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The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge: Tiramisu

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

So, for the February Darling Bakers' challenge was to make Tiramisu.  Let me clear this up from the start, I just did not make Tiramisu, I made everything from scratch.  The challenge was to make Mascarpone cheese, Salvoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers), and Zabagline.  At first the part that scared me the most about this challenge was making the cheese.  I had never made cheese before, and the unknown is scary I suppose.  So this blog post is going to take you though my journey.  My ups and downs of my first Tiramisu.  First I will explain the Mascarpone, then biscuits, then Zabaglione and finally how to assemble the darn thing.  Please keep in mind that this is a three to four day process.  I would recommend making the cheese and the biscuits on the first day.  The next day make the pastry cream and the Zabaglione.  Assemble it the following day, and eat on the fourth day.

In the end my Tiramisu did not set up like I would of liked it too.  I let it sit in the refrigerator for over 24 hours, but I was not able to get it to cut clean.  I'm not sure if this is an error in my pastry cream or the Zabaglione.  Either way I served this dish at my parents house and everyone loved it.  My mom said it was the best she had, but she is my mom.. she has to say that.  *wink


  • 474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
  • 1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
Salvoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers)
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 3/4 cupcake flour, sifted
  • 6 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sweet Marsala wine
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Vanilla pastry cream:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
Whipped cream:
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
To assemble the Tiramisu:
  • 2 cups brewed espresso, warmed
  • 1 tsp rum extract (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Mascarpone cheese
  • 36 Savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Recipe Sources:
Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

Mascarpone Method:

To make mascarpone cheese you must have a double broiler.  If you normally use a glass bowl as part of your double broiler that will not work for this recipe.  Many of the Daring Bakers' found out that the glass works as an insulator and it will not allow the cream to reach the all important 190 degrees.  So basically you need to use a stainless steel bowl, or double broiler... right?  Wrong. 

I own a double broiler, it's a Calphalon stainless steel.  I could not get my cream past 185 degrees.  It sat at 185 for close to 45 minutes before I decided to bravely poor the cream into another sauce pan and put it directly over the heat.  In less than two minutes my cream hit 190 degrees, and I was very pleased.  Mixed in my lemon and I watched it thicken.  It does not curdle like cottage cheese it just gets think.

Okay so this is what you do.  Bring one inch of water to boil in your double broiler, reduce heat to medium and pour cream into the top of your double broiler.  Heat the cream till it reaches the magical 190 degree mark, you will see small bubbles pushing to the surface.  The bubbles are like little cheerleaders, cheering you on, letting you know that you did it right.  After looking for these bubbles for close to 45 minutes I started hallucinating.   It “should” take about 15 minutes to reach 190 degrees.  Just be patient with it, keep stirring it and wait it out.  If it comes to the point where you have to put it on the heat directly, do so with caution.  Don't burn it <3.

After your cream is 190 degrees and you see your cheerleaders mix in the fresh lime juice and wait for it to thicken.

After it thickens remove from the heat and cool it.  I put mine in an ice bath.  Not sure why I did that, but I did.

After the the cheese has cooled to room temperature line a sieve with some fine damp cheesecloth or even a clean dish rag will do.  Poor cheese into the cheesecloth, do not press on it.  After it is completely cooled cover with some plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Don't fuss with it, it will turn into Mascarpone cheese over night if you got it up to 190.  It was like Christmas morning the next day.  I ran to the refrigerator and found my sieve packed full of the most beautiful Mascarpone cheese I had ever seen, or tasted for that matter.  This recipe is such a keeper.  Thank you!

Salvoiardi biscuits, ladyfingers (hobbit toes) Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.

Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer or a standing mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.

Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.

Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.

Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.

Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.

Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Zabaglione Method:

Heat water in a double broiler.  In the top of the double broiler mix egg yolks, sugar, Marsala wine, vanilla extract and lemon zest.  Mix together till the mixture looks smooth.  Transfer mixture to the top of the double broiler, cook mixture over low heat for 8 minutes.

It will bubble a bit as it reaches the right consistency.  It should look like a think custard when it is done.  Run custard through a fine mesh strainer to catch any clumps that may have formed up.  Let custard cool completely and then cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble Tiramisu.

Pastry Cream Method:

In a medium sauce pan mix together sugar, flour, lemon zest, and vanilla extract.  Add the egg yolk and half of the milk.  Heat the sauce pan over low heat and mix constantly.  Add the rest of the milk, a little bit at a time.

Cook for about 12 minutes, the mixture should be thick.  Take the cream off the heat and push through a fine mesh strainer and transfer to a bowl.  Let the pastry cream get to room temperature and then cover it with plastic wrap and store it in refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the Tiramisu.

Whipped Cream Method:

Using a hand held mixer or a standing mixer, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla extract.  Beat it till it forms soft peaks.  Don't make this whipping cream until you are ready to assemble the Tiramisu.

Assemble the Tiramisu:

Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, beat the Mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold.

Add the prepared and chilled Zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the Tiramisu.

Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.

Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.  I spooned about half of the mixture, not one third.  My Tiramisu only had two layers of hobbit toes, not three.

Repeat to create 1-2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer.

Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the Tiramisu overnight.

To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the Tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


Mary said...

Mmm! I bet it was the best ever! I'll certainly never buy tiramisu or ladyfingers again.

Anonymous said...

Good job! My tiramisu wouldn't firm up either, so I stuck it in the freezer, it was fine then.

Anonymous said...

Lovely tiramisu. Very nicely done.

Dragon said...

Your Tiramisu is lovely. :) Great job on this challenge!

Deeba PAB said...

That's a delish looking tiramisu, and am glad it tasted great. Yes, if you had stuck uit into the freezer, it would have firmed up and cut clean. Well done on the challenge Amy!

Lara said...

Looks really delicious!! I also put mine in the freezer, really easy and afterwards you get this really profesional cut and look (haha I am everything but a professional ;-) ), just stunning!! Good luck with the next challenge!

anjelikuh said...

Your tiramisu looks great! I put mine in the freezer for an hour before i cut them to get cleaner cuts. And i love the first picture of your tiramisu with its bumpy edge, pretty!

Valérie said...

I love how creamy your mascarpone turned out! Beautiful job!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great job! That tiramisu looks delicious!



Dharm said...

Well done! I think a lot of us put it in the freezer to firm up. You did great on this challenge!!!

ice tea: sugar high said...

I think the only reason mine actually quite firm is because I used all the mascarpone cheese instead of the recommended 1/3 of the whole quantity. But yours looked fabulous either way =)

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