Tag Archives: dessert

Tiramisu / lamington-misu

I think I’ve mentioned before that one of the odd but great things that has happened to me over the last year or so is that I’ve started liking almost all of the foods that I used to dislike and avoid. One of the most significant epiphanies was on eating my Uncle Mario’s superlative tiramisu. I not only started liking this dessert, I became positively obsessed with it.

So for my last birthday, spent in Italy, I asked Mario if he would make a tiramisu for me. In the end he not only made it, but taught me how it is done – such a perfect birthday present for someone like me!

Me receiving wisdom

The really genius part of this tiramisu recipe is the zabaglione. Cooking the egg yolks makes the cream so much more significant somehow: the flavour is much more complex and the texture much lighter. Other non-negotiables for this recipe are good coffee (preferably espresso) and high-quality savoiardi. The soft savoiardi that Mario uses were a revelation and I’ve been able to track some down here down under.

The final part of my story for today is set in Australia, because yesterday was Australia Day, which means compulsory barbequing and eating in this part of the world. When I was thinking about what to take to the event we went to I was split between making a tiramisu and the urge to do something with an Australian theme. I eventually had my second epiphany associated with this dessert and decided to make a lamington-misu.

Lamingtons

This was a fairly straight variation on the main recipe, using lamington fingers instead of savoiardi and skipping the cocoa layers (as the lamingtons already have chocolate icing). It was good fun, tasted good and was a great gimmick for our national day, but I have to say the classic beats my experimental version every day!

Tiramisu – the superlative classic version as taught by Mario

120g caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons Marsala or Amaretto
500g Mascarpone
500ml-ish fresh coffee, sweetened to taste
Cocoa (pure, no sugar)
400g-ish Savoiardi biscuits (weight needed will depend on the size of the biscuits, your dish etc etc. The soft ‘morbidi’ version are far superior to the dried)

1. First make a zabaglione. In a heatproof bowl mix the 4 egg yolks with 60g sugar and the Marsala/Amaretto. Set the bowl tightly over a pot of simmering water and whisk like crazy until the eggs become a light colour and foamy. It’s ready when the consistency is like pouring custard and there is no raw egg taste.

2. Quickly mix the zabaglione with the mascarpone.

Mascarpone + zabaglione = pure delight

3. Beat the egg whites until they are foamy, then add the other 60g sugar until you have soft peaks. Gently combine the mascarpone and the egg whites. This is your heavenly cream mixture.

4. Get yourself organised with: a large serving dish; a shallow dish for dipping the biscuits in coffee; the cocoa and a sieve.

5. Dip the savoiardi into the coffee and turn then add to your serving dish until you have one layer of biscuits. Spread a layer of the cream mix over the top and then add a thorough dusting of cocoa. Repeat this in layers until you finish with cocoa on top – three full layers is a good guide to aim for.

Advertisements

a winter sundae

Last week (our second back in Australia) was the start of winter. The first of June was cool, but sunny and clear-skied—a timely reminder of why this is a fantastic country to live in.

Winter is a gentle season here. Unlike in the European winter this is the greenest time of year, as most trees don’t loose their leaves.  The sun shines most days, at least for a few hours, and the sky just feels lighter and less oppressive than in the cold north.

One of the advantages of this mild cool season is that a wide variety of fruits and vegetables grow in winter here. The fruit bowl in front of me has beautiful apples, pears and oranges. There are bowls of quinces, lemons and grapefruit waiting for my mother to turn them into jam, and there are even a few late tomatoes hanging around.

This is also, apparently, the harvest time for persimmons. Knowing that my mum is a jam-maker extraordinaire, a colleague of my father sent him home with a bag full of these exotic fruit.

Now we’re a fairly omnivorous bunch, but somehow none of us had ever eaten persimmons (or at least no one remembered that they had). We looked at these lovely burn orange fruit, ummed and ahed, googled and decided to turn them into chutney.

Before we got to the persimmons though, the lovely Zannie dropped by and staged an intervention. She showed us the true path towards persimmon appreciation—slices of peeled fruit eaten just as is.

The fruit turns out to be crunchy and very sweet, something like a cross between the texture of a crunchy pear and the flavour of a rockmelon, but with its very own wonderful thing happening.

So, on Sunday I was thinking about how to turn the persimmons into a light dessert and decided to try grilling them, as you can with peaches or pineapple. The sweetness of the persimmon was heightened by the quick cooking, taking on a toffee-ish flavour while retaining their crunch. Combined with some vanilla-infused whipped cream the grilled fruit were a very sweet and satisfying treat.

to make

One piece of fruit per person

300ml cream
3 drops vanilla essence
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Toasted slivered almonds or wafers for serving

Peel and slice the persimmons and pears into thick wedges. Heat a griddle pan until very hot then grill the fruit on each side just long enough to get deep caramel colour.

Add the vanilla essence and brown sugar to the cream and whip until it is light and just forming soft peaks.

Serve three or four pieces of fruit with a good dollop of the cream and slivered almond or a wafer on top.

How exciting to find a new flavour!

J

pavlova: by popular demand

I love Pavlova. It’s probably my favourite dessert and is one of those things that turns a few simple ingredients into something magical.

Despite the few ingredients, there are about as many Pavlova recipes out there as there are philosophies for living. In fact they cover a similar spectrum: those which place beauty over substance; those which favour total indulgence in the form of chocolate, caramel or coffee flavourings; those which attempt to strip out all of the fat by removing or replacing the cream; or those show-off recipes involving complicated rolling or stacking.

The recipe my Mum gave me many years ago is in a different category. This Pavlova is beautiful, but in a rustic kind of a way. It’s luxurious, but uses just as much sugar as needed (more sugar will mean less collapse, but who cares about a bit of collapsing, right?) Best of all it is incredibly simple, but it has to be done right. The basic recipe is scribbled into my diary and travels with me everywhere.

For those who haven’t done a Pavlova before I thought I’d expand on that a little.

But first, a word about eggs. This dessert is fundamentally all about eggs. Use lovely free-range eggs from happy chickens as the basis of your Pavlova and it will be a treat to make and to eat. Don’t skimp on the ingredients, it’s not worth it. Lecture over.

You can scale this recipe up as you like, although I tend to keep to multiples of three egg whites so the measurements are simple. The Pav I did for these photos (for my birthday!) had nine egg whites to serve 10 hungry people, but we had a little left over.  Beyond that I’m not offering any serving advice because it really depends on how indulgent you want to be.

to make

6 egg whites (at room temperature)
1 cup fine white sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon corn flour

freshly whipped cream and fruit to decorate.

The pavlova base needs to be cooked at least 4 hours before you intend to eat it to allow for the slow cooling time. You also need to consider your oven schedule as this will monopolise the oven for several hours.

Pre-heat oven to 150°C and line a large flat baking tray with baking paper ready for the mixture. Wait until the oven is hot before you start beating the eggs.

Beat the egg whites until they are white and foamy (see the photo below left). Add the sugar a little at a time, beating constantly until the mix is firm and very shiny. Add the vinegar and cornflour and beat for another 15 seconds or so (photo below right).

Transfer the mix to the tray, all piled up. Smooth the mix out to a round disk around 7cm high.

Put in the oven and bake for 1 hour or until the meringue is just starting to colour. While the Pavlova is baking it should rise a little. Try not to open the door of the oven too much and don’t touch the tray.

After 1 hour turn the oven off but leave the Pavlova in the oven to cool. This is the MOST IMPORTANT part of making a Pavlova. The very slow cooling time finishes the cooking process and prevents collapse on an apocalyptic scale.

That said, don’t get too attached to your amazing, solid, statuesque Pavlova. As it cools there will be some collapse on the top and sides as the crunchy outer meringue settles on the soft and chewy inner part. This is normal, don’t panic.

After the oven is completely cool take the Pavlova out, but try and decorate it just before serving.

To serve, take full advantage of the crater left after the top has collapsed by filling it with whipped cream (I never add sugar to the cream). Then top the Pavlova with plenty of fresh fruit. My favourite is mixed berries with a little bit of chopped mint mixed through.

Bliss.

J