Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Individual Tiramisu - Easy and Elegant Dessert!

If you have a sweet tooth, desserts are probably a large part of your cooking repertoire. In most foods, I prefer there to be some kind of texture, some crunch or crispness. But sometimes, I just want something creamy and yummy and good...and that's when I crave Tiramisu. Loosely translated, the name of the dessert is Italian for "Pick Me Up"...and with the espresso, it's not an unfitting title, believe me! Almost like a trifle, Tiramisu consists of layers of espresso soaked Savoiardi (Italian crisp-style lady fingers) with a mascarpone cream that is out of this world good. I leave out the alcohol, but that is a personal preference. I am happy with the rich coffee flavor, and I am usually serving at least a couple of kids, so it's just better for me to leave it out. If, however, you prefer to add it, you can add 1/4 cup of whatever liqueur you prefer, be it brandy, Kahlua, whatever, to the espresso before dipping the lady fingers. Some recipes also call for a couple tbsp to be added to the mascarpone. I use vanilla.

To begin with, you'll need 6 egg yolks. In a double boiler over simmering water, whisk the yolks with 1/3 cup of sugar until thickened and lemon colored, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl and use the whisk attachment, beating until lightened and fluffy. Add softened mascarpone (remove from refrigerator 20 min prior to use), and use the slower setting to combine it with the egg yolks and sugar. Add 2 tsp good quality vanilla extract. Transfer to another bowl for the time being. In the mixing bowl, whip heavy whipping cream and 2 tbsp sugar just to soft peaks. Do not over-whip. Add the mascarpone and egg yolk mixture back to the mixing bowl.

Turn the mixer on the lowest setting to fold the mascarpone into the whipped cream without overwhipping the cream and making butter. When it is uniformly colored, turn up to medium for about 30 seconds, to aerate a little more. Make espresso. If you have an espresso maker, wonderful. I make 8 two ounce shots, and add a little vanilla bean simple syrup. If you don't have an espresso maker you can use instant espresso or very strong brewed coffee.

Now comes the fun part. For these individual version of this classic Italian dessert, I am using martini glasses. Because of the smaller vessel size, I cut some of the Savoiardi into smaller pieces. Dip the ladyfingers in the espresso for a count of 2 and place in the martini glass to make a layer on the bottom. Top with some of the mascarpone mixture, then another layer of the ladyfingers.

When you're finished with the layering, top with a dusting of cocoa powder or some finely grated bittersweet chocolate. As you can see here, I went for the chocolate. My daughter and her friend could hardly wait to assemble their own! It's an easy and fun dessert to make with your kids too!
And there you have it, Individual Tiramisu, served in a martini glass. Of course, you do have to chill it after assembly; 2 hours if you're really craving, up to overnight. Here is the recipe:

6 egg yolks
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (I use double strength, but you can use regular)
12 ounce carton mascarpone cheese
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
espresso, brewed or instant, or very strong coffee (fresh espresso being the preferred choice)
Savoiardi (Italian style crisp ladyfingers)

In a double boiler over simmering (NOT boiling) water, whisk egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until heated, thick, and lemon colored. Transfer to mixing bowl and, with whisk attachment, beat until lightened both in color and texture. Add mascarpone cheese, and vanilla, using low setting, until thoroughly combined and uniform in color. Transfer to another bowl. In the mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream with 2 tbsp sugar just until it reached soft peaks. Add the mascarpone mixture back into the mixing bowl with the cream and use the low setting again, until thoroughly combined. Turn to a med setting for 30 seconds. Set aside while you make espresso.
Follow the instructions above for individual Tiramisu, or layer in a glass baking/casserole dish to serve family style.

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