Wednesday, March 9, 2011

He didn't want cake

For the Hubster's birthday, I asked him to pick a dessert for me to make.  His choice? Tiramisu. Now, I've never been a fan of desserts that taste like booze, and I've never made tiramisu.  So, I took this as an opportunity to challenge myself, and make what the Hubster wanted.  I looked through my cookbooks, and found a recipe in The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2009.  Since I am basically an ATK devotee, I saw no need to look further.

I have to say, I was shocked at how easy this was to make.  And, because it has to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, it's great to make ahead for parties!!  Since I was just making this for 2 of us, I made a half batch, and I still had about 9 servings.  A whole batch would have made a ton of the stuff. 

If you make this (and you should), please use the ladyfingers you can buy in the store.  I couldn't find them, so I made my own, which is also easy.  The only problem is that homemade ones are too soft to hold up against the dip they take in the coffee and rum mixture, and then they get all soggy. Hence the relatively thin cookie layer in the photo above.  Also, you can decrease the amount of rum used in the coffee/rum mixture for the dipping if you want.  I decreased the amount by at least half (again, boozy desserts aren't really my thing).

And a couple more appearance notes:  When I went to serve this, I wanted to grate some chocolate on it, and I thought I had some dark chocolate bars in the house, but sadly, I did not.  I turned to the closest available option:  a chocolate Santa.  It was milk chocolate, which is why it looks so light in the picture.  Chocolate Santa took one for the team that night.  And yes, that is a small paper drink umbrella in the picture.  It was a birthday, and I couldn't find any candles, so the umbrella had to do.  And no, I didn't light it on fire before serving.

Serves 10 to 12
Note: Brandy and even whiskey can stand in for the dark rum. The test kitchen prefers a tiramisu with a pronounced rum flavor; for a less potent rum flavor, halve the amount of rum added to the coffee mixture in step 1.  Do not allow the mascarpone to warm to room temperature before using it; it has a tendency to break if allowed to do so.

2 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso granules
9 tablespoons dark rum
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds mascarpone
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
14 ounces (42 to 60, depending on size) dried ladyfingers
1/4 cup grated semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)

  1. Stir the coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons of the rum in a wide bowl or baking dish until the espresso dissolves; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the yolks at low speed until just combined. Add the sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula once or twice. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. In the now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean the bowl), beat the cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks, 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set the mascarpone mixture aside.
  4. Working one at a time, drop half of the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to a 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture; the entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Following the photos, arrange the soaked cookies in a single layer in the baking dish, breaking or trimming the ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into the dish.
  5. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers; use a rubber spatula to spread the mixture to the sides and into the corners of the dish and smooth the surface. Place 2 tablespoons of the cocoa in a fine-mesh strainer and dust the cocoa over the mascarpone mixture.
  6. Repeat the dipping and arrangement of the ladyfingers; spread the remaining mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and dust with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe the edges of the dish with a dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with the grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.

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