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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tiramisu (The 5-Minute Non-Recipe Recipe)

One of my readers (Hi E! (Not to be confused with E*) :P ) said she wanted to read about the inspiration behind some of my cooking. Really? You want to read about some of my scatterbrained moments?

Tiramisu 1

This recipe for tiramisu isn't really a recipe but my cousin and a friend both requested it so here you go. It's not a recipe in my usual method anyway. I have this aversion to posting recipes that require anything pre-packaged. That's why I haven't gotten around to making all these lovely Vietnamese dumplings and various banh. Because while you can easily buy a bag of pre-mixed flour for banh beo or banh bao or banh xeo, I grew up with a mom who's always made her own. To me, it'd be akin to giving you a recipe for cake and my recipe would say open a box of Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines mix. While I'm not saying the results wouldn't be as good, there'd just little point for me to direct you toward a box. Blech! You expect better from me, don't you?

But there I was the other night, having dinner with my cousin at Jazz Cat Cafe in Alhambra. (I got Thai spicy hot pot again, of course.) And while waiting for a table, we stopped off next door at Kiki Bakery. We settled on mango and green tea mousse cakes, but I was really eying the tiramisu. Well, over the course of dinner, I started really, really craving tiramisu. And so did my cousin. Then I recalled Tigerfish of Teczcape's version of tiramisu, substituting whipped cream for whipped egg whites. That clinched it, we decided to make tiramisu for dessert, nevermind that we already bought two mini cakes!

Then we get into this roundabout story where it actually took much longer to gather the ingredients than it did to make the dessert. We got into the car and I saw the clock was 9 p.m. Oh no! Trader Joe's was closed and I knew they had both mascarpone cheese and lady fingers. In no rush at this point, we went across the street to Banh Mi & Che Cali Restaurant to buy some Vietnamese coffee black. I guess I could have brewed my own at home, but then we'd have to wait for the water to boil, and then the coffee to brew, and then for it to cool down. And the whole point of this exercise was expediency.

So after we got our coffee, we went to Ralph's since it was closest. Ralph's had neither mascarpone cheese nor lady fingers, although I did buy heavy whipping cream and cocoa. My cousin suggested we stop at Super-A-Foods because she swears that our youngest uncle's wife used to buy lady fingers for her there. Really? Nope. No lady fingers here either, and definitely no mascarpone. So on to Albertson's we went where I definitely located mascarpone. Except, their lady fingers were soft, there was no sugar, and it was $2.49 for only a small package and we'd need to buy two if not three to do the tiramisu. Huh! So I suggested we use Sara Lee poundcake instead. The weird thing was that the 10 oz and the 16 oz packages were both on sale for the same price. Of course we bought the one pound package.

All that running around took an hour and by the time I got home, I noticed that my clock read 9:08 p.m. How can that be?

That's right, my cousin forgot to set her car's clock back for daylight savings time. :P

Anyway, if you don't want to make your own whipped cream, this tiramisu literally takes about 5 minutes to assemble. Chill for about an hour in the fridge before serving, but ideally chill for several hours.

Tiramisu 2
Tiramisu (The 5-Minute Non-Recipe Recipe) 

For a 2-quart-sized bowl, you'll need:
2 cups espresso or Vietnamese coffee black, cooled (If you're brewing your own, follow my method for Vietnamese coffee but omit the condensed milk. You can also prepare Vietnamese coffee in a French press.)
1 16-oz package Sara Lee poundcake
1 to 1 1/2 cups whipped cream (If buying packaged, allow to soften to room temperature before using and decrease sugar to 1/4 cup.)
1/2 cup sugar (1/4 cup sugar if using packaged, since it's already pre-sweetened.)
1 8-oz container mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
cocoa for dusting

Whip cream. A 1 pint container should give you enough whipped cream for this recipe. Or do what I did and buy 1 quart, and turn the remaining whipped cream into butter. Set aside.

Spoon about 3 tblsp of whipped cream into a bowl of the mascarpone cheese and 1/2 cup sugar. If you're using packaged whipped cream, decrease sugar to 1/4 cup, unless you have a really sweet tooth.

Beat the mascarpone, sugar, 3 tblsp of whipped cream, and 1 tsp vanilla extract until softened.

Then with a spatula, gently blend 1 cup of whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture. Taste and add up to another 1/2 cup until it's to your liking.

Now you're ready to start assembling.

Cut the poundcake into 1-inch wide strips.

Using chopsticks, or your fingers, dip the poundcake into the coffee. I like my tiramisu very moist so I make sure all sides of the poundcake are covered. Lay the pieces until the bottom of the bowl is covered.

Add a layer of the mascarpone/whipped cream mixture.

Then dust with cocoa.

Add another layer of the coffee-soaked poundcake.

Then another layer of the mascarpone/whipped cream.

Dust with cocoa powder on top.

Chill in fridge at least an hour to several hours before serving.

