Tiramisu

TiramisuThere are at least three different stories surrounding the origins of Tiramisu.

The first is that it was was initially created in Siena, Tuscany. The occasion was a visit by Grand Duke Cosimo de’Medici III, in whose honor the concoction was dubbed zuppa del duca (the “duke’s soup”). The erstwhile duke brought the dessert back with him to Florence.

The second theory is that is was a cake specialist from Torino who invented in honour of Camillo Benso the Count of Cavour to sustain him during the difficult job of unifying Italy.

Northern Italians will swear blind however that it was invented in Treviso and was a favourite of Venice’s courtesans to fortify themselves between their amorous encounters. Tiramisu literally translated means Pick Me Up.

Whatever the true history behind Tiramisu it has become one of the most popular and well known Italian deserts.

You will find hundreds of variations, some light and fluffy, some rich and creamy, some strong on the coffee and others with more emphasis on the liquor.

The Italians use Savoiardi biscuits to soak the coffee and liquor – the American version would be Lady Fingers.

The Mascarpone cream cheese used today is a replacement for the custard used in the original recipes.

Here is our light fluffy version of this wonderful desert.

Ingredients

2 Eggs
250g/8 oz Mascarpone
A packet of Savoiardi (Ladies Fingers)
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
Cocoa to decorate
2 Cups of Strong Expresso Coffee
½ Cup of Milk
Small glass of Desert Wine or Liquor
50g Dark Chocolate

How to make the Tiramisu

  • Separate the eggs into yolks and whites.
  • Add a tiny pinch of salt to the whites. Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Set aside.
  • Beat the egg yolks with the sugar to form a creamy paste. It will go from a bright yellow to a pale cream colour. Add the mascarpone and stir. Mascarpone is a cream so if you use an electrical mixer use it very briefly otherwise you may find the cream separating.
  • Fold in the egg whites gently. Set aside.
  • Make a jug of strong coffee and mix it with the milk. Add a small teaspoon of sugar if you have a sweet tooth. Add the desert wine/liquor to the mixture.
  • Dip each Savoiardi in the coffee/liquor mix to soak. Arrange the soaked biscuits into one layer in a serving dish.
  • Once you have the layer of soaked biscuits cover with a layer of the cream mix. Sprinkle with a layer of grated chocolate.
  • Repeat the biscuit and cream layers until the dish is full.
  • Finish by sprinkling generously with the cocoa.
  • Cool in the fridge for at least two hours before serving. Please note that this is a dish that should be eaten the same day that it is made as it is made with raw eggs.

Serves 4

RICH VERSION TIRAMISU

  • To make a richer version of Tiramisu leave out the egg whites – use only the yolks. The preparation is the same as above but no folding of whites required.
  • This version may require a little more than two hours in the fridge to allow more time for the cream to soak in.

FRESH SUMMER PINEAPPLE TIRAMISU

  • Some good Italian friends of mine made me a pineapple tiramisu and it was amazingly fresh and a great alterative summer desert.
  • No coffee required. Instead mix the pineapple juice with the liquor and soak the Savoiardi in this.
  • Instead of the chocolate and cocoa layers there are layers of pineapple fruit on top of the savoiardi then the layers of the cream.

Try one or all of these – they’re delicious!

Marmalade Crostata

Marmalade CrostataThis is a simple Tuscan cake often served as a dessert. It can be made with any type of marmalade and if it’s home made marmalade then even better.

The history behind the Crostata is unclear with some saying it was a gift from grateful habitants of Napoli to a pagan goddess of the sea in pre-Christian times, created from ingredients that symbolised strength and richness (flour), rejuvenation of life (eggs) and the sweetness of the siren’s song (sugar). Other legends place the Crostata as an Easter tradition; the cake that finally brought a smile to the face of the Queen of Austria when Ferdinando II di Borboni was king – he declared it as an Easter dessert to guarantee his wife’s smile at least once a year; or a symbol of the resurrection of Christ created in the ancient convent of San Gregorio Armeno.

In any case it became a popular dessert to exchange among friends at Easter and as such over time different versions were created as each person wanted to make their gift slightly different. Now you will often see it on menus all year round and especially at events such as harvest festivals and Easter of course.

Ingredients

3 Eggs
200g Butter
200g Sugar
350/4oog Plain Flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
One small cup Vermouth
250g Marmalade

Instructions

  • Beat/whisk the eggs with the sugar. Add the butter and mix well into a creamy consistency. Add the flour and the baking powder a little at time, mixing well. Add the lemon rind and vermouth.
  • Once you have a smooth dough set aside a quarter of it then roll the remainder to form the base of the Crostata. Put into a baking tin/flan case – round or square as you please.
  • Spread a generous amount of marmalade across the whole of the dough base.
  • With the set aside dough roll then flatten strips and place across the top of the marmalade to make a lattice pattern.
  • Cook at 180°C/350°F for 20/25minutes until the lattice is golden brown.
  • Serve warm or cold as preferred with cream or ice cream.

Serves: 4 – 6

What’s new for 2015

We’ve been adding new recipes and menus every year and now have a pretty big selection. We’ve been told many times that having such a big choice and being very flexible with the menus is what makes our classes so attractive. For us it’s fun to do something different each time so we’re more than happy to have special requests for menus and for you to mix and match your menu selections. This coming year there are no set menus at all but an open choice from each section of appetisers, primi piatti, secondi and desserts.

We’re currently experimenting with a local favourite which is Cinghiale … Wild Boar. We’re planning on adding this as a special menu choice in the form of a ragù. It makes for a rich tasty ragù which we’ll combine with the local pappardelle pasta (home made by you of course!). I’ll add photos and more on this once we’re ready with the recipe.

The new site will be phone and tablet friendly which is a must in 2015!

 

 

 

 

 

September … sunshine and jam making!

After a wet and slow summer September is looking to be sunny and busy which is all good. Time to use the late season tomatoes to make jam and “passata” and to use the last of the basil to make portions of pesto to conserve for later in the year.

My first attempts at conserving and preserving tomatoes last autumn had me surfing the web for tips and recipes. I found a superb web site that I know I’ll be going back to time and again:

http://foodinjars.com/2011/08/five-ways-to-preserve-small-tomatoes/

Check this out if you’ve got a good crop of tomatoes and don’t know what to do with them. I tried everything other than the drying method. I especially recommend the cherry tomato jam. Everyone i gave it to asked when there would be more! Here in Tuscany it’s very common to have marmalades or honey with the local pecorino (sheeps cheese) and this jam is perfect for that.