Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tiramisu for 4th of July

As holidays go, in book, nothing beats the 4th of July.  Think about it, it is the middle of the summer holiday which is celebrated by all citizens, regardless of their religious or philosophical affiliation.  Unlike Thanksgiving, there are no family obligations and unlike Memorial and Labor days there are no exams or back-to-school worries for the kids and parent s alike.  It is the freedom holiday, freedom from school year, freedom from the cold weather and the only regret I usually have around 4th of July is the fact that adults don’t have summer breaks.    As long as it doesn’t rain….
Of course 4th of July is as much about food as it is about freedom, fireworks and beach weather.  The ultimate BBQ, pot luck feast that is probably going on in most backyards right about now.  Unless you live in a tri-state area and your party just got re-scheduled for tomorrow because it is raining “cats and dogs” over here. 
Next time you decide what to contribute to a 4th of July feast (or any other day for that matter), I strongly suggest making a tiramisu.  It is delicious and luscious desert, it can be made to feed as many people as needed and it doesn’t need to be backed, which is ultimately everyone’s goal in the middle of the summer.  I give a classic tiramisu flavor a few twists of my own by playing with the liquor flavors and adding a layer of sour cherries which are in peak season right now.  I soak the pitted cherries in rum overnight and use their natural juice and rum jus to flavor the coffee, cognac soaking liquid.
And of course if you are feeling particularly patriotic this holiday, go ahead and decorate the whole thing as an American flag...after all we do live in a great country, let’s not forget that!

Tiramisu (makes 9” by 13” dish)
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar + 1 tbs
16 oz of mascarpone cheese at room temperature
2/3 cup of heavy cream
½ cup of cognac
¼ cup dark run
¼ cup Kahlua
1 cup strong coffee or espresso
4 packages lady fingers (you will need about 50 in all)
1 – 1 ½ lbs of sour cherries pitted
1 oz of bitter sweet chocolate ( very cold or frozen)
Raspberries and blueberries for decoration ( optional)

Make the Zabayon cream by combining egg yolks, sugar and 1 tbs of cognac in the heat proof bowl.  Whip over boiling water (make sure the surface of the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl – or your eggs will scramble) until pale yellow and thick and ribbons appear. 

Whisk in the softened mascarpone cheese.  Whip the heavy cream until thick, add 1 tbs of sugar and whip to combine.  Fold into the zabayon until you have a thick pale yellow smooth cream.

Combine the liquid from the soaked cherries with the leftover cognac and coffee. Soak each lady finger in the coffee mixture for a few seconds and layer the bottom of the 9” by 13” glass dish. 

Top with the layer of cherries and then a layer of cream.  Shave some of the chocolate on top of the cream.  Repeat with another layer of soaked lady fingers and cream.  I usually do not add the cherries to the second layer as I find that to much fruit begins to overpower the subtle coffee and cognac flavor.  Smooth the cream on top with a spatula. 

Shave some of the chocolate on top and refrigerate overnight.  Tiramisu needs at least 6 hours to fully soak thru and for all the flavors to mingle together.  It is best the next day but can be made a few days in advance as well.  If needed it can be frozen and then defrosted in the fridge.

So go ahead, enjoy the beautiful desert, BBQ and summer fun and don’t forget to appreciate the freedoms and opportunities that this beautiful country has to offer!

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