I can not resist to tiramisù. During my first months of cooking classes I always offered tiramisu as a dessert choice. At the beginning of the class I would sit in my kitchen, at the now famous marble table, and I would list the menu options that we would create together in the following hours. Fresh pasta, gnocchi, lasagna, pork, turkey, side dishes… then came the desserts. I wold begin with the traditional castagnaccio to move to more appealing treats like cantucci with vinsanto and zuppa inglese, then I would end with the coup de théâtre. Or, we can make tiramisu.
My clients would exchange a few knowing looks, then they would invariably respond in chorus: tiramisu. How to mistake. We put pasta and roast meat aside for a while and we would begin with excitement the step by step preparation of tiramisu. They always have the idea of something very complex, with a long preparation and heavy. Making the tiramisu, though, they are amazed by how simple it is and, dare I say, light.
Unlike the majority of tiramisu that you can try in a restaurant, in fact, in the family version you use raw eggs and whipped egg whites instead of cream, which lighten so much the final result. I feel that a tiramisu made following this recipe is so much light and airy, a delicate dessert which hardly anyone will refuse.
My problem with tiramisu is that I can not refrain myself from seeing the bottom of the bowl, emptying it spoon by spoon. I usually serve tiramisu in tiny cups and ramekins, instead of the classic rectangular pyrex dish, as I know myself. I have this quaint tendency to love even edges, so I would eat my way through the whole tiramisu aiming to level the edges and I would risk to get to the end without even realizing it. My sense of guilt does not last long, though, won by the unbridled passion I have for tiramisu.
At the end of the cooking classes I always have a fair amount of leftovers, which are equally distributed among family and friends. When I make the tiramisu, who knows why, the few leftovers never reach the fridge, as I can finish it spoon after spoon while I clean the kitchen. When mom comes home and ask if there are leftovers for dinner, my answer is always the same: there is chicken and a some pasta. Go figure, they finished all the tiramisu…
When Kusmi Tea asked me to make a recipe for Christmas with their special Tsarevna tea I realized it was time to make a tiramisu again. It was the right moment to share it unselfishly with my family on a cold December Sunday because, as I am now intolerant to dairy products, I have to stay away from mascarpone. This could probably be the only chance for a bowl of tiramisu to pass untouched through my hands and reach its final destination. You know, it’s Christmas time, you have to be good.
Six steps to a memorable home-made tiramisu
I won’t arrogate the title of tiramisu expert, although I’ve made many a tiramisu in my life, and I have eaten even more. For a few years I put the tiramisu as an option among the desserts on the menu of my cooking classes and I realized that there are six steps to follow to make a perfect tiramisu.
It might not be the classic tiramisu born in Treviso, in the North of Italy, about thirty ears ago, but what you are going to make will be a memorable family version that will force you to a heavy act of willpower to keep at least a portion for your guests.
- Obvious as it may sound, you need to have quality ingredients: a good mascarpone (or you can make it at home) which is not watery nor lumpy, good savoiardi or ladyfingers (or you can even bake them) and also good dark chocolate. I know, you use just a small amount of dark chocolate, but those chocolate chips that you encounter among the soft layers of the tiramisu are that je ne sais quoi which will radically change the quality of your dessert.
- Whisk egg yolks and sugar until they are white and light, until the sugar melts completely. To verify that you reached the perfect consistency just rub a drop of batter among your fingers: if you can not feel the grains of the sugar you can go to the next step.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. There is nothing more annoying than that watery liquid which remains in the bottom of the bowl when the egg whites are not well beaten. It will compromise the creaminess and compactness of the mascarpone cream, which holds the entire structure of the tiramisu. I do the test that Jamie Oliver suggests: I reverse the bowl of egg whites over my head, if they do not fall, they are well beaten. I’ve alway been lucky!
- Whether you choose the classic coffee, or instead you prefer tea, do not add sugar. In the kitchen contrasts, when wanted and well balanced, make the recipe more interesting. Speaking of this tiramisu, the bitter chocolate is a nice contrast to the sweetness of the mascarpone cream.
- When you soak ladyfingers in tea (or coffee) do it quickly, just briefly touching the liquid with the two sides of the cookie. If you leave them into the tea or coffee for too long, you will get a watery tiramisu which will lose thickness, while the cookies will be too soft, losing their role of supporting skeleton of the dessert.
- Once the tiramisu is ready, whether you choose the classic presentation in rectangular dish or you prefer single portions, put it in the fridge and forget it for at least a few hours. Some rest time will just be good for the tiramisu, then it will be ready to be lustfully devoured.
And now, finally, the recipe. I’ve been making a tea tiramisu for some years now. I opt for tea instead of coffee when I want to change the classic version without adding too much to the coffee tiramisu, as strawberries or pineapple. I also have a friend who, despite being a passionate coffee lover, fails to appreciate any dessert containing it. This tiramisu is suitable for her but also for the upcoming holidays, as the tea spices colour the tiramisu with the warm hues of Christmas.
I used the limited edition Christmas tea Tsarevna. The tsarevnas, daughters of the tsars, used to journey to the heart of the Imperial Russia for Christmas celebrations. They would go to the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg – the birthplace of Kusmi Tea – where an immense tree would be hung with Christmas decorations. Tsarevna is a Russian blend that takes its inspiration from that time. Today Kusmi Tea celebrates that 19th century tradition by presenting its limited edition Christmas Tea inspired by that era, a Russian blend of black tea, spices and orange.
Among the ingredients of this precious blend: black tea, spices, licorice, orange peels, scents of orange, vanilla and almond.
You can choose to serve the tiramisu in the classic rectangular shape, in glasses to highlight the different layers or even in tea cups, which recall the peculiarity of this tiramisu and somehow manage to contain the voracious appetites of the most passionate tiramisu lovers.
Christmas Tea Tiramisu
- 3 eggs, egg whites and yolks separated
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- 500 g of fresh mascarpone
- 2 cups of black tea Kusmi Tsarevna
- About 200 g of ladyfingers or savoiardi
- 100 g of dark chocolate
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
- Separate egg yolks and egg whites. Beat the yolks with the sugar until light and white.
- Add the mascarpone and one tablespoon of black tea, whisk again to remove any lump of mascarpone.
- Whip egg whites until stiff and fold them gradually into the mascarpone cream.
- Chop dark chocolate with a knife into small pieces, not too homogeneous: lucky those who will find some bigger chips!
- Make the tiramisu alternating layers of mascarpone cream, chopped dark chocolate and lady fingers quickly soaked in tea. Finish with a dusting of cocoa powder and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
- Emiko wrote a recipe for the Italian Table Talk for classic tiramisù, do not miss her historical introduction. Did you know that the original form of the tiramisu was round?
- If you feel like having a cake, check the Tiramisu Cake made by Linda. This cake may not be picture perfect (actually it is!), but as most of you probably know, life isn’t perfect and neither are cakes. It is de-licious though.
- David Lebovitz tiramisu served in single portion French verrines… in France, that’s really part of our rights, anyways. Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité is the motto. And the dining table should be no exception.
- Learn how to make tiramisu watching Guliano Hazan’s video.
- If you are not confident enough to use raw eggs, read this recipe by Michelle at Brown Eyed Baker.