THE CHEF’S CORNER with John Rudy: Tiramisu

We discover all sorts of interesting aspects as we get to know our BOLLI colleagues–who knew that John Rudy is not only a  knowledgable “techie” but an accomplished “foodie” as well?!    We at BOLLI Matters are pleased to introduce our new FOOD FEATURE–  

TIRAMISU

When in Italy for our 20th anniversary (1988) we had Tiramisu, a tasty creamy dessert, made from dozens of different recipes–including Tiramisu ice cream!  When we returned, we scoured the Italian cookbooks looking for a Tiramisu recipe but didn’t find anything that sounded right.  Then, for our daughter’s Bat Mitzvot, we asked our caterer to make one.  It was excellent, exactly what we wanted, but he refused to divulge any recipe details.

After continuing to look, in a casual way, over the years, we started to see tiramisu recipes, but, again, none were really quite right.  So,  I decided I’d try modifying a recipe I found–I omitted the wine and used sponge cake instead of lady fingers.  I contacted a local gourmet shop to find the Mascarpone cheese.  They asked if I was making Tiramisu.  When I said “yes” and that I wasn’t happy with my recipe, the fellow said that he was teaching an Italian cooking course and would be teaching Tiramisu the following week.   What follows is an amalgam of my recipe, his recipe, some things found in cookbooks, and a number of personal changes.  There are hundreds of different recipes available.  Many use brandy, Marsala wine or Amaretto, none of which taste right to me.  Very few use chunks of chocolate.

Tiramisu has a cake portion (I use home-made sponge cake; traditionalists use lady fingers which are dry), a coffee-liquor mix, and a cheese mix.  Make Tiramisu at least a day before so that it has time to sit.  Remove it from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.

The following is enough for a Pyrex 8”x8” pan plus a Pyrex 9”x14” pan.  I use glass pans.  It takes ~2½ hours to make this dessert.  (If you want to use only the larger pan, use two-thirds of the following ingredients.)

The Cake

8                   Eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 cups        Flour, sifted BEFORE measuring

2 cups        Sugar, granulated

2 tsp.         Vinegar, white  (it causes the sponge cake to rise; but                                    leaves no taste)

  1. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until fluffy; slowly beat in sugar.
  2. Separately, mix yolks and vinegar;  beat slowly into whites.
  3. Sift flour, then measure, and sift into batter while slowly beating the egg-sugar mixture.
  4. Pour half of the mixture into the two pans. Do not flour or butter the pans.  Pour the other half of the mixture into an11x17x1 cookie sheet, which has been lined with wax paper.  This will later be used for the top layer.  If you use a smaller pan, it will not cover both surfaces.
  5. Bake at 350° for about 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick poked into the cake’s middle comes out clean.  Do not be surprised if the pans take different amounts of time.
  6. Cool the glass pans upside down so that the sponge cake does not shrink.

Soaking the Cake

2 cups        Cold Coffee  (the stronger the better)

¾ cup         Crème de Cocoa  (you could use another liquor)

As evenly as possible, pour half (or a bit less) into the two cake pans, onto the sponge cake.  This will be the lower half of the cake.  Save the remaining liquid.

Cheese Mixture

24 oz         Marscapone cheese.  (room temp).  Can use the microwave                      to soften but not for more than 15 seconds for an 8 oz                                  container

6                Eggs, separated

8 oz           Chocolate, bittersweet, coarsely chopped  (Guittard semi-                       sweet Super Cookie Chips or Nestles Chunks work well).

2/3 cup     Sugar, granulated

  1. Beat egg whites until fluffy.
  2. Whisk egg yolks in double boiler with very hot, but not boiling, water. Whisk in the sugar.  Cook for a few minutes.  Ensure that the yolks do not turn hard by whisking constantly.
  3. Mix in the egg whites and then stir in the softened Marscopone cheese. This will be very tight in the double boiler!  You may find it easier to add these ingredients to the larger egg-white bowl for blending, and then return the mixture to the double boiler for about 5 minutes.
  4. I use the extra large chocolate pieces for chocolate chip cookies and might chop some pieces. Fold the chocolate into to the mixture and remove from the heat.  Otherwise the chocolate will melt.  Or could sprinkle the chocolate after pouring the cheese mixture.
  5. Spread the cheese mixture over the soaked sponge cake.

Finishing it off

1 pint         Cream, whipping  (beat cold, in cold bowl)

¼ cup        Sugar, granulated

1 tsp          Cocoa, un-sweetened  (can use regular cocoa or flaked chocolate)

  1. Take the waxed paper off the other piece of sponge cake and cut it so that it fits over the cheese mixture in the two pans.
  2. Pour the remaining coffee-liquor mixture over the cakes so that it soaks in.
  3. Whip the cream and sugar and, using a rubber spatula, spread over the two cakes covering any cracks in the sponge cake and also keeping in the moisture. Use a sponge to clean the edges.
  4. Sprinkle the cocoa over the cakes for decoration. This is done most easily by putting the cocoa into a fine-mesh sieve and tapping the sides while moving it over the cake.  Use a sponge to wipe the sides of the pans, removing any extra whipped cream and cocoa.  Cover carefully with Glad Wrap
  5. Let sit, covered, refrigerated, for at least 24 hours before serving. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.  This dessert can be frozen
  6. It should really be covered, but plastic wrap can damage the top. Sometimes I just put wax paper over it–it is usually eaten before it dries out.
Chef John Rudy says that his mother inspired his lifelong love of cooking and baking. (She cooked vegetables in boilable packages.)