Oh, Versailles... Strolling through Marie-Antoinette's gardens, stopping at the fountains... You almost feel like you're in Italy.
I'm getting everything mixed up. But I know why. It all started with Tiramisu.
I've been wanting to make tiramisu for a while, but every time I even think about it, our Italian neighbor's amazingly creamy version comes to mind. If only I could make tiramisu like that, I think. Don't ask why, but when I finally decided to make some for last weekend, I pulled out my classic French Larousse des Desserts.
Well that's a little strange, you might think. Who pulls out a Betty Crocker book when they need a recipe for profiteroles? Let me explain. The Larousse des Desserts is a pretty amazing compilation of all the well-known and not-so-famous desserts of France, directed by Pierre Hermé. And like many bakers, I tend to consider Pierre Hermé as someone to look up to, and especially some who never gets it wrong.
Sure, it puzzled me a little that the egg white to yolk ratio was 1:1, but I kept going. I wanted this tiramisu to be the real deal. Alright, I'll admit, I strayed away from the original a bit when I added grated chocolate and included almond extract instead of marsala. But still--I had high hopes that my tiramisu might come somewhere near the heavenly memories I still have of the one I had over two years ago.
Maybe next time. As I feared, the texture of this tiramisu is very mousse-like, and airy rather than very creamy. It's by no means bad--I had no trouble whatsoever eating my share and a little more than that. All I could say is that it's a bit underwhelming....and disappointing. But like I always say, a disappointment can only lead to more successful tries in the future--anyone feel like sharing a great recipe?
That will teach me not to get French and Italian desert classics mixed up in the future. As a result, I'm booking my flight right now to go spy on my neighbors as they prepare a tiramisu. Well, that or I could just ask my parents to knock on their door. Not as fun, though.
yields three to four servings
2 eggs, separated
5 to 10 fresh ladyfingers, depending on their size (mine were very large so I only used five, especially since I was serving the tiramisu in individual glasses)
125g (1/2 c.) mascarpone
40g (3.5 TB) granulated sugar
150 ml (1/2 c. + 2 TB) water
100 ml (1/3 c. + 1 TB) freshly brewed coffee
marsala (optional: I used bitter almond extract)
approx. 30 g / 1 oz. chocolate, grated
Whip egg whites to soft peaks.
In a saucepan, mix water and sugar together. Bring to a boil and boil for no longer than three minutes. Pour slowly into egg whites and beat until cooled.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and mascarpone until smooth. Delicately incorporate into egg white mixture.
Lightly dip ladyfingers into coffee and place in individual glasses or in a medium dish. Sprinkle with marsala or a drop of almond extract. Add a layer of mascarpone, and grated chocolate. Top with another layer of ladyfingers, mascarpone, and chocolate until you have used up all the filling.
Refrigerate at least two hours, and ideally a full day or night, before serving.