Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cheese, Alcohol, Italian Desserts

Yesterday we bought a largish piece of Brie de Meaux - I wrote about this a week or so ago. It should be at just the correct ripeness by Saturday. It really is the most delicious cheese if somewhat expensive. On Saturday we will purchase some French bread to eat with our cheese. I also bought myself a pot of Mascarpone. The genuine Italian stuff, not the cheese you can buy most any place which has some kind of bean gum in it. The bean gum is not only a preservative but acts as a sweetener. I like to eat Mascarpone on bread for lunch so do not want it sweet. Even if I were making a Tiramisu, I still would prefer to do my own sweetening. That applies to anything with pre-added flavours. I prefer to add my own seasonings whatever they may be rather than, for instance, buying a can of seasoned tomatoes or something similar. So if you want to avoid added flavour to your Mascarpone, make sure it doesn't contain any kind of bean gum preservative. It usually means you need to buy the cheese made in Italy, not that made in North America and of course you may have to pay more for it, but it's worth it. Whilst writing about things not to buy, never buy the stuff in supermarkets labelled cooking wine. It is apparently loaded with salt and tastes terrible. If you want to use wine, use something you would and can drink, not, I repeat not, cooking wine. If you don't want alcohol but would like the taste there are non alcoholic wines about these days which can be substituted. They used to say all the alcohol disappears during cooking, but I have recently heard that isn't exactly true. Here is an interesting article on cooking off alcohol.

Tiramisu is a favourite dessert of mine although I haven't made it for a while. You can buy a very good non alcoholic Tiramisu in the grocery stores here. There is a local restaurant which serves the forerunner of Tiramisu, Zuppa Inglese which is absolutely delicious and I think I prefer, although I do enjoy both desserts. They say that Zuppa Inglese was based on English Trifle and was invented by ex pats who were enjoying the Italian climate but missed the English dessert. I am not going to give you a recipe, there are many on the internet if you are interested, but it is somewhat complicated to make properly I think. However, I will give you my Tiramisu recipe

Sorry don't remember the source.
Serves: 12

Ingredient notes: Orange liqueur or extra strong coffee may be used in
place of Marsala wine. Cream cheese may be used in place of mascarpone cheese. Orange liqueur or orange juice may be used in place of brandy.
Ladyfingers should be approx 4x1-inch size. Plain cookies or cake may be used in place of ladyfingers.

2 Egg yolks
1/4 c Sugar
1/2 c Marsala wine
1/2 lb Mascarpone cheese
1 c 35% Real Whipping Cream
1/2 c Extra strong coffee, cold
2 tb Brandy
24 Dry Italian ladyfingers
6 oz Semisweet chocolate, finely - chopped (approx 1 cup)

1. Make the filling by beating egg yolks with sugar until light. Beat in Marsala. Cook gently in a double boiler or in a stainless steel or glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Cook gently, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cool.
2. Beat mascarpone cheese until smooth and then slowly beat in cooled custard.
3. Whip cream until light. Gently fold into cheese mixture. Reserve.
4. Combine coffee with brandy. Reserve.
5. Line an 8-inch baking dish or trifle bowl with ladyfingers. (Do not worry if ladyfingers do not fit exactly, break up extras and fit into spaces.) Drizzle with half of the coffee mixture. Spread half the filling over. Sprinkle with half the chocolate. Repeat layers starting with ladyfingers, drizzling with remaining coffee, spreading remaining filling over ladyfingers and topping with chocolate.
6. Refrigerate a few hours or overnight before serving. Tiramisu can be frozen for up to one month.

Ooooh, my mouth is watering.

Have a great day.


  1. Tiramisu ... my favourite. As you will know it means 'pull me towards you', and Jo, this is what I always do with a Tiramisu.

  2. Funny that Marilyn, so do I LOL