Tiramisu

Tiramisu – the name of the dessert sounds Oh-so-Exotic, but in truth it is what the Italians call ‘semplice’, meaning simple. I first heard the word Tiramisu when I was about 11. The priest’s chef at the church we go to would make batches of Tiramisu for visitors and guests and when we were lucky, us kids playing in the church premises would get a chance to taste some. It was a rare opportunity, but one we pounced upon eagerly. And man, was it delicious! Luscious and creamy with hits of coffee; gosh, my mouth waters at the memory. Eleven years down the line, I’m extremely proud to say that I make a pretty mean Tiramisu myself! 😉

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Over the years, I’ve come across many very distorted versions of the Italian classic. When I was studying in Mangalore, India, a famous ice-cream parlour served a Tiramisu Ice-Cream – a parfait of coffee ice-cream and chocolate cake layers topped with whipped cream. I cringe when I think of how not-so-Tiramisu-ish it tasted. I have also found many department store and bakery versions which are actually just layered whipped cream and chocolate cake parfaits. It is beyond annoying, because the classic Tiramisu doesn’t have ANY chocolate cake in it! :/

Nevertheless, I’m glad I know how make it myself. I mean can you imagine missing out on this beautiful dessert just because no one really knows what it is and how to make it? I cannot fathom how much joy I would be missing out on if I had never eaten an authentic Tiramisu. It is too amazing a pleasure to be deprived of! 🙂

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This recipe is for a cheat Tiramisu. I say cheat because it does not entail half the hard work that normally goes into making a good Tiramisu, yet it tastes just as good and authentic. The original recipe of this fabulous Italian dessert requires you to whip up egg whites until they form stiff peaks or egg yolks until they are creamy and then blend the eggs with mascarpone cheese and sugar to form the creamy mixture. While I have tried this method and though time-consuming it tastes rich and lovely, I figured out a short cut. I don’t really like eggs, and much less raw eggs in my dessert, so I decided to substitute them with heavy whipping cream. This lets me avoid the hassle of beating away at the eggs with my hand mixer and the cream turns out just as rich and lush. Win-win, isn’t it? 😀

So, here’s what you need:

  • Finger Biscuits – a pack of 30 (also known as Ladyfingers)
  • Mascarpone Cheese – 500 g
  • Castor Sugar – 4 tbsp (or more, depending on how sweet you want the dessert to be)
  • Heavy Whipping Cream – 550 ml
  • Dark Rum – 3 tbsp (optional)
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
  • Strong Brewed Black Coffee – 500 ml
  • Cocoa Powder – to drizzle

This is the procedure involved:

  • Brew your strong black coffee and keep it in the refrigerator.
  • While the coffee is chilling, in a bowl, blend together Mascarpone cheese, sugar and heavy whipping cream until it forms a thick cream. Pour in the vanilla extract and dark rum and mix until well incorporated.
  • Take the coffee out from the refrigerator and begin quick-dipping the finger biscuits in it one-by-one and placing them in a layer in a large deep square/rectangular dish.
  • Once the entire bottom of the dish is lined with coffee-soaked finger biscuits, pour half of the prepared creamy mixture over the biscuits and even the layer out with a spatula. Then drizzle cocoa over the cream.
  • Repeat the same procedure, layering coffee-soaked biscuits, cream and cocoa alternatively until the dish if filled to a little over 3/4th of its capacity.
  • Cover the dish with aluminium foil and place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Serve chilled.

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Take this as a guarantee; if you are a coffee-lover or even remotely like the taste of coffee, you will fall in love with this dessert! It is the kind of dessert that makes you feel blessed that you had a chance to eat it and also urges you to say a little prayer for the person who first came up with the recipe centuries ago.

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My entire household are big fans of Tiramisu. The brother can’t get enough of it and many a time when he heads over to a friend’s place for dinner, he asks me to make a bowl-full for them. Mom loves to indulge her taste buds in a small serving of Tiramisu, not that she would refuse if you served her a nice big piece. 😛 The cousins ask for some every time they come over. And the boyfriend says that with my homemade Tiramisu, I’ve ruined all store-bought and restaurant versions for him! 😉

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I’m certain that the luscious creaminess of the whipping cream and Mascarpone coupled with the soft, moist finger biscuits oozing with bursts of coffee and hints of bitter chocolate (from the cocoa) will have you believing that you’re floating in paradise! 😀 Go ahead, try this recipe. You can thank me later! 😉

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Tip: You’re probably wondering why this dessert needs to be chilled for 24 hours. In truth, Tiramisu can be eaten just after a couple of hours of refrigeration. But it takes at least 24 hours for all the flavours to fuse together and make it the splendid dessert that it is. So, make it a day in advance and try to resist eating it before the guests arrive! 🙂

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