Feb 27, 2010

Challenging myself: Daring Bakers’ February Challenge Tiramisu with homemade Ladyfingers

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 was the first time in years I made Ladyfingers and it was not only easy, fast the result was delicious and my boys loved them so much we made a second batch only hours after the first one left the oven. You just have to look at the pictures of the baking to know we had fun.

The boys did the piping and we giggled like mad as we blew the sugar away.

Next time I will use granulated sugar like I used to. Less mess and way more texture.

Then there was the Mascarpone, easy, pretty fast and a lot cheaper.

Now it was time to make the star of this months challenge.

I adore Tiramisu, like everybody that had a Italian step dad should. I like the simplicity of this dessert. I dare say this simplicity is what makes this one of the most famous desserts I know of.

Clearly there are differences in the preparation. In Italy you can walk down a street and they will cook absolutely different.

Why to I even bother to talk about it?

I don`t like this recipe, I did not like the mess it made ( yes I know it was me) I did not care for the texture and especially the taste. Still it was a challenge and I will make the Ladyfingers


For the children I made a plain Mascarpone version with a little cream and bananas. The Ladyfingers were sprinkled with cacao and each layer toped  with thin slices of fresh bananas.

They loved it.

Go take a look at the recipe, try it, taste it, look at the amazing things the others made.


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



We have chosen Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone’s version of tiramisu for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, his recipe is different from most other tiramisu recipes as he makes a zabaglione, an egg custard which is flavoured with Marsala wine (you may use coffee instead). Even more important is that his zabaglione is cooked so there is no risk from using raw eggs.
He also makes a vanilla flavoured pastry cream which we haven't seen in other tiramisu recipes.

While both of us do eat eggs, we do have a preference for desserts where the smell and taste do not come through. We found that the coffee in the recipe masked the eggs in adequately.

Just in case you would prefer to make an eggless tiramisu, we are including recipes in the Alternate Bakers section to make eggless ladyfinger biscuits and an eggless and alcohol-free tiramisu.

The recipes for this challenge are presented in the following order:

A. Tiramisu (includes zabaglione & vanilla pastry cream)
B. Mascarpone Cheese
C. Ladyfinger/ Savoiardi Biscuits


Tiramisu is usually made in square dishes and cut into squares to serve. If you want to be different, please feel free to give full rein to your creativity as to how you want to present, decorate and serve your tiramisu. Make it square, round, as individual servings, or whatever! However, your version of Tiramisu must contain the mascarpone cheese and the savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits you made.


Tiramisu is made up of several components which can be made separately and ahead of time and put together the day before serving.
Making tiramisu from scratch requires about 2 to 3 days (including refrigeration) from when you start making the mascarpone to the time the tiramisu is served. So this challenge requires some prior planning.

Please read the instructions as you need to begin making the mascarpone at least a day in advance.
The zabaglione & pastry cream also need 4 hours to an overnight for chilling, as does the main dessert. The flavours mature after an overnight rest, and the dessert can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days.
Once assembled, the tiramisu can be frozen till you need to serve it, in case you are not serving it immediately.

A double boiler (a stainless steel bowl that fits inside a large saucepan/ pot without touching the bottom will do)
Two or three large mixing bowls
A medium sized heavy bottomed pan
Fine meshed strainer (to remove lumps from pastry cream, if any)
Electric mixer, hand held
Serving dish (or dishes) of choice (8" by 8" should be fine)
Spatula for folding and spoons as required
Plastic wrap/ clingfilm
Baking sheets
Parchment paper or nonstick liners
Pastry bag (can be disposable)
Plain 3/4" pastry bag tip or cut the end of pastry bag to this size (If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off)
Cooling rack
Thin-bladed spatula for removing ladyfinger biscuits from the baking sheets
Instant-read thermometer (optional)
Cheesecloth or cotton napkin for draining mascarpone
Fine-mesh strainer for shaking cocoa powder on tiramisu


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

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
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
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

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
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

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.
Workings 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.


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

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


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.

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

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,


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.


Anonymous said...

Good job on the challenge!

Mary said...

The ladyfingers are great--it certainly does look like you had fun! It's too bad you didn't love the final result, especially after all the dishes! I loved it, and especially the fruit version with raspberries.

chef_d said...

I liked reading how you had fun with your kids making the ladyfingers :) the tiramisu still looked yummy

shelley c. said...

You are so brave, letting your little guys pipe the lady fingers! My sous-chef is three, and I let her help with some of the other parts... maybe I'll let her pipe them out next time I make them... Great job with the challenge - your tiramisu looks fantastic!

Jeanne said...

It sounds like you and the kids had fun with this challenge! It's too bad you didn't enjoy the final result. But your tiramisu looks amazing!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Gorgeous tiraimus! :D We loved the ladyfingers too and good on you making a batch just after the other one too! I should have done that as I got to eating quite a few of them! :P

showfoodchef said...

I love the part about making more lady fingers for eating - same here and it was for my teen-age boy! I will never buy another overpriced tub of mascarpone after knowing how easy it is to create at home :D Lovely pics, too! And thanks for visiting mine.

Tia said...

the kiddies verson sounds great too!

Anonymous said...

Lovely tiramisu. Very nicely done.

Natalie, aka "Sheltie Girl" said...

You did a beautiful job on your tiramisu. My favorite part was the chocolate ganache I dipped the savoiardi biscuits in....Yum!

Natalie @ Gluten A Go Go

Heather said...

I pleased you had fun with this recipe; it all looks so good.

Maya said...

The kids have great piping skills, great looking ladyfingers!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

I'm sorry you didn't like this Tiramisu, but I guess you liked the ladyfingers. And had a lot of fun with your kids making them.
Thanks for baking with us.

Beth said...

Thanks for the tip about using granulated instead of confectioners' sugar on the ladyfingers. Seems like a no brainer, but I wouldn't have thought to change that up.

Natalie said...

Love the kid's version of the tiramisu :) mascarpone and banana work so well together..

Monika said...

I'm sorry you didn't like it. But you had fun making it with your boys and that's what counts :)

Suz said...

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the tiramisu, but it looks great and the version you made for your boys sounds scrummy. I might have a go at that myself. It sounds like you all had a lot of fun making the Savoiardi though - it made me smile.
Also, another thank you for the granulated sugar idea.

Deeba PAB said...

Sorry you didn't enjoy the challenge and the mess...but I loved that the boys got a giggle! Thank you for being sporting though!

Evelyne @ CheapEthnicEatz said...

Ah wish you had enjoyed it...but you had fun for sure...even if a tone of dishes lol.

Poires au Chocolat said...

Sad you didn't enjoy the final result - good thing you liked the ladyfingers though! It looks like you had a good time making them too :)

Lisa said...

I'm sorry you didn't flip over this recipe, but everything from your savoiardi to the final tiramisus turned out beautiful. Love the raspberry1

pigpigscorner said...

Sorry to hear about the mess, looks good though!

Jennifer Juniper said...

Homemade ladyfingers?!? Holy cow, you rock!

The Food Hunter said...


Sue said...

Wic, you crack me up! Your honesty is so refreshing. You say you didn't like the recipe but it sure looks good. I'll have to try lady fingers at some point. This month is my first Daring Bakers challenge. I'll catch up with you again on the 27th :)