TIRAMISU – the Italian coffee trifle

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The Italian coffee trifle known as TIRAMISU is a coffee lover’s delight, rich and coffee-creamy, with a touch of alcohol like all good trifles, and has a myriad of recipes.  This is my TIRAMISU,  derived from many sources, close to the traditional, but with some allowances and adaptations.  And I learned to make my own MASCARPONE cheese to indulge myself – I posted the recipe last night.

I’ll never forget my first taste of TIRAMISU in Italy, in a small taverna on one side of the famous Piazza Navona, sandwiched between the Vatican and the Spanish Steps and my favourite building ever, the Pantheon, in Rome.   The luscious coffee-custardy dessert was like nothing I’d ever experienced before, and I made rather a pig of myself, I’m afraid.  Let’s just say I didn’t stop at one, and leave it at that!

Tiramisu (and one of 2 gift ones), ready to serve. The top cream layer isn’t distinct, but it’s there, with it’s grated chocolate. Oh, trust me – it’s there!

Making a Tiramisu at home, from scratch, takes time, but it’s easy if you take it in stages – and read the recipe right through first!.  First make the zabaglione, add the mascarpone, cool, and add the cream.   Then prepare the coffee-Marsala mix.  Then with those two in front of you, dip the Savoiardi sponge fingers into one, place in dish, cover with the zabaglione-mascarpone mix, and you’re well on the way.

I make mine the day before needed, and top with extra cream and the chocolate topping just before serving.

My Tiramisu – made at home, from scratch, and YOU can do it, too.

My TIRAMISU – the Italian coffee trifle

Makes at least 10 servings – not including the two small “gift” ones…..

INGREDIENTS:

250 ml (1 cup) brewed espresso or very strong coffee, at room temperature

125 ml (1/2 cup) dry Marsala wine  (divided into 2 equal quantities)*

3-4 teaspoons Heilala vanilla extract or paste

5-6 large egg yolks  (freeze the whites in 2 lots, for sponges, pavlova, etc)

125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar (divided into 2 equal quantities)

450-500 gm (14-16 ounces) mascarpone cheese

350 ml (1.5 cups) whipping or heavy cream

30-50 Savoiardi Italian ladyfingers (keep the leftovers in an airtight container)

Topping:

125 ml (1/2 cup) whipping or heavy cream

1 Tablespoon icing sugar

1/2 teaspoon Heilala vanilla paste or extract

50-60 gm (2 oz) dark chocolate (grated) or hot chocolate powder or cocoa powder for dusting

* You can use an alternative to Marsala wine, but it won’t be quite the same.  Suitable alternatives are sherry, brandy and or liqueurs.  In fact, when I do a chocolate version of Tiramisu for non-coffee loving friends, I use a mixture of  hot chocolate, brandy and a chocolate liqueur, such as Creme de Cacao.  Kahlua is nice with the coffee version, too

METHOD:

Make the Zabaglione-mascapone custard filling:

In a small stainless steel bowl that will fit over a pot (or a double boiler), whisk the egg yolks,  half the Marsala and half the sugar.  Place the bowl over a pot of just-simmering water, with about 25 mm (1 inch) between the bottom of the bowl and the hot water.

Whisking over simmering water, to cook, and increase the volume of the egg mix

Beat with a whisk (great arm workout, guys and gals!), or a hand beater, or an electric hand-held mixer, until the mixture is tripled in volume, which will take from 4 to 8 minutes.

The zabaglione ready – see how thick it is, and holding it’s shape.

NOTE: Until the mixture is tripled in amount, DO NOT stop beating, or you will end up with “sweet scrambled eggs”.  So, no cellphones or other phone calls, and don’t answer the door.  4 to 8 minutes aren’t long – except when you’re whipping this Zabaglione-like custard!

Zabaglione-mascarpone mix for Tiramisu, before the cream is folded in.

When the mixture is tripled in size, and holds it’s shape well, remove from the bowl from the heat, leave for 5 minutes to cool a little, then beat in the mascarpone cheese until just combined, then let stand for 10-15 minutes (time for a coffee or that phonecall…).

Whip the cream in a bowl until it holds stiff peaks, then fold half the cream into the cooled zabaglione-mascapone mixture. Be gentle, this is a folding movement, not a beating.   Then fold in the rest of the cream.  If the custard is still a bit warm, you may lose a little volume,  but that’s fine.  or, if you have time, leave it to cool a bit longer- we’re busy people, make it work for you.

Make the coffee-Marsala dipping mixture:

In a flattish pudding bowl, combine the  espresso (I get a takeaway) or other coffee, the other half of the Marsala wine, the vanilla extract, and the rest of the sugar, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.

