Many years ago my friend Marideth turned me on to tiramisu. A dessert I had never had to that point. We were at a quiet Italian place in Springfield, Missouri when it was suggested. I was in love, with the tiramisu!
Since then I have never passed an opportunity to consume a tiramisu. They are never quite the same, almost always “to die for” and can usually be found in Mediterranean restaurants of many nationalities.
Tiramisu literally means “pick-me-up”. There is a lot of discussion and confusion on the dessert’s history and scores of recipes. I encountered a particularly good tiramisu several years ago while visiting Tina Wilcox and Susan Belsinger along with a few other people. Susan had prepared this huge dish of tiramisu and it was by far the best one I have ever had. She told me the recipe came from James Villas’ book “Stalking The Green Fairy …”, which I promptly purchased online from Barnes and Noble .
Stalking the Green Fairy and Other Fantastic Adventures in Food and Drink, which makes reference to absinthe, is a marvelous read; not just a recipe book, it is more a collection of the best of the best from many genres of cooking, and a diatribe of gustatory exploits. It includes such things as (recipes for) Pork Pie with Biscuit Crust, San Francisco Sourdough, Greek Potato Salad With Olives and Feta, Classic Salad Nicoise and the Tiramisu of course.
I haven’t tried my hand at making a tiramisu yet. The ingredients aren’t handy in this neck of the woods and I remember so fondly the one Susan made I don’t want to interfere with the memory! I am determined to acquire all the proper ingredients next time I’m in a large city and make one. I might need help eating it though!
I’ll have to write about the fried cauliflower with lemon sauce later, as I am falling asleep! It was from another Italian restaurant in Springfield and such a pleasant surprise.
The Tiramisu recipe from James Villas book, Stalking the Green Fairy and Other Fantastic Adventures in Food and Drink;
5 C strong, cold espresso coffee
32 savoiardi (Italian ladyfingers)
10 large egg yoks, very fresh
1/2 C plus 2 Tbls. sugar
1 pound mascarpone chees
2 Tbls. Marsala wine
2 C heavy cream
3 Tbls. unsweetened cocoa powder
Pour the cold coffee into a large pie plate. Dip 16 of the lady fingers very quickly into the coffee and line the bottom of a 12 x 9 x 2 inch oval dish with the lady fingers.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar till frothy. Add the mascarpone and Marsala and whisk till well blended and smooth. In another bowl, whisk the cream till stiff and fold into the mascarpone mixture till well blended and smooth.
Using a large pastry bag, pipe about half of the mixture over the lady fingers. Repeat the layers. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 6 hours. (The tiramisu can be frozen for up to 2 months.)
When ready to serve, sprinkle the cocoa powder through a fine sieve over the entire surface of the tiramisu. Spoon portions onto individual dessert plates and serve with large spoons.