A fellow baker and I often chat about what’s for dessert tonight instead of what’s for dinner. Our motto? Eat dessert first.
Tiramisu comes up often. She whips it together in no time flat. The taste is always the same, sublime. Though I have watched her do it hundred times, I cannot tell you why it is so.
Mine, though I thought I was duplicating hers, always came out a little bit off, each time slightly different. It tasted fine, just looked peculiar. I started serving it in little glass cups instead of plates because it looked better that way, more like the unconstructed look was on purprose.
But years passed and the celiac among us made the construction of tiramisu even more challenging by finding just the right cookie for the role of holder of all things gooey and chocolate. Sounds easier than it is.
The cookie is crucial. There have been studies done on the right cookie for the perfect tiramisu. It has to absorb the liquid, but not crumble. It must look like cake and have the texture of cake when served, but not fall apart. And it must never ever taste like gritty beach sand which many gluten free baked items do once in a while.
Finally, one day I came upon some gluten free cookies that might serve as companions in a tiramisu. But unfortunately, they were in France and not available here. I found another little cookie here, in the U.S. that might just do the trick.
The first attempt was dismal. Too much whipped cream (another story) and the cookies held their crunch and frankly, they resembled little flying saucers. Crunchy flying saucers at that. So back again I went to find a better remedy. And here it is. Almost perfect. In that unconstructed way.
- 2 cups of room temperature espresso
- bunch of rum, about a cup for the recipe, a cup for you
- 2 packages of Vicenzi Ameretti Cookies or another gluten free ameretti cookie
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 3 8oz. containers of marscarpone cheese at room temp (important!)
- 1/3 cup cream (to add to the eggs)
- 3/4 cup cream for whipping
- tiny pinch of vanilla
- 2 tbspn of cocoa
- 4 oz. bar of bittersweet chocoalte for making curls
1) mix up the coffee, half the rum in a baking dish (easier to dip cookies)
2) in a mixer, using a whisk attachment, gently mix up the yolks. Add the sugar and salt and whisk on medium high until very pale yellow. Add 1/3 cup of cream and whisk for a few seconds until mixed.
3) set the mixer bowl over a smaller saucepan with barely simmering water (don’t let the water touch the bottom of the bowl) and stir and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees, and the mixture coats the back of a spoon. All that means is that the yolks are safe to eat and the goop doesn’t run off the back of the spoon. It should just sit there. This takes about 5 minutes. Don’t let the water boil.
4) Remove from the heat and stir to cool it down. Leave it alone on the counter for about 10 minutes to cool to room temperature.
5) Back to the mixer, whisk in the marscarpone at medium speed until thoroughly mixed and no lumps remain. One way to do this is to premix the marscapone with a couple of tablespoons of cream to lighten it up before adding it to the yolk mixture.
6) Be really careful. Make sure your yolks are room temp and not still warm and watch that they don’t separate. It can make the mixture grainy.
7) Add the remainder of the rum to the mixture gently.
8) Scrape the mixture into a larger bowl and using the same mixing bowl (don’t bother to clean it) whip up the 3/4 cup of cream until it holds stiff peaks, about 1.5 minutes. Add a tiny bit of vanilla to the mixture.
9) Gently fold some whipped cream into the marscarpone/yolk mix to lighten it up. Then fold the remaining cream into the mixture just until it is incorporated. Don’t stir! Fold. Set aside.
10) Place a thin layer of the mixture in the prepared pan.
11) Fill the baking dish of coffee with as many little cookies that will fit (for the San Vincenti cookies only!). Flip them over so the other side can soak. For softer cookies merely dip them in the espresso to the count of 2 and remove. Once soaked, break the cooke (San Vincenti cookies) into crumbles until the bottom of the dish is filled over the thin layer of cream mixture.
12) Again, add a layer of cream mixture, only a thick layer this time.
13) Repeat until all the ingredients are used up. Feel free to dust with cocoa if you wish. Cover with plastic wrap.
14) Refrigerate overnight if you can, but at least 6 hours.
15) Remove the plastic wrap. Use a butter knife to loosen the edges. Take a serving dish and place it over the top of the pan and quickly flip it over and wait for it to drop. Gently remove the pan.
16) Working quickly, sift the cocoa over the top and add the chocolate curls and place it back in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it. You can place it in the freezer for about 30 minutes if it seems to loose.
And if you are like me, you might want to scoop servings and place them in glass cups rather than cutting it into pieces and placing on plates.