Make Ahead

Pick-me-ups (Tiramisu bites)

April 28, 2021
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Photo by theItalianbkr
Author Notes

Tiramisu is probably the most known Italian dessert and one of my favourite ones. A billion versions and interpretations of it have been tried, made and shared since it became popular. So, one day I decided I had to make my own to contribute to the tiramisu community, and it became some sort of mission to accomplish.

The initial idea came up while I was perfecting my ladyfinger recipe for my version of traditional tiramisu. While I was piping the classic long lady-finger shape on the tray, an idea came to my mind: “I’m gonna make them round like macaroons!”. Ok, not that exciting, but wait to for the rest of the story.

I ended up with roughly 30 round, light and spongy ladyfinger ‘biscuits’ and then I started thinking ok, what to do with them? How to use them in an unusual tiramisu recipe? And then boom, ‘pick-me-ups’, of course. Not everyone knows that the Italian word tiramisu actually means ‘pick-me-up’ or, metaphorically, ‘make me happy’. That’s the feeling you get when you eat a slice of it. However, a slice of tiramisu is soft and creamy, so you cannot really ‘pick it up’ without making a mess. The more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of making something that would carry the traditional flavours, but that you could also literally ‘pick up’ with your hands and eat in one single – and utterly delicious – bite.

Ok, idea, got it. How to make it, slightly more complicated.

Lady-rounded-fingers (or whatever we may call them), not a problem. Coffee syrup, not a problem. Filling…that’s an issue. I’ll be totally honest with you, it took me at least 5 attempts before I surrendered to adding double cream to the mixture (baaaaaaaaa, that is not classic tiramisu mascarpone cream) and a bit of gelatine too. At first, I was utterly frustrated, but then I thought well, this is not the classic tiramisu recipe, so you’re going to be fine. I also tasted one ‘pick me up’ (ok, maybe more than one) and it was just so good that that helped relieve any frustration too. This is what they are made for, to pick. you. up.

Mission, accomplished.

Note: this “zhuzhed up” version of the classic tiramisu is a bit more challenging to make than the homemade classic, but I guarantee you that you will end up with some amazing tiramisu bites, which you will literally enjoy in one mouthful. In addition you will also have the chance to challenge yourself with some classic techniques, such as making a French meringue and a “pate á bombe” mixture. —theItalianbkr

  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • makes 12 to 16 bites
Ingredients
  • FOR THE LADYFINGERS AND COFFEE SYRUP
  • 100 grams plain flour
  • 60 grams potato starch
  • 100 grams egg yolk
  • 70 grams caster sugar (1)
  • 150 grams egg white
  • 65 grams caster sugar (2)
  • 30 grams icing sugar (for dusting)
  • 100 milliliters strong coffee (ideally espresso or percolated)
  • 60 grams caster sugar (3)
  • 10 milliliters Marsala wine or vinsanto
  • FOR THE MASCARPONE CREAM AND FINISHING
  • 250 grams best mascarpone you can find
  • 2 medium sized egg yolks
  • 120 grams caster sugar
  • 30 milliliters water
  • 150 grams double cream
  • 3 grams powder gelatine
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. MAKE THE ROUND SHAPED LADYFINGERS (can be done up to 3 days ahead) - Pre-heat the oven at 200° C. Combine the plain flour and potato starch and sift them through a fine sieve twice (this helps to incorporate more air in the flour and will make your sponge lighter) and set aside. Take a large baking parchment sheet and, with a pencil, draw as many 3cm diameter circles as you can fit (keep at least 1cm distance between them). Flip the baking parchment and line a large baking tray with it.
  2. Combine the egg yolks and sugar (1) in a large bowl and whisk with an electric whisk or stand mixer, starting on low and increasing to high, until the mix has quadrupled in size and looks very airy and stiff. If you pick-it up with a spatula it should drop down in blobs. Set aside in the fridge.
  3. Clean all your whisk and wipe it with some lemon juice or white vinegar to remove any trace of fat. Make a French meringue with the egg whites and sugar (2). Pour the egg whites into a clean bowl (or stand mixer) and start whisking on low until some light foam forms. Raise the speed to medium-low and start adding the sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, waiting for about 30 seconds before each addition. Once all the sugar has been added, raise the speed to medium/high and whisk for a few minutes until stiff peaks form
  4. Slowly fold in one third of the meringue into the yolk mixture, folding gently to preserve all the air in the mixture until almost fully incorporated. Add one third of the flour mixture and keep folding gently. Repeat until everything has come together in an airy, smooth and fairly stable mixture. Transfer to a large piping bag.
  5. To achieve at least 36 round ladyfingers you might need to bake multiple batches. Pipe little domes over the prepared parchment paper, staying into the drawn circles. If the mix is done right, they should hold their shape. Dust with icing sugar. Wait a couple of minutes and dust once again. Bake in the oven for 12 to 13 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar (use a wooden spoon or a little foil ball to keep it open). You should achieve a pale gold colour. Take out of the oven and let cool completely before removing from the parchment. Once cooled, they will keep in an airtight container for a few days.
  6. MAKE THE COFFEE SYRUP - Make the coffee, add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved, then add the Marsala wine and stir again. Leave to cool completely before using.
  7. MAKE THE MASCARPONE CREAM - Put the mascarpone into a large bowl (making sure to discard the liquid) and cream it with a spatula until it is soft. Leave out to come to room temperature. Set aside. Prepare a “pate á bombe” mixture. You will need a food thermometer for this. Pour the egg yolks in a bowl, ready to be whisked. In a small pan, pour the water and sugar and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Do not stir to prevent the sugar to crystallize. When the mixture boils, start checking the temperature. When the syrup hits 110° C, start whisking the egg yolks until light and foamy. In the meanwhile, keep checking the syrup. When it hits 121° C, slow the whisk speed to low and slowly pour the syrup in the egg yolks. When all the syrup is poured, speed up the whisk to high again and keep whisking for a few minutes until the mix has completely cooled down. Cover with cling film (make sure it touches the surface) and set aside in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  8. In a medium bowl, whip the double until cream to soft peaks. The cream should still be shiny. Keep in the fridge for a few minutes. In the meanwhile, put the water into a small bowl and sprinkle the powder gelatine on top. Set aside to rehydrate for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Next, finish the cream. Fold the “pate á bombe” mixture into the mascarpone little by little to avoid lumps and to retain as much air as possible. Once it’s all incorporated, gently fold in the whipped cream. Take the cup with the bloomed gelatine and place it over a bowl of hot water until the gelatine has liquified. Take 3 tablespoons of mascarpone cream and mix it quickly with the liquified gelatine, then pour everything back again in the cream and mix until incorporated. Cover with cling film (once again make sure it touches the surface of the cream) and refrigerate for at least two hours or until ready to use.
  10. TO ASSEMBLE - Take 12 ladyfingers and slice off the tops, to make them flat on both sides. Transfer the mascarpone cream to a piping bag and cut a 1cm opening at the top. Take another twelve ladyfingers, pipe a kiss of mascarpone cream over each of them. Take the flattened ladyfingers with the snipped top, soak each of them for 3 seconds in the coffee syrup, drain of any excess and place on top of the cream kisses, pressing down gently. Pipe another kiss of cream over each soaked ladyfinger, and top each of them with a third ladyfinger, pressing down gently. Dust with cocoa powder to finish.

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