I’ve always felt that the problem with tiramisu is that it contains lady fingers, those weightless batons of dried sponge cake that hold little flavor and even less appeal. Is it any wonder that you have to submerge them in a sea of pastry cream and mascarpone to make them palatable? Savoiardi, the Italian version of lady fingers, are larger and softer in texture and certainly a step up as the sponge for this indulgent spoon dessert.
But better still is Pandoro, the tall, buttery, star-shaped cake that appears like magic in the weeks before Christmas and *poof* vanishes after January 6. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you know I am always looking for ways to showcase Pandoro during the holidays, like this and this.
Pandoro’s airy texture is perfect for soaking up the liquor-spiked espresso and the pastry cream-mascarpone mixture in tiramisu. It used to be a challenge to find Pandoro outside of Italian specialty stores or gourmet shops, but every year I see more and more festive displays of the pretty, tall boxes with their fancy labels, stacked one atop another in pyramids. Do yourself a favor: grab one and make this Pandoro tiramisu for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.
Wishing you all a delicious holiday and a healthy and prosperous 2014. Let’s keep sharing our love of la cucina Italiana in the New Year. Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo!
Tiramisu made with Pandoro is even better than the original lady finger version. Make this one day before you plan to serve it, to give the cake time to soften in the pastry cream-mascarpone mixture. The first time I made this I used a Pandoro that was studded with bits of bittersweet chocolate. I couldn't find the same kind this year so I just chopped up some good bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled it in the tiramisu.
(Copyright 2013 Domenica Cooks.)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
- 1 pound mascarpone (two 8-ounce containers)
- About 1/2 Pandoro cake
- About 1/2 cup freshly brewed strong espresso
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or brandy
- About 1/4 cup finely chopped or shaved bittersweet chocolate
- Cocoa for dusting
Make the pastry cream: Place the milk in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Split open the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk. Toss in the pod and heat the milk just until it begins to boil. Remove from the heat, and remove and discard the vanilla bean.
Combine the egg yolks and 2/3 cup sugar in a bowl and whisk together until pale yellow. Whisk in the flour. Dribble a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking as you go to prevent the eggs from cooking. Continue to slowly whisk milk into the eggs until you have added about half the milk. Slowly pour this mixture back into the remaining hot milk, stirring as you pour. Return the pot to medium heat and cook, stirring continuously with a whisk or spatula, until it has thickened and is just about to boil. Immediately turn the heat to low and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously to avoid scorching.
Remove the pastry cream from the heat and pour it into a bowl. Cover the top with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap right onto the surface of the cream. Let the pastry cream come to room temperature and then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Whip 1 cup heavy cream with 8 ounces mascarpone and 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff. Gently fold the whipped cream and mascarpone into the chilled pastry cream. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the tiramisu: Cut the Pandoro into 3/4-inch-thick slices (either lengthwise or crosswise). Arrange some of the slices in the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish (I use a lasagne dish). Press the slices together so that they fit snugly in one layer. (You can tear the slices and fill gaps with small pieces of cake.)
Mix together the espresso and Grand Marnier. Using a pastry brush, brush half the espresso mixture over the Pandoro slices in the baking dish. Sprinkle half the chopped bittersweet chocolate on top. Spread half the pastry cream-mascarpone mixture evenly over the Pandoro slices. Arrange a second layer of Pandoro slices over the pastry cream mixture and brush with the remaining spiked espresso. Sprinkle the remaining chopped chocolate over the slices and spread the rest of the pastry cream mixture evenly over the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Whip the remaining 1 cup heavy cream, 8 ounces mascarpone and 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff. Spread the whipped cream-mascarpone mixture over the top of the tiramisu. Dust liberally with cocoa powder. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight. Serve chilled.