Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tiramisu: Not the Final Try

Oh, Versailles... Strolling through Marie-Antoinette's gardens, stopping at the fountains... You almost feel like you're in Italy.

Wait, what?

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.
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Jennifurla said...

That is lovely

Reeni said...

It still looks scrumptious! Sorry it didn't turn out as you hoped - especially after you put your time into it. I wish I had a recipe to share - can you believe that tiramisu was not a dish I grew up on? Even my Great Grandma right off the boat wasn't known for making this dessert - I suppose it must be a regional thing.

Debbie said...

The best tiramisu I had was years back at an Italian restaurant and it was soooo good. I have made it a few times but it was never as good as the one I remember. Yours still looks and sounds good even though it was not what you were expecting. Keep trying..... said...

Hi Lucie,
That all looks right- the coffee needs to be real strong espresso, of course. I suppose it's obvious to you that the name means "pick me up." My understanding was that it is an originally Venetian dish, and that it was eaten around 4 pm as, of course, a pick-me-up: a little sugar, a little coffee...
I'm working my Florence tips into bite-size pieces on a blog, this time with a link to the award-winning Bilingual Butter.
Best, oncle Jean

Mary said...

It's a shame the tiramisu did not live up to your expectations. It certainly look luscious. I suspect the use of Italian meringue was not part of the original recipe. Why not seek out the recipe you so fondly remember? It is the easiest way to skin a cat. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

grace said...

even if it's not perfect, tiramisu is a great dessert. i'm all about things that improve with age...even though they rarely seem to last long enough to get really good. :)

Barbara said...

You are so funny, Lucie! Like you, I have a tiramisu in mind. One I had in Venice. Oh my, it was delicious. I wonder if I can ever find a recipe to compare? I haven't yet. But I've had fun trying. :)
I'll be watching for your efforts on making the perfect tiramisu!

Ingrid said...

Those top photos are lovely!

Yeah, that's kinda like asking a Puerto Rican to make authentic Chinese food. Ain't happening. :)

Lucie said...

Thanks for all the encouragement! Latest update, I should be getting the coveted recipe soon and will keep you posted!

Uncle John: I'm looking forward to the blog!!