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Tiramisu Disappointment and a Great Save

Tiramisu Posted by Hello
My primary school friends and I decided to skip the usual countdown parties around town in favour of a homey steamboat dinner. Known for being a natural in the kitchen, I was begged to make tiramisu, a favourite dessert, unanimously.

I was excited; I had wanted to try making my own tiramisu for the longest time. With a freshly opened bottle of rum and Bailey's Irish cream, hey, I was almost all set! The next step was sifting through the various recipe sites in search of a good one. Man, the pressure was on! I had my reputation to maintain. If I can wow the group, it would be elevated a few notches, I am sure. Finally, I decided on "Tiramisu Italiano", by Tyler Florence from It had received a number of good reviews and it did not seem too difficult to make.

So come Thursday night, I got ready to make the dessert. I followed the recipe closely with a few substitutions, but nothing really different. My downfall, I have decided, was the zabaglione. It failed to double in volume. Perhaps I was afraid of letting my yolk mixture sit in the water bath for too long, because I did not know if cooked yolks were part of the process, but as you would see later, the final product was liquidy. Anyhow, I proceeded on after the volume stopped increasing.

The rest of the recipe followed without much trouble. I noticed the runny cream filling I ended up with and bad feelings about the final product began to form in my head. But I hung onto the slightest hope of the cream firming up in the fridge later on. Assembling the cake was the fun part. The final product before going into the fridge was still presentable, as you can see from above.

I move on to the deciding moment. As I dipped the plastic cake knife into the cake pan, the filling felt firm. I thought, "Hey, it did firm up after all!" and smiled to myself. But alas, the cream dripped away as I lifted up the sponge, creating an unpleasant presentation. I was into foodporn and that did not help matters. I was disappointed. My face showed it. Lucky for me, I had a supportive group of friends and boyfriend. They complimented on the taste of the final product. There was enough alcohol in the sponge and cream. In hindsight, I thought the sponge was rather dry - I should have flipped the lady fingers around and coat both sides with the espresso, rather than just one side. Also, I did not think the recipe made enough filling.

Overall conclusion was that the recipe was not bad tasting. I would give it one more shot, working on the zabaglione, making sure the mixture thickens up, increase the amount of mascarpone cheese by double and coating the sponge on both sides.

Update (2 Jan 2005):

I had separated a smaller portion for my brother to try. That was kept in the fridge overnight and at a colder temperature. It turned out better than the one I brought to the potluck. Firmer but in my opinion, could still be better. But I just wanted to give the recipe more credit.

Tiramisu Italiano
(Copyright 2001 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved)

- 7 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup sweet marsala, plus 2 tablespoons (I used Bailey's Irish Cream)
- 8 ounces mascarpone, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup heavy cream

- 1 cup brewed espresso coffee
- 1 ounce dark chocolate
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
- 48 ladyfingers

- 1/4 unsweetened cocoa powder

Cream together egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Add 1/3 cup of the marsala and continue to whisk until mixture is thick and doubled in volume. This is basically a zabaglione. Remove from heat. Stir in the mascarpone until completely blended.

In a chilled bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, to lighten.

In a small saucepan, combine espresso, chocolate, rum, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons marsala. Heat gently, and stir to dissolve the chocolate. Then, chill the mixture to cool it down, about 15 minutes. Quickly dip each ladyfinger in the chilled coffee mixture and arrange in a single layer on a 9 by 13-inch glass baking pan. Do not soak the cookies or they will become too moist.

Spread 1/2 the mascarpone cream evenly with a spatula on top of the dipped ladyfingers. Repeat with a second layer of dipped ladyfingers and remaining mascarpone cream. Sprinkle top with cocoa powder. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.


Roguedoctor said…
Congratulations on starting your blog, girl! The hardest part is usually getting started. I must admit I was tremendously entertained by your account of your first attempt at tiramisu.

Your tiramisu looks pretty good for a first attempt. Keep at it, girl. I'm sure it'll get better! And do keep us posted on how the next one turns out.

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