The time-honored way of showing love in an Italian family is to offer food. Whether we're celebrating, mourning, happy, sad--if we're breathing, there's a table filled with great things to eat. Life's too short, so eat what you love and love what you eat.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Today was my guild holiday party, a pot-luck luncheon that mixes good food, good friends, and lots of wonderful quilting. This year I was on dessert duty and I spent a few days mulling over what I would bring. Our guild is large and we're asked to bring a dish that will feed 8-10. Since I'll be baking cookies later in the week, I dismissed them immediately. Buche de Noel seemed a bit fussy (and it's always a pain to cut). I was planning on making Death by Chocolate when I realized there was a wonderful Italian dessert I hadn't made in quite a while--tiramisu. An 80's dessert, tiramisu, which means "pick me up," is a variation of zuppa Inglese, another layered dessert. It consists of coffee-and-liqueur soaked Saviorde (Italian lady-finger biscuits) layered with a mascarpone zabione and whipped cream.
This recipe, which I happened upon many years back, simplifies the zabione, a welcome respite from standing over a double boiler and whisking for what seems like hours. I was lucky that there was one piece left over (DSO was very happy) and so was able to get a photo.
Ingredients (serves 12)
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup strong espresso, room temperature
2 tablespoons coffee liqueur (or rum)
20-24 Itallian ladyfinger cookies, carefully cut in half
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour.
In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
In a small bowl, combine espresso and coffee liqueur. Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise.
Arrange half of split ladyfingers in bottom of a 7x11 inch dish, cut side up and sprinkle with half the espresso-liqueur mixture. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.
Although this tiramisu does not require the whole double-boiler, zabaione-like process, it tastes every bit as good as if you had taken the long way round. I hadn't made it in years and had forgotten just how heavenly this Italian-style trifle is. I won't let so much time pass again before I make this. It is light in texture, but rich and satisfying with a wonderful, full mouth feel. While not overly sweet, you DO know you've had dessert when you're finished.