The second the minute hand hit the 2 I whipped out my iphone. The excitements and anxiety to find out what the challenge was had been building all school day and I could barely contain myself when I found out what it was. TIRAMISU!!!! I won’t lie that I did a little dance in the bustling, crowded hallway and I immediately told all my friends the reason for my spontaneous dancing. I stumbled over my words in excitement trying to explain to my non-foodie friends what mascarpone was and how I had to make it myself and that I also had to make the ladyfingers myself. When I told my foodie friends, they understood immediately what I was talking about and even better, they understood my excitement. I had been talking for weeks about how I wanted to make real tiramisu, seeing as these cookies I made for a cookie exchange during December break set off a espresso spiked craving for tiramisu. Oh, and besides chocolate, tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts, must be my father’s genetics.
This recipe was very time consuming but the end result was definitely heaven on a dessert plate just as Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking had promised. I loved the bit of freshness the lemon zest gave to the dessert and I also froze mine which made it much easier to cut, although it did melt pretty quickly. I must admit though, I don’t think I will make tiramisu this way again, it is just too difficult with my schedule but I will be making tiramisu in the future, this darn craving just never goes away.
I definitely had my share of screw-ups during this challenge. Actually I could make a list… and seeing as I love making lists, I’ll just go ahead and make one.
- The ladyfingers turned out very well and kept very well – I made them a week earlier because I left to New York to do some “college visits” (and eat bagels, pizza cheesecake to the point of nausea, and $35 worth of goodies at baked). BUT I ended up not having enough when I made the tiramisu, only enough for two skimpy layers.
- I don’t think my pastry cream ever thickened enough, and neither did my zabglione even though I spent almost twice the amount of time needed at the stove stirring and stirring constantly.
- I decided to cut my mascarpone down to the only the amount I needed for the tiramisu because I doubted I could use the entire amount in a few days after. My mascarpone debacle began with me opening my heavy cream and finding a layer of butter. Yes, butter. For some reason while I was away the heavy cream decided to turn into butter. Well, after 20 minutes of scraping the butter out for another use, I finally reached what was left of the heavy cream and I prayed to the tiramisu gods that I would have enough for the mascarpone AND whipped cream. Miraculously, I had just enough. Then I couldn’t find my instant read thermometer, so I just decided to use my eyes instead. After heating for 15 minutes I wasn’t seeing the bubbles I was supposed to so I decided I would try to use my meat thermometer. Bad idea. It read that the mascarpone was only at 120 when it was supposed to be at 190. Well, my instincts just told me to stop so I added the lemon juice, stirred a little bit more and then took it off the heat and into the cheesecloth it went. The next morning when I went to set up my tiramisu making station, I went to scoop the mascarpone… hard as a block of feta cheese. But of course I still had to use it and I went to mix it with my too liquidy zabaglione and pastry cream. Lo and behold what resulted was a liquidy mess with chunks of mascarpone floating around ( this is what happens when you rush to make tiramisu at 7 in the morning before leaving for yet another college visit). By then my brain had woken up a little bit more and thankfully I decided to blend the chunky mixture with an electric mixer. Thank god my brain is somewhat functional. The resulting mixture was a coffee colored, glossy, and most importatnly: smooth. I guess in the end it was destiny that my mascarpone was hard because I’m telling myself it balanced out the zabaglione and pastry cream.
- Yes, there’s more. I didn’t dip my ladyfingers enough and I found them a little too dry for my liking in the completed tiramisu. I was afraid that they would become soggy – as the recipe warned – but I should have been more liberal with my soaking. Oh well, I’ll get it right next time, because there will be a next time.