Assembling the Tiramisu:

First, get your glamorous Trifle Bowl, or a deep glass bowl about 23 – 25 cms (9-10 inches),  You can also use a square or oblong dish, and make just two layers, or even use a loaf tin, and cut the finished dessert into slices.

Coffee-marsala mix on left, zabagilone-mascarpone in middle, trifle bowl at rear, and 2 glasses for gift Tiramisu on right – all set to start assembling! Note the packet of Savoiardi sponge fingers at left rear and an open pack in front of that.

With the coffee-marsala mix and the zabaglione-mascapone mix in front of you, you’re good to go.

Dip a few of the Savoiardi sponge fingers very quickly into the coffee mix, and use them to line the bottom of your bowl.  (You might find that you need to break a few into pieces to fit them in the dish).

Quickly dip the Savoiardi biscuits, then lay into your dish, covering the bottom, and maybe cutting some to fit. Sorry, I didn’t realise the unopened pack would show through quite so much – it’s well behind my trifle bowl.

Spoon half of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers and spread into an even layer. Grate half of the bittersweet chocolate over filling. Then dip the remaining ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee and arrange a second layer over filling.

Assembling the next layer of coffee-soaked Savoiardi sponge fingers on top of the first two layers. Still some gaps to fill with cut pieces of fingers… Savoiardi sponge one, that is!

Keep layering soaked biscuits and the zabaglione-mascarpone mixure as high as you desire, leaving room at the top for the extra whipped cream layer, if using.   Then cover with plastic kitchen wrap and put into the fridge for at least 6-8 hours, or overnight.  I prefer making mine the day before, and doing the last cream and chocolate layer, just before serving.

About 20 minutes before serving, remove your bowl from the fridge to bring it back closer to room temperature.

Make the optional cream layer:

Just before you’re ready to serve, whip the topping amount of cream with the icing sugar and the vanilla (I sometimes add a dessertspoon of liqueur, too).  Spread gently over the top, and smooth with a spatula, the grate dark chocolate and/or cocoa (shake through a small sieve).

And enjoy!  It’s rich, decadent and just divine!

Autumn’s Culinary tips for Tiramisu:

  •  I like to make mine the day before it’s to be served, and add extra cream at the last minute.
  • Leftovers (huh?) will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to four days, but will start losing texture in the fingers from 2 days.  The positive is, the flavours become more syrupy and blended, too.  That’s IF you have leftovers…
  • Instead of expresso coffee, you can use a unsweetened hot chocolate or cocoa, in exactly the same way.
  • This does NOT work with English-style sponge – it’s too soft.  Tiramisu relies on the texture of the crisp Savoiardi fingers lightly dipped, for it’s unique texture.
  • You “could” use a fruit juice and rum or brandy essence for a non-alcoholic version, but it just doesn’t taste the same – keep Tiramisu for occasions when it’s “adults only” at the dining table!

TIRAMISU - the Italian coffee trifle
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, International
Cuisine: International - Italian
Serves: 10-12 serves
 
