Entry 26: A New Year And A New Start

At long last, I’m back.

 

A lot of things have happened to me over the past six weeks and not all of them have been particularly pleasant. I’ve been dealing with some pretty major anxiety issues along with some other bits and pieces, which forced me to do a hard reset on things. The one change you’ll be most interested in this:

"This isn't my usual kitchen. It's all neat and tidy and stuff!"

“This isn’t my usual kitchen. It’s all neat and tidy and stuff!”

As my small furry sidekick astutely observes, I’m working out of my parents kitchen for now until I find a new place and a new job. In order to get myself back into the swing of things, I’m restarting the blog again. Yay!

As I didn’t really do much baking during my six weeks away (aside from a small tray of brownies), I decided to do something reasonably straightforward to get my eye in again. What we did *NOT* make today was tiramisu. It might have looked like a tiramisu, it might have smelt like a tiramisu, hopefully it’ll even taste like a tiramisu but it wasn’t one. The reason for this double-thinking is that a traditional Italian recipe uses egg whites and yolks to make the mascarpone layer. However, I didn’t feel too confident about the idea of using uncooked eggs in a recipe, especially if they’re not fresh eggs. The recipe we went with instead uses double cream instead, making this more of a “triflemisu” than a tiramisu.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/9652/bestever-tiramisu

That’s quite a bold claim the recipe is making. I’ve tried a fair number of tiramisus, from the supermarket ones in little pots to proper Italian restaurant style ones. Will this be the BEST EVER? I have very high standards when it comes to cuisine.

"Says the guy that ate McDonalds for lunch yesterday."

“Says the guy that ate McDonalds for lunch yesterday.”

One of the things I liked about this particular recipe is that there’s no weighing involved. All the ingredients are the exact quantities listed on the packaging, with the only exceptions being the 5 tbsp of golden caster sugar and a dusting of cocoa for the top.

"We're having a coffee break already?!"

“We’re having a coffee break already?!”

Not quite. The first step in the recipe was getting the sponge layer ready and to do that we need edsome coffee. Until a couple of years ago, the only coffee I drank was Nescafe instant coffee. It wasn’t bad but didn’t really have the richness of flavour that my teas had. Assam was different to English Breakfast, which was different to Earl Grey; where as coffee was just coffee. Then I went to visit some friends in America (and a big hello and many hugs to Rose if she’s reading) and they introduced me to freshly ground coffee, carefully filtered and left to brew. It was amazing! ^_^

So although all the above stuff might seem like a hassle (especially the bit hiding behind the cup), if we’re making the BEST EVER triflemisu, then we needed *good* coffee.

Mascarpone. Not made with actual ponies.

Mascarpone. Not made with actual ponies.

So while the coffee simmered, I set to work on the filling. I was a little worried about this bit – egg whites can be wonderfully fluffy and light when whisked properly but I was unsure whether the cream and mascarpone would be able to hold enough air as to not be thick and stodgy.

"I hope this'll do - I couldn't get any marsala as the Indian takeaway was shut."

“I hope this’ll do – I couldn’t get any marsala as the Indian takeaway was shut.”

The comments section of the recipe have lots of people suggesting different liqueurs for the cream layer. I felt that the coffee liqueur I had from a previous bake would go nicely with the coffee sponge layer. Interestingly enough, although ever variant of tiramisu I’ve had has some form of alcohol in it, the original recipes didn’t use any at all.  It’s also a fairly recent recipe – the first mention of tiramisu in Italian cookbooks is only as far back as 1960.

If you make a mess of *this* kitchen, we'll both get our asses kicked. >.>

If you make a mess of *this* kitchen, we’ll both get our asses kicked. >.>

Fortunately, the Koala was as good as silver and there was very little collateral damage after the whisking. It took about 10 minutes or so for the cream mixture to thicken up into peaks but held nicely once it was done.

The garden birds were getting fed up with plain water in their drinking bowls.

The garden birds were getting fed up with plain water in their drinking bowls.

Disclaimer – please do not leave high strength coffee out for your garden birds. I used two spoonfuls of coffee for this, so it’s the same strength as the coffee I drink. Whether it was strong for the flavour to avoid getting lost amongst the other ingredients was something I’d only know at the end.

"You've got coffee all over your fingers!"

“You’ve got coffee all over your fingers!”

With the sponge fingers, I dipped each of them for no more than about three seconds and turned them as I did so. This was just about right I think; any longer and they’d have been too soggy to lift. It’d also ruin the texture of them as well.

"You've got cream all over your- wait, we just did this joke."

“You’ve got cream all over your- wait, we just did this joke.”

The second layer was just the same as the first – layer of coffee soaked fingers, then the mascarpone mixture on top. With the final stage, although the recipe suggests using chocolate curls, I’d advise against it. There’s so many flavours in this already – the sponge, the cream, the liqueur, etc. Adding chocolate to it as well would have overpowered the subtler flavours. A dusting of cocoa powder on the other hand, is ideal:

The finished tiramisu. Or triflemisu if you prefer.

The finished tiramisu. Or triflemisu if you prefer.

I left it in the fridge for about four hours or so before serving it to my folks. I think that was a good idea as it gave the coffee more time to soak through the fingers and for the whole thing to come together. In terms of texture, it’s slightly thicker than the tiramisus you get in shops, but nothing like as stodgy as a trifle. The coffee maybe could have been a tiny bit stronger – perhaps two and half spoonfuls of coffee or possibly even three. The coffee liqueur was just the right strength though. Very pleased with how it turned out and it was pretty quick to make as well – about 30-40 minutes from start to finish.

My anxiety is starting to improve, so I will see you in a week or so. =)

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