Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tanti Auguri a Te

How fitting: my Italian roommate’s favorite dessert if Tiramisu. I have to admit that I don’t love apple pie. I don’t even like it that much. So I’m not as ‘American as apple pie,’ I’d have to say. But my roommate, he’d be as ‘Italian as tiramisu’ if that were a saying. It was his birthday this month so naturally, I put myself to making some tiramisu.

I’ve made it once before, but it was years ago and I don’t remember where I got the recipe, so I looked at my standby, and found a traditional, simple recipe. My one concern was the marsala wine: sure you could find it here, but there are so many substitutions (I found out online), one of them being sherry. So, as I’m in the land of sherry, it wasn’t a hard decision to throw in some Pedro Ximenez.

Being in the land of sherry (Spain) this also means that I’m in the land without my appliances, so the whipping of the egg whites had to be done by hand (yall should see my arm now), as did the whipping of the cream. The latter was a bit harder. I had already spent about 15 minutes (including breaks) whipping the egg whites to stiff-ish peaks, so I was getting sore. I poured the cream into a metal pan and began to whisk and after about 10 minutes not much was happening except lots of little bubbles, but no thickening really. Then I looked at the box and realized I was using light cream (of course it didn’t say it on the front, where one might think to put it), labeled on the side as 18% fat. So then I gave up and poured some of the cream in, not all though, because it was still mostly liquid. So, my words of advice before making this: get full-fat, heavy whipping cream, and get egg-beaters. Oh my poor KitchenAid mixer back home, missing me…

Tiramisu, alle Spagnolo

3 eggs
¾ c sugar
1 c mascarpone
½ c cream
2 c coffee
2 Tbsp sweet sherry (like Pedro Ximenez)
a bag of ladyfingers
cocoa powder

First I got the coffee mixture ready, and since I’m not a coffee drinker I used instant powder, two bags for two cups boiling water. Then I added the sherry, stirred and let sit. Next, I separated the eggs and over very low heat on the stove, mixed the egg yolks with all but a tablespoon or two of the sugar, whisking the whole time so they don’t cook and stick to the bottom of the pan. After about 2 or 3 minutes, they’re done so take off the heat, and mix in the mascarpone. Now comes the whippin’ time. Use your electric mixer or your muscles and beat the egg whites until soft peaks, and then add the remaining sugar and beat until stiff peaks and fold into the mascarpone mixture. Then whip your cream and fold that in as well. Now you’re ready to assemble. First, get yourself a clear glass container, so you can see the layers when you’re done. Dip each ladyfinger in the coffee just to get each bit wet, but not soaking (although some of mine ended up soaking, this could have been a cause of the excess liquid when I served it…) and lay side by side in the bottom of the dish. Then spread with a layer of the mascarpone cream and sift some cocoa powder on top to give a thin layer over the cheese. Now you just have to repeat everything. Dip ladyfingers, lay side by side again, cover with mascarpone, and then again with cocoa powder. I got three layers out of mine, but it depends how big your dish is. Then stick in the fridge until you eat it. Important: make sure you make this plenty of time ahead of serving it. Some reviews on epicurious said it tasted better the second and third days, but I only had time to do mine the morning of. So at least six hours before so that it has time to firm up in the fridge.
All in all, I was happy with it, as I think were the Italian guests, but I think that cream gave me the shaft, or else it was my excessive dipping of ladyfingers, because the bottom layer was especially liquidy, but it was eaten all the same.

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