There had never been any recipe that I couldn’t make well enough after few times of trials until I tried to make tiramisu. Ten times is how many it took me to finally make an acceptable batch of tiramisu 🙂
I fell in love with tiramisu since I was in highschool. I remembered because it was the first time I tried something that is not so sweet, not so fattening, yet very creamy and delicious. The first tiramisu I had was served at Brodard bakery, a popular bakery in Saigon among the students for its good cakes with affordable prices….
|My first tiramisu. I served it too early and the cream
was still wet so all the powder were soaked in it 🙁
|I felt bad for the leftover cream so i added them all,
and that is why the cream layer looked so thick
Around 3 years after trying the first tiramisu, I was in Toronto making my way to the final exams of my second year at university. At that time I had already done some research about tiramisu, what cream to use, what kinds of liquor I can substitute, and many other side tips. I took all my guts and bought all the ingredients to make tiramisu to try it out. It was the Winter 2009. I had to say I was really brave to try a new recipe at a gathering party at Christmas. Not able to find double cream as the recipe called for, I used fresh whipping cream, which doesn’t have sugar and is a little lighter that double cream, and add sugar to taste. I used Rhum for my first try as well. The custard was okay, but the creamcheese mixture was really liquidy. My first tiramisu was a mess, even though the taste was really nice.
|Besides that, the taste was quite good, and
the ladyfingers were well covered in coffee mixture
I also tried it again two other times in spring and the custard got a little more set. Then during my vacation at home in Vietnam, I did it once more for a family gathering. People were very pleased with the taste. That time I used brandy (stole from my dad, since he was not supposed to drink aldohol anymore ^^). The best thing about the tiramisu I made in Vietnam was that I made it with Vietnamese style coffee, very strong and thick coffee. The bitterness of the coffee taste blended well with the sweetness and creaminess of the custard. I also did one more batch with my neighbor friend, with her mascarpone she was gifted from Italian. Man the cheese was awesome!!! The custard was nice and not liquidy at all.
Since I returned to Canada for university, I hadn’t made tiramisu for a long time until two years later, partly because I couldn’t find the reason for my liquidy custard fail during the process. After I finished my university in April, I hardly had anything to do but wait for the graduation status, so I decided tomake tiramisu again. I found another brand of mascarpone cheese at Walmart superstore. It was more solid that the ones I’d bought before. Also I noticed that the double boiler method for thickening the eggyolks was not good enough, so I tried to cook the yolks in really low heat. Those were the changes I made to my latest try and the tiramisu was kinda acceptable then. the custard finally set. So here I am, writing down all the tips, the steps, and the failures I’ve made to finally have a rather okay tiramisu 🙂 Hope you who read this find it helpful. I am open to any new tips that you have, or other methods that is more effective 🙂 Also, I’m willing to take questions about the steps in case they are not clear enough 🙂 The recipe below has been adjusted for light sweetness and substitute ingredients.
Servings: around 20 portions
Cooking time: 1 – 2 hours + 1 – 2 days in the fridge
– 8 egg yolks
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/4 cup Brandy
– 1/2 cup Kahlúa coffee flavoured wine
– 500gr mascarpone cheese
– 500ml fresh whipping cream (the one without sugar)
– 1 to 1 1/2 cup strong coffee (espresso).
– Ladyfingers sponge biscuits
– Chocolate powder/ cocoa powder/ grated chocolate
– In a bowl, beat together egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns light yellow and thick, and the egg yolks form a ribbon when lifted with a whisk.
– Transfer the egg custard to a pot and continue to whisk on low heat (the lowest you can get). Gradually add the Brandy into the custard. You can also add around 3 tbsp Kahlua in as well. whisk the custard until it becomes really thick and turns dark yellow. Transfer the custard back into the bowl soaked in cold water to cool down and stop the cooking. Keep whisking while the custard cools down to avoid lumps from the overcooked egg. Store in refrigerator after done.
– In another bowl, beat the whipping cream (with added sugar to taste) until stiff. The taste of the cream should only be lightly sweet to go well with the cheese and the custard, sicne we already add sugar to the custard.
– In the third bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese until really smooth. Add the cold custard in and mis well. Next, fold in the stiff whipped cream until well blended.
– Dipping liquid for the ladyfingers: mix together Kahlua, coffee, and a bit of more Brandy.
* Prepare a tray of 30cm x 20cm x 5cm to assemble the tiramisu. Tinfoil tray would be ideal for this since it eliminates the washing step later.
* Dip each ladyfinger into the liquid briefly to avoid breaking and arrange a layer at the bottom of the tray
* Put on a layer of the cream mix enough to cover all the ladyfingers and the spaces between them.
* Continue with another layer of ladyfingers, and another layer of cream. Usually for this recipe, I can make around 2 layers of each and have a bit of ladyfingers and cream left.
* Hit the tray on a hard surface to let out some stuck air inside. Smooth out the surface again and cover with plastic wrap. keep in fridge for at least a day to allow the cream to set.
– Serve: Before serving, you can add a layer of cocoa or chocolate powder on top of the tiramisu. Shaved chocolate would be more fancy if desired.
– The original recipe use double boiler to cook the custard. It is indeed the better method for cooking custard since you don’t have to watch out for the heat. Double boiler method can be done by putting the bowl on top of a smaller size pot with boilig water inside. The custard will be cooked by the hot steam under the bowl. However, after so many tries, I figure the custard didn’t cook fast and well enough with the heat from the steam, so I switch to a more dangerous method of cooking the custard on low heat. This require constant attention of the heat and stirring of the custard to maintain the smooth texture and avoid theeggs to overcook.
– Brandy was used in this recipe can be substituted by any flavoured hard liquor (eg, Rhum or Amaretto). The original liquor was Marsala. I wouldn’t recommend Vodka since it doesn’t have a nice flavor, just purely alsohol smell, and it’s not good for making dessert. That being said, if you can’t consume hard liquor, light flavored liqueurs can also be used ( the ones with infused flowers or nuts, or the cocktail liqueurs). The original iramisu was made for kids, so it didn“t contain any alcohol, so it’s no problem if you don’t want to put in any alcohol. However, because of the sweet taste of this trifle, a bit of alcohol to tune the sweetness down.
– Since I used whipping cream (heavy cream) instead of double cream which contais higher content of fat, the mascarpone cream after blended will be liquidy, not very solid. However, if the custard is thick enough and the mascarpone is good enough (a little soft but more solid and thicker than creamchese), the tiramisu will be set when the moisture evaporates after 1 day. I’ve tried to keep it longer in the fridge before serving and indeed the cream was set and not messy when I cut it and transfered out of the tray.
– There are few bakeries i know that use gelatin to help the cream set. It is a good idea but i won’t recommend it, because the light texture of the custard will turn into something like mousse cream. It is sometimes necessary under hot weather though.
If you have any other problems that you have during making this dessert, please let me know. If I had the same problem I would reply to you with some more tips. The above notes are the ones that I found important and that I did research on 🙂
Good luck !!!