Friday, February 26, 2010

Chai-Tea-Tiramisu: Daring Bakers Feb. 2010

Want a "Pick-me-up"? How 'bout a semi-freddo (freezer-cold without being frozen) cake made with the richest of Italian cream cheese (Mascarpone), and a rich Italian sauce (Zabaglione) covering sweet sponge cookies (Savoiardi) that have been (hello?) soaked in dark ESPRESSO!?!

That's the classic Italian dessert called TIRAMISU, which translated means:
Pick me up. My twist on this classic was to infuse the pastry cream and soak the lady fingers in a hearty, cozy, spicy Chai Tea from Algabar Teas. I know, I know -- and it was--so, so delicious!

Kyber Pass Chai Tea 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.

For an Itali-phile like me, it wasn't very hard to get excited about this month's challenge. There are several stories about the history of Tiramisu, however it is generally considered to have been created in the town of Treviso in Northern Italy. The restaurant, Le Beccherie, claims it's origin and still proudly serves the classic version of this famous dessert. That version uses raw eggs in the pastry cream and dark bitter espresso soaked sponge cookies and smothered in deep dark powdered cocoa.

Our Daring Baker hosts did an amazing job of laying out the challenge with links and pics to help us enjoy the process. The process, by the way, included making our own home made MASCARPONE CHEESE. If you take nothing else from this post, PLEASE try making your own Mascarpone cheese. It could not be any easier (cream and lemon juice, that's it), and the taste and creaminess had me preaching it's glory to everyone I talked to for days.
The classic recipe uses Zabaglione, which we made, but we also added a pastry cream and whipped cream to our mascarpone. This made a full bodied cloud of sweet and spiked pudding to surround our Home Made Savoiardi cakes.
Once my cheese was made, my creams were chilling over night, and my sponge cookies were cooled, I carefully brewed my Kyber Pass Chai Tea.
Then I soaked my lady fingers in the Chai tea for a few moments on each side and experimented with several designs for my finished dessert.

Here: I placed plastic wrap inside a dessert cup and lined it with the cakes, then filled it with the cream, another cake, and finished with cream. I wrapped the tops and held these in the freezer overnight. I gently pulled the form out, unwrapped and set up to complete with sifted cocoa the next day. *You can hold Tiramisu in the freezer for several days, just leave out for a few minutes at room temp before serving.

Another design used a parchment paper liner inside a tube form. I layered cookie, cream, cookie, cream... to 3/4 way up. I removed the form and left these to chill in the freezer overnight also. The next day, I unwrapped and finished with cocoa...
OR: Added Grated Chocolate because..well..there's never enough chocolate for my taste!
I also served the Chai Tea Tiramisu (layered cookie, cream, etc.) in a cordial glass as a completed dessert, after chilling.
If you're reading this and thinking about making this (first of all, YAY!, but also), don't get thrown by the ingredients or length of the material. Read it over like a story, sit down with a pen and paper and map out your plan of attack. There are easier recipes, but this was very fun and the process was very therapeutic. If this is not new to you at all; I highly recommend these recipes, too.


Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007


(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed (I used brewed Kyber Pass Chai Tea)
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double 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.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee: I used Chai tea plus 1 TBLS. Port), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
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.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
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, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
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.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu: (See my earlier mentions for variations)
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
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. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. 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.
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.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. 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. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. 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 firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,


Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.


Mary said...

It looks delicious! I bet the chai was a great flavour! I am getting so many ideas for the next time I make this. My favourite one was the raspberry Amaretto one I made.

Anonymous said...

Lovely tiramisu. Very nicely done.

Lisa said...

So many variations! Nice job. I love the ones you did in the food mould with the parchment. I would never have thought of using the parchment to keep the shape, I would have just left it in the mould, so I learned something today :)

Gala said...

Sounds delicious and your presentation looks great too :)

chef_d said...

Yummy looking tiramisu, I love the the single serve versions you made. So pretty, and the chai flavor must have added more yumminess to this very decadent recipe :)

Anonymous said...

Cute! I like the chocolate fork ;-). Good job on the challenge!

Stormie said...

Great job! The Chai tea sounds lovely! I love the chocolate coated one!

Lauren said...

Excuse me while I pick my jar up off the floor. Cathy!! Those photos are sensational. You're absolutely right - great minds think alike ;D.

Becca said...

A chai tea version sounds wonderful! Lovely job.

Wic said...

cute little towers of deliciousness. adore it.

Anonymous said...

Love all the different variations in presentation!! All of them look super delicious! Great job!

Bread and Jam said...

Two things I love here: The shape you chose and also the chai flavor. Very creative! Well done. :)

Tia said...

now i need to go get some of those tube forms!

Beth said...

I enjoyed your methods of presentation - very clever!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

They look so pretty! I'm seeing a lot of "tea-ramisu" and think its a great idea! And agree, there's no thing as too much chocolate. :)
Thanks for baking with us.

pierre said...

congratulations for yoyr recipe and Tiramisu is my favourite !! cheers from Pierre a french foodie in Paris

Deeba PAB said...

How gorgeous can gorgeous be? Well done indeed. I love your towers, with grated chocolate & without, and how beautifully you brought it all together! Thanks for singing the mascarpone anthem...amazing isn't it! Thank you. We loved hosting the challenge!

Jeanne said...

Chai tea tiramisu sounds delicious! I bet the ladyfingers themselves are pretty good dipped in chai! I love the molds that you use, the finished tiramisu is so beautiful.

Dot said...

That is just lovely... I never knew you could make your own mascarpone, either!

thanks for sharing it... it's nice to have found you!

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