Tiramisu, Revised

20 Oct

Tiramisu purists may be unwilling to try this, but I have to admit that the moment I saw Ina Garten making it on Barefoot Contessa, I had to make it. I didn’t realize how easy tiramisu is to whip up, and the fact that I had a huge bottle of rum lying around was reason enough for me to try. And, friend of mine came back from a vacation in St. Thomas, and had decided to throw a party to serve the several bottles of duty-free rum they bought. So I figured this Rum Raisin Tiramisu was just the right dessert to help celebrate the theme.

Now as much as I like baking, I like making desserts that don’t require an oven and can be made in about 30 minutes the night before a party. I think the only caveat to this recipe is that Ina goes the extra mile and uses the seeds of a vanilla bean. I had never used vanilla beans before (only vanilla extract), so I didn’t realize how expensive and hard-to-find they are. My sister ended up tracking some down at Dean and Deluca, in tiny bottles of two beans for ten dollars. TEN DOLLARS! (I found out later that vanilla seed pods are highly priced because of the high amount of labor that go into cultivating them). So if you’re going to make this, make sure you’re in the mood to spend a little money on it. However, one tiramisu can easily feed 8-10 people, or more if you’re giving small slices.

So this probably was the most expensive dessert I ever made. And I made two, thinking that a party of about 15 would eat up two platters of tiramisu that the recipe says yields 8. But when dessert time had come around, most of the group was already full from the potluck dinner we ate along with the rum we drank.  So there ended up being one and a half tiramisus left, one of which I ended up taking home. And for about a week, I happily ate away at my own high-priced dessert. It was rich, creamy, strong with vanilla flavor and gave me a very slight buzz after each slice. Needless to say, I slept very well that week.

Ina Garten’s Rum Raisin Tiramisu

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups raisins (Ina’s recipe calls for just ¾ cup but I went raisin-crazy and used ¾ cups for each layer)
  • 3/4 cup Mount Gay dark rum, divided, plus 2 tablespoons (I just had whatever rum was lying around, which happened to be Malibu. Ina calls for 1 cup of rum but many commenters complained that the cream tasted too alcoholic, so I decreased the amount a bit).
  • 6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 16 to 18 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, divided (2 oranges)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 24 to 30 Italian ladyfingers, or savoiardi
  • Semisweet chocolate, shaved

Directions

Place the raisins and 2 tablespoons of rum in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Uncover and set aside to cool.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a hand mixer works just fine here as well) on high speed for 5 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Lower the speed to low and mix in the mascarpone until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add 1/4 cup of rum, 1/4 cup of orange juice, the vanilla extract, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. Stir until combined. (If you’re a novice like me and have never watched a vanilla bean seed being scraped, just slice it down the middle with a sharp knife and use the tip of your knife to scrape the seeds right into the bowl).

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of rum and remaining 1/2 cup of orange juice in a shallow bowl. Dip one side of each ladyfinger quickly in the rum mixture and place them in one layer in a 9 by 11 by 2-inch rectangular or oval dish (since I had to transport these, I just used the large rectangular Gladware). Break the ladyfingers in smaller pieces and dip them in the rum mixture to fill the spaces. Sprinkle half the rum-soaked raisins evenly on top. Pour half the mascarpone mixture over and spread evenly. Repeat the layers of dipped ladyfingers, rum-soaked raisins, and mascarpone mixture. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle the top with the shaved chocolate and serve cold.

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