Wednesday, July 04, 2007

What dessert are you serving on 4th of July?

Tiramisu cake topped with berries

What would you turn up in a 4th of July party if you are asked to bring a dessert? Not that I have such a request to fulfil, but I thought it would be fun to put myself in one's shoe. You know, in case we decide to throw a last minute party and need a fast idea on "what's for dessert".

Dessert is always the most important element of parties we throw. It's the only thing that friends seem to remember. Of course, I have my total lack of creativity for exciting dishes to blame. But I am pretty happy to focus on my strength now. Which brings us to the dessert.

Inspired by a tub of almost-expiring mascarpone cheese in the fridge, I decided to tackle a dessert that hasn't turned up on our household for a long time. Not because I dislike it, but simply because I couldn't find the right occasion to make it. The dessert, which I love so dearly and believe should only indulge on a super special occasion is none other than Tiramisu.

Tiramisu, which loosely translated to "pick me up" is a very special dessert to me. It was the first dessert I made from scratch. Of course, with the help of such quality ingredients, one could hardly mess this recipe up. I remembered the first Tiramisu I made used lady fingers as base and incorporated egg yolks in the filling. This Tiramisu however, is a cake version. And it has a cream base filling with no egg yolks involved.

To be perfectly honest, this was not my recipe of choice when I set out to make Tiramisu. I had set my sight on one with genoise as base, but for some unfathomable reasons the genoise didn't turn out well. So I threw it away and switched to this recipe for a change of luck. Sheer serendipity that I chanced upon this recipe and decided to give it a shot. And it is the best Tiramisu I have ever tasted.

Tiramisu cake topped with berries

In this recipe, the light yellow cakes are first drenched with boozed espresso syrup, then a layer of caffeinated heavenly mascarpone cream is liberally smothered on top, followed by handfuls of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, which then topped with another layer of cake and cream. It is a decadent dessert without any need of description. But for a 4th July party, it needs to be dressed up for the occasion.

The best answer to that would be some raspberries and blueberries on top of the cocoa dusting. Not only are the berries pleasing to the eyes, they are indeed delicious together. And this my friend, is what you can bring for a 4th of July party.

A slice of  my Tiramisu cake

My slice of reward

Tiramisu cake
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the cake
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks(10 tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the Espresso Extract
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons boiling water

For the Espresso Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon amaretto, kahlua or brandy (or more to taste. I used 3.5 tablespoons of kahlua)

For the filling and frosting
1 8 ounce container mascarpone
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1.5 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon ameretto, kahlua or brandy (or more to taste. I used 3 tablespoons)
1 cup cold heavy cream
2.5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store bought mini chocolate chips (or more, to cover the layer completely)

cocoa powder for dusting

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 9x2 inch round cake pans, dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pan with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on baking sheet.

Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in
a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the yolk, beating for one minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alernately with the buttermilk. adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28 to 30 minutes,rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cook for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

To make the extract: Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.

To make the syrup: Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.

To make the filling and frosting:
Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and liqueur in a large bowl and whish just until blended and smooth.

Working with the stand mixer with the whish attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds form peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch. Add the remaining 1 to 1.5 tablespoon of espresso extract into the mascarpone cream. Taste to decided how much extract you want to add.

To assemble the cake:

If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer- use about 1 1/4 cups- and gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling. Put the second cake later on the counter and soak the topof it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

Use the remaining cream to frost the top of the cake. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread on the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.

With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. Decorate with chocolate covered espresso beans or blueberries and raspberries for a 4th of July party.

Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or up to one day) before serving, so that the elements have enough time to meld.

Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder.

Serves 10.

~This article is written for Just Baking on Wellfed Network


Anonymous said...

I don't serve any dessert on this day but would gladly love to have some. :D

I made tiramisu before without the eggs. It's a "heavier" version of tiramisu - eggless tiramisu, and still love it.

Anne said...

this is absolutely gorgeous and beautifully captured as well! I'd love to try this cake when I do get the time :)

WokandSpoon said...

The cake looks lovely and very rich! Seems like a lot of work though!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Mandy, it looks so beautiful!
I have never had tiramisu and would love to grab a spoon and have some of yours! :)

Anonymous said...

What an amazing looking dessert! Wish I was at your house on the 4th :)

Oh for the love of food! said...

Hi Mandy, I made a tiramisu just the other day but it's no where as glamourous or as foodie magazine worthy as yours! Beautiful!

Mandy said...

You are most welcome to drop by for a piece! This version of Tiramisu tasted lighter compared to others because only 8 oz of mascarpone was used.

thanks! but they are not child friendly though ;p

hmmm, look is deceiving! this cake is quite easy to put together.

if you like coffee, chocolate, kahlua and mascarpone, you will like this cake too :)

thanks!I am sure you had a wonderful 4th of July.

thanks! I am sure yours was stunning too.

Lee Ping said...

Dear Mandy,

I always check the authencity of a Tiramisu with these two ingredients, mascarpone cheese and brandy. And you have both of these ingredients for the filling. Bravo!

p/s Summer time is hard for me to blog hop as the kids are NOT in school and I have to drive them around to different camps or library. Sorry for coming late...

Nora B. said...

That is a beautiful cake! I will definitely try this recipe, thanks you.

Anonymous said...

I have just made cheesecake with mascarpone and then i came across this lovely tiramisu...i have to try it...the dessert looks great...thx for sharing

Everything4sweets said...

Yumm, the tiramisu look so tempting, delicious :)

Anonymous said...

hi Mandy,
I am making a tiramisu cake for my son'sB-day this weekend and was wondering what to do for the outside frosting and saw your july4 cake. will use mascarpone cream( was thinking use plain whipped cream)since I made and enjoy your tiramisu cousin cake very much.

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