From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Years ago I was an opinionated little thing. My father took me under his wing and tried to teach me tact and a more than passing respect for the rights and opinions of others. I'm sure I've lost much of what he wanted me to grasp, but I still remember the day I shared an unsolicited observation with him and was unceremoniously told to "stop criticizing obituaries." You see, then and now, I suffered from a bad case of expectations gone awry, and tonight's recipe is a case in point. I had expected something special and ended up with something that was merely nice. I've been eyeing this tiramisu recipe for a while now, but postponed making it because of the expense involved. I thought it would be a perfect way to end our Easter meal, so I broke down and purchased everything needed to make it and did a test run of the recipe last night. An hour of my time and 36 dollars later, I'm back to criticizing obituaries and can tell you that the recipe did not meet my very high expectations, given the time and expense that was involved. Lemon lovers will probably glory in this version of tiramisu, but it is too tart for mere mortals to enjoy. I had to add an additional sweet cream topping to tone down the pucker power of this dessert. I suspect you will too. The recipe, developed by Lidia Bastianich, also makes way more lemon syrup that you'll need for one tiramisu. If you decide to make this, you can cut the syrup ingredients in half. I hasten to add this is not a bad recipe, but if you are looking for something special for the holiday, you might want to look further. I know I am. The original recipe follows.
Limoncello Tiramisu...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Lidia Bastianich
5 large eggs
5 or 6 lemons
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups limoncello liqueur
1 cup water
1 pound (2 cups) Mascarpone, at room temperature
40 ladyfingers (preferably imported Italian savoiardi), or more as needed
1) Separate eggs, putting yolks into top portion of a double boiler. Place whites in a stainless steel pan that is large enough to beat them.
2) Remove zest of two or more lemons, using a fine grater, to get 2 tablespoons of zest. Squeeze out and strain juice of these and the other lemons to get 3/4 cup of fresh lemon juice.
3) To make base for tiramisù, heat water in lower portion of a double boiler until it comes to a steady simmer. Meanwhile, beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of limoncello until well blended. Set pan over simmering water, and whisk constantly, frequently scraping whisk around sides and bottom of pan, as egg mixture expands and heats into a frothy sponge, 5 minutes or longer. When sponge has thickened enough to form a ribbon when it drops on surface, remove pan from heat and set it aside to cool.
4) Meanwhile, pour remaining cup of limoncello, all of the lemon juice, 1 cup water, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar, and cook for 5 minutes, to evaporate alcohol. Allow syrup to cool completely.
5) In another large bowl, stir mascarpone with a wooden spoon to soften it, then drop in lemon zest and beat until light and creamy.
6) Whip egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup sugar, by hand or by machine, until moderately firm peaks form.
7) When limoncello sponge (or zabaglione) has cooled, scrape about a third of it over mascarpone, and fold it in with a large rubber spatula. Fold in rest of the zabaglione in two or three additions. Then fold in whipped egg whites in several additions, until the limoncello-mascarpone cream is light and evenly blended.
8) Pour some of cooled syrup, no deeper than 1/4 inch, into a shallow-rimmed pan to moisten ladyfingers (savoiardi). One at a time, roll ladyfingers in syrup and place them in casserole or baking dish. Wet each cookie briefly — if it soaks up too much syrup, it will fall apart. I've found that 4 seconds per side is perfect. Arrange moistened ladyfingers in neat, tight rows, filling bottom of pan completely. You should be able to fit about twenty ladyfingers in a single layer. You will need atotal of 40 ladyfingers.
9) Scoop half of limoncello-mascarpone cream onto ladyfingers, and smooth it to fill pan and cover them. Dip and arrange a second layer of ladyfingers in pan, and cover it completely with the remainder of cream.
10) Smooth cream with spatula, and seal tiramisù airtight in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours (or up to 2 days), or put it in the freezer for 2 hours. To serve, cut portions of tiramisùand transfer to dessert plates for serving. Yield: 12 servings.
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