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Book review “Grace’s Sweet Life” and Tiramisu

Tiramisu with a bbqed peach

A while ago I received a copy of Grace’s Sweet Life, which was written by Grace Massa-Langlois an Italian-Canadian baker. While I am mostly concentrating on German and North American recipes I was intrigue by the book. Italy has very unique desserts and many are known throughout the world. Tiramisu being one of those desserts. Btw, this is a rather lengthy post.

Although, my husband had no clue what Tiramisu is and heard something with soup instead. Oh well, there is always something to learn.

Before I present you with the recipe for Tiramisu, lets talk about the book Grace’s Sweet Life. The front cover tells you right away what you are getting in to, a lot of delicious dessert. Grace Massa-Langlois is the author of the book, who started blogging due to her children, who supported her endeavor greatly. The books starts with a not of the author, which is followed by notes on measurements and ingredients.

This is an important part because like any food culture, there are special ingredients that you easily purchase at home but in a foreign country it is a whole different story. Grace gives tips on how to get those ingredients or how to substitute them. As a German in a foreign country I can relate greatly to this short but helpful section.

The book does not start right away with recipes for Cannoli or Tiramisu, no, she starts with some basics, like Pastry Cream or Italian Meringue. Each recipe has a short introduction note about the recipe, information on some challenges or what to do with it. I find that helpful to see if there is anything you need to pay attention to, it makes each recipe more personal and understandable. Grace divides the recipe into sections “uno”, “uue” and so on, showing you the ingredients you need for each step. Reading the recipe before starting in full is advisable and will give you and overview of what you will need and how to go about it.

In total, the book has 8 sections for recipes: Basics; Cakes and Cheesecakes; Mini Desserts; Cookies and Confections; Pies and Tarts; Pastries and Fried Dessert; Creams, Custards, Mousses, and Soufflés; Frozen and Fruit Desserts. Going through the book, looking at the recipes and plenty pictures that are provided showed me a board spectrum of Italian Desserts. Sure, there might be recipes someone would think more Italian than those provided, but it seems to me Grace touched most areas.

I am very happy to have an Italian dessert book on my book shelf. The selection in the book is great, the instructions are clear and straight forward and it has a wonderful personal touch.

I will write this recipe as Grace wrote it so that you can get a feel of the book. However, Tips are written by me.

Home-made Ladyfingers

Excerpted from Grace’s Sweet Life by Grace Masse-Langlois. Copyright © 2012 by Ulysses Press. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Ulysses Press.

Tiramisù (Tiramisu)

Makes 1 (8 x 12-inch) cake

This tiramisu recipe is almost authentic, but I decorate mine with mounds of whipped cream, whereas in the classical presentation, a portion of the mascarpone cream is reserved and piped in rosettes. Because tiramisu is prepared with raw eggs, please use the freshest eggs possible. Good-quality savoiardi are available at Italian delis and grocers; supermarket ladyfingers are not substantial enough to soak in the liquid for tiramisu.

Uno – Crema di Mascarpone (Mascarpone Cream)

6 large eggs, divided, at room temperature
pinch of salt
⅔ cup (150 g) superfine sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2½ cups (500 g) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) strong espresso, cooled (optional)

Tip 1: Mascarpone cheese is similar to cream cheese and can be found at the specialty cheese section of your grocery store. If you live in Canada, buy it at Superstore, it is cheaper there than Safeway.

Finale – Assembly

1½ cups (355 ml) strong espresso, cooled (sweetened, if desired, sugar should be added when hot to dissolve)
marsala wine or rum, (optional)
8½ ounces (240 g) savoiardi biscuits (ladyfingers), about 24 cookies
unsweetened cocoa, for dusting
Sweetened Whipped Cream (page 13) (optional)
bittersweet chocolate bar, chilled in the freezer, for garnish (optional)

Tip 2: Check the recipe for making your own Ladyfingers. They worked quite well, though I would try it with store bought ones just to see the difference.

Mascarpone Cream

Uno – To make the mascarpone cream

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whisk the egg whites to very stiff peaks, beginning at low speed and gradually increasing to high, about 13 minutes total. When the egg whites are foamy, add the salt. When the egg whites reach soft peaks, reduce the speed to low, and gradually add ⅓ cup (75 g) of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, then return the mixer to high speed after each addition to combine well. After all of the sugar has been added, return to high speed to continue beating to very stiff peaks.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, vanilla, and the remaining ⅓ cup (75 g) sugar until thick and pale in color.

3. In a small bowl, stir the mascarpone with a wooden spoon until smooth. Do not overmix.

4. Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture in three additions, whisking just to combine. Do not overmix. If using, add the espresso ½ tablespoon at a time, taste, and add more if desired. Don’t add more than 2 tablespoons or the consistency of the cream will become too thin.

5. Fold the whipped egg whites into the mascarpone mixture in three additions, incorporating each addition well before adding the next.

Dipped Ladyfingers in a baking dish

Finale – To assemble and serve

Tip 3: I used the amount of espresso stated in the recipe, however, half of it was left over. If you like to drink coffee, that’s great for you. If you don’t like coffee, cut the espresso amount in half. (Remember, you can always make more but throwing out is not so nice.)

1. Place the espresso into a small shallow bowl. Add the wine or rum to taste, if using, and stir to combine. Dip the savoiardi biscuits one at a time into the espresso for a couple of seconds. (Do not soak the biscuits for too long or they will become mushy and fall apart.) Place the biscuit lengthwise in an 8 x 12-inch baking dish. If necessary, cut the biscuits (before soaking) to fit. Repeat until the bottom of the dish is covered.

2. Spread half of the mascarpone cream evenly over the layer of savoiardi biscuits.

3. Using a small fine-mesh sieve, evenly dust a generous amount of cocoa over top of the mascarpone cream.

4. Arrange another layer of espresso-dipped savoiardi biscuits perpendicular to the first layer over the top of the mascarpone cream. Again, if necessary, cut the cookies to fit.

Tip 4: I didn’t know what perpendicular meant. I started with laying the ladyfingers horizontal, so the second layer must be vertical. Does that make sense?

5. Spread the remaining mascarpone cream evenly over the layer of biscuits. Again, using a small, fine mesh sieve, evenly dust a generous amount of cocoa.

6. Cover the tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 8 hours.

7. To serve the tiramisu, transfer the whipped cream to a large pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Remove the tiramisu from the refrigerator and pipe mounds on top of the mascarpone cream. To garnish, using a fine rasp grater, grate the chocolate over the tiramisu.

Panna Montata Zuccherata (Sweetened Whipped Cream)

Tip 5: I didn’t make any whipped cream, it seemed not necessary. However, if you prefer less strong coffee taste then adding whipped cream as decoration would help.

Makes 2 cups

As freshly whipped cream deflates quickly, it’s best to whip it just before serving. Serve with macerated fruit, dollop onto spoon desserts like panna cotta, baked custard and mousse, or use to garnish tarts.

1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons (16 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Chill a large bowl, a large balloon whisk, or the beaters of a handheld mixer, and the cream.

2. Place the cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla in the cold bowl. Using the cold whisk or beaters at high speed, whip the cream until you’ve reached your desired consistency. For soft peaks, whip the cream until the peaks are rounded or curl when the beaters are lifted. For stiff peaks, whip the cream until peaks stand up straight when the beaters are lifted.

3. If not serving immediately, transfer the whipped cream to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 hours before using.

Time-Saving Tip for Sweetened Whipped Cream

I very rarely purchase ready-made whipped cream anymore. I prefer to purchase cream in 1-liter cartons with resealable lids. When I return home from the market, I split two vanilla beans in half, scrape out the seeds, and place both the seeds and the beans in the carton. I seal the lid, give the carton a good shake, and store it in the refrigerator. In the morning when I’m reaching for the coffee cream, I give the carton a shake. When I need whipped cream, I pull out the carton and whip the amount I need. It’s cold, convenient, and, best of all, fresh and flavorful. The infused cream can also be used in a number of different preparations like custards, cakes, and ganache.

Home-made Tiramisu

I know that the Tiramisu recipe is rather lengthy but it is worth while and goes by faster then you might think. I believe it took me no more than an hour to make this and I was somewhat surprise about that. It seemed to me that Tiramisu is awfully complicated to make. It is not!

Happy Tiramisu making!

Disclaimer: I received the book for free from Ulysses Press, however, the opinion in this post are solemnly mine and I have not been paid for this.

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About andreamacleod

Take a KitchenAid Artisan machine, a young wife, time, creativity and mix it well. You end up with endless options of baking goodies from German torte to North American cupcakes. Follow me on my baking and cooking adventures and throw in your cent or two. There are no limits!

3 responses »

  1. This looks so good and I love tiramisu. Thanks for posting of Foodie Friends Friday. ~ Marlys

    Reply
  2. This looks so good, I picked it as “Host Favorite” from Foodie Friends Friday! Go over to http://www.foodiefriendsfriday.com and pick up your “button” from Host Tab =) See you this week, Tracy @ Busy Vegetarian Mom

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Foodie Friends Friday Aug 3rd and GIVEAWAY! | Busy Vegetarian Mom

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