Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Easy Peasy Tiramisu
You can opt to buy your own lady fingers or those Stella Dora Margherite Cookies in vanilla (they're not quite as soft, but a good dunk in coffee will fix that! Or you can buy pre-made angel food cake. Or you can use box mix to make white cake. Or you can bake a vanilla sponge cake like I did. I'm planning on making meyer lemon shortbread cookies, so I'm going to need those egg yolks for the lemon curd anyways. Once you figure out what you'll be using, the rest is a piece of cake! (pun intended)
This Tiramisu is really great for people who are pregnant, children (it has a little bit of coffee, but nothing major!), and anyone else who thinks eating uncooked eggs are a no-no. For me, I didn't want to have any extra egg whites/egg yolks remaining so I opted for the non-egg yolk zabaglione tiramisu.
Now that we have that out of the way, I'd like to make a service announcement. If you're even remotely interested in baking, invest in a scale. I got mine for $20 and I love it to death. Most bakers will use measurements in grams or ounces (weight) rather than cups (volume). Some people measure flour by dumping the measuring cup into the flour bin and leveling it off. This is actually NOT the correct way to measure flour. You should spoon flour into the measuring cup and then level off. This however, while the volume may be correct, gives you much less flour (by weight) than if you measure straight out the flour bin. So, measuring by weight is the most precise. When testing out recipes and then adapting them to my preferences, I try to use recipes with measurements by weight. It means I can accurately gauge the liquid to dry ratio when making adjustments. Basically I'm telling you to go buy a digital scale. Nothing fancy pancy. Just something with a Tare Button, Ounce/Gram Button and an On/Off button. I'm telling you it will change the way you bake.
You will need:
Sponge Cake / Lady Fingers / Whatever you have lying around. Shoot, even pound cake will work!
200g of WHIPPED cream cheese. It has to be the whipped kind or you're not going to get that nice fluffy dreamy texture. For those of you without a scale, this is 7 ounces of cream cheese. Or 7/8 of a cup. Have fun measuring that out!
1 Pint Heavy Cream
150g of powdered sugar or 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. FYI, Powdered Sugar = Confectioner's Sugar = Icing Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
1 Cup of extra strong coffee completely cooled.
3 Tablespoon or more of cocoa powder
1. Whip the heavy cream until you get peaks. It should be nice and thick. (3 minutes by hand mixer) Add the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and mix. When it's soft and pudding like, put the mixture into the fridge. Do this before you bake the cake, if using cake. If you're like me and do not have any patience, you can dump all the ingredients into the bowl and mix. It just means you have to mix a little longer, but it also means I can streamline the process. I'm lazy, remember? Let it set for at least 30 minutes in the fridge to firm up.
2. Bake (if baking) and level off your cake (if using cake). This exposes the crumb part of the cake which is ideal for soaking up the coffee. Since I used a round cake, I used a springform pan to assemble my cake. If you're using lady fingers, you can use a square pan or whatever you have lying around. Cut the lady fingers if you have to to make it fit.
3. Using a pastry brush, brush the cooled coffee onto the tops of your cake. If using lady fingers, dunk them (don't soak them) in the coffee. If using a cake, use about 1/2 cup of coffee per cake. My cake was 9" in diameter. If you're making a smaller cake, use less coffee. If you don't like coffee, use less. You won't hurt my feelings.
4. Use half of the cream to top the cake. Be generous. That way you'll have gorgeous layers when you slice into the cake. Otherwise, it won't look as pretty. Plus it keeps the cake moist.
5. Top with the 2nd layer of cake/lady fingers. If using lady fingers, dunk into the coffee before layering. If using cake, use your pastry brush to gently add the coffee. Just as a warning, your cake needs to be totally cooled or else you'll risk cooking or heating your pastry cream - which will make it melt and sink. Also, warm cake = a lot of crumbs = will drive you insane. When using your pastry brush DAB the coffee onto the cake. Don't brush. I know, totally counter intuitive considering it's a pastry brush, but you'll save yourself from loose crumbs everywhere.
6. Use the remaining pastry cream mixture to top off the cake.
7. Dust the top of the cake with your cocoa powder. I used 5 Tablespoons. You can use less or more. Totally up to you.
8. Throw the cake into the fridge and let it "set" for at least 30 minutes.
The cake will last 2 days in the fridge uncovered. After that, it will dry out. But don't worry, it won't last that long!
If you want, you can use a drop or two of yellow food coloring to make the pastry cream that lovely pale yellow color. I didn't. But you can. We're not using egg yolks to make a zabaglione, so it won't produce that pale yellow color like traditional tiramisu, but honestly, you can't tell the difference. Plus, this version is so very very light and fluffy.
If you don't want to use all of the pastry cream (I saved about half a cup), it's really good with fresh fruits.
If you want to be super swanky, you can use those mini cheesecake molds to make lots of little tiramisus. Or you can make one large one. Or you can use glass cups and make it into a parfait style. Use what you have.
Your coffee must be brewed extra strong. I doubled the amount I normally use to make coffee and I used french vanilla coffee to accent the vanilla undertones in the pastry cream and cake. I think they would all work well except hazelnut. Almond yes. Hazelnut no. But hey, if it floats your boat, go for it!
Cocoa powder is not be mistaken for hot cocoa. Cocoa powder should be unsweetened.
Enjoy folks, this is probably the easiest tiramisu you'll ever make and it's really good. No one will have to know it's the simplified version!