I have been on holiday for a whole week as a re-energiser before starting my new job. Thus, I’ve spent most of the week doing what I like best – cooking. Earlier in the week, I cooked a festive South Indian meal for some friends of ours which is still being consumed 4 days on and last night, we hosted an Italian-food themed board games night with some other friends. While I had most of the menu sorted, I was umm-ing and ah-ing on the “dolce” or dessert course.
Given my enormous free time this week, I browsing through the travel section in the local library and I chanced upon a book called “Sweet Honey, Bitter Lemons : Travels in Sicily on a Vespa” by Matthew Fort. This book’s contents are pretty much as the title claims – It contains several mouth-watering (and sometimes weird) Sicilian recipes, while giving the reader a feel for Sicilian people, life and customs as the writer explores this island on his Vespa scooter.
The one thing that really irks me about this book is the unecessary overuse of flowery language to describe things that can be done equally well with more accessible vocabulary. Despite that, I’m persisting with the book and it was in one of its pages that I came across a lovely recipe for strawberry tiramisu.
Inspired by this verbose but informative book, and my Italian-themed games night, I present to you – Tiramisu alle fragole with pictures.
It was so good that my guests were fighting over it !
(This is a combination of those in the book and my old tiramisu recipe – Serves 6 greedy adults)
300 grams of fresh, ripe strawberries
3 eggs, separated
7 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla paste or vanilla extract
250 gms mascarpone cheese
200gms/1 packet/24 savoiardi or ladyfinger biscuits
1. Beat the egg yolks and 4 tablespoons of sugar in a large bowl until frothy.
2. In another small bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. To keep them stiff, add 1 tablespoon of sugar at the end and give them a whip. Stiff peaks means that if you pull your whisk out of the whipping bowl, then the trail of egg white that you leave must stand up like a pillar and not collapse. If you are really brave, then turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites should not move if they are at the right consistency.
3. Add mascarpone to the egg yolk and sugar mixture and combine until uniformly thick and smooth.
4. Finally, fold in the egg whites and vanilla bean paste with a metal spoon to make a well-combined, creamy, airy mixture.
5. Chop 90% of your strawberries into slivers and 10% of them into halves for decoration. To the 90% of slivered strawberries, add 2 tablespoons of sugar and mix gently with your fingers. The sugar will draw out the juices/moisture in the strawberries and make them go soft, juicy and glossy.
6. Break the sponge fingers into bits that will fit into the bowl you have chosen to make the tiramisu in. Arrange the sponge fingers so as to cover the entire base of the dish and fill in the gaps with crumbs.
7. Spread half the sugar-coated strawberries over the first layer of sponge fingers.
8. Cover the strawberries with half of the egg, sugar and mascarpone cream.
9. Then repeat steps 6, 7 and 8 again for a second layer of the tiramisu. Make sure that unlike me, you have chose a large enough bowl that you don’t have to worry about the cream overflowing the bowl’s edge.
10. Chill the tiramisu for at least a couple of hours for the flavours to harmonise with each other.
11. To serve, use a knife or a spoon to slice/scoop out a generous helping of tiramisu onto a plate. You can grate chocolate onto the top of the slice/scoop if you’d like.