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Tiramisu: Daring Bakers February 2010

March 3, 2010

I just joined the Daring Baker’s monthly challenge because I figured it would give me a fun excuse to make something different each month, something I wouldn’t necessarily think of making myself.  Plus it’s great to see the many creative ways in which other bakers interpret the recipes provided.  This month’s challenge was the classic Italian Tiramisu, which is made of layers of espresso soaked ladyfingers and cream (made from mascarpone cheese, zabaglione, vanilla pastry cream and whipping cream…mmmm).  It’s a true ‘pick me up’ treat…and who could really turn down the kick given by the strong coffee, sugar, and alcohol?!

I enjoyed working on this challenge especially because it was made up of many ‘first time’ kitchen experiences for me.  I didn’t think I’d ever in a billion years be making my own cheese, but I made home-made mascarpone cheese, which was actually really easy.  I also made ladyfinger biscuits, zabaglione, vanilla pastry cream, and whipped cream for the first time as well!  While making the dessert from scratch was time consuming, the recipe allows the process to be able to be spread over a few days making it much more manageable, and the assembly was fun and quick.  My final result wasn’t the prettiest, but it was lusciously smooth and every bite was the perfect balance of sweet cream, strong coffee, marsala wine, and a slight tang of the lemon zest peaking through.  Next time I would probably not bother making the ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese from scratch (my cheese was delicious, but not as creamy as store-bought), but the other creams were worth the extra effort.  I also recommend using high quality freshly brewed espresso here as it really does make the tiramisu shine.

Daring Bakers February 2010 Challenge: Tiramisu

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

I spread the work over 3 days:

Day 1: Savoiardi and Mascarpone Cheese



Savoiardi (aka Ladyfingers)

Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home; makes about 32 medium sized biscuits (next time I would have made them smaller)


  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 6 Tb (75gm) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch [or 3/4 cup cake flour) sifted
  • 6 Tb (50gm) confectioner’s sugar

1) Preheat oven to 350 F

2) Lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter.  Line with parchment paper.

3) Beat egg whites using hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form.  Add granulated sugar gradually.  Beat until egg whites are stiff, glossy, and smooth.

4) In a seperate smaller bowl, beat egg yolks lightly with fork.  Fold into meringue using wooden spoon.

5) Sift flour over this mixture.  Fold very gently until it is just mixed (overdoing this will cause the batter to deflate, resulting in flat non-spongy biscuits)

6) Fit pastry bag with plain tip (can use ziploc bag with end cut off).  Fill with batter.  Pipe batter into strips.

7) Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers.  Wait 5 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining sugar.  (This step gives the ladyfingers their crispness).

8 ) Bake ladyfingers for 10 minutes.  Rotate sheets and bake another 5 minutes.  They will puff up and turn light golden brown, but will still be soft.

9) Cool on sheets for 5 minutes.  Remove from baking sheet with metal spatula and cool on rack.  Store in airtight container until ready for assembly.  They keep for 2-3 wks.

Mascarpone Cheese

Recipe adapted from Vera’s Homemade Mascarpone Cheese


  • 1 cup whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
  • 1/2 Tb fresh lemon juice

1) Heat water to a boil in a doible boiler.   (If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.)  Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering.

2) Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the pot with the boiling water.

3) Heat the cream, stirring often until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.  This will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating.

4) Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles.  All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. 

5) Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes.

6) Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will have a custard-like texture but it will firm up after refrigeration time). 

7) Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.  Makes about 120gm of cheese.

Day 2: Zabaglione and Vanilla Pastry Cream

about to whisk up some zabaglione


Remaining recipes from Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007


  •  2 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tb (50 gm) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
  • 1/4 t (1.25ml) vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t finely grated lemon zest (use organic lemons here if possible)

1) Heat water in a double boiler.

2) In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.

3) Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.

4) Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  •  1/4 cup (55gm) sugar
  • 1 Tb (8gm) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t finely grated lemon zest (use organic here if possible)
  • 1/2 t (2.5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) whole milk

1) Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.

2) Add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.

3) Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.

4) Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, you can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)

5) Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Day 3: Whipped Cream and Assembly

vanilla pastry cream, mascarpone, zabaglione


Whipped Cream


  • 1 cup (235ml) chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup (55gm) sugar
  • 1/2 t  (2.5ml) vanilla extract

Place mixing bowl and beaters in fridge 1/2 hour before hand if possible to facilitate whipping process.

1) Combine ingredients in mixing bowl.  Beat with electric mixer until holds stiff peaks.  Set aside.

To assemble the Tiramisu:

  • 2 cups (470ml) brewed espresso, warmed
  • 1 t (5ml) rum extract (optional, I just used regular rum)
  • 1/2 cup (110gm) sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75gm) mascarpone cheese
  • 36 savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
  • 2 Tb (30gm) unsweetened cocoa powder

1) Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice. [I used two 4 x 4 dishes].  You can get as creative as you want here depending on the presentation that you want (square, round, individual, parfait-style, etc…)

2) Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.

3) In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold.  My mascarpone was hard to break up, so next time I will soften it before using.

4) Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

5) Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers (or enough for the bottom layer) in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side of smaller ladyfingers, but a bit longer for larger ones. They should be moist but not soggy.

6) Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.

7) Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.

8 ) Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer.

9) Cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.  To get a nice cut through the tiramisu it helps to freeze it for a few hours for it to firm up.  Tiramisu can be frozen at this point until ready to decorate and serve.

10) To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 4, 2010 8:32 am

    WOW…i think it looks beautiful! what a challenge, 3 days! you must feel so accomplished 🙂 great job!

  2. Emily permalink
    March 11, 2010 8:23 am

    Iga this is AMAZING!!! I can’t imagine making homemade cheese??? I want to try making quiche this weekend – have you done that? we could do spinach and wild mushroom? Mmmmmm!

    • March 11, 2010 9:58 am

      thanks emily!!! i love quiche soo much…i actually just made quiche lorainne the other week but spinach & wild mushroom is another favorite! lets do it!!!!!

  3. March 29, 2010 9:57 am

    I think yours turned out pretty. It looks like you got a good soak on your ladyfingers. I didn’t soak my enough and it was kind of dry.

    • March 29, 2010 3:36 pm

      yes! i started to soak mine for a bit longer after a while since my lady fingers were a little bit bigger…plus i loove the espresso and wanted to make sure i could taste it!

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