Let’s take a minute to talk about booze. Specifically, let’s talk about booze in food. From red wine in bolognaise to rum in a ganache to sherry in soups, alcohol gets used a lot in cookery. It helps to enhance the flavour of the dish and whilst the alcohol itself is often cooked off, the depth it adds to the taste remains and while I hate that I am about to use such a cliché phrase, it really does take the dish to another level.
This week, I was lucky enough to receive a commission for a tiramisu for a friend at university who did her year abroad in Italy. I did a little digging on the history of tiramisu and discovered a couple of interesting things including that alcohol is a relatively recent addition to the standard recipe (or at least as relative as it can be for a dish that was only invented in the 1960s)! Normally you would use Madeira, dark rum, brandy and some sort of coffee liqueur however people have also been known to add Malibu (coconut rum) and Disaronno (almond liqueur). The recipe that I use is an egg free recipe however people are also known to add egg yolks to the filling as it makes the dessert far richer. While I don’t do this myself, if you wish, you can beat egg yolks and sugar over a pan of simmering water until the mixture is thick and creamy – this also helps cook the egg so you don’t have to worry about food poisoning. This mixture would then be folded into the mascarpone mix before the tiramisu is assembled.
Owing to the shape of ladyfingers, tiramisu is often made in a square dish as they will tessellate to cover the entire surface whereas if you use a round dish, you will end up having to cut several of them to size to cover the base. The other benefit of this is that it makes serving the tiramisu easier, especially in restaurants as they can give everyone an identical portion with none left over. It is also common to serve tiramisu in martini glasses so everyone gets a portion to themselves. I tend to prefer making tiramisu in a large cake tin and lining the sides with ladyfingers as you get a stunning finish to the dessert and also everyone gets a little bit more coffee!
The recipe can be amended for people who don’t like coffee too. A couple of months ago, I received a commission for a birthday party which included a fresh fruit tiramisu. In this case, I replaced the coffee and such with a mixture of fruity beverages including Chambord (raspberry liqueur) and a raspberry vodka. Instead of chocolate in the layers and on the top, I filled the middle with diced up fresh berries and the spent far longer than necessary arranging the berries on top to look beautiful including fanned strawberries!
Prep time – 30 minutes, Chilling time – 4+ hours
3 packets ladyfingers
350ml cold coffee
250ml coffee liqueur
100ml white rum
300ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g icing sugar
400g dark chocolate
Chop up the chocolate into medium to small chunks and set aside
Place the mascarpone in a bowl and beat it until soft.
Add 50g of sifted icing sugar and the vanilla and beat again.
Add the cream and slowly beat until a smooth thick mixture is formed. Be careful not to overwhip as the mix can become stiff and grainy.
Mix the coffee, rum and liqueur together
Place the ring from a nine or 10 inch springform tin onto your serving plate to use as a mould.
Take the ladyfingers and dunk each one into the coffee mixture for a few seconds and then place them vertically against the edge of the tin with the sugared side facing inwards. Repeat this with more of the fingers until you have gone around the entire ring. If you are using ones which have writing on them, try and make sure the writing goes the same way on each of he fingers for a more professional finish!
Line the bottom of the tin with a single layer or ladyfingers dunked in coffee – you don’t need to fill in all the gaps as they will continue to expand as the coffee soaks through them.
Spread a layer of the mascarpone mix onto the ladyfingers. I tend to find this is easiest using a piping bag to pipe on a layer and then spread it out.
Sprinkle on just under a third of the chocolate.
Add another layer of dunked ladyfingers, mascarpone and add just under half the remaining chocolate.
Add a final layer of each of the filling ingredients and make sure that the chocolate on the top covers the whole of the cream layer – if you don’t have enough, you can sprinkle some drinking chocolate on first to make sure any gaps don’t stand out!
Chill in the fridge for at at least 4 hours so the filling can set.
Remove the tin and serve – you can always wrap a ribbon around the outside to jazz it up if you feel like it!
You can also make this in a large dish or individual martini glasses where you don’t need to line the outside. If you do this, the desserts only need to be chilled until they are cold as they don’t need to set or alternatively, you can serve them immediately!
This keeps for a few days in the fridge – just make sure it is covered!
Let me know if you try this at home! Give me a tag on Instagram if you have a go as I love seeing what people have made! If you enjoyed baking this and are looking for a bit more of a challenge, why not try out my Battenberg cake or check out last week’s recipe for butternut squash soup to help get you through this winter – this morning was the first day where the grass outside was frozen.
Have a good one and I will see you next week with an amazing recipe for lasagne!