After receiving an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house, I immediately went on the hunt for the perfect savoury-sweet end to what was sure to be a fantastic turkey dinner. Usually I bring an appetizer or side, but this year I was assigned dessert, something that’s slightly outside of my comfort zone. After interrogating everyone I know for recipes, the idea of tiramisu was laid at my feet, and after reading the recipe, I knew it would be my contribution to this year’s culinary festivities.
An Italian dessert, tiramisu, which translates to “pick me up,” is a ladyfinger and mascarpone custard-layered delight with hints of coffee, rum, and cocoa; the perfect mixture to combat the sleepy after-effects of tryptophan-laden turkey dinner.
Although there are many variations to tiramisu, I decided to stick to the Joy of Baking’s quick, easy, and tasty recipe.
Preparation time: 30 - 45 minutes
Cooking time: Although this is a bake-free dessert, there is a wee bit of cooking involved in this recipe. That being said, tiramisu should be refidgerated for at least six hours before serving, and is best prepared the day before to allow the ladyfingers to soften and the flavours to meld. For a firmer tiramisu, place it in the freezer for an hour or two before serving.
Serving: Makes 8 – 10 servings
28 – 32 Ladyfingers (also called savoiardi)
*Note: Use store-bought ladyfingers. It will save you bucket-loads of time and because they tend to be more firm than homemade, they tend to retain their shape after being dipped and layered with custard.*
Ladyfinger Coffee-Soaking Syrup:
1 ½ cups (360ml) very strong brewed coffee or espresso
1/3 cup (65g) granulated white sugar
¼ (60ml) Marsala or dark rum (I used Sailor Jerry’s Spiced Rum)
2 cups (480ml) milk, divided
¾ cup (150g) granulated white sugar
¼ cup (35g) all purpose flour
6 large egg yolks
¼ cup (60ml) Marsala or dark rum
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup (57g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup (8oz/227g) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
Topping: (pick one, all, or your own!)
Cocoa Powder (for garnishing)
1oz (30g) hard chocolate, grated or chopped
Since you will need the custard to layer the ladyfingers, I suggest you start here. Grab a medium-size sauce pan, filling it with 1 ¾ cups (420ml) of milk and a ½ cup (100g) of sugar. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
In between stirs, grab a heat-durable bowl and whisk together the rest of the milk (¼ cup (60ml)), ¼ cup of sugar, ¼ cup flour and six egg yolks**.
**Note: Six egg yolks?!? That’s a lot! And then what do you do with the egg whites from six eggs? I made meringue cookies!
Once the milk has reached its boiling point, remove it from the stove and gradually whisk it into the milk/sugar/flour/yolk mixture you just prepared.
Transfer this concoction back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a boil.
Once boiling, stir until it thickens—a few minutes—and then whisk in a ¼ cup (60ml) of rum—making sure to have a small nip yourself, if that’s your thing—2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and ¼ cup (57g) of butter, cut into small pieces.
Immediately cover the surface of the bowl with plastic wrap (this will prevent a thick crust from forming across the top of the custard) and place it in the fridge until it’s thick and completely chilled (at least two hours).
Once the custard has fully cooled in the fridge, beat the mascarpone (1 cup (8oz) in a separate bowl with a spoon until it’s soft and smooth, (I actually warmed the mascarpone up a few degrees to ensure a smooth transition into the custard), then gently fold it into custard and combine until smooth.
The Ladyfinger coffee-soaking syrup:
Firstly, in the name of creating less dirty dishes, rinse and dry the bowl you chilled the custard in. Then combine the espresso (1 ½ cups (360ml)), sugar (1/3 cup (65g)) and rum (¼ cup (60ml)), having yet another nip, if that’s your thing. Lick your spoon and add more rum, espresso or sugar to taste.
Line a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan with plastic wrap, making sure the edges of the wrap extend over the sides of the pan. **Note: I don’t own this size loaf pan, so I used my two bread pans. Use what you have/what works, just make sure to have enough ladyfingers to create tight cookie-layers.
Begin by dipping one ladyfinger at a time in the coffee-rum mixture and laying it in the bottom of the pan. Once the bottom is fully formed, spoon about one third of the custard across the ladyfingers, making sure each cookie is completely covered. Repeat until pan is filled and all the ladyfingers and custard have been used.
To Serve: Peel away the plastic from the top of the tiramisu and gently invert it from the pan onto a serving platter, removing the remaining wrap. Decorate top, slice, enjoy!