This is the time of year when my food cravings are anxious for early Spring gifts newly sprung from fresh earth. These treasures will arrive in varied hues of pinks and greens in the forms of rhubarb, wild leeks and asparagus. However, I happen to live in The Land That The Sun Forgot (really, watch Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Cleveland episode, and you will understand completely), and as I peer over my desk and out through the window at yet another gray, drizzly cold and dreary day, these edible forecasters of sunnier days ahead seem still a far, far way off.
So, I remain bundled and comfort myself with browns and creams and I eat a bowl of tiramisu. It’s not as if the world needs yet another version of this now-ubiquitous, absolutely beloved dessert of Venetian descent, but if not for this recipe, my blog would likely still be floating around in my head instead of on the internet.
To those who know me well, it is no secret that I possess the technological ingenuity of a newt. I had heard that blogging was supposed to be soooo simple, and to a large degree, it is. But I got a little teensy bit stuck at the photo uploading part (you can stop the eye rolling now). Luckily, one of my dear friends has a multi-talented, techno-savvy, amazing son, Michael, who came to my aid. And aid came with a small and delicious caveat; Michael wanted me to teach him how to prepare tiramisu.
A busier and more hard-working teen I have yet to meet (I ask, how many 17 yr. old high schoolers do you know who work hard enough and save enough to take their mom on a trip to Italy?!), he finally found an opening in his crammed calendar for our lesson day. Trying as best he could while attempting not to become utterly exasperated with my shortcomings, Michael gave a comprehensive blogging 101 tutorial which paved the way to finally publishing Life in Recipes.
My blogging exercise was followed by a tiramisu-making lesson for him. I was relieved to finally feel knowledgeable and in charge about something as I guided him through the processes of separating eggs and whipping thick cream to the proper consistency. Our little class of two was filled with non-stop conversation peppered with thoughtful and relevant questions from Michael. We spent time discussing food and food sources, as he will be heading out on his own next year and is concerned about making the best choices for his mind and body and how best to avoid the pitfalls of the freshman fast food trap. I commend him.
There remains so much for me to learn about blogging templates and html. I wonder what Michael will want to cook next?
Serves at least 8-10
Note: the success of this dish relies on using the best high-quality ingredients you can source. I’ve been making a version of this particular recipe for sixteen years, and it only improves as I am able to find better raw products. This is my favorite tiramisu – it’s not too sweet nor too boozy, not too anything. Just satiny and creamy and caffeinated. Just perfect.
4 cups cold espresso
32 (approximately), Italian ladyfinger cookies aka Savoiardi
10 large egg yolks from best-quality organic eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. cane sugar
1 lb. best-quality mascarpone cheese ( I used Crave Bros. Farmstead from Whole Foods)
1 plump, moist vanilla bean
2 tbs. Marsala wine
2 cups organic heavy cream
3-4 tbs. unsweetened best-quality cocoa powder
Equipment: One 9 x 13 pan or other vessel of similar capacity
Pour the cold espresso into a large pie plate. Dip both sides of half of the ladyfingers quickly into the espresso and line the bottom your chosen vessel with them. If you need to break some pieces to fit, it will be of no consequence to the outcome.
In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until well-whisked and starting to lighten. Add the mascarpone, the scraped beans from the vanilla bean (save the pod to stick in a bin of sugar or a bottle of vodka or rum) , the Marsala, and whisk until well-blended and smooth (you can use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment if desired). In another bowl, beat the cream until peaks are just arriving at the stiff stage. Fold the cream by thirds into the mascarpone mixture until combined and lightened. Pour and spread half of the mixture over the ladyfingers. Dip the remaining ladyfingers into the espresso, arranging another layer over the cheese mixture. Pour and spread the remaining mixture over the ladyfinger. Cover and let chill at least 6 hours, overnight is best (can also be frozen up to 3 months).
Tiramisu Movie Trivia: And from my 18 yr. old when he saw this piece: “Mom, remember that line about tiramisu in the movie Superbad ?”(yes, I’ll admit, I saw the movie. And laughed.). So, from Superbad I quote: “Seth(to his teacher): Look, we all know home-ec is a joke – no offense – it’s just that everyone takes this class to get an A, and it’s bullshit – and I’m sorry. I’m not putting down your profession, but it’s just the way I feel. I don’t want to sit here, all by myself, cooking this shitty food – no offense – and I just think that I don’t need to cook tiramisu. Am I going to be a chef? No. There’s three weeks left of school, give me a fuckin’ break! I’m sorry for cursing.”
You can view Michael’s website under my sidebar category “Aspiring” at 617 Media.