My first Daring Bakers’ challenge – Tiramisu!

Daring Bakers Tiramisu on

My first Daring Baker’s Challenge!

Yes, after a couple of forays into the Daring Cooks, I have succumbed to the lure of the Daring Bakers!  For those of you not familiar with the Daring Kitchen, head over to the site to see what all the buzz is about!

This month’s challenge was tiramisu!  “Yikes,” I thought as I read the (loooooooooong, involved) recipe…  “I certainly didn’t pick the right month to join DB!”

Actually, in all fairness, though it was a recipe involving many steps and some careful planning and timing, the steps were not so complicated.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Recipe Sources:
Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

(look – there’s me!)

Cleo was VERY interested in this whole process as you can tell.  Luckily Neil was there to get her off the table, otherwise there might have been no marscapone…

And look how beautifully it came out:

This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2″ to 3″ long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner’s sugar,


Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5″ long and 3/4″ wide strips leaving about 1″ space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Ingredients: Zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Method: Zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Ingredients: Vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

Method: Vanilla pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Ingredients: Whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

Method: Whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

This recipe makes 6 servings

Ingredients To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

To assemble the tiramisu:

Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8″ by 8″ should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu. Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered. Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges. Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight. To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

I froze the lot overnight before I took it out to slice it – certainly made for neater slicing and had I wanted to plate individually, this would definitely have been the way to go.  Neil and I ate the side parts that were cut off to form the sharp edges – you know someone had to test it, right?

No fancy presentation here – I was just relieved that it had actually all come together.  yes, the steps involved a lot of waiting, chilling (literally!) and assembly but no one step was actually that difficult.  The only thing I might have done differently is soak the ladyfingers longer in the coffee – I was concerned they would disintegrate if I left them in too long and they were a tad on the dry side.  Neil took it in to work where his staff enjoyed the fruits of my labour.

Would I make it again, from scratch?  Probably for a dinner party.  For an everyday meal… errr, not so much.  In any case, I am pleased with how it turned out and if I can make tiramisu from scratch, I feel hopeful for the Daring Baker challenges to come!

52 thoughts on “My first Daring Bakers’ challenge – Tiramisu!”

  1. It may look simple, but I think that’s how tiramisu is meant to be, with perfect layers.
    Congratulations on a challenge well done.
    And thanks for baking with us.

  2. Love what you did with it Mardi girl, it’s gorgeous. Beautiful cross section indeed. It’s very very neat. Welcome to DBs; with such a wonderful first challenge too!! I enjoyed hosting it! xo

  3. how could you POSSIBLY say no fancy presentation here??? just making it is the presentation. that was sure a lot of work and it looks like it turned out beautifully! I have been so interested in making my own cheese, you made it look so easy! great job!

  4. You say this is your first DB challenge, but I honestly wish I had had your step-by-step tutorial to guide me through the process. My successes and failures with DB have more to do with the general chaos in my own life, but this is one recipe that I really couldn’t get a handle on for some reason. (I agree that each step was relatively easy and about soaking the lady fingers longer, too.) In the end, you have created a GORGEOUS dessert, which always makes it taste better! 😀 Well done.


    • Thanks Casey! As I told you before, the only reason I could get a handle on it was because I had the recipe printed out in the order in which I was going to do the steps. And formatted the way I like it. Because I am a Taurus and I am like that!

  5. Incredible. As the non-baker among the comments, I assumed you were “assembling” tiramisu, not making all components from scratch. I think making mascarpone would be a fun project to show the tot, but I know we’re not doing the whole thing, delicious though it looks. And beautiful presentation despite your modest statements. (Honest, yet embarrassing admission: I’ve been saying “marscapone”. Luckily, the word doesn’t crop up all that often in my life. Wait — that’s not lucky…

  6. Great job! Your tiramisu looks perfect! Welcome to the Daring Bakers! And don’t worry, we all freak out on Challenge Reveal Day, but every challenge is always well worth it!

    • Well I am so excited that I managed to even complete the challenge – it’s been a busy month and I admit that my heart sank when I saw what the challenge was but it actually turned out to be less complicated than it appeared at first.

  7. Wow what perfect tiramisu! Lovely! Even Cleo thinks so! And congrats on getting it all perfect! And I’m definitely freezing some next summer to eat all icy.

  8. Look at you!!! I feel like I just went to pastry school. Awesome step by step info. Each element from scratch, great job. I can’t even imagine how wonderful this Tiramisu tasted.

  9. (Typing for CMC, whose paws are too big for the keyboard.)

    Thanks mum – more dairly product challenges please!


    P.S. from Neil: This was yum, and my lunch crew in the canteen at work were most appreciative – with two thumbs up from the Italian resident.


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