Tag Archives: egg whites

Un tiramisu che ti tirasu

A few years ago, when we fancied making a tiramisu (it means pick me up, or pull me up), I looked at loads of recipes. I was quite shocked (I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to Italian cooking) at the variations. I mean, Nigella, whom I love, had one, in How To Eat, using no coffee or chocolate and meringues instead of sponge fingers. It caused me to  to slam the pages of the book shut in mock horror.

It is the coffee, and the chocolate that is supposed to act as a ‘tiramisu’. Anything else, to my mind, ti spinge giu (pushes you down).

I have hundreds of cookery books, and a world of recipes at my fingers tips, as do you, on the internet. But nothing was really saying Italian tiramisu to me. Then I thought of looking in my Italian cooking bible: The Silver Spoon.

In these days of celebrity cookbooks, stuffed full of photographs, the recipes in this book are easy to overlook: simple, very few pictures and the list of ingredients for each recipe is short. But don’t overlook them because not only is this a fantastic cookery book, the recipes are accomplished – some of them go back fifty years. As you may expect, some of the recipes are as good as they’re ever going to get.

And the tiramisu recipe is no exception. It is one of the few with a photo which I admit helped…I made it and it is the only way we make tiramisu now. It’s simple, anyone can do it (my bambine frequently do) and once made sits in the fridge for a good few days, yielding to your spoon just when you need a…pick me up.

It has no alcohol – so if you feel the need for some after dinner, serve that separately – which means children can easily eat this. Although beware of eating it too late as there’s quite a caffeine punch.

My friend Tamsin doesn’t like coffee, so she doesn’t include it in her tiramisu. Of course I have told her it’s not really a tiramisu, but more of a creamy pudding. Don’t even think of using cocoa powder (other than, maybe, on the very top but I don’t) instead of grated chocolate. The chocolate shavings make this stand out and allow for some bite in what is a wallowy pudding which offers little resistance: you could easily eat aged 98, when all your teeth have fallen out.

And use icing sugar, not caster, which can result in a runny mess.

Here it is:

2 egg whites, 4 egg yolks (freeze the 2 extra egg whites)

150 icing sugar

400g mascarpone

200g sponge fingers

175ml espresso coffee

200g plain chocolate, grated (grating chocolate is one of my least favourite jobs but I do it for this)

What to do:

I make this in a rectangular Pyrex, which also has a handy lid so I can save it for a few days. Mine is about 17cm x 25cm and it makes two layers. But of course you can make it in a different shape so you get more layers, or even make it circular or in individual portions, just break the sponge fingers up to fill the spaces.

It would, I think, easily serve eight people depending on the size of portion.

First you whisk the egg whites until stiff, set them aside for a moment whilst, in a separate bowl you beat the egg yolks with the icing sugar, then you fold/whisk the mascarpone into the egg yolks and sugar and finally, into this you gently fold in the egg whites. This is your creamy bit.

Lay the sponge fingers onto the base of your dish and brush or pour the coffee on top. Because I know mine makes two layers, I pour half the coffee on now. Then spoon on a layer of the cream and sprinkle with the grated chocolate. Repeat this, ending with a layer of mascarpone/sprinkling of chocolate. I usually end up with more chocolate than I need for this, for some reason, so if so just keep it in a jam jar for next time.

It is better the next day, but can be eaten within a few hours of making it and chilling it to allow the ingredients to meet each other, and mingle.

 

 

 

 

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Torrone (nougat) ice cream

IMG_2345 I found this recipe, hidden amongst various others in the Guardian last week. (Scroll down, it’s the fifth one: frozen nougat, torrone = nougat.)

The great news is that you don’t need an ice cream maker to do it as this recipe doesn’t call for one. Rejoice! I’d long wanted to make torrone ice cream as I love ice creams with bits in it. I think this is in large part because my mother once made ice cream with lots of bits in it when I was a child, and it remains a taste I chase. (You can read more about it here in this piece I wrote for the Economist’s Intelligent Life.)

It is not the easiest ice cream to make. But I made it whilst in sole charge of a buoyant four year old and it was fine. I did move my mixer next to the stove, as I wouldn’t want to be carrying boiling sugar and honey across the kitchen.

A few notes about the recipe: I used flaked almonds (which is what David Lebovitz, whose recipe this is, probably meant by sliced almonds). Toast them first, if they’re not already. I did mine in a dry frying pan for a few minutes.IMG_2332The praline bit takes hardly any time at all: be warned.  And you can easily make this in way in advance.

I blitzed half the praline in a food processor and chopped the other half by hand. Experiment to see what you prefer.

Don’t be temped to leave out any of the ingredients, please. Each is carefully considered to compliment the others: this is a highly accomplished recipe. IMG_2339Follow the recipe carefully for the same reason. Make sure you whisk the meringue until quite, quite cold, for example, before folding the cream in.

I found it hard to fold the whipped cream into the Italian meringue (Italian meringue is when you pour a very hot sugar solution into whipped egg whites whilst simultaneously whisking) so I did my best then whisked the whole lot together gently, it didn’t suffer.

This ice cream only uses egg whites. Hurrah! Another use for all those egg whites that I accumulate.

I can’t impress upon you how good this ice cream is. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I wouldn’t, personally, have it in a cone. You really need to serve it in the plainest of dishes so that nothing distracts from the taste which is complex, sophisticated and high-pitched-singing- inducing delicious.