Ever heard of an Italian leprechaun? Neither have we. But if you ever met one, you could bet he'd enjoy the dessert we're featuring this month. It’s a traditional Italian dessert with an Irish spin, thanks to a popular liqueur. It’s an ideal treat for St. Patrick’s Day that might help fortify you for the Ides of March and Sheilagh's Brush!
Tiramisu is a layered dessert using a combination of either lady finger biscuits (savoiardi) or cake, a custard made with mascarpone cheese (a very rich, creamy and sweet-tasting Italian cheese), espresso and booze, usually brandy. The most traditional versions use lady fingers and a custard started by making Zabaglione – a traditional Italian egg-based pudding-type dessert, made the way you’d make hollandaise, by whisking egg yolks over a water bath on the stove. These days, you’ll find many versions of tiramisu, with coffee liqueur making a frequent appearance.
Our version uses the traditional custard, but in order to get more Irish booze in there, we made our own cake. We chose to layer our tiramisu in Irish coffee glasses, but you could use parfait or wine glasses, or one large bowl.
Irish Coffee Tiramisu
1 cup flour
1½ tsp baking powder
2 oz Irish whiskey (eg. Tullamore Dew, Jameson or Powers)
½ cup milk
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
Butter and flour an 8”x8” cake pan or line it with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix baking powder and flour together. Add whiskey to milk. With an electric mixer at medium speed, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat till fluffy. Alternately, add flour and milk mixture, while blending at low speed, ending with flour. Pour into prepared pan and bake 35-40 min. Cake is done when toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Turn out from pan and cool on rack. (Later chill the cake to make it easier to cut.)
Custard: 4 eggs, separated
2 tbsp sugar
2 oz Irish Cream liqueur (eg. Bailey's)
1 500 g tub Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup whipping cream
Shaved chocolate for garnish
Fill medium saucepan halfway with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place egg yolks and sugar in a stainless steel bowl on top of the pot and whisk briskly until mixture thickens and lightens to a fluffy, creamy yellow. Do not let water boil and do not stop whisking or leave the bowl – eggs will curdle. Remove bowl from heat and whisk in Irish Cream liqueur. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and peaks form. In a separate bowl, beat whipping cream until fluffy and holds peaks. Put room temperature mascarpone in a large mixing bowl with egg yolk mixture and stir to make smooth. Fold egg whites into mascarpone, then fold in whipping cream. Fold gently so you lose as little volume as possible.
For dipping the cake, mix together in a shallow bowl: 6 oz espresso (or double-strength brewed coffee), cooled
3 oz Irish Mist liqueur
Assemble Tiramisu Trim edges from cake and cut into pieces that will fit into the glasses you’ll be using. For each tiramisu, dip a piece of cake into the coffee mixture and put in bottom of glass. Completely cover cake with layer of custard. Repeat layer of cake and layer of custard. Top with grated dark chocolate and refrigerate until firm. Holds several days in the fridge (but it won't last that long!).
(For more Irish-themed recipes fit for St. Patrick, check out the March issue of Downhome, on stands now!)