Monday, July 22, 2013

Tiramisu with Homemade Ladyfingers (Cooking Club #4: Italian)

Our cooking club is so wonderful. We have about a dozen devoted home cooks who are ready to cook for each month's theme. Previously, we've done Indian, French, and a traditional English tea. Next up: Italian.

I really wanted to try making ladyfingers from scratch, so I was happy to choose Tiramisu for my dish. I got the recipe for the ladyfingers from The Cupcake Project. That blog is great for from-scratch recipes for lots of different things, like graham crackers, oreos, and fig newtons.

For the tiramisu itself, I relied on personal experience and research into traditional recipes. For example, I discovered that it is traditional to use marsala wine, rather than rum or coffee liqueur.

Read down to the end of the post for photos from the rest of the feast and links to some other recipes that our club members used.

For The Ladyfingers:
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 C. granulated sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 C. AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
First, separate the eggs. I have found that using 3 bowls works best. Separate the egg over the middle bowl, so that the white falls into the middle bowl. Then put the yolk in one bowl and transfer the white to the other one. By separating over the middle bowl, you prevent having to start over if you accidentally break the yolk into the white (ahem, not that I speak from experience, ahem.)

Transfer your yolks to a large mixing bowl. Add the 2/3 C. granulated sugar and whisk until the mixture is thick and light yellow in color.

Add the whites to the bowl of a stand mixer (you could also use a hand mixer) fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip the whites on high speed until soft peaks begin to form.

Add the 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Add half the egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture and carefully fold it in using a spatula. Work very gently to avoid deflating the whites.

Add the flour and baking powder to the bowl and carefully fold it in. This is the trickiest part.

Now add the remaining egg whites and fold them in slowly until the batter is nice and smooth.

Carefully spoon the mixture into a pastry bag or large zip-lock bag.

Pipe the mixture in finger-like strips onto 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

 Bake at 400 for 8 minutes until the edges are beginning to brown. Allow them to cool on the pan for a few minutes, then carefully remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.

For The Tiramisu:
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 16 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 1/2 C. marsala wine, divided
  • 1/2 C. strong brewed coffee or espresso, divided
  • cocoa powder
Put about one inch of water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place a metal (or other heatproof bowl) over the simmering water to make a double boiler. Add the egg yolks and sugar and whisk constantly for about 10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened.

Set the mixture aside to cool. Once cool, add it to the bowl of your stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the softened mascarpone and whip until smooth. Slowly add 1/4 C. of the marsala wine and 2 Tbsp. of the coffee/espresso and continue mixing until combined.

If you are not serving the tiramisu the same day, refrigerate the egg/mascarpone mixture and store the ladyfingers in a sealed container.

Several hours before you plan to serve the tiramisu is the best time to put it together.

In a 9x9 pan, put one layer of the ladyfingers. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining marsala wine and coffee/espresso. Use a small measuring spoon to drizzle the wine/coffee mixture over each ladyfinger. You want them to be saturated but not soggy.

Spoon one half of the egg/mascarpone over the ladyfingers, then layer the other half of the ladyfingers on top of that.

Repeat the process of drizzling with the coffee/wine mixture and then spread on the other half of the egg/mascarpone mixture.

Sprinkle the top of the tiramisu with cocoa powder, then cover and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It's best when eaten the same day.

Now, for some photos of the rest of our feast. I'll put links to any recipes as I get them.

The Appetizers

Antipasti platter with crackers, salami, prosciutto, cheeses, almond-stuffed olives, and marinated artichokes, mushrooms, and peppers. (by Jennifer)

Panzanella salad; homemade sausage and peppers; arancini (by Angie)

Bruschetta (by Susanne); caprese salad (by Nehal).

My appetizer plate.

What was left after we ate the first round!

Friend and hostess Angie showing us how to make fresh pasta, from her family's secret recipe. I need those Kitchen Aid attachments now.

Fresh fettucine

Focaccia (by Terri)
Note: She substituted half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour; halved the salt in the recipe; and formed the bread on a regular cookie sheet, not a jelly roll pan.  So, it was probably much thicker than focaccia normally is. She also added fresh rosemary snipped on top.

Herbed Polenta (by Prassu)

Chicken Cacciatore (by Prassu)
Note: She omitted the capers and added more fresh herbs.

Vegetable Lasagna (by Angie)

Vegetarian Cannelloni (by Maliha)

Fish with Lemon Caper Sauce (by Susanne)

Roasted Eggplant Parmigiana (by Emmy - check out her cooking blog)

Fresh Pasta with Homemade Marinara and Homemade Pesto (by Angie)

A ridiculous plate full of all of the main dishes - and I'm not ashamed to say I ate it all. :)

Homemade limoncello to cleanse the palate after the main course (by Angie).

Homemade Cannoli Dipped in Chocolate Chips (by Prassu)
Note: She purchased the shells at the local Wegmans. For the cannoli cream, she blended strained ricotta with mascarpone, powdered sugar, orange zest, almond and vanilla extract and a touch of heavy cream.