Foodie Friday: Mom-Friday's Tiramisu

First Friday of the month:  Mom-Cook / Dessert

Today would be my first food post for 2011 and I'd like to kick off the year on a sweet note with this "pick-me-up" cake.  This is also my first attempt at making this sinful Italian dessert and I am delighted to say that my Tiramisu was a success!

After recently reviving a classic cheesecake recipe, here's another sure-fire hit especially for those with a sweet tooth. Well, Tiramisu is actually not as sweet as other cakes in my opinion. According to Wikipedia:
Tiramisu (Italian: tiramisù; Venetian: tiramesù [tirameˈsu]; literally "pull me up") is one of the most popular Italian cakes. It is made of biscuits (usually savoiardi) dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone, and flavored with liquor and cocoa. The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of puddings, cakes and other desserts.
I thought it would be complicated but it turned out to be pretty simple to make once you lay out everything you need. With many variations to this dreamy cake, I intended to be as true to the traditional recipe. However, with the risk of having salmonella* from raw eggs, I searched for other ways to do this. I ended up combining ingredients and methods from recipes I culled from three different sites, resulting in this caffeine-free, alcohol-free version I can proudly call Mom-Friday's Tiramisu!


For the Zabaglione:
*6 egg yolks
1/2 cup white sugar
(Didn't add marsala wine)

For the filling:
500g (1 lb.) mascarpone cheese
1 cup all purpose cream or heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence

For the cake base:
1 1/2 cups prepared instant decaffeinated coffee + 1 teaspoon sugar, cooled for dipping
(original recipe calls for espresso; I also skipped the rhum)
24 to 30 pieces ladyfingers / savoiardi

For garnish:
Bittersweet chocolate shavings
Unsweetened cocoa powder

To prepare zabaglione:
Heat a bain-marie, or use double boiler - use a stainless bowl set on top of a small pot half-filled with water, bring to a boil, then let it simmer.
In the hot bowl, beat egg yolks and gradually add sugar until thick using electric mixer. This will gradually cook the egg in the process, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat then set aside

To prepare filling:
In a bigger bowl, beat the cream and sugar until stiff.
Add the mascarpone cheese and vanilla, beat until smooth.
Pour in the zabaglione to the cheese mixture and beat until well blended.

To prepare cake base:
Pour cooled coffee in a shallow dish.
Dip each ladyfinger, top side only, for no more than 5 seconds (soaking too long will cause them to fall apart). Arrange soaked ladyfingers on the bottom of a 13x9 inch baking dish (or any preferred dish), breaking them if necessary, in order to fit the bottom.

To assemble:
After lining the bottom layer with ladyfingers, pour half of the filling and spread evenly.
Repeat process of dipping and arranging ladyfingers on the filling, be careful not to press down.
Pour the rest of the filling over the second layer.

Cover the tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before serving, dust with cocoa powder and sprinkle chocolate shavings.

I served this subtly sweet tiramisu after our new year's eve family dinner. The cake drew encouraging feedback from my baker-mom, foodie sis-in-law, and cake-loving little girl. I knew then that this recipe is a keeper!

* Raw Egg Warning:
Food Network Kitchens suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, we recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell. (Source: foodnetwork.com)
In Italy, Tiramisu is made using raw eggs. Today the danger of salmonella is always present, and we prefer to cook the yolks in a bain-marie, or double boiler, and substitute whipped cream for the egg whites. (Source: annamariavolpi.com)

You can get the different original recipes from these websites:
Food Network - Giada De Laurentis
Anna Maria Volpi
Folie A Deux

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