Berry Chocolate Tiramisù
In preparation from our two-month stay, my mother stocked up on mascarpone. And by stocked up, I mean she purchased all the mascarpone this side of the Atlantic. To her credit, the packages promise that the cheese won’t go bad until late next year; and, mascarpone is simple and versatile – you can use it in pastas or sweets. But how we’ll possibly go through like 12 pounds of the stuff is beyond me. (Well, maybe not completely beyond me…see here, here and here.)
The other day, in an effort to make a dent in the mascarpone supply, we decided to make a tiramisù. Thing is – and don’t hold this against me – I’m not a huge fan of traditional tiramisù. I find the mascarpone-raw egg yolk mixture too heavy and sloppy, and the rest of it, the coffee and sugar, too sweet and musty. I’d always dreamed of a version with some life in it, with something fresh and sharp to cut through the cream, and a bit of crunch to cut through the goop. And so a berry chocolate tiramisù was born.
I realize that I’m not the first to dream this up. It’s been done, I got that. But I didn’t get how easy and delicious it would be. Rather than bothering with all those egg yolks, I just mixed some heavy cream and sugar in the mascarpone. Berries cooked down in a little orange juice substituted the coffee to soak the lady fingers with and big chunks of dark chocolate added the crunch I craved.
I served it for a dinner party the day I made it, and, though it would have benefited from an overnight in the fridge, no one complained. Even Francesco, who called it a “trifle” because it was too far from his beloved classic tiramisù, gobbled it down and kept checking the fridge for one last piece someone may have hidden in the back. Alas, no luck. We’ll just have to make it again.
BERRY CHOCOLATE TIRAMISÙ
This is best made the day before serving. Serves 12 – 14.
1 bag frozen mixed berries (about 2 cups, or substitute with fresh)
juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)
1 16-oz. tub mascarpone
3/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pints of blueberries or raspberries or blackberries or a mix
about 1/2 package ladyfingers (savoiardi biscuits)
dark chocolate, in small chunks or shards
To begin, put the orange juice and frozen berries in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the berries have mostly lost their shape and the sauce forming begins to thicken. Taste the berries and, if needed, add a bit of sugar or liquor (anything fruity) to taste.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the mascarpone, heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla with electric beater for a few minutes.
Once the mascarpone mixture and the berries are ready, prepare your dessert: in a rectangular serving dish with high sides, arrange a layer of ladyfingers, breaking them to fit the dish if necessary. Spoon about 1/2 of the cooked berry mixture on top, spreading evenly. Evenly sprinkle half of the chocolate chunks, then half of the mascarpone mixture on top. Repeat, arranging another layer of ladyfingers, then pouring the remaining cooked berries on top,* then most of the remaining chocolate, then all of the mascarpone. Finish by arranging the fresh berries on top and sprinkling whatever chocolate you have left.
Refrigerate for at least 6 hours; remove from the fridge about 1 hour before serving in small square slices.
*You want to make sure the ladyfingers are doused in enough liquid, otherwise they will be dry (as mine was). If the berries didn’t give off enough or you cooked it down too much, you can add a few sprinkles of orange juice or liquor, or just cook more berries.