Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Happy Birthday to You...with Tiramisu

Tonight was my community choir's annual Board of Directors' meeting and potluck. I also had a doctor's appointment this afternoon, so I wanted to make something...less involved than I usually bring. Also, I had planned to bring something savory. But just like last year, I was commanded to make a dessert, which of course, I begrudgingly agreed to do. But that didn't stop me from whipping up a batch of bacon and jalapeno devilled eggs anyway.

In case you want to know about those, here ya go: I brought a dozen eggs to the boil and then turned off the heat and let them sit for 11-12 minutes. Next, I cooled, peeled, and halved them. Then to the yolks I added about 1/4 cup mayo, a big squeeze of yellow mustard (1 tablespoon?), a heaping spoonful of zucchini relish (though pickle relish would suffice), four pieces of cooked bacon chopped finely, about five pickled jalapeno slices that I minced (or to desired level of hotness), a couple of tablespoons of finely-chopped fresh chives (though scallions would be fine, too), and 1/4 teaspoon or so of each of the following: ground celery, cumin, granulated garlic, and black pepper. I mushed all this up until smooth with a pastry cutter (my mushing device of choice), then loaded the filling in a sandwich baggie and snipped off one of the corners, which makes stuffing the eggs much easier and look nicer. Sprinkle with paprika if you want to go old school.

For the mandated dessert, I had to get creative. It was specifically for our Artistic Director's birthday, so I sent a private Facebook message to her husband to ask about her favorite dessert. Turns out, it was tiramisu. I think I may have made one once in the mid-nineties, but I don't remember being too impressed. I wanted to do a bang-up job for this special occasion, and I think I may have knocked it out of the park. The birthday girl was very pleased and grateful, I know that!

Tiramisu is not even that hard to make (it's a no-bake!), but if you're making a party-sized batch, it costs close to a kabillion dollars to buy all that mascarpone. That's probably why people don't make it that often or only for special occasions (not to mention, it's a calorie-and-fat-gram-fest!). But I recommend that you give it a try if you really want to make an impression on people.

(Source: adapted from Epicurious)

2 cups strongly-brewed coffee mixed with plus one teaspoon of instant espresso
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur

4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup dry Marsala wine (I swapped out 1 tablespoon dark rum)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 pound mascarpone (2 cups), room temperature
1 cup chilled heavy cream
36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; from two 7-ounce packages)
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
dark chocolate bar, for shaving

Stir together coffee, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and coffee liqueur in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool.

Beat egg yolks, Marsala or rum, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove
bowl from heat. Stir in vanilla, then beat in mascarpone until just combined. Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture gently but thoroughly.

Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger quickly into coffee mixture, line bottom of a 13- by 9- by 3-inch baking pan* with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary. Spread half of mascarpone filling on top. Dust with a little cocoa powder. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan. Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.

Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then top with a generous grating of dark chocolate before serving.

*Having read the reviews of the recipe on Epicurious, I doubled the mascarpone filling, so I needed to use a slightly deeper dish than a 13x9 (I used a disposable aluminum baking pan, because I'm classy like that). If I were making this for home/one family, I might opt for the given amount of filling but only one layer of ladyfingers.

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