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Friday, October 28, 2011

Tiramisu DIY & recipe

I've been making lots of tiramisu already, and I thought I'd share the recipe and also a DIY tutorial on how to reuse a cake board.

For the tiramisu, this recipe will show you how to make your own sponge fingers (a.k.a. savioardi), which costs significantly less than the store bought ones. Since these are homemade, you'll have to live with the fact that they won't be perfectly shaped. As for the filling, you have a choice of using mascarpone or cream cheese, depending on your preference of texture (mascarpone is smoother and creamier).

This isn't the prettiest of cake-boards, but in the event that you need one and can't get one immediately, this would be a fun alternative. I'll start with the DIY. You will need:

  • a used cake-board with the dirty paper/foil stripped off
  • tin/aluminium foil
  • scissors
  • glue/tape
  1. Pull out some foil, then put the cake board on it. Mark out an extra 1/2-1 inch on each side of the cake board and cut out the foil along the marked proportions.
  2. Think of it as wrapping a present - put the foil on a flat surface, with the cake-board on top of it. Make sure the foil is as flat as possible on the cake side, then pull the foil up the sides gently and wrap it around the edges of the cake-board. Slowly press the foil flat.
  3. Once the shape desired is achieved, secure the edges with tape or glue.

Now that you have your cake-board, you can start with your tiramisu~

For the sponge fingers, you will need:
  1. Meringue = 5x egg whites + 80g castor sugar, whisked until soft peaks
  2. 50g cornflour + 150g soft flour, sifted
  3. 5x egg yolks + 50g castor sugar, whisked until pale and creamy, preferably over simmering water (to test readiness of product, draw an "8" with the whisk and count to 5, if it stays until the 5th count, then it's ready)
Preheat oven to 200'C. Fold (1) into (3) in small batches gently to avoid deflating the meringue. Fold in (2) until just incorporated. Do not overfold. Spoon into piping bag in thirds. Pipe 2-cm wide and approx. 6-7cm long (depending on your mold) onto baking tray lined with silicone mat, quickly sprinkle with sugar and bake until just golden, approx. 5 minutes.

Do all this very quickly, as the meringue is prone to deflating and resulting in a rather biscuit-like product rather than the soft, spongey fingers that we want. The sprinkling of the sugar will help create a crisp top, and it would be safer to constantly keep an eye on them while they're in the oven because they are very prone to burning - they should only be a pale golden.

Once they're out of the oven, let them cool in another tray. I would suggest getting all this done before starting with the cream cheese mix, because that takes excellent timing.

For the base:
  • desired amount of espresso or black coffee, approx. 300ml for dipping the sponge fingers
  • 7-inch diameter, 2-inch tall round mold
  • at least 8-inch cake-board
  • some free space in the freezer and refrigerator
Put the round mold onto the bake board.

Dip/soak the fingers in the coffee, depending on the density of your sponge fingers. Mine usually turns out more cookie-ish than spongey, so I tend to soak them a little longer. To check the readiness, just take it out of the coffee and gently press it a bit. I should feel a bit rubbery-spongey, and no coffee should ooze out. If it still feels stiff, go for another dip. If you feel that it's already soggy enough, then by all means, use it.

Line the entire bottom of the area inside the mold on the cake-board (I don't think that makes sense). Fill in any large gaps with cut-to-fit pieces of dipped/soaked sponge fingers. However, the little crevices that can only be filled in by shreds can be left alone.

For the filling:

  1. 22g gelatin + 60g (or more if necessary) cold water, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and make sure the gelatin does not form a lump in the water. Have a pan of simmering water ready because the gelatin has to be activated and "melted" over some hot water. Keep topping up with cold water if it seems too dry.
  2. 5x egg yolks + 50g castor sugar + 1 tsp vanilla, whisked until sugar dissolves
  3. Chantilly cream = 150ml whipping cream + 40g icing sugar, whipped until soft peaks. Keep in refrigerator until needed.
  4. 250g cream cheese, beat until creamy OR 250g mascarpone cheese, gently creamed
Make the Chantilly cream first, then keep it in the refrigerator until needed later. Make sure not to overwhip or keep it in room temperature for too long as it will split. Do the whipping in parts, whipping, chilling then whipping again until the right consistency is achieved.

Fold (2) into (4) in portions, incorporating each portion thoroughly before proceeding to the next portion. Quickly, put the gelatin over the simmering water and stir occasionally, while you fold (3) into the cheese mixture. If you can, have someone help you do either the stirring or the folding. The gelatin should be a liquid when ready.

Again, if possible, have someone help you with this - while folding the cheese mixture, pour in the liquid gelatin. Mix well quickly, and as quickly as possible, pour this into the mold, until just a bit past the sponge fingers. Do this really quickly as the cheese mixture might leak from the bottom of the mold. Stick it into the freezer and the remaining cheese mixture into the refrigerator. Check frequently on the mold to see if the mixture has set.

Once set, quickly repeat the molding process, this time on the cheese. Dip/soak the sponge fingers in the coffee, then arrange them on the surface of the cheese. Pour over the rest of the cheese mixture, leaving a bit for the decoration later.

While the dessert sets, take the remaining sponge fingers, preferably of a consistent shape, and cut them into stubs of the height of your round mold. This will be the "sponge wall" that surrounds your tiramisu. Once the tiramisu is completely set, dip the flat side of the sponge fingers into the coffee, just to color the side a bit, take a bit of the still-creamy cheese mixture, and use it as a glue to stick it to the sides of the tiramisu.

To serve, run a knife along the sides of the mold, separating the tiramisu from it. Carefully lift the mold and cut the dessert into wedges for serving.

Of course, some parts of this recipe can be altered to suit personal preferences, but this was how I made it, and I'm quite happy that most who tried it said it was good.

This recipe is particularly good for those who need to take it out of the refrigerator for relatively long periods of time for whatever reason, because of the gelatin, it does not melt, but rather just softens. In total, you will need 10 yolks and 5 whites. You could use some of the remaining whites for a face mask or use it in cooking. While serving, do so in small portions as this tiramisu has cream cheese, cream, sugar, and lots of eggs, which would be a bit overwhelming for some.

Here are some pictures from the most recent time I made the tiramisu using this recipe. The funny thing was, instead of staying where they should have been, the sponge fingers somehow floated up to the surface of the cheese mixture, which kinda shocked me when I checked on it in the freezer.

This is what I found in the freezer - most of the sponge fingers had risen to the surface of the sea of cream cheese. See the bottom? The little bits of cheese mixture at the edges of the mold? That's what happens when you don't work fast enough and the mixture leaks out the bottom.
How it looks this time.
How the sponge fingers are supposed to be aligned (in yellow).
And with the remaining sponge fingers and coffee, my sister and I started carving out random words on the sponge fingers (since mine were pretty solid) with a small paring knife. Ignore the cheesy editing. =P

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