One of the most common questions I get asked when people find out I’m a food blogger that particularly loves sweets is: “What is your favourite dessert?”
It’s a difficult question to answer, but my primary concern is always balance. A dessert has to have that perfect balance between sweet and not-too-sweet, texture, acidity, presentation. It doesn’t mean that the dessert has to be some monstrosity created by a three hatted restaurant’s pastry chef.
Tiramisu is one of my most favourite ‘old-school’ desserts. I call it ‘old-school’ as it’s a dessert that you cannot ‘deconstruct’ or turn into something fancy to be rolled out at a three hatted restaurant. I’m sure some people have tried, but then it misses the true essence of tiramisu completely – the messy mixing of a spoon through the sponge and cream, the sweet, lingering taste of the sweet coffee and liqueur through the soft sponge. I love coffee and so any dessert with coffee in it is a hit with me, although with my low tolerance for caffeine it means I’m buzzing off the walls for the next six hours after consumption.
I’ve had many a bad tiramisu over the years, with issues ranging from too much mascarpone, coffee being too bitter, too much or not enough liqueur, sponge is over-soaked, sponge is not soaked enough, cream has been over-whipped and a multitude of other problems. I also have an extreme fondness of the combination of chocolate and coffee, and swooned when I once encountered a tiramisu that had a delicious hit of chocolate.
The original recipe I had been looking at comes from taste.com.au, although I heavily edited the quantities required, as well as adding and removing ingredients to suit my own tastes and preferences. Adaption and originality is so good for the soul. This recipe packs a good punch of coffee, with lingering sweet notes of hazelnut and the earthiness of the dark cocoa, before being refreshed with the light-as-air mascarpone and vanilla cream.
This recipe will serve eight people, or six greedy ones. And believe me, you will be greedy after you’ve tasted this.
You will need:
- 1 + 1/4C strong black coffee;
- Three tablespoons good quality Dutch cocoa or drinking chocolate;
- 1/4 C Frangelico;
- 2 eggs, separated;
- 1/4C caster sugar;
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste;
- 150g mascarpone;
- 200ml thickened cream, lightly whipped;
- One standard packet of sponge fingers (savoiardi);
- Dutch cocoa, for dusting;
- Fresh berries, to serve.
Mix the coffee and chocolate together before pouring into a large, shallow dish with the Frangelico.
Beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar and vanilla in a large bowl with an electric beater until pale and thick. Add the mascarpone and whipped cream, mixing gently until just combined.
Beat the egg whites in a separate, medium bowl with electric beaters until soft peaks form.
Using a large metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mix.
Dip your sponge fingers in the coffee mix long enough to soak half of the finger before lining the base of a 19 x 19cm square pan (or similar
Cover the biscuits with a layer of the mascarpone mix.
Repeat the layers another two times, or until you’ve run out of cream and/or biscuits.
End the top layer with cream, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours or at best overnight to allow the sponge fingers to soak properly.
Just before serving, dust the top heavily with the cocoa.
Cut into a genteel slice if entertaining. Serve with fresh berries.
And if not entertaining, spoon a generous, messy amount into a bowl and simply devour with relish. Which is the way that tiramisu should truly be enjoyed!
And there you have it, folks. I’m afraid that I’m going to be MIA for a while – I’m off overseas for a proper holiday at last! Two weeks in my alternative home of Taipei, Taiwan and a week tour around some parts of Japan. I will be sure to bombard you guys with all the delicious photos of food I take over the next month.
Take care, lovelies xx