Monday, May 08, 2006

Blame It On The Tiramisu

I first tried making tiramisu a few years ago when I spent 1 year in London to follow my husband who was at the time pursuing a certain academic aspiration. The dessert was for our Raya (Eid) 'open house' scheduled for one weekend in the month of Syawal and we were expecting quite a few people to turn up as we had quite a few friends and family in London at the time. Unfortunately for me, my supposedly delectable dessert did not turn out as expected and to save my dignity from going to tatters in front of all those people who will surely, surely look at me in horror and disgust, I unashamedly told my maid to err...claim that she made it and that it's actually a Sundanese dessert! (She's Sundanese, you see.) None of my guests came from there so I found a way to escape my tiramisu disaster. My maid didn't mind being used as the scapegoat (although she was indeed a great cook and could not possibly have created anything short of perfection) and she conceded to my request, as always, without a flicker of her Sundanese eyelid. It was quite funny, actually, for when people started to complement what I thought was a culinary disaster, I almost succumbed to all the praises to claim that it was my own cooking after all, 'prepared by these two hands', I would have let them know! But I resisted the urge to embarrass myself further in the eyes of my maid who would surely laugh at me till her sides split when she was alone in the kitchen.

I am, I think, a sort of a perfectionist when it comes to cooking food. On this however, I am a little confused about myself as I find, although I require the results to be perfect, in the process of making something, I rarely perfectly follow the recipe. And yet I demand it (perfection) in the result. From the tiramisu incident however, my husband has understood my zero flaw requirement and therefore, in order to keep me from distress has always volunteered to take the blame as the ‘incompetent cook’ every time my cooking appears to be not up to that required level when guests are coming. ‘That’s ok..’ he says when I start to whine over the hot cooking pot. ‘Just tell them I made that.’ And horribly, horridly, that comforts me, the proud and insecure woman that I am.

I am, I admit, quite ashamed of myself.

But I cannot help it. It’s not my fault! I blame, the people who have given me an abundance of skills but only limited to the basics and never anything more. And thus I thirst for some recognition on the meagre amount of knowledge that I have and my pride does not allow my knowledge of my own discrepancies to be known to others. And that’s my true flaw.

Hey, how did this piece of writing turn so self-denouncing? I intended for a few paragraphs of introduction before I give out my tiramisu recipe, which I am happy to say, has been praised and frequently requested during any gathering at my house. I blame the memory of my all too perfect first maid for this digression!

I retrace my steps back to that point in my story above where my ‘Sundanese dessert’ was appreciated after all. And so, I did not give up on the dessert which even in disgrace was enjoyed by many. After trying and failing a few more times, my luck improved when some friends came to visit me from Germany. They apparently have mastered the unyielding Italian dessert and gave me some tips and suggestions which I took into account during my next attempt. My tiramisu then turned out to be the perfect heavenly dessert it was supposed to be and I have not blamed anyone for my tiramisu ever since.


4 egg yolks
1 tub mascarpone cheese (around 1 cup)
1 pot whipping cream (10floz/ 280ml)
3 tbls sugar
1 packet sponge fingers
coffee for dipping
cocoa for dusting
chocolate curls for decoration (optional)

1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in the top of a ‘double boiler’ i.e. your yolks in a glass/metal bowl, resting on a pot/saucepan of boiling water. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 6-8 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and whip yolks until thick and lemon coloured.

2. Add cheese to whipped yolks. Beat until combined. In a separate bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold into yolk mixture and set aside.

3. Pour coffee onto a saucer, dip fingers in coffee one by one until coffee is absorbed into part of each finger and line the bottom and sides of a large glass bowl. Spoon half of the cream filling over the sponge fingers. Repeat process; dip sponge fingers, line and spoon filling. Dust top with cocoa and chocolate curls. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. For the chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler and run it down the edge of the chocolate bar whilst holding the chocolate bar over the tiramisu.

p/s: I use 2 oval shaped pyrex bowls for this recipe. Fits perfectly.

1 comment:

liza said...

WOOHOO pictures..yummy :)