Monday, December 12, 2011


Today guest contributer Cara McAvoy, sous chef at San Francisco's Chiaroscuro shares her recipe for tiramisu . . . and the world rejoices!

I. Love. The Holidays. I find this time of year magical and wonderful - even more so now than when I was a child. I love the hustle and bustle and the back-to-back parties, the shopping, cards, presents - I love it all! I thrive in chaos, so the more going on the better for me.

That being said, I know that this time of year can be a little trying for some as we all try to balance parties and responsibilities. I'm here to help you take the stress out of celebrating! An invite to a get- together should not spark fear in the heart of the invited. What you need is a sexy and simple go-to party option. For me it is tiramisu. Whether you're bringing the people to the tiramisu, or transporting the tiramisu to the people, this dessert can be made the night before and is always a big hit!

3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 8-oz (1 cup) container mascarpone cheese
small pinch salt
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
2 cups very strong brewed coffee or brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup kahlua
1 tsp vanilla
1 orange , zested and juiced (keep separate)
20 or so savoiardi ( Italian ladyfingers) (It really depends on the size and shape of your baking dish; you may use a few more or a few less but they are wonderful with a cup of coffee in the morning, so err on the side of excess!)
1/4 cup fine-quality bittersweet chocolate shavings (NOT unsweetened; shaved with a vegetable peeler) OR 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

- Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until thick and pale, about 2 minutes.
- Beat in mascarpone until just combined. Be careful not to overmix because mascarpone really does not like to get beaten.
- Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt in another bowl with cleaned beaters until they just hold soft peaks. Add remaining 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, then continue to beat whites until they just hold stiff peaks.
- Whip cream in another bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds soft peaks.
- Fold cream into mascarpone mixture gently but thoroughly, then fold in whites.
- Stir together coffee, kahlua, vanilla and orange juice in a shallow bowl.
- Find a pyrex dish or something preferably of glass about 8x8 or 9x9 to assemble dessert in. The material of the container does not affect the dessert but if it is glass you get to show off your sexy layering!
- Dip 1 ladyfinger in coffee mixture, soaking a few seconds submerged and transfer to your dish of choice.
- Repeat with more ladyfingers and arrange in bottom of dish, trimming as needed to fit snugly.
- Spread half of mascarpone mixture evenly over ladyfingers.
- Sprinkle half of zest on this layer.
- Repeat layering with the remaining ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture.
- Chill tiramisu, covered, at least 6 hours.(If you skip the chilling phase the tiramisu will be a little loose but still delicious
- Just before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings or cocoa powder.
No baking required and you can vary the flavoring if you want. Cinnamon is a fun change, or you can layer with other fruits.

**Cooks note, I almost always suggest making all ingredients yourself but lady fingers are REALLY REALLY DIFFICULT to make better than the packaged savoiardi. Homemade ones are usually more flat and do not absorb as much of the delicious coffee mixture.

**On a more personal note, make sure you have an electric mixer before starting this process. My sister and I once did this whole recipe plus the savoiardi with a takes about 35 minutes for two young girls for whip egg whites to soft peaks with a fork...just so you know!

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