This is going to be my second-to-last big production for the next few months. Why? Well, Mikal and I have gotten it into our minds to move our behinds down to California. There’s this big yellow thing in the sky that appears there rather often, and we need to see more of it than the paltry amount we get in western Washington. Seriously.
This whole move thing should be happening the last week of June, which is when Mikal’s brother is moving down to California – this would save us a ton of money, so we’re going for it. In order to save the requisite money to get down there, though, we need to pare down our food and everything else spending, so this will be the last expensive hoo-hah outside of Mikal’s birthday.
I’m not going totally on hiatus from this, though I have a feeling I might do fewer posts. You see, when I get it into my head to make something, it usually entails ingredients we don’t have, so I have to go out and get them. While it’s nice to do this, it is not conducive to saving money. Mikal, on the other hand, can create food from what I see as random stuff we have in the fridge. He has the magic food ability. I envy him.
At any rate, I’ve been wanting to make tiramisù for sooooo long. I used to think I didn’t like tiramisu, mostly because I tasted the Haagen dazs tiramisù ice cream, and it just tasted waaaay too heavily of the coffee liqueur they used. So I went through life oblivious to the wonders of tiramisù until one evening in Paris with some classmates. We went looking for food around where they were staying, and happened upon an italian restaurant that looked good. Of course, it was amazingly good. We liked it enough to get desserts. I don’t remember what I got, but one of the items on the menu was tiramisù. I remember making a face and saying something along the lines of “Blegh ><” and ordered…something. The classmate that ordered the tiramisù, though, allowed me a taste because it actually didn’t look bad, and smelled good to boot. My goodness…. It was heavenly. It was one of the first foods I fell in love with on that trip.
When I came home, I wanted to share the goodness with Mikal, so at some point when we went to the Olive Garden, we ordered the tiramisù. So sad. So very sad. At least I had the good sense to order a Lavazza latte to wash it down. (Lavazza was one of the stronger-flavored coffees in the cafés of France, and it was nice to taste something familiar.)
Lesson learned: don’t try to duplicate awesome experiences with mass-produced food. It makes sad pandas.
So I have been craving good tiramisù, and got it in my head to try it out. Surprisingly (or not, I guess), mascarpone cheese is expensive. It didn’t help that the recipe I used was for a 9″x13″ pan, which is enormous in terms of such rich fare. And when it says to use packaged ladyfingers, go ahead and do that unless you’ve made ladyfingers. As with most pastries I seem to want to make, it required whipped egg to be folded into the batter. What is it with my recipe choice on this stuff? So yeah, go ahead and buy the ladyfingers. You’ll thank yourself.
1 cup espresso
1/2 cup Kahlúa or other coffee-flavored liqueur
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (divided)
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
26oz. mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
48 slightly stale ladyfingers
1/4 cup cocoa
2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
Combine the espresso and Kahlúa in a small bowl to make a syrup. Set aside.
Whisk together 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the egg yolks, and the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over simmering water. Continue to whisk until the volume nearly doubles and the mixture becomes a light lemon yellow, 4-5 minutes.
Transfer the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip on high speed until the mixture has cooled to room temperature, 8-10 minutes. Add half of the mascarpone and the vanilla extract and blend on low speed until very smooth, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the remaining mascarpone and mix just long enough to combine evenly.
Beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a clean bowl to medium peaks, 5-6 minutes. Fold the beaten egg whites into the mascarpone mixture in 3 separate additions.
(At the end of the recipe, there is a note that you can use pasteurized egg whites to “eliminate any food safety concerns,” as the whites don’t get cooked. I had some in the fridge, and read the ingredients. It said 99% egg whites with various additives, including coloring and xanthan and guar gums, and various other things. I thought surely, 1% of random stuff shouldn’t matter, right? Maybe it was the fact that I was using the generic brand, but it wouldn’t whip up for beans. It kinda fluffed, but didn’t even form soft peaks, even after I added some cream of tartar. So… yeah. I dunno. If I make this again and remember what I did this time, I’ll try with reserved egg whites and see how it turns out.)
Place 16 ladyfingers in a 2 1/2 quart dish or a 9×13 inch baking pan. Brush the ladyfingers evenly and liberally with the espresso syrup. Spread one-third of the mascarpone filling in an even layer over the ladyfingers. Repeat this layering sequence twice to use the remaining ladyfingers, espresso syrup, and mascarpone filling, ending with the mascarpone filling.
Dust the entire surface of the tiramisù with the cocoa powder and the confectioners’ sugar. Wrap and chill for at least 3 hours or up to overnight to allow flavors to blend. Cut into portions and serve directly from the dish or pan.
Mine was a bit sad and flopsy. It’s because the egg whites wouldn’t firm up for the mascarpone filling :/ But! It’s still damn good. Mascarpone has a wonderful taste somewhere between cream cheese and whipping cream, with a little dash of sweetness added. Very luxurious. Soooo gooooood.