About the Tiramisu: this is a basic and traditional recipe, and you will absolutely love it! I was never a big Tiramisu fan, but for some reason, maybe because I made it, and also had so much fun while making it, I absolutely loved this one, and can't wait to make it again. Make this dessert ahead of time, as it needs to chill for several hours before served, so plan accordingly. Is best to make it the day before, so it has time to chill over night.
Tiramisu is a relatively new Italian dessert, it seems to have been first mentioned in cookbooks around 1982-1983, although there are some that establish the creation of it in 1969. "Tirami su" means "pick-me-up" in Italian, and it most probably refers to the effect of the coffee and cacao used in the recipe, and I can attest it is quite accurate: we made the mistake of eating some before going to bed, the other night, and we could not fall asleep for a couple of hours. So yes, it does pick you up indeed. It is a good idea to avoid eating it at night. That is, if you can resist.
Most of the recipes are using Savoiardi biscuits, the Italian Lady fingers, the same ones I used for this bread pudding. But I wanted to use instead my favorite sponge cake recipe, (pan di Spagna or chiffon cake) that is as easy to make as going to the store and buying the Savoiardi, so please try it.
This recipe made 12 portions (12 half pint jars ; half pint=236 ml) of Tiramisu.
For the sponge cake:
1 cup granulated sugar
7 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola, sunflower or corn)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (I started using pure vanilla bean paste lately, as I adore seeing the small vanilla seeds in my desserts, and is more economical than using vanilla beans)
For the syrup:
1 cup strong brew espresso (I made 6 regular espressos, but you can make less, and dilute it with water to get to one cup, if you don't want it to be too strong, especially if you have kids ;) )
1/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the Mascarpone cream:
5 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1 cup Mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2-3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar (powder sugar)
You will also need:
3-4 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder
12 half pint jars
Optional for garnish:
1 pint of raspberries or other fresh berries/fruit of your choice
Start by making the sponge cake, so it has time to cool:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C), and prepare a baking pan (9x13 inch) with parchment paper, or butter and flour.
Separate the eggs, putting the egg whites in the clean bowl of your mixer, and the yolks in another bowl and set aside.
Beat the egg whites on lowest speed for 30 seconds-1 minute, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually and continue beating on high for other 3-4 minutes to stiff peaks. Careful not to over beat it though. It has to look glossy not grainy for best results. But hey, no one will know that you over beat it, so don't worry, it should be OK.
Mix the egg yolks and oil very well. I use my blender for this step. Add the vanilla extract and mix.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together in another bowl.
With the mixer on low, or even better with a wooden spoon or spatula, add the egg yolk mixture to the egg whites, slowly folding them in, just a few seconds. Add the flour mixture, and fold in gently, just until incorporated. This should mean 10-15 folding moves, or 10-15 seconds with the mixer on low.
Pour the batter in the pan, spread evenly using an off set spatula, and bake on the middle rack for 23-25 minutes. Check on it after 20 minutes pass. It is done when the cake springs back after gently pressing your finger on it, in the middle of the pan.
When done take out and let it cool completely.
While the cake bakes, make the mascarpone cream:
First we will make a Zabaione:
Place a sauce pan or other small pot with an inch of water on fire, to get to a simmer.
Beat the egg yolks and the sugar on medium-high, preferably in a heat proof bowl, until fluffy and light, for about 5 minutes. Mix in the Marsala wine. Sweet Marsala is a delicious wine! Pour yourself a glass and cooking will be even more fun! You can substitute Marsala with Port or Madeira wine, any sweet wine you like really, or brandy, cognac, even rum.
Put the mixture in a heat proof bowl, over the pot of simmering water, on low heat. It is important for the water not to be boiling at all, just simmering, and the water not to be touching the bowl, otherwise you will end up with sweet scrambled eggs.
With a whisk keep beating the mixture, constantly, for about 15 minutes, until it cooks and becomes thicker, airy, and super creamy and well, insanely delicious. Take off heat. You just made Zabaione! Zabaione is another Italian dessert staple. It is traditionally served simply over figs. Keep this recipe, you can use this cream in many delicious treats, or just by itself. It is highly addictive, though, be careful!
Let it cool, and place in the fridge for at least an hour, to cool completely.
In another bowl mix the Mascarpone cheese gently, until soft, with a fork. Don't whip it.
Using again your trusted mixer, beat the heavy cream and confectioner's sugar on medium-high for 3-4 minutes, to stiff peaks.
Gently fold in together the softened Mascarpone with the whipped cream. Pour the cold Zabaione on top, and mix everything, still very gently, just until combined... this is such a dainty delicate dessert!
It would be best to let the cream chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. I did not. I have no patience what so ever! It still worked out fine.
Make the syrup:
Mix the espresso, wine and sugar in a sauce pan, and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Set aside and let it cool.
Now assembly everything:
Line you cute jars, the cake, syrup, cream and powdered cocoa, like in a assembly line. You can use any type of glasses too. This recipe would look very elegant in Martini glasses, for example.
You will need some round biscuit or cookie cutters, in same diameter as your jars, a small sifter, and optional an ice cream/cookie dough scoop.
Using the cookie cutter cut out circles of cake. Cut them very close to one another, so you get as many cake rounds as possible.
Place a tablespoon of Mascarpone cream in each jar. Place a cake round on top of it, with the bottom side (with no crust) facing up. Sprinkle 1-2 tablespoons of coffee syrup over the cake.
Put two heaped tablespoons of Mascarpone cream on top of the cake round. I use an ice cream scoop, to make sure I put equal amounts of cream between the layers.
Using the small sifter, add a fine layer of cocoa powder on top.
Place another cake round, then syrup, then two tablespoons of cream, then sift cocoa. Repeat.
The last layer has to be Mascarpone cream, dusted with a generous layer of sifted cocoa.
Chill in the fridge for several hours... at least 4, over night would be better... Eh, if you can't resist, go ahead an eat one immediately!
Garnish with the fresh fruit or whipped cream and fresh mint before serving or leave as it is.
It is past 3 AM now and all I want is the last jar of Tiramisu we have left in the fridge. Must resist! Goodnight!