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.
I chose to make my tiramisu into a trifle . I used the homemade Savoiardi biscuits on the bottom and in the middle and layered it with coffee flavoured cream, made from the homemade mascarpone, pastry cream and a coffee flavoured zabaglione and some plain whipped cream.
The Savoiardi biscuits were very easy to make and I would definitely make them again for this or other desserts. Making the mascarpone was a first for me and it turned out great, despite having trouble getting my cream to 190° F. I finally determined it was “done” when it levelled out at 170° and it turned out perfectly fine (phew!). It is also quite a bargain to make it at home. A carton of mascarpone around here is around $10, while the 500 ml of whipping cream cost less than $5. I’ll definitely make my own from now on!
There are a lot of steps here, so spreading it out over a couple of days makes it seem more manageable. I made the savoiardi and mascarpone two days before serving. The next morning, I made the pastry cream and zabaglione, left them to chill all day and assembled the Tiramisu Trifle later that day. It was then left in the fridge for 24 hours and enjoyed for dinner the next day. Here are my “cast of characters” ready to be mixed together into the trifle.
Since I was only preparing this for my family of 3 (including one picky teenager), I didn’t include any booze in mine. I also took it a bit easy on the coffee flavour, using regular coffee (not espresso) to dip the savoiardi and flavour the zabaglione. All in all, a fun challenge. Thanks Aparna and Deeba!
Lessons Learned: I had done two layers of whipped cream in mine but felt it was a bit too much whipped cream, so in the recipe below, I’ve included only one plain whipped cream layer in the middle. Don’t skimp on the cocoa as it makes the layers very pretty as well as making a lovely contrast in taste with the cream. This recipe would make an equally nice individual dessert presentation, layering the ingredients in clear drinking glasses and the addition of a chocolate pudding-like layer would be nice, as well. Finally, I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the assembly recipe and accidentally put ALL of the mascarpone I made into the coffee cream. Still tasted great, but of course, now my tiramisu trifle has a zillion calories (instead of just the million it would have had) and is being applied to my hips as we speak ;)
TWO DAYS AHEAD: PREPARE THE SAVOIARDO BISCUITS AND MASCARPONE
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons / 75 g. granulated sugar
3/4 cup/ 95 g. cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons / 50 g. confectioner’s sugar,
Preheat your oven to 350° F (175° C.), 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.
Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
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)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
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. (*Mine never got to 190 in the double boiler but seemed to level out at about 170. I got tired of stirring so I called it done, added the lemon juice and proceeded. Next time I might try heating directly in a heavy-bottom pot to get it to 190 more easily and quickly).
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, where it will firm up nicely.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.
ONE DAY AHEAD (MORNING): PREPARE THE ZABAGLIONE AND PASTRY CREAM
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (or Marsala)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
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.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the coffee (or Marsala), 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.
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk
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.
ONE DAY AHEAD (AFTERNOON/EVENING): PREPARE THE WHIPPED CREAM AND ASSEMBLE
For the whipped cream:
1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
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 Trifle
1 cup brewed coffee, warmed
Optional: Add some alcohol, such as rum, Kahlua etc. to the brewed coffee
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
24 large savoiardi biscuits
3 – 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Have ready a glass bowl or trifle bowl.
Mix together the warm coffee and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup of 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 coffee zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in about 2/3 of the whipped cream. Set this coffee cream mixture aside, as well as the remaining 1/3 whipped cream.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu trifle:
Working quickly, line the bottom of the trifle bowl with a layer of the biscuits, broken in half where necessary to form an generous, even layer. Using a pastry brush, brush biscuits with coffee. They should be moist but not soggy.
Spoon one-half of the coffee 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. Dust generously with cocoa powder. Spoon a layer of whipped cream over using the reserved 1/3 and dust again with cocoa powder.
Add another layer of biscuits and brush with coffee. Spoon the remaining half of the pastry cream mixture over the ladyfingers and finish with a generous dusting of cocoa powder.
Cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu trifle overnight.