Alternative Tiramisù Recipe [Mmmuaaah]

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Tiramisù is one of my favorite gifts to give anyone.

That's right. I love gifting cakes to loved ones.

I know, I know, I am that amazing. #butofcourse

Birthdays? Christmas? Diwali? Your neighbor's aunt's best friend got a puppy? Have some Tiramisù!

Tiramisù literally means "pull me up" in Italian. Coz it's gots lots of coffee, and of course, aalkahaal! [BUAHUAHAHAHA]

Tiramisù uses a base of chocolate pound cake, that's been soaked in a shot or two of espresso and liquor (maybe coffee liqueur #pundiscovered), traditionally Marsala wine. These drenched-in-coffee-goodness pieces of cake are then layered with rich layers of mascarpone cheese that's been whipped with some cream, sugar, and vanilla. All of this is chilled and then dusted with some cocoa and sugar on the top.

Sounds easy? Good. Break!

But wait, what if we are not in Italy or in places where Marsala wine or mascarpone cheese is available. What shall we do? <insert thinking emoji> We substitute! Yay! And improvise! Yay! And rule the world! #GotCarriedAway

Instead of Marsala wine, I prefer using a mix of brandy and red wine (preferably a sweet, light rosé). And to substitute for mascarpone cheese, I use cream cheese or hung curd or strained yogurt, some heavy milk cream suffused with dark brandy.

Remember how I'd mentioned that brandy seems to do some magic with milk? For some reason, quite a few high-end places serve what looks like a 'trifle' version of this dessert and that's always baffled me because a free-standing Tiramisù cake is just gorgeous to look at, and doesn't seem messily constructed in a trifle dish.

My usual recipe calls for good ol' traditional chocolate pound cake but since I had about 3 pounds of my eggless moist chocolate cake just chillin' to be dressed up, I decided to use that for the pictures. It's not exactly ideal for Tiramisù since it's moist and buttery to begin with while a traditional pound cake has a dry crumbly feel to it that's just aching to be dipped in some brandy and wine.

To keep it simple, I've skipped the chocolate pound cake recipe. Let me know if you want me to put up a post for it though. So here's your pick-me-up for...ever!

(Substitutes for Marsala Wine and Mascarpone Cheese)

  • 2 lbs of Chocolate Pound Cake
The Soaking (Includes substitute for Marsala Wine)
  • 50ml of strong Espresso 
  • 2 tablespoons or about 10ml of Brandy
  • 4 tablespoons or about 20ml of Rosé Wine
  • 1 tablespoon of Sugar
The Layering (Includes substitute for Mascarpone Cheese)
  • 120 g of Cream Cheese or 400g of Yogurt 
  • 2 tablespoons of Heavy Milk Cream
  • 50g of White Caster Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons of Brandy
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
The Dusting
  • 1 tablespoon of Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tablespoon of Icing Sugar 

1. Slice your chocolate pound cake into two layers. It's best if it's cooled for at least an hour in the refrigerator so it's a little dry.

2. Prepare your espresso and while it's still warm, add in your granulated sugar, stir and keep aside to cool. You can even pop it into the fridge if you want.

3. While it's cooling, add 120 grams or 1/2 cup of Cream Cheese, that's at room temperature, into a large bowl. If you're using yogurt instead, here's what you need to do. Place a large bowl under a strainer, pour about 400g or a tub of yogurt into the strainer (I usually layer it with cheesecloth to really get the straining process going). Now, leave it to strain for about 30 minutes or longer. Honestly, you can leave it overnight like that. You should have about 120 grams of strained yogurt by the end of this process.

4. Add a little heavy milk cream to the cream cheese/yogurt bowl and whip it all together on high until they look like fluffy white clouds.

5. Add white caster sugar and continue whipping on the slow setting. You could even switch to a wooden spoon at this point.

6. Fold in some brandy and vanilla extract. Place it in the fridge for about an hour.

7. Now, let's put it all together.

8. In the espresso, add your brandy and wine.

9. Place the first layer of cake on a plate and using a ladle, take the coffee mixture and drip it onto the cake in slow circles, until about half of it's done. It's easy to over-soak so watch out that it's doesn't start flowing onto the plate and remains absorbed into the cake.

10. Add a generous helping of your cream cheese mixture and spread a thick layer of it. I sometimes dust some instant coffee here - just for fun.

11. Carefully place the second layer of chocolate pound cake.

12. Use a toothpicks to poke a few holes on the top layer and that's goes all the way to the bottom layer.

13. With the ladle again, pour in the rest of the coffee mixture and again, watch for drips. Now, set in the freezer for about an hour to chill.

14. Pull it out from the freezer and use the rest of the filling to apply a thick coating of it all around the cake.

15. Using a tea strainer, dust some cocoa powder and sugar at the top. And, you're done!

16. Yenjai!

Ray, out! Peace!