Tiramisu, meaning "pick me up" is a cafe-flavored Italian dessert. It is made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese and flavored with cocoa powder. Its origins are often disputed among Italian regions Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Tiramisu can be made with or without alcohol. If so, the most commonly used spirits are Marsala, Madeira wine, Rum, Amaretto or coffee-flavored liquors such as Tia Maria and Kahlúa.
Make cake a day ahead.
Use leftover sponge and filling for extra serving cups.
*The crust could be replaced by using the chablonage technique. Chablonnage is a French pâtisserie term which means sealing the inside of a pastry tart case or bottom cake with a thin coating of melted dark chocolate mixed with 10% oil. If you choose this option, the melted coating must be applied on a frozen cake (flip and quickly spread a thin layer to seal the bottom sponge).
Roll out pastry into a 3 mm thick sheet, prick with a fork and freeze for 30 mins or so. Cut pastry using the cake ring you'll be using to build the cake. Re-roll pastry to readjust its thickness, re-trim and freeze until ready to use. Sandwich pastry disk between 2 baking mat and tray and bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 350ºF/180ºC. Remove top tray and let cool. Keep at room temp for up to 48 hours.
Grease and flour a ≈9-inch/23 cm diameter baking pan. Draw two 16X3-inch/40X7.5 cm rectangle on a large parchment paper and flip. Lightly oil baking tray and parchment and stick it to the tray. Sift flour with baking powder and set aside. In the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites with cream of tartar and one-third of the sugar on medium speed. Always allow egg whites to incorporate as much air as possible before turning into meringue. Meanwhile, turn oven on and increase mixer speed to high. Turn oven on to 375ºF/190ºC. Lower oven temperature to 350ºF/180ºC if using a convection oven. Continue beating until stiff peaks adding remaining sugar gradually. Lower mixer speed and add egg yolks and vanilla. As soon as they are incorporated, stop mixer and fold in the sifted flour with a spider skimmer. This way, the starch incorporates faster preventing from deflating the mixture too much. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pastry bag fitted with a large plain pastry tip #808. Pipe two rows of eleven, 3-inch/7.5 cm length "fingers", and an inch/2.5 cm apart. Fill remaining batter into the prepared round pan.
Dust ladyfingers with powdered sugar twice and bake immediately for about 18 mins (one tray at the time).
*In some recipes such as Opéra Cake in which sponge is heavily moisturized, the addition of gelatin in punch/syrup prevents from oozing out. Soak gelatin in cold water to soften and drain well. Make a few strong espressos, stir in soften gelatin and add alcohol; set aside. Use punch at room temp or just lukewarm.
*This tiramisu recipe can be used to fill a medium-large shallow dish or serving cups. In this case, the addition of gelatin remains optional.
Soak gelatin in cold water to soften and drain well. Meanwhile, in the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat mascarpone and heavy cream on low speed. Once homogenized, increase mixer speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Do not over mix, it should remain supple. Transfer mascarpone mixture to a large pastry bowl; set aside.
For the pâte à bombe (sabayon): clean mixing bowl and throw yolks and the egg in and beat for 30 seconds or so. For the cooked sugar, in a small saucepan combine water and sugar. Put the lid on and turn on the heat – bring to a boil, remove the lid and continue to cook until the sugar thermometer reads 245ºF/118ºC. To stop the syrup cooking process, quickly immerse bottom pan in cool water. Pour hot syrup in thin stream into the eggs; beating swiftly. Then, beat on full blast for 8 mins until fluffy and at room temperature. Microwave the soften gelatin for ≈10 sec until melted and incorporate it immediately in the pate a bombe – beat for a few more seconds.
Fold room temp pate a bombe into the mascarpone mixture.
Line a charlotte or cake ring which should measure approximately 8-inch/20 cm ø x 3-inch/7.5 cm tall with acetate cake collar or parchment paper. Place charlotte ring onto a flat tray or cake board and position the chocolate crust inside. Ladle out about a cup of the mascarpone filling; just enough to seal the first sponge (use the thickest one). Moisturize sponge heavily with coffee punch and make the first and thick mascarpone filling layer. Top with the second ladyfinger sponge and cover with the remaining mascarpone filling. Even out using a small offset spatula. Freeze cake for 3 hours and place in the refrigerator overnight to rest. Remove cake ring and the acetate. Dust with cocoa powder and refrigerate cake.
Meanwhile, readjust the height of the ladyfingers according to the height of the cake. Lightly moisturize each with the remaining coffee punch and arrange them all around the cake. Top tiramisu with milk chocolate shavings.
To make a chocolate block, temper chocolate first. Melt 1.5lb./600g milk chocolat over a bain-marie to 113ºF/45ºC. Cool down to 78ºF/26ºC and quickly rewarm to 85ºF/29/30ºC. Line a small tray with a plastic sheet from a freezer bag. Pour tempered chocolate, tap tray over the counter to remove excess air bubbles and let set completely. To create perfect chocolate shavings, use block at room temperature – make chocolate shavings using the tip of a chef knife blade. For better handling, refrigerate chocolate shavings prior to use.
Tiramisu charlotte can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for a couple of months. To extend its shelf-life, cut cake in 4 and freeze for 12 hours, and vacuum-seal.