If you’re of Italian descent, look away now. I’m going to share a recipe for tiramisu, but not as you know it.
It would probably be fair to describe Italy’s cuisine as the most popular in the world. Can the contribution of pizza really be surpassed? I think not. Perhaps most appealing is the versatility of Italian dishes. The U.S has taken the basic concept of pizza and taken it to another level, though sometimes with questionable results and much to the horror of Italians, I’m sure.
Today, Italian flags are used to sell all kinds of food products in a bid to attract those with an eye (and a palate) for the authentic. Italian food is predominantly marketed by relying heavily on tradition and the heritage of the food in question. It seems that the public would much rather buy food with a long history and preferably a lineage that guarantees reliable production techniques and a family feel to the branding.
I can certainly identify with that preference. Buying from a family-run company with history and heart makes for a much more satisfying purchase. However, you can have too much of a good thing.
Bound into the long-standing traditions of many an Italian recipe, are conservative attitudes that can border on severe. What is a traditional pizza? When is a pizza not a pizza? What is the definitive recipe for [insert popular Italian dish with highly disputed ingredients and/or cooking methods]? At one time, questions like these would have mattered to me. However, I’ve eaten enough to know that in the end, what matters most is the taste.
For some, twists, variations, innovations and improvements are unacceptable in certain recipes. Much to the chagrin of any conservative Italian readers, I would like to share a recipe that would not perhaps qualify as a tiramisu in certain circles. You can call my recipe whatever makes you happy. I call it my Caramel Tiramisu and it’s about as good as a pudding gets.
250g mascarpone cheese
395g sweetened condensed milk
2 Daim bars
6 sponge fingers
4 shots of espresso
20ml caramel syrup
cocoa powder for dusting
I made 3 individual pots using the quantities shown above. Daim bars are widely available in the UK and parts of Europe, but may not be easy to find in America. They are a buttery almond caramel coated in milk chocolate and they’re delicious!
I used an electric mixer to blend the condensed milk and mascarpone cheese in a bowl. I used a pestle and mortar to crush the Daim bars into a caramel rubble and then stirred them into the cheese mixture.
Next, I put the coffee in a shallow bowl, stirred in the caramel syrup and dipped the sponge fingers in. If you let them soak up too much coffee, they’ll be very soggy. I used two sponge fingers for each individual pot. To begin with, I broke a sponge finger in half and pushed it into the base of the pot. Then I added a big layer of the cheese mixture and gave it a good dusting with the cocoa powder. I then put another layer of sponge finger on top and repeated with the cheese mixture and plenty of cocoa powder to finish.
The pots went into the fridge overnight. You have a choice: You can eat the tiramisu immediately and the Daim bar pieces will be crunchy OR you can do what I did. Wait until the pots have been in the fridge overnight and then enjoy the caramel swirls created by the Daim bar pieces that have dissolved. This creates a truly delicious treat!
A warning- this is an extremely sweet pudding. If you prefer a lighter dessert, you may wish to double up the quantity of mascarpone. Yes, that will increase your yield, but it will also make the result less rich. It goes without saying that I would not dream of doing any such thing.