Since we are celebrating our heritage today, I focused on my Italian side. My dad’s side of the family can be traced back to Naples, Italy. However, my grandparents passed away before I could remember, and quite frankly, I don’t know anybody else except my dad. That wasn’t going to stop me from embracing it though. Apparently I’m very ambitious and very stubborn (two well-known Italian traits). Wait until you hear the story about my Strawberry Tiramisu. Either I’m dedicated or just plain crazy.
This Strawberry Tiramisu is also kicking off Strawberry Week here at Chocolate Moosey. Every day this week, you will be greeted with an awesome strawberry recipe. On Saturday, I will post a round-up of strawberry recipes from around the blogging community.
Tiramisu translates to “pick me up,” hence the coffee in this dessert. It is a layered cake made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee and a mascarpone cheese mixture. I wanted to stick to the traditional recipe as much as possible with the twist of making it strawberry.
Or so that was the plan. Wednesday night I decided to try making homemade ladyfingers, which are sponge cookies used in traditional tiramisu. I have this Italian cookie cookbook with a recipe, so I got to work. Except the result were they spread so much, they were now crispy thin wafer cookies. Ok no problem. I’ll just buy some at the store tomorrow.
Thursday after work, I stopped at the store for ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese. Couldn’t find any. People probably thought I was doing laps around the store because I checked here then there then back again to make sure I didn’t overlook it then over there to see if they were in another section. Sigh. At this point I would’ve given up, but since I already locked in my post for #SundaySupper, I had to get something made. Should I go to the next town over, 15 minute drive to the other store? Guess I’ll try it. Nope, nothing there either.
Did I mention I’ve been sick all week? I bring this up because sick moosey + frustration = crying. Fortunately, Jenni from Pastry Chef Online talked with me and gave me a link to a recipe she made. At this point, I needed something, anything, so I had no choice but to try making ladyfingers again.
Then I read her recipe. You see, Jenni is a pastry chef (hence the name). Pastry chefs love scales. Ok, no problem. I have a scale I can use. “5 oz egg yolks, 6.5 oz egg whites.” What the hell? How many eggs do I need to sit out?? At this point, I’m having trouble concentrating because of my cold, so I just had to measure and keep moving. First ingredient, cake flour. SIGH. I don’t have cake flour, and I know it was important in this recipe. Enter Joy the Baker’s cake flour substitution. Moving on. After I got everything made and piped, I sat back and watched. They were rising! This might actually work! Andddd then they burned. I had some batter leftover, so I scraped as much as I could and got 9 oddly-shaped super thin ones and 4 not-as-burned thin ones.
I was done Thursday night, so I went to bed early. I got up early Friday morning before work to make the topping since that needed to chill for 4 hours. I scaled down the recipe, added the cornstarch, wondered why there was so much, and realized instead of scaling down 1/2 Tbsp, I read it as 1/2 cup. SIGH. Started the mixture again, got it cooked and chilling before I left for work. Got to work and as a last resort, told Dad to stop at the Italian grocery store near his place before the family came up to visit for the weekend. Success!
That took care of the ladyfingers. What about the mascarpone cheese? I gave up on that idea, so I found a substitute online – cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream. I never had mascarpone cheese before, so really I have no clue if this sub worked. The reviews said it does, so good enough for me. I swirled in some strawberry curd (you can use jam) and chilled it until I was ready.
I didn’t get the ladyfingers until late Friday night, so I assembled Saturday night after dinner. I still have my cold and by the time I got home from shopping, all I wanted to do was lay down. In between laying down and chilling, I managed to assemble my tiramisu without it falling over. Did you know ladyfingers are crunchy? I brushed the coffee on top, but next time I’ll actually dip and soak the cookies.
I never had so much trouble with a dessert before, and it wasn’t even that hard! It’s also not what I had envisioned at all. I recommend slicing the strawberries so you can get more filling.
- 3 Tbsp milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 tsp cornstarch
- 3 Tbsp coffee (possibly more if dipping ladyfingers - see step 8 in recipe)
- 1 Tbsp sugar + more for sweetening strawberries
- 3 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 12 strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced (or halved)
- 2 Tbsp strawberry preserves or curd
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese (or 3 oz cream cheese + 1 Tbsp sour cream + 2 tsp heavy whipping cream)
- 12 ladyfingers (savoiardi biscuits)
- Unsweetened cocoa for dusting
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk then remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and 1 Tbsp sugar until thick and light. Beat in the cornstarch then beat in the hot milk.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan. Place over medium-low heat and gradually add 2 Tbsp coffee, beating constantly with a whisk. Continue beating until the mixture is thick and begins to simmer. Transfer to a metal bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching the custard's surface, then refrigerate at least 4 hours.
- After 4 hours, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form and fold it into the chilled egg mixture. Refrigerate again until assembly.
- If the strawberries need to be sweeten, toss with some sugar. Refrigerate until assembly.
- In a medium bowl, swirl the strawberry preserves or curd into the mascarpone cheese (or beat together cream cheese, sour cream, and heavy cream then swirl in the preserves or curd). Refrigerate until assembly.
- Up to an hour before serving, assemble the tiramisu. Put the remaining 1 Tbsp coffee into a small bowl. Place 3 ladyfingers onto the plate, brush with coffee, spread a layer of mascarpone mixture then add half of the strawberries. Top with 3 more ladyfingers brushed with coffee (using mascarpone mixture as "glue" if needed), spread more mascarpone mixture, then add remaining strawberries. Top with remaining 3 ladyfingers brushed with coffee. Top with chilled egg mixture then dust cocoa powder on top. Chill until ready to serve.
- If the ladyfingers are crunchy, dip each one into the remaining 1 Tbsp coffee to soften a bit and assemble as directed (may need to add more coffee).
Source: Adapted from The New York Times Dessert Cookbook