way to enjoy a piece is by taking out of the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes, this will allow the cream to softened a little so it will be easier to cut out a slice. Dust some cocoa powder and enjoy a cold slice of ice cream cream. BY the time you are ready to enjoy this cake, it would have softened but still remain cold and it would not be too sweet. Something about turning it into an ice cream, magically cuts out the sweetness of the cake.
If you like to play with your food like I, take out a third of the cheese mixture and use it to make Green Tiramisu cake. It’s not like the original coffee Tiramisu but why not?
To make this, you swap the coffee to green tea. Dip the sponge fingers into the cooled green tea, arrange them neatly and pour all the cheese mixture on the sponge fingerts. Refrigerate for 8 hours and enjoy. Cut a slice and dust it with Matcha powder.