Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tuscan Tiramisu...

During our holiday to Tuscany last year we had a local chef come to our Villa to teach us to make a range of traditional Tuscan dishes.

It was just before the harvest, so the grapes hung heavy on the vines...

We made Lasagne from scratch, Veal Scallopine, and a range of amazing starters, but the stand-out dish for me was the Tiramisu, which I had never really tried before (not being a fan of liqueur).

A scene from the busy villa kitchen...

He explained that traditionally Tiramisu is not really made with liqueur, so I decided to give it a go.  Oh dear, now I have probably eaten my bodyweight in it in the last year and it has become my go-to dish when "bringing something to the party".

This week just gone we had the big farewell party for my friends Meghan and Brian who are moving back to the US.  I thought I'd take the opportunity to do a step by step guide to make this amazing dessert, as I whipped it up for my "ladies a plate".

This dessert needs to be made the day before because something wonderful happens when it is left to mellow in the fridge :).

(to serve 6-8 people)

* 6 shots of espresso (or 6 tsps of good quality instant coffee made up with around 300ml of boiling water)
* 6 eggs
* 500g mascarpone cream (1.1 lbs)
* 7.5 tbs castor sugar
* Around 3 dozen ladyfingers (sponge fingers)
* 3/4 cup dark choc chips (optional, but not really)
* Cocoa, for sifting

Make your espresso, or coffee mixture from instant coffee.  Add 2 tbs of castor sugar to the coffee and stir to dissolve.  Set aside to cool.

Separate your eggs, - whites in one bowl (bowl of your mixer if using), and yolks in another bowl.

Add the remaining 5.5 tbs of castor sugar to your egg yolks and whisk.

Add the mascarpone to the yolks and sugar and whisk until smooth.  It helps if you take the mascarpone out of the fridge 15 minutes before you use it so that it combines easier.

Whip egg whites until soft peaks form.

Add the egg whites to the yolk/ masarpone mix, 1/3 at a time, gently folding them together with a palette knife or large flat metal spoon.  Fold very slowly - you want them to combine without losing too much of the air that you just whipped into the whites.  If there is any liquid egg white left at the bottom of the bowl, just discard this.

The finished "cream".  It should be smooth, light and slightly fluffy.

Now begin the assembly...

Place two or three big spoons in the bottom of your dish and spread it around so it coats the bottom.

Dip your ladyfingers in the coffee mixer quickly and then press gently into the layer of cream.


Complete the layer then sprinkle over half the choc chips.

Repeat these three steps - cream, fingers, choc chips...

Then for the last layer, apply a layer of the cream and ladyfingers (no choc chips this time).

Then pour over the remaining cream and flatten off with a palette knife.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, dust with unsweetened cocoa powder using a sieve.

And here is the one we made in Tuscany, presented oh so glamorously in a disposable aluminium roasting dish on a fruity plastic tablecloth.  It tasted good though!



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