Tiramisu Trials

I adore exploring foods from different cultures.  Especially when I’ve had the real thing in its country of origin. And since staying at home is far cheaper than flying around the world, I challenge myself to recreate my favorites.

Yesterday, I attempted to tackle tiramisu, an Italian classic. I foolishly thought it would be labor intensive, yet simple.  I mean, if it were super difficult to make, it wouldn’t be so common.  Right?  …..WRONG!

Now, I’ve had a few kinds of tiramisu.  And, as it turns out, there are as many variations of this classic as there are different recipes for banana pudding in the South.  (That is a LOT, for those who aren’t from these parts.)  I’m sure each Italian family has their own recipe for tiramisu.  But they all have similar components.  Layers of espresso-soaked ladyfingers, creamy and slightly sweet custard, and a dusting of either cocoa powder or shaved chocolate on top.

My favorite tiramisu was from a little restaurant in Rome.  We had a wonderful dinner there, in a room that looked like a family’s backyard. Dinner was served family style and we each ordered different desserts so we could share.

Almond torte (left) and the coveted tiramisu

By the end of the night, the entire restaurant was singing and waving their napkins to the live music.  We may or may not have been served wine…

Crowd got a little rowdy.

Setting out on this little journey, I just knew it would take me back to Italy.  Then I looked at the recipe.  Now, granted, I used this recipe from Cooking Light that isn’t a dead ringer for the classic. But have you seen the calories in the legit stuff??

Now let me say, I’m a somewhat lazy cook.  If it requires a double boiler or a candy thermometer, I’m out. This one required both.  But I sucked it up and tried.

Ta-da!!

The good news is that I discovered a new respect for all Italian grandmothers that can whip this up in their sleep.

Now here’s the bad news:

  1. I didn’t have espresso.  I used coffee from my Keurig because the only ground coffee I had left was coconut creme flavored, which I thought would ruin the tiramisu’s authenticity.
  2. I have insufficient cookware.  With all of my baking pans, you’d think I’d have one that would work for this dessert. ….I don’t.
  3. My ladyfingers were moldy!! And I’d bought them that day. Nothing ruins a tiramisu like the flavor of some bread mold. Mmmm scrumptious. Luckily, 1/2 of the package (wrapped individually) was safe. Thank you to Trader Joe’s for refunding my money.
  4. Turns out, fewer ladyfingers means a runny tiramisu.

So what did I learn?  Well, it turned out to be really delicious.  Though I think I’ll leave it to the experts, and hang up my tiramisu hat.

Oh who am I kidding…I now have a personal vendetta against this dessert and will master it some day. Off to get non-moldy ladyfingers….

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3 thoughts on “Tiramisu Trials

  1. Loved the blog and your experiment was a noble one. Like you I limit my cooking to recipes without candy thermometers. I did make an exception last year for my sister-in-law’s birthday cake. The recipe was a 12-layer cake – one of the highest rated on Epicurious. I thought I just had to try it. It took two nights (about 5 hours), I needed to buy not only a candy thermometer to make it but two new sheet pans. Was it worth it? Let me say I was exhausted at the end of it all but it WAS a fabulous cake – maybe the best I’ve ever had. Unlike you though, I doubt I’ll try again.

  2. Awesome post! Bad luck about the mouldy lady-fingers! I know what you mean about vendetta against a certain dessert (my cheesecake trial post) – but your tiramisu looks a million times better than my first cheesecake! That’s a useful link to the Cooking Light site too, thank you.

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