tiramisu

As I write this it’s white outside, snow white. The dark tree trunks and limbs peer through powder their powdery layers.
365.2.27.10
I am reminded of an André Kertész (1894-1985) photograph of snow in Washington Square, New York. The one angled from a building above with people and trees and seats and fences looping through a spacious snowy landscape below. It’s nothing like the tangle of trees above. But, when I close my eyes, I see Kertész’s image, poetry in black and white.

Washington Square, 1954, André Kertész


[T]he moment always dictates in my work….Everybody can look, but they don’t necessarily see….I see a situation and I know that it’s right. – André Kertész

Kertész was a Hungarian-born photographer known for establishing the photo essay and for his sweeping epic photographic compositions. He is celebrated for contributions to both fine art photography and photojournalism in his extended study of Washington Park from the 1930s.
While the scene outside my window differs from that of 1930s New York, it’s breathtaking nonetheless. Especially paired with cake. For breakfast.
This isn’t the first time I’m eating cake first thing in the morning. Before coffee or tea even. It is, however, my first my first bite of vegan tiramisu. I’m in awe of how good it is and by good I mean really good. I’ll just have a taste I think, and after gazing out the window dreamily lost in the Kertesz scene before me, I eat half the bowl. Coffee and breakfast all in one, move over doughnuts, it’s time for cake.
tiramisu

Any biscuit dipped in a bath of sweetened brandy espresso and set to steep overnight in layers of tofu cream will be eaten in a matter of seconds in this house. Maybe I had low expectations to start with, eliminate egg yolks and homemade mascarpone cream from a dessert, and what’s left: tofu, soy milk, almonds, lemon zest, vanilla, sugar, brandy, and espresso.

making ladyfinger biscuits

The real question is whether or not said alternative ingredients can hold up to the rich cream and yolk that add depth to this cake. As a it turns out, they come close. Dangerously close.

Ladyfinger/Savoiardi Biscuits

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.
This tiramisu challenge required the following five components for the cake:
ladyfingers/savoiardi biscuits
mascarpone cheese
zabaglione
vanilla pastry cream
vanilla soy whipped cream
I used Bryanna Grogin’s recipes from her vegan tiramisu to make the ladyfingers/savoiardi biscuits and the tofu-almond mascarpone. For the ladyfingers, I piped the “Ladyfinger Cake” recipe and dusted them with sugar twice (according to the challenge recipe). I also substituted almonds for cashews in the tofu-cashew mascarpone and used brandy and espresso for the alcohol and coffee. I followed the challenge recipes (see recipes below for substitutions) to make the zabaglione, vanilla pastry cream, and the whipped cream.

spooned tiramisu

TIRAMISU

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

Ingredients:
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks (substitution: mix 3 teaspoons EnerG egg replacer powder with 2 tablespoons warm water)
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 (substitution: mix 1 1/2 teaspoons EnerG egg replacer powder with 2 tablespoons warm water)
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk (substitution: soy milk)

For the whipped cream (for soy whipped topping, place all ingredients in blender and process until mixture turns into fluffy mounds):
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%) (substitution: soy milk)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar (substitution: 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract (substitution: 1 teaspoon vanilla)

(substitution: 1 teaspoon xanthan gum)

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

Method:
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), 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:
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.
Working 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.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

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

Ingredients:
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

Method:
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.

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

Ingredients:
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,

Method:
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.

NOTES/ TIPS:

1. If you cannot find Marsala, port wine is considered a good substitute.
2. If you would rather not use alcohol in your tiramisu due to diet restrictions or because you want to serve it to children, you may replace the Marsala with an equal amount of espresso or coffee.
3. Many people, especially those who are not excessively fond of coffee, might find brewed espresso very strong. In this case, please feel free to dilute the espresso or coffee to the desired strength.
4. It is generally suggested that cream with 25% fat is best for making mascarpone, but 36% works just as well.
5. We both used lime juice. Deeba has a recipe for mascarpone posted on her blog here.
6. The mascarpone recipe below is for approximately 340gms of mascarpone. The tiramisu recipe requires only 1/3 cup/75gms so you may scale down the recipe to requirement or put the extra mascarpone cheese to other equally good use. (100gms cream will yield approximately 75gms mascarpone)
7. While using the double boiler to make the mascarpone as well as the zabaglione, always ensure that the bottom of the bowl on top doesn’t touch the bottom of the lower one. It is important to use a stainless steel bowl to pour your cream into, while making the mascarpone.
8. Ladyfinger batter is very fragile so fold in the flour and yolks very carefully into the meringue so that the whites don’t lose their volume.
9. It might be a good idea to decide the size of the dish in which you intend to set the dessert, and make the fingers to a size which would fit that dish. This makes it easier when assembling the tiramisu later. Do remember that ladyfingers/ savioardi puff up a little while baking.
Ladyfinger biscuits may be stored up to a week in an airtight container. We both made the savoiardi fingers 4-5 days in advance, and stored them in an airtight box in a cool place (or the refrigerator).
10. We both made the zabaglione & pastry cream the previous day, and assembled the tiramisu the next morning. I (Aparna) then froze my tiramisu for 7 days before decorating and serving it.
Placing the bowl (in which cream is to be whipped) and the beaters of the hand held electric mixer in the fridge for about 1/2 to 1 hour before hand makes the cream whip up very well.
11. Do not dip the ladyfinger/ savoiardi into the coffee solution for more than ONE second, or they might become very fragile & disintegrate. Extra soaking is likely to spoil the end product, making it soggy. I (Aparna) dipped my biscuits only on one side and found they soaked up more than enough coffee solution.
12. If you would like to de-mould your tiramisu from your dish (cutting can be easier and neater this way, you can line your dish with plastic wrap (leaving a little extra on the sides of the dish) and then start assembling your tiramisu. Once the tiramisu sets in the refrigerator, you can use the overhang to pull the tiramisu out of the dish.

RECIPE SOURCE:

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

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Comments

  1. The egg and dairy in tiramisu seem so key to the dessert, so I'm really impressed at how you've made it vegan! The almond-tofu mascarpone sounds delicious.

  2. Your tiramisu looks really nice, dusted with 'brown snow'…

  3. Looks nice! Wonderful winter pictures, btw.

  4. Stunning tiramisu. Very nice presentation. Well done :)

  5. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    Lovely snow pictures!

    That Tiramisu looks scrumptious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  6. A vegan tiramisu… with tofu? mmm… interesting, might have to try the recipe,gorgeous art pics:)

  7. Your Tiramisu is lovely. :) Great job on this challenge!

  8. Wow vegan tiramisu? It looks just the same and I bet it tastes just as good too. Lovely photos by the way :)

  9. culinography says:

    Looks beautiful!

  10. Wow! Your tiramisu looks amazing – I'm so glad it went well =D.

  11. Sue Sparks says:

    Beautiful winter wonderland!

    Your tiramisu looks SO GOOD…Let me grab a spoon and join you! :)

  12. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    Looks delish…..

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