The Daring Bakers Make Tiramisu!!!!! - The Gingered Whisk

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Daring Bakers Make Tiramisu!!!!!

Glern slerpie musha aao tenslurp.

Oh, sorry, needed to wipe the drool off my chin.

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.

Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

When I saw this month’s challenge, I freaked. Literally. I’m talking wailing, hair pulling, flopping on the couch. Why?

Because I LOVE tiramisu. Maybe love isn’t the correct word for it. I’m obsessed. But I’m also a hard core snob. Just any old tiramisu will not do. No, it has to be GOOD. I always have mixed feelings when I see tiramisu on a menu. Part of me is completely elated, jonesing for that creamy bite of mascarpone cheese, espresso and rum. But another part of me gets nervous. What if it’s not good? What if I order it, and it turns out to be a brick of frozen crap pulled out of a cardboard box? Then I’ve wasted my dessert choice, I can’t take the foul taste from my mouth. It’s hard to recover from that. I almost always order it, of course, because I’m hooked. And even if it is crap, I always defend every last morsel, ever last swirl of mascarpone, with teeth bared, and knives and forks at the ready. It’s probably a good thing that firearms aren’t allowed at the dinner table because one wrong look and you’d be a gonner. Husband, best friend, father, it doesn’t matter - even pretend you’re going to steal my tiramisu and you’re done for.

But I didn’t just freak out because we were making my all time favorite substitute for crack completely from scratch. No, the real reason why I freaked is because I have been obtaining from tiramisu for almost 6 months now, because I’m baking my own little bun in the oven, and espresso and rum isn’t exactly on the doctor’s “To Eat” list.  For days I thought about it. How could I make tiramisu without rum or espresso? Those are vital!! I was consumed by it, I worried about it, I woke up at 4am thinking about it. I thought about doing an alternative version, changing the flavors up a bit. Maybe Chocolate and Strawberry? Blackberry and...something??.  But I really didn’t want to spend 4 whole days making this from scratch and then be disappointed because it wasn’t a realtiramisu. I am sure it would be good, just not what I wanted, what I craved. So instead, I decided to opt for Imitation Rum Flavoring, and well, just suck it up with the espresso. I only used 2 ¼ cups for the whole dish, and with 6 servings, that is only 0.375 cups per serving. And I’m technically allowed 8 ounces of caffeine a day. I figure since I haven’t had a lick of caffeine since I found out I was pregnant, I could justify this one piece of tiramisu. This once.

I found this challenge a joy to put together. I had never heard of a zabaglione before (It’s a light airy custard), had never had anything except for store bought refrigerated lady fingers, and had always been wanting to make my own mascarpone! The lady fingers turned out great! I think I am definitely getting better at folding a mixture into stiff egg whites and my piping is getting better as well. I made my fingers kind of thin and small (more like pinkie fingers) but they were super light, fluffy, and flaky. The mascarpone cheese was fun to make, and the zabaglione, the pastry cream, and the whipped cream all tasted great by themselves, so I knew they were going to be good! The only problem I had wasn’t with the actual preparation of this dish, it was 2 hours before I was going to actually be able to eat it when I had a slight paranoid freak-out because I didn’t know if the egg yolks in the pastry cream and the zabaglione were considered cooked or raw, and I was going to be damned if I had spent 4 days making this thing and at the last second found out I couldn’t eat it! But never fear, I called the doctor and after she was done laughing at me she assured me that cooking the eggs in the double boiler for the required time was considered safe, and would I please bring her a piece?

So, I bet you are wondering how the end product was, aren't you? It was good, let me tell you. All plates were LICKED clean. And I don't mean by the dogs, either. Next time I will definitely be using REAL rum instead of the imitation kind. I wasn't overly thrilled with the flavor that the imitation rum lent to the tiramisu. It was too....fake.... But other than that, this was delicious. And I meant that wholeheartedly, with every ounce of my snobbery. You should make this. And then pretend that you didn't so you don't have to share. 

This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese
2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime 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 stainless steel heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. While using the double boiler to make the mascarpone as well as the zabaglione, always ensure that the bottom of the bowl on top doesn't touch the bottom of the lower one.
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.
 It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating.
Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. 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. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.


This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.
3 eggs, separated

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup cake flour, sifted

6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar,
Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, 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. 
 It might be a good idea to decide the size of the dish in which you intend to set the dessert, and make the fingers to a size which would fit that dish. This makes it easier when assembling the tiramisu later. Do remember that ladyfingers/ savioardi puff up a little while baking. 
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.

Ladyfinger biscuits may be stored up to a week in an airtight container in a cool place.

This recipe makes BIG  6 servings but I think you could get 8 good sized ones out of it. 

Ingredients:For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup Marsala wine (or port or coffee)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

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 Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), 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.

For the vanilla pastry cream:
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.
For the whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 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:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed

1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
 If you would like to de-mould your tiramisu from your dish (cutting can be easier and neater this way, you can line your dish with plastic wrap (leaving a little extra on the sides of the dish) and then start assembling your tiramisu. Once the tiramisu sets in the refrigerator, you can use the overhang to pull the tiramisu out of the dish. 
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat 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 zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
 Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
 Spoon one-third of the 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. 

Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.

To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


  1. I'm so glad you found a way to adapt the tiramisu so that you could eat it! It looks delicious! For mine, I left out the rum all together. How terrible is that? I didn't want to use fake rum, and didn't have any real rum in the house. So it probably wouldn't have been up to your hard core standards!

  2. Looks fantastic, and I'm glad you made it--you would have regretted it if you hadn't. I put rum and marsala and Amaretto in mine:) Definitely for the non-pregnant!

  3. Oh, it looks absolutely fantastic! I'm glad you found a fantastic adaptation =D.

  4. Lovely tiramisu. Very nicely done.

  5. Your Tiramisu is lovely. :) Great job on this challenge!

  6. The first sentence in your post cracked me up, and hooked me in right away. Your tiramisu looks like the kind I would want to get if I ordered it at a restaurant. As for the flavours, well coffee is traditional, but I think you could have gotten away with not using it if you really wanted to. The remedy? More chocolate! :)

  7. Well Done! You and I sound like twins - I get snobby when I see Tiramisu on a menu coz most of the stuff in restuarants is pretty ordinary!! Your Tiramisu looks just great and I love the pic of you guys lifting the tiramisu out with plastic wrap - I did the same (without a photo though!!)

  8. I'm happy that you could give into your Tiramisu craving. And you can look forward to making it once you've had the baby. :)
    Thanks for baking with us.

  9. Oooh wow your tiramisu looks lovely :) great job.
    Good luck on the next challenge :D

  10. Definitely a drool worth dessert! Love that your doctor asked for a piece!

  11. So glad that you got to eat your creation! It would've been terrible if you couldn't!

  12. Jen..your tirsamisu is exactly what I think of when I crave tiramisu. I almost wish I kept it as is because that's the way I love and always remember it. Now I want to make it again..seriously! Phenomenal job..alcohol free and all *tummy rubs, although you must be sick of everyone doing that to you* lol


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