Tiramisu Trifle

I have never been to Italy. But Italy has come to me. Many, many times. In the form of croissants, pizzas, pasta, risotto, panna cotta...and of course in the form of tiramisu. Now tiramisu, which in Italian means "pick me up", is a dessert which is not just sinfully decadent to eat, but is also ridiculously simple to make. The crux, however, (if you're residing in India, and particularly in Calcutta ie) is procuring its ingredients. That is the real key here.
I first came across tiramisu almost a decade back in a Sanjeev Kapoor show. His version was one of a frozen tiramisu cake. Knowing fully well the general nonavailability of mascarpone in India, he substituted it with vanilla ice cream, and used chocolate sponge cake instead of ladyfingers  or savoiardi (as they are called in Italy). The ice cream had to be beaten till soft, mixed with strong freshly brewed and cooled coffee and had to be layered alternately with coffee-soaked sponges and chilled. Before serving you just had to sprinkle cocoa powder on top. Simple and foolproof. This had been my go-to dessert for so many house parties in the last 10 years. People would lap it up and that would obviously make me super happy.
But then happened my tryst with "real" tiramisu. The mascarpone-ladyfinger parts included. And I realised how different it was from what I had been making all this while in the name of tiramisu. No doubt it still remains one of my favourite desserts, I was determined to try out the authentic version this time. No, this is not the end of story. My tiramisu trifles are still not authentic. I'll tell you why in a bit.
My endless hunts in all the supermarkets and New Market have been futile when it came to acquiring mascarpone. Until last Saturday. I was casually gliding by the cheese aisle at Spencers when suddenly packets of mascarpone caught my attention. My refrigerator is giving me a lot of trouble, so I thought of skipping it at first. But then you don't get mascarpone everyday. And when you do, you just don't walk past it. Period. So I picked a packet up and vowed to up the cool quotient of my a dessert a week challenge with a tiramisu.

Over the next 3 days, I virtually bombarded worldwideweb with searches of tiramisu recipes. I found and in turn memorised almost all...classical tiramisu, eggless, cream-less, with egg whites, with flavoured liqueur, chocolate and raspberry and even orange. I was tempted to make mine with additional flavours of either frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) or amaretto (almond liqueur). But then, I had to make the classical old-school version before I embarked upon enriching it with add-ons. But there was one tiny area (actually a major one) which prevented my tiramisu from being an authentic one. Yes, the availability of ladyfingers. You don't get them in this part. You have similar-looking but horrible-tasting cookies which were not an option. So after a lot of deliberation I settled upon a combination of store-bought marble slice cake and vanilla wafers. And thus began my adventure.

Serves: 8


Vanilla wafers: 2 packets
Marble slice cake, cut into 1-inch pieces: 2 packets
Strong freshly brewed black coffee, cooled: 1 big cup
Dark rum: 3 tbsp
Egg yolks: 4
Caster sugar: 1 cup (adjust according to taste)
Mascarpone cheese: 1 1/2 packets (or 300 gm)
Whipping cream: 300 gm
Vanilla essence: 2tsp
Cocoa powder: 1 tbsp + for dusting

* You will obviously use ladyfingers if you get them instead of the wafers and slice cake.


1. Make a big cup of strong black coffee using good quality instant coffee/espresso powder. Add sugar like you would have in your coffee. Add 2 tbsp of dark rum and let it cool.

2. In a bowl and with the help of a hand blender, whisk the egg yolks till light and pale. Add half the sugar and beat till fluffy and voluminous.

3. Add the mascarpone to the egg yolk mixture and fold in gradually till the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

4. Now in another bowl, take the cream, remaining sugar, 1 tbsp rum and 2 tsp vanilla essence and whip till soft peaks form. In case you're using the same whisks that you used to whip up the yolks, make sure you wash and dry them thoroughly.

5. Fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone mixture gently till just combined.

6. Now divide the mixture into 2 parts. Add 1 tbsp cocoa powder into one half and mix till smooth and combined.

7. For assembly: Pour the cooled coffee in a large-bottomed utensil. Dip the cake slices in the coffee for 2 seconds on each side (do not allow them to become soggy and fall off) and layer your trifle bowl (or round or square cake dish, if you wish to make it in one whole). Spread the cocoa-mascarpone layer on top of the cake layer and level it. Now dip the wafers in the coffee and layer atop the cocoa-mascarpone base. Spread the plain mascarpone mixture on top. Cover with a cling film and refrigerate for at least 8-10 hours. The more the merrier.

8. Dust with unsweetened cocoa powder and serve. Keep second helpings for everyone because you'll need them. :)

I am sending this post to the Beat the Heat event by Kolkata Food Bloggers


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