My cousin couldn't believe how easy this was. Indeed. That's why it's my non-recipe recipe. :P

How good was it? I served this the following day for dinner and my friends took it all home. All of it. None left for me. :(


Who made my recipe for tiramisu?
Sis of Rain Down on Me substituted with cream cheese and instant coffee and said, "...all the substitutions were fine, and I can say that if real tiramisu is better than this (and I'm sure it is), I just might kill myself on it, HAHA."
The Diary of a Phat Baker said, "This is by far the easiest tiramisu recipe ever!!!!! No baking involved. No eggs needed. Just whip, mix, dip and assemble."
Politicook said, "It's really easy and really, really good."

Who else made tiramisu?
Tigerfish of Teczcape gave me the eggless idea.
Jeannie of The World is My Oyster made it the old-fashioned way by beating raw egg whites.


  1. Heehee...I don't think I substituted whipped cream for egg whites. I purposely omitted egg whites so that the shelf life of my tiramisu is extended (secret: I have not immediate use for the egg yolks...hahah).

    Tiramisu is the best cake I can "bake"...errr...as if baking was involved.

    I like your idea of the sponge cake. You know, I had trouble looking for lady fingers too the last time. TJs at my area used to carry it but then it stopped. I got my mascapone from TJs , but for lady fingers...I searched many places. And I found them in P&W and Whole Foods.

  2. hehe.. i'm even more lazy! I just used sponge fingers and mascarpone cheese with coffee and rum of course. I also layered some strawberries.

    Like tigerfish, I love the way u used pound cake! And the whipped cream.. gosh, i can just imagine this tiramisu to be light and lovely.

  3. I love the idea of using Vietnamese coffee for tiramisu, nice touch! And no worries about pre-packaged items, if you wrote about making cup-o-noodles I would read it;)

  4. Hey! Didn't I tell you I was going to attempt this recipe with the Vietnamese coffee you gave me? I still haven't gotten around to it, but now that there's a recipe I'm gonna have to. Maybe after I get back from France I'll do it :)

  5. thanks for the tip. I have long wanted to make tiramisu but either i feel like its going to be a big production or just gotten around to doing it but you made it seem so easy. Going to give it a try.

  6. Ooo, I received a mention! That's so exciting. I like that your inspiration for making this dish is that you just really, really had a craving for it and didn't want to wait to get the "proper" ingredients. I actually don't really like tiramisu (gasp!) but I do like pound cake so I might have to try this out. The Vietnamese coffee twist sounds great. That was a great story, thanks!

    By the way, some of your posts show up on my feed but not when I click over to the blog. I don't know if that's a problem with just my feed or not.

    E. (the one who is in snowy Chicago and who totally misses California right now)

  7. I don't mind "assembly" recipes as long as the result tastes good - that is the point, is it not? :-)
    Thanks! I think I shall give this a try.

  8. I made it before! I think you can look in my Feb archives for the recipe. Yours seems much, much simpler though. I'm planning on making it next week for a potluck so I may incorporate parts of your recipe since I won't be near a Claros!

  9. Tigerfishy,
    Yah, it's true, whipped cream lasts longer, but also less squeamish than eating raw egg whites. :P I usually just beat the extra egg yolks with eggs and scramble them.

    I was so pleased it turned out well. Not every last-minute adjustment does that!

    Ha! I'd need to check but I was pretty sure you liked my cup o noodles post. :P

    Oh, yeah, you did. Except go with a French press, it'd take you forever to make enough coffee to dunk the poundcake using the tiny VNese coffee filter. ;)

    Oh do! This was actually my first attempt. I always thought it'd be difficult as well.

    Glad you're so excited to get mentioned. :) Are the other items on your feed from October? I've been catching up on those posts too so you'll have to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see them. I'm kinda updating from both ends until I catch up again.

    Ha! Thanks! But I don't want too many "assembly" recipes or else I'd turn into Sandra Lee! Semi-homemade indeed!

    I remember you mentioning that on my Claro's post a while back. Found it and linked yours. I "hooked you up." ;)

  10. I think it's Tiramisu Season. I am this yesterday ... I combined a few recipes ... adjusting to what I have at home.

    Came out great. Will try your version with Vietnamese Coffee next time ... I like strong coffee!!!

  11. Tricia,
    I'm sure yours came out really nice! This was just my ridiculously simplified version.

  12. OH man, now you gone to meddlin'! I need a fast tiramasu like I needed that 5 minute chocolate cake in a coffee cup recipe that floats around on the Internet email cycles!! ;-) We have so many wonderful places that make it locally so I can just run down to Bagatelle or N&J's or wherever - Wichita has a lot of Lebanese population as well as Vietnamese and Chinese... just sort of a miniature Southern Cali, what can I say?? (but no beaches though, rats!).

  13. Ms. Dr Pepper,
    Haha. Some people just don't have time to make everything from scratch. This'll do in a jiffy.


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