The Italian coffee trifle known as TIRAMISU is a coffee lover's delight, rich and coffee-creamy, with a touch of alcohol like all good trifles, has a myriad of recipes. This is my TIRAMISU, derived from many sources, close to the traditional, but with some allowances and adaptations. And I learned to make my own MASCARPONE cheese to indulge myself - I posted the recipe last night.
Ingredients
  • 250 ml (1 cup) brewed espresso or very strong coffee, at room temperature
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry Marsala wine (divided into 2 equal quantities)*
  • 3-4 teaspoons Heilala vanilla extract or paste
  • 5-6 large egg yolks (freeze the whites in 2 lots, for sponges, pavlova, etc)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar (divided into 2 equal quantities)
  • 450-500 gm (14-16 ounces) mascarpone cheese
  • 350 ml (1.5 cups) whipping or heavy cream
  • 30-50 Savoiardi Italian ladyfingers (keep the leftovers in an airtight container)
  • Topping:
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) whipping or heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Heilala vanilla paste or extract
  • 50-60 gm (2 oz) dark chocolate (grated) or hot chocolate powder or cocoa powder for dusting
  • * You can use an alternative to Marsala wine, but it won't be quite the same. Suitable alternatives are sherry, brandy and or liqueurs. In fact, when I do a chocolate version of Tiramisu for non-coffee loving friends, I use a mixture of hot chocolate, brandy and a chocolate liqueur, such as Creme de Cacao. Kahlua is nice with the coffee version, too
Method
  1. Make the Zabaglione-mascapone custard filling:
  2. In a small stainless steel bowl that will fit over a pot (or a double boiler), whisk the egg yolks, half the Marsala and half the sugar. Place the bowl over a pot of just-simmering water, with about 25 mm (1 inch) between the bottom of the bowl and the hot water.
  3. Beat with a whisk (great arm workout, guys and gals!), or a hand beater, or an electric hand-held mixer, until the mixture is tripled in volume, which will take from 4 to 8 minutes.
  4. NOTE: Until the mixture is tripled in amount, DO NOT stop beating, or you will end up with "sweet scrambled eggs". So, no cellphones or other phone calls, and don't answer the door. 4 to 8 minutes aren't long - except when you're whipping this Zabaglione-like custard!
  5. When the mixture is tripled in size, and holds it's shape well, remove from the bowl from the heat, leave for 5 minutes to cool a little, then beat in the mascarpone cheese until just combined, then let stand for 10-15 minutes (time for a coffee or that phonecall...).
  6. Whip the cream in a bowl until it holds stiff peaks, then fold half the cream into the cooled zabaglione-mascapone mixture. Be gentle, this is a folding movement, not a beating. Then fold in the rest of the cream. If the custard is still a bit warm, you may lose a little volume, but that's fine. or, if you have time, leave it to cool a bit longer- we're busy people, make it work for you.
  7. Make the coffee-Marsala dipping mixture:
  8. In a flattish pudding bowl, combine the espresso (I get a takeaway) or other coffee, the other half of the Marsala wine, the vanilla extract, and the rest of the sugar, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.
  9. Assembling the Tiramisu:
  10. First, get your glamorous Trifle Bowl, or a deep glass bowl about 23 - 25 cms (9-10 inches).
  11. With the coffee-marsala mix and the zabaglione-mascapone mix in front of you, you're good to go.
  12. Dip a few of the Savoiardi sponge fingers very quickly into the coffee mix, and use them to line the bottom of your bowl. (You might find that you need to break a few into pieces to fit them in the dish).
  13. Spoon half of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers and spread into an even layer. Grate half of the bittersweet chocolate over filling. Then dip the remaining ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee and arrange a second layer over filling.
  14. Keep layering soaked biscuits and the zabaglione-mascarpone mixure as high as you desire, leaving room at the top for the extra whipped cream layer, if using. Then cover with plastic kitchen wrap and put into the fridge for at least 6-8 hours, or overnight. I prefer making mine the day before, and doing the last cream and chocolate layer, just before serving.
  15. About 20 minutes before serving, remove your bowl from the fridge to bring it back closer to room temperature.
  16. Make the optional cream layer:
  17. Just before you're ready to serve, whip the topping amount of cream with the icing sugar and the vanilla (I sometimes add a dessertspoon of liqueur, too). Spread gently over the top, and smooth with a spatula, the grate dark chocolate and/or cocoa (shake through a small sieve).
  18. And enjoy! It's rich, decadent and just divine!
  19. Autumn's Culinary tips for Tiramisu:
  20. * I like to make mine the day before it's to be served, and add extra cream at the last minute.
  21. * Leftovers (huh?) will keep, covered, in the fridge for up to four days, but will start losing texture in the fingers from 2 days. The positive is, the flavours become more syrupy and blended, too. That's IF you have leftovers...
  22. * Instead of expresso coffee, you can use a unsweetened hot chocolate or cocoa, in exactly the same way.
  23. * This does NOT work with English-style sponge - it's too soft. Tiramisu relies on the texture of the crisp Savoiardi fingers lightly dipped, for it's unique texture.
  24. * You "could" use a fruit juice and rum or brandy essence for a non-alcoholic version, but it just doesn't taste the same - keep Tiramisu for occasions when it's "adults only" at the dining table!

 

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Making DULCE DE LECHE the EASY, safe way

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DULCE DE LECHE, made the SAFE, easy way.  Who doesn’t like caramel?  But who has the time to watch a tin of condensed milk turn into luscious caramel boiling in a pot, with all the risks of it boiling dry, exploding, burning you?

So, again, I’ve worked on making the process safer, and (me being me…) a whole lot easier?

Well first we start with the can of condensed milk.  Here are 3 of the different varieties available here in New Zealand and a can of already prepared caramel.   The Nestle brand is almost universal internationally.

3 cans of condensed milk, and one (bottom left) of already prepared caramel

Yes, you can purchase pre-prepared caramel (Dulce de Leche), but it’s more expensive, and somehow doesn’t have the deep richness of a can that’s been boiled for hours…..

But most people have a crockpot these days, also known as a slow cooker…..

Are you with me?

