Monday, December 10, 2007

My first tiramisù

Ever since my Italian friend Ezio demonstrated his skills in this domain, in his tavern in the nearby village of Presles [website], I've been tempted to see if I could prepare a tiramisù cake. Well, the truth of the matter is that it's not too difficult, particularly since you can now find several excellent books on this art, written for dummies like me. The most amusing aspect of preparing this celebrated cake, invented in the Veneto province of Italy, is that you don't even have to do any cooking. You simply mix together the ingredients and, presto, you've got your cake, ready to be cooled in the refrigerator and eaten a couple of hours later. OK, you need a magic Italian cream-cheese ingredient named mascarpone, which you can find it in French supermarkets.

When I started to browse through the recipes, I quickly realized that tiramisù belongs to the category of preparations that don't really necessitate precise recipes. You merely have to understand the basic principle, which is most simple: Beat up egg yokes and sugar, then add the cream cheese. Beat up egg whites, and add them to the first mixture. Ladle the mixture over a bed of light biscuits called boudoirs in French. [They're known in English, I seem to recall, as lady fingers.] