Thursday, July 10, 2014

Can You Say 'Mmm'.. A Plethora of Tiramisu


First Sentence:

"A few months ago, one Saturday morning, I was making tiramisu for some friends who were coming to dinner."


                     Amazon /

So, this is something a little different, but hey, let's roll with it. I was asked by an author I've worked with on a couple other occasions to review her new cookbook. I'm a keen cook and baker, and am always looking for new recipes to add to my repertoire, so I had to, naturally, say yes.

Now, you may have guessed from the title that this is a Tiramisu recipe book. And ONLY tiramisu. There is a very large variety of recipes, and they will appeal to tastes of all kinds, but their common factor is that they are all tiramisus.

Here's a brief description of the book itself. It starts off with an introduction as to why this book was created, and where the recipes came from. In this case, the author is Italian (now living in the UK), and created this book using an amalgamation of her own recipes, as well as those of friends and family. 

Now, a quick side note, as the author herself states, the photos for each tiramisu were taken by their respective chef, so "you will probably find that the taste of these recipes will surpass their artistic (the photos) merit." So, don't expect professional quality photos. However, the photos still display their desserts proudly and tantalisingly. 

There are 25 different recipes, all tried and tested. This includes "alcoholic and fruity versions; tiramisu cakes, cheesecake and cupcakes; classic tiramisu; egg-free and gluten-free desserts; low-fat and low-sugar tiramisu; children's tiramisus; ice cream and pancakes, and many more". So if you were worried about a lack of variety, worry no more. 

Before we get into the fun stuff, there are a couple more things to go through first. The book contains some pages containing a brief history of tiramisu; some very nicely laid out pages that include how to prepare the ingredients before use; and an FAQ section that includes basic queries, such as how long a tiramisu lasts, or what to do if your mousse is the wrong consistency, as well as the basic equipment you will need. 

A page showing basic ingredients.

Then it's simply a matter of choosing your perfect recipes. I picked six variations, but made seven tiramisus (we'll come back to that later). Very quickly, here is a list of all the recipes you can find in this book:

1. Giulia's Traditional Tiramisu
2. Anna's Limoncello Tiramisu
3. Claudia's Tiramisu Light
4. Monica's Coconut Tiramisu
5. Cristina's Fun Tiramisu Cakes
6. Dalia's Tiramisu Cups
7. Dalia's Tiramisu Cupcakes
8. Dalia's Tiramisu Cheesecake
9. Laura's Banana Tiramisu
10. Rita's Pineapple Tiramisu
11. Rita's Orange Tiramisu
12. Manuela's Tiramisu Brownie
13. Ferruccio's Tiramisu Cake
14. Mariangela's Strawberry Tiramisu
15. Rita's Tiramisu Pancakes
16. Martina's Chocolate Tiramisu
17. Martina's Lemon Curd Tiramisu
18. Maria Grazia's Baileys Tiramisu
19. Martina's Tiramisu Ice Cream
20. Maria Antonietta's Gluten-Free Tiramisu
21. Tiziana's Peach Tiramisu
22. Sofia's Rainbow Tiramisu (made by the author's four-year-old daughter!)
23. Mamma's Panettone Tiramisu
24. Brunella's Tiramisu Coffee
25. Cristina's Vegan Tiramisu

You may have noticed that each recipe is named for its creator. There is also a mini bio of every chef on their relevant page- with quirky little facts, including a nice, little statement about their favourite dessert. Ice cream seems to be very popular, but I'm assuming it's gelato, as opposed to actual ice cream. While the two are technically the same product, they have very different qualities. If you have never had gelato, my goodness you need to find a way to remedy that.

Each recipe is set up using the same general formula. One page contains the recipe, ingredients (serving size included) and the bio, all laid out opposite a photo of the completed dessert. A nice little touch is small photos next to each recipe name, showing a major ingredient used in that recipe, e.g. coffee beans for traditional tiramisu. 

After the recipes, there is a section labelled 'Tiramisu Disasters' because 'it is important to remind ourselves that the path to success is dotted with occasional failures." This section includes a few 'issues' experienced during the making of this recipe book. It includes a brief description and photos, and serves as a useful resource for what NOT to do.

Next is an entire section on hosting a "Tiramisu Party" and a fun little quiz. You can find all the answers to said quiz in this book (and there is a cheat sheet to check your answers). I scored a rather adequate 9 out of 10. Just call me the Tiramisu Master.

Without further ado, here are the six recipes I tried. I picked out a good range of different recipes, trying to cover all areas. Excuse the photos, but I am not a professional food photographer, and clearly my tiramisu serving skills need work.

Before I get into the results, I'd like to mention that, like Marie Antonietta, I am a coeliac. So, I made my own ladyfingers using this recipe. I think it worked pretty well, and the ladyfingers were certainly delicious on their own. However, I did find them a little hard for tiramisu, but overall they did a good job.

1. Giulia's Traditional Tiramisu

Hands down my favourite recipe of the lot. It was quick (once the ladyfingers were made), it was easy and it was delicious. Perfect.

2. Dalia's Tiramisu Cupcakes

I can't comment on the cakes themselves- as my version will have different qualities due to the gluten-free flour- but these cupcakes were light and delicious. The mascarpone comes out quite airy, so you're not overwhelmed by overly rich flavours, and it perfectly compliments the coffee (as all tiramisus should).

3. Dalia's Tiramisu Cheesecake

This was the clear winner for my family. It's not as thick as traditional cheesecake; has a whipped and creamy texture and is absolutely delicious.

4. Mariangela's Strawberry Tiramisu

This was the only recipe I tried that I was a little unsure of. It was probably the recipe I was most excited to try (being a strawberry fan), but something in it just didn't work for me. I'd say it was a little like a trifle without the custard, but I found the mascarpone layer far too runny once served. See this is the thing: the mascarpone was not runny when I made it, but when added to all the ingredients it dissolved. Perhaps the acidity of the strawberries was too much? I'm also not sure about dipping the ladyfingers into orange juice. Maybe tropical juice (which is the other suggestion in the recipe) would've been better, because orange juice produces a slightly jarring flavour. Possibly something with a strawberry base would've fared better, or another berry juice? Something to compliment the strawberries and cream. (UPDATE: Orange juice has been removed from the final version.)                  

5. Martina's Chocolate Tiramisu

Another very delicious tiramisu. This one uses more 'mousse-y' layers of mascarpone, as well as a chocolate mousse layer. I'm not a huge fan of alcohol and, as the recipe called for Martini, I decided to switch it for chocolate milk and it worked perfectly well. The ladyfingers towards the bottom were a little dry (as the image shows), but that was an error on my side. FYI, ladyfingers dipped in chocolate milk are divine. No, I am not seven.

6. Marie Antonietta's Gluten-Free Tiramisu

Now here's where we get some variation. I made two versions of this tiramisu. One following the recipe to a T, and the second using the method I use when making a recipe gluten-free. I ixnayed on the ladyfingers from before, using the sponge recipe here. There is only one difference between these two versions- potato flour. One recipe uses it, the other doesn't. Simple, no?

Here are the results:

The photo show the result with potato flour. My thoughts? The sponge is delicious. Without the potato flour it is lighter, but doesn't taste as good, and has a strange baking soda taste- despite the fact there is none in the recipe. The potato flour adds a 'chewiness' to the texture, and works fantastically for tiramisu. (They're not chewy in the tiramisu). Without the potato flour, the sponge becomes crumbly and falls apart. Don't even think about dipping it into coffee (unless you want to see a magic trick) because that sucker will dissolve before your eyes. So, potato flour is the clear winner (meaning Marie Antonietta's recipe over mine) and I will be using it for all my baking needs from now on.

The tiramisu was tasty too, but that was not the aim of the exercise. Remember, any of these recipes can be made gluten-free. Use this sponge recipe and then make all the other layers using whatever recipe you desire. Bam. Gluten-free.

Overall, a great recipe book if you're fond of tiramisus. With so many variations there's something for everyone. The book itself is laid out in a clean, simple design that makes everything very comprehensible and easy to use. I thoroughly recommend it, and I already have the next recipes I want to try in mind (that brownie is calling my name. Seriously look at it:)

  I'm not a huge coffee fan, but over the past few days I may have become addicted. These desserts certainly live up to their name, and are the perfect 'pick me up'.

My only criticism is actually to do with the design of the front cover, and nothing to do with the book's contents. The big red border is a little unflattering and off putting in my opinion, but that is entirely my own personal taste- which was certainly appeased flavour wise. I may have to pick a print copy of this recipe book up myself (as I was working with an ARC .pdf copy)!

What more can I say? This was a great little recipe book, with a lot of variety. I was a little nervous that a tiramisu specific recipe book would be a little too pigeon-holed to sell well, but the book has such diverse recipes that it may as well be a general dessert book. If you've got a sweet tooth, check it out. It was released today, so why not pick up a copy?

Well done Martina. Your recipes are delicious. Congratulations on the book launch!      

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author. This is not a sponsored review. All opinions are 100% my own. 


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