Monday, August 09, 2010
I used raw eggs. This is hard for me. Raw isn't something I've ever cared for in anything besides fruit. It took me until my mid-twenties to be able to fully appreciate sushi, and I still eat it only when the cravings hit. I've never been too fond of rare beef, haven't tried steak tartare, and unless sliced very, very thinly (à lá carpaccio), don't care much for raw vegetables either.
Now, in theory, I've eaten a lot of raw eggs over my lifetime, mostly in the service of chocolate chip cookie dough, which is irresistible. So making a cream with raw eggs for tiramisu shouldn't have been so difficult. Even as I was whipping them, my brain was wondering if just a few minutes in a hot water bath wouldn't be a good idea…
That is, until I dipped my finger into the mixture.
I added a splash of rum, on the theory that alcohol kills germs. Plus, some recipes indicate it's fairly traditional and we don't have cognac in the cupboards.
Tiramisu, like many good things in life, requires waiting. While I can whip up a pasta alla aglio e olio or a chicken piccata in about 30 minutes, if the meal is to end with an authentic Italian zing, I'd better prepare ahead, because this baby needs a good 24 hours in the fridge.
I made everything from scratch, because mascarpone was ridiculously expensive and none of the grocery stores I visited had ladyfingers. I've seen them before, but they must be a seasonal ingredient (maybe Christmas?). Next time I see them, I might stock up, because while it was fun and not too difficult to make the cookies, it definitely adds to the prep time and since they're pretty flavorless, the only real plus to making them yourself are bragging rights.
If I can find some tartaric acid though, I'll be making the cheese again. I had to add quite a bit of lemon juice for the milk to curdle, and it didn't behave like I'd imagined. I'm used to making faux ricotta, where the curdling is instantaneous and obvious. This cheese was more delicate and hard to distinguish when it changed from being milk to being something else. Still, after a few hours in the cheesecloth, it was creamy and thick, with a gentle lemony aftertaste. I'd like to avoid the citrus flavor in the future and let the cheese take center stage, though.
With the leftover cheese, I'm planning a pasta dish. I'm torn, having read a report of a dish incorporating mascarpone, salmon and caviar, but there's another using cremini mushrooms and a bit of pancetta…
Anyhow, here's my husband's recipe with a few edits of my own:
300 grams Mascarpone cheese
Bag of ladyfingers (or a single batch of homemade)
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
4 tablespoons sugar
2 cups Espresso coffee
2 T rum
pinch of salt
In a large bowl mix egg yolks, mascarpone cheese, sugar, half the rum and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture.
Soak the ladyfingers in the coffee and remaining rum, then layer in this order in a separate dish (or individual serving glasses): ladyfingers, cheese mixture, cocoa. Repeat until you're out! Store in refrigerator for minimum of 12 hours, best after 24 hrs. Serve well chilled.