Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wednesday Night Dinner

Dinner tonight: assorted canadian cheeses - L'Artisan Oka (quebec), Salt Spring Island 'Juliette' chèvre (b.c), Glengarry Barely Blue (ontario) and Cooke's 2-year Cheddar, with crackers and olives from Pasta Genova. Also, pan-roasted duck breast with roasted potatoes, brussels sprouts, asparagus and a red wine-cherry sauce. And tiramisu.

Tiramisu is a well-known Italian dessert, whose name translates literally to 'pick me up'. It is rich, boozy and caffeinated, and as far as I'm concerned, perfect at any time of day (there's enough food groups in it to be suitable for breakfast, even). Commonly made with brandy and rum, I don't love those flavours, so I substitute Amaretto and Kahlua.

Here's how:
Get some espresso or really strong brewed coffee, and make sure it's good and cool. Once cool, add some Kahlua or other coffee-flavoured liqueur, and set aside. You want the espresso cool because there are uncooked eggs in this recipe, and you don't want to expose them to warm temperatures that might put them in the warm-ish temperature range that encourages the growth of not-delicious bacteria.

In a stand mixer, beat 3 egg whites until they keep a stiff peak, and set aside. Make sure that the bowl and whisk attachment are clean and free of grease, otherwise your whites won't develop nicely. If you do the whites first, you don't have to wash your equipment before moving on to the yolks.

Then, beat the yolks with 1/3 cup white sugar until the egg gets thick and pale yellow. Add 1 tub of mascarpone cheese and a healthy slug of Amaretto. Mascarpone is a delicious, thick, rich and INCREDIBLY expensive Italian cheese ($11 for a 500 mL tub). If that sounds unreasonable, you can get a tub of full-fat Ricotta cheese instead, and drain it in a sieve lined with coffee filter, placed over a bowl, in the fridge overnight. Beat until smooth.

Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the sweet yolk/cheese mixture, being careful not to deflate the whites.

This process makes a fluffy, smooth, rich and light cream, but raw eggs may not be a fabulous choice for the elderly, infirm or immunocompromised. If raw eggs are really worrisome for you, you can gently cook the yolks with the sugar over a double boiler, just until they lighten in colour, thicken slightly, and a whisk drawn through them leaves 'ribbons'. Cool slightly, and resume the recipe.

A really dedicated keener would probably make the ladyfinger cookies herself out of a genoise sponge cake batter piped into finger shapes. I find it easier to open a package of Savoiardi (Italian ladyfinger cookies), and you can get really decent ones in the grocery store.

To assemble: First of all, decide on the vessel you would like to contain your tiramisu- you can use a baking pan, a bowl, a coffee cup, a martini glass, what have you. Quickly dunk the Savoiardi, one at a time, in the cooled espresso mixture (do it really quick: these things are mostly made out of air, and will get really soggy and start to disintegrate if you let them swim in the delicious coffee for any length of time.) Make a layer of soaked ladyfingers, then spread some of the glorious mascarpone stuff on top, and repeat. 2 layers is plenty. obviously, more is better! Refrigerate the thing for at least 2 hours so the flavours really settle in. To serve, sift some plain cocoa powder, or grate some chocolate on top. Delish!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great. Try Triple Sec or Cointreau