Once, back in high school, we were having a party and I was responsible for dessert.
It was already the roaring heat of summer, much like now, so I decided to do something other than baking; something like tiramisu. I went a little overboard, doubling the amount of egg yolks to enrich the custard and finally adding a whole stick of butter because I wanted a conspicuously golden hue to contrast with the white whipped cream.
Perhaps the only thing that saved me in the end was drowning everything in shaved chocolate, fresh raspberries and mint sprigs.
Lesson learned: with tiramisu, you can take it easy.
The great thing about tiramisu - and I'm sorry to spoil it for some - is that its cute little Italian name immediately triggers responses of "ooh, he made tiramisu!" as if it is an incredible accomplishment, when in fact it simply makes clever use of assembly. If you can stir, sprinkle and stack, you can make a deceivingly fancy dessert.
Unless you plan on baking the ladyfingers yourself, you don't even need to turn on the oven.
Traditionally, tiramisu features espresso, coffee liqueur and slivered chocolate - which are all amazing - but especially for summer, I had berries on my mind.
At first I was leaning towards raspberries, but with the Fourth of July edging ever closer, I decided to add some blueberries to the mix as well. While being no less sophisticated, this tiramisu is lighter, fresher and fruitier than the original.
Mascarpone cheese, a thicker, Italian version of cream cheese, provides the rich cream layer. When lightened with a cloud of stiffly whipped cream, it makes a quick no-cook custard that's glossy and smooth.
Fluffy ladyfinger cookies provide delicate structure and sweet jam and berries cause it to explode with flavor. No less than three liqueurs contribute sharp and varied notes, guaranteeing this is a dessert strictly for adults (or replace the booze with lemon juice).
Red, white and blue tiramisu
If you don't feel like buying too many different liqueurs for one dessert (blueberry is a little obscure), look for the little "nips" bottles at the register, or the orange will take care of it all.
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
4 tablespoons raspberry liqueur
1 cup blueberry jam
4 tablespoons blueberry liqueur
1 1/2 pound mascarpone cheese, softened
4 tablespoons orange liqueur
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
48 ladyfinger cookies (available in the
bakery of most supermarkets)
11 ounces blueberries
Grease a clear glass 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan.
In two small, separate bowls, combine the raspberry jam with the raspberry liqueur and the blueberry jam with the blueberry liqueur. Whisk each until thoroughly incorporated.
Combine the mascarpone cheese and orange liqueur in a large glass bowl.
In another bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Whip the cream with a wire whisk or electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold 1/2 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone cheese with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining cream and continue folding until just mixed.
Line the bottom of the pan with a single, even layer of ladyfingers, then drizzle and spread them with the blueberry jam mixture. Follow this with a smoothed layer of 1/2 the mascarpone cheese mixture.
Sprinkle with half the berries, then add another layer of ladyfingers, soaking them with the raspberry mixture, and topping with the remaining mascarpone and berries.
Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours, or overnight. The flavors improve and develop over time.
Serve cold and garnish with additional whipped cream and berries, if desired.
GourmetGents is a local cooking blog written by James Pereira and Aaron Peterson of Montoursville.
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