Yes, slow cooking is exactly what’s needed to turn the condensed milk into caramel, and without having to stand for ages at the stove!!   And, because it’s so easy, I usually make several cans at a time, so I always have some ready, when the Sugar urge hits me.

So, get your crockpot out, turn it on, and partially fill it with some warm water.

Take the labels off the condensed milk cans, and place them into the crockpot.  The one I’ve used is one of 2 small crockpots I have ( I have 2 larger ones too) and takes four cans nicely.

NOTE – although I show cans with ringtab openings, I DON’T recommend using these unless you are in the house.  I recommend the fully sealed cans, without ringtabs, to be completely safe.

4 cans in, not yet fully covered with water

Cans covered over their tops with hot water

So, the cans in, then filled about 25 mm (about an inch) above the cans with more hot water.  Turn on the crockpot, setting “high“, put the lid on, and leave until the water starts to simmer.  Turn the heat to “low“, and leave it, covered, for 8-9 hours.    After 4 hours, you can carefully turn the cans over with a pair of tongs, but not absolutely necessary.

The four cans in the crockpot, safely left for 8-9 hours

Leave to cool in the crockpot, then lift out, dry, and LABEL THE CANS “Dulce de Leche – Caramel” with a permanent marker pen.    Sorry, I didn’t mean to shout, but it’s frustrating to try and work out what’s in a can without a label!

So – that’s it!   Luscious caramel or Dulce de Leche in a can, ready to go!!  Four of them, if you’re thinking ahead…..!

Now I bet you’re going to find ways of using this before I get back with MY ideas….. and I don’t blame you (no judgments here..), but do try and keep one to try with me…..

And – enjoy!!

 

 

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Making MASCARPONE  Cheese at home, from scratch

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How to make MASCARPONE  Cheese, that rich, silky, creamy Italian soft cheese at home, from scratch.  So expensive to buy, but so easy to make yourself, and the only two things you might possibly need in the way of equipment is a simple thermometer, and some cheesecloth (butter muslin is another name for this).   Then, just two ingredients….  double (whipping) cream and citric acid.

Of course the Mascarpone Cheese is for TIRAMISU, but that’s to follow,  and a lot more ways of using MASCARPONE, when I can….  These will include making fresh egg pasta from scratch, for making ravioli using Mascarpone Cheese (in sweet and savoury versions).

Here’s a finished TIRAMISU to keep you tempted….

A completed TIRAMISU, enough for 8-12 people, plus one of 2 small ones for gifts.

 

So, let’s back up the bus a little, first…..

Okay, okay, so I’ve not posted anything for a while, and you want more…..

So here’s a wee tease for some things that are coming, soon.

Two easy recipes tonight, for the goodies they are going to be used for……

MASCARPONE, as already said…. and….

Then, the EASY way (you know by now I do things the best, and easiest, way, I can…..) to make DULCE DE LECHE, the most delicious caramel ever… and no, I’m not going to even hint at what we’ll use that for…… yet!

Now, if it’s T.M.I., SKIP this next bit, and just go down to the Mascarpone Recipe, but it’s real life in our household:

*****

I’ve been extra busy with my adult son, who is in end-stage kidney disease from Polycystic Kidneys, so he’s beginning the process for going onto home dialysis (haemodialysis – a machine plumbed permanently into the wall of his bedroom that will cleanse his blood for several hours, 3 days a week), and going through the rigorous process of going onto the donor list, to hopefully receive a donor kidney in the reasonably near future.

There, I’ve told you, now you know why there’s not been much doing lately on here – sorry, but as I said, this is real life.   So, let’s get to the good stuff…….

*****

MASCARPONE CHEESE – made from scratch at home.

It’s so expensive to buy, but OH! so easy to make yourself, at home.

A rich, creamy Italian soft cheese, and the only two things you might possibly need in the way of equipment is a simple thermometer, and some cheesecloth (butter muslin is another name for this).

Then, and two ingredients….  double (whipping) cream and citric acid.

Oh, and patience.  Sorry, that’s a third ingredient!

Ingredients:

1 litre (1 US quart) of cream (double/whipping – at least 40% fat)

1/2 teaspoon Citric Acid (dissolved in 2 Tablespoons cold filtered water)

Equipment:

Pot (st steel preferred), butter muslin/cheesecloth, strainer/sieve, THERMOMETER, spatula, metal stirring spoon.

Method:

Right, so you need to sterilise all your equipment p.   Boiling water, hot water with a touch of bleach, and rinse wash again with boiling water is the simplest way of doing that – making sure all the bleach is gone, or it will taint the finished cheese. Or use a sterilising tablet or powder from any home brew store.

Next, pour your cream into a pot and sloooooowly heat it on the stove, and use your thermometer, watching carefully, until the cream reaches 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees F).  Stir a little during this process – and be careful of that thermometer.   Make sure the thermometer is well submerged while you are checking that temperature!

When the cream is definitely at 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees F) , simply pour in the citric acid solution (see recipe), then keep the cream/acid mixture at the same 85 degree temperature for about 5 minutes (yes – use a timer!!) but putting a lid on the pot an leaving it on the turned-off element to keep warm.   Don’t let it get hotter, and you do need patience to keep it at that temp for that long.

If the temperature drops a little, then turn the element back onto low, and stir constantly, to keep at 85 degrees for the five minutes..

After five minutes (yes, you DID time it for the full five minutes, didn’t you?), remove the pot to the bench and leave it, covered, for several hours to overnight.

When you come back to it (if you haven’t peeped already…. yes, I mean you!) you will see it has coagulated (such an ugly word for an amazing process) into a silky smooth, junket-like mix.

Now, put a strainer (sieve) over a container (bowl, jug, pot, etc) and line the strainer with some sterilised  cheesecloth/butter muslin.  If desperate, you could use a clean, dry fine teatowel.

Pour the thick mixture into the lined strainer and leave undisturbed to drain until it is as thick as you desire.   It’s traditionally used at the texture of Greek yogurt, but for some things you might like it thicker (cheesecakes, etc) and for sauces, maybe thinner.   Do not attempt to squeeze the mixture, it will drain successfully by itself.

The thing to be aware of is that it will thicken more in the fridge, so stop the draining before it gets to your desired thickness.

Now, gently use a spatula to ease the cream off the cheesecloth into an airtight container and place in fridge.  It will keep up to a week.

You need about 1/2 the quantity this mixture makes for my Tiramisu, so plenty for sauces (sweet and savoury) or other uses.

Making MASCARPONE Cheese from scratch, at home
Author: 
Recipe type: cheese
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 700 g approx
 
How to make MASCARPONE Cheese, that rich, silky, creamy Italian soft cheese, from scratch, at home. So expensive to buy, but so easy to make yourself from scratch.
Ingredients
  • 1 litre (1 US quart) of cream (double/whipping - at least 40% fat)
  • ½ teaspoon Citric Acid (dissolved in 2 Tablespoons cold filtered water)
  • Equipment:
  • Pot (st steel preferred), butter muslin/cheesecloth, strainer/sieve, THERMOMETER, spatula, metal stirring spoon.
Method
  1. Right, so you need to sterilise all your equipment. Boiling water, hot water with a touch of bleach, and rinse wash again with boiling water is the simplest way of doing that - making sure all the bleach is gone, or it will taint the finished cheese. Or use a sterilising tablet or powder from any home brew store.
  2. Next, pour your cream into a pot and sloooooowly heat it on the stove, and use your thermometer, watching carefully, until the cream reaches 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees F). Stir a little during this process - and be careful of that thermometer. Make sure the thermometer is well submerged while you are checking that temperature!
  3. When the cream is definitely at 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees F) , simply pour in the citric acid solution (see recipe), then keep the cream/acid mixture at the same 85 degree temperature for about 5 minutes (yes - use a timer!!) but putting a lid on the pot an leaving it on the turned-off element to keep warm. Don't let it get hotter, and you do need patience to keep it at that temp for that long.
  4. If the temperature drops a little, then turn the element back onto low, and stir constantly, to keep at 85 degrees for the five minutes..
  5. After five minutes (yes, you DID time it for the full five minutes, didn't you?), remove the pot to the bench and leave it, covered, for several hours to overnight.
  6. When you come back to it (if you haven't peeped already.... yes, I mean you!) you will see it has coagulated (such an ugly word for an amazing process) into a silky smooth, junket-like mix.
  7. Now, put a strainer (sieve) over a container (bowl, jug, pot, etc) and line the strainer with some sterilised cheesecloth/butter muslin. If desperate, you could use a clean, dry fine teatowel.
  8. Pour the thick mixture into the lined strainer and leave undisturbed to drain until it is as thick as you desire. It's traditionally used at the texture of Greek yogurt, but for some things you might like it thicker (cheesecakes, etc) and for sauces, maybe thinner. Do not attempt to squeeze the mixture, it will drain successfully by itself.
  9. The thing to be aware of is that it will thicken more in the fridge, so stop the draining before it gets to your desired thickness.
  10. Now, gently use a spatula to ease the cream off the cheesecloth into an airtight container and place in fridge. It will keep up to a week.
  11. You need about ½ the quantity this mixture makes for my Tiramisu, so plenty for sauces (sweet and savoury) or other uses.

 

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