Thursday, February 25, 2010


America's Test Kitchen has a standard approach to all of their recipes: they find common problems with traditional recipes and then they test a billion different versions until they arrive at the "perfect" one (and they do usually come up with awesome, fool-proof recipes). Sometimes I think the problems they make up for recipes are a little exaggerated, but I completely agreed with their assessment of the most common tiramisu fail: too soggy. And, as usual, their recipe solves the problem... you can see in the picture above that the ladyfingers are still cakey, and not overly saturated with coffee. It's all about quickly dipping them in coffee, rather than letting them soak. Since the rest of the tiramisu is basically just a creamy custard, you need the texture of the ladyfingers to hold up so that you're not eating a big pile of mush.

This was fun to make, and it doesn't require baking; however, you need to refrigerate it for at least 6 hours before serving (we let ours set overnight). Also, John and I could not find the espresso powder called for in the recipe, so we left it out. I'm sure it would have a stronger coffee flavor if we used it, but I don't think the dish suffered without it.

Lest you think we ate the whole pan of tiramisu ourselves, I should tell you that we made the tiramisu for John's mom's birthday dinner. We had a delicious Italian feast: John made his homemade ravioli and meatballs, and his sister-in-law, Brooke, made a tasty caprese salad... yet somehow everyone managed to save room for dessert. Well, everyone except for John's nephew, Charlie, who could not have been less interested in the tiramisu:

Oh well, I guess he's not old enough for rum-laden desserts yet...

from America's Test Kitchen: Best of 2009

Note: Brandy and even whiskey can stand in for the dark rum. The test kitchen prefers a tiramisù 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. Be certain to use hard, not soft ladyfingers.

2 1/2 cups strong black coffee , room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
9 tablespoons dark rum
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 pounds mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream (cold)
14 ounces ladyfingers (42 to 60, depending on size)
3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa , preferably Dutch-processed
1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , grated (optional)

1. Stir coffee, espresso, and 5 tablespoons rum in wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.
 2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined. Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice. Add remaining 4 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl. Add mascarpone and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.

3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.

4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.

5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.

6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.



Brooke said...

Love it! And loved the tiramisu. Maybe a little rum-laden dessert will help Charlie sleep at night rather than during dessert... ;)

Anonymous said...

I hope this isn't what we have to look forward to in 3 months for Charlie's firt birthday bash... I'm sure it was some good stuff John - even though I'm not a tiramsu person.
xooxoxoxo Auntie :)

Anonymous said...

I boiled the rest of the liquid to make the most awesome syrup to drizzle on!! No wasting of expensive rum or espresso powder in this house!