Tiramisu

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Good.JPGI love tiramisu! Now I have to admit, this favorite Italian dessert was a not a part of my Italian-American upbringing. My family hailed from southern Italy where cannoli and sfogliatelle were our go to desserts. Tiramisu originated in northern Italy in the vicinity of Venice, although it’s actual place of birth is widely disputed. So wonderful a dessert it is, it’s understandable that so many places want to lay claim to its creation. I actually didn’t know such a phenomenon existed until a few years ago when my son, home from college for the weekend, asked me why I never make Tiramisu. I replied, “Tirami who?” I had no idea what he was talking about. He had eaten it when out for dinner with friends. This opened my eyes! I never go out to eat at Italian restaurants because, why pay someone else to make what I make myself on a regular basis. It never occurred to me that Italian food can be vastly different based on region. I was happy in my own little world. I felt ignorant and ashamed of my culinary short sightedness. So the first chance I got, headed out for some tiramsu. I was hooked at first bite! Creamy and coffee flavored, I felt a pang of regret that I had missed this all my life and vowed to become a proficient creator of tiramisu. So I researched recipes and variations on ingredients and methods and found that the only common ingredient in all of these recipes is coffee. Some recipes use lady fingers, others panatone or some other cake. Some have liquor, some do not. Eggs vs no eggs and even the way to make the cream is up to debate. There are probably as many variations as there are regions laying claim to its invention. Ah… But which is the true tiramisu? No way to tell, but trying lots of recipes out to find my tiramisu was the only way to satisfy my curiosity. I know, I know…. such a sacrifice. I needed to make numerous attempts and it was really hard to find willing palates to judge the results. But back to the main ingredient,coffee. Some recipes use instant espresso, others just strong coffee. But to me it’s worth the effort to brew a pot of espresso to use in the recipe and enjoy while you are making the tiramisu. But what’s different about espresso you ask? For that explanation, I defer to my friends at Monocacy Coffee Company. According to Matt Hengeveld, coffee roaster at MCC:

“Espresso is made differently than standard drip coffee. Drip coffee is infused via gravity, water is distributed on top of coffee grounds and sinks through. Espresso is made via pressure. Coffee is placed in a near pressure-tight capsule known as a portafilter and is pressurized to produce a high potency extraction. Monocacy Coffee Co currently has a medium roast Brazilian single-origin coffee that is excellent for espresso.”

To me it’s all about the coffee but for others, it’s all about the cream. Now you can make this part as easy or as complicated as you like. Tiramisu aficionados would say “there must be eggs”, but they are raw eggs combined with the mascarpone cheese that holds everything together. Some folks are not fans of raw eggs so I avoid them and get a different texture of cream. Mascapone is the cheese of choice, and in my opinion, the best choice but a little on the pricey side. Similar results can be achieved with cream cheese and a bit more sugar. Now you can see why it took so many tries to get what I was looking for in a recipe. So here it is, my version of tiramisu, an uncomplicated version with a decadent taste, that my family enjoys and I hope yours will too.

-- Diana

Tiramisu

IMG_0200.JPG2  8  ounce cartons  fat-free sour cream

2  8  ounce package reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened

2/3 cup sugar

1/4  cup fat-free milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2  cup strong coffee Try Monacacy Coffee Company

2   tablespoons coffee

2  3  ounce package ladyfingers, split

2   tablespoons sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

Step By Step

1.In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cream, cream cheese, sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until smooth. Combine coffee and coffee liqueur.

2 .Layer one package of the ladyfingers, cut side up, in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish. Brush with half of the coffee mixture. Spread with half of the cream cheese mixture. Repeat with remaining ladyfingers, coffee mixture, and cheese mixture.

3. Sprinkle with sifted cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours. If desired, sprinkle serving plates with additional unsweetened cocoa powder. Cut dessert into squares to serve. Serves 15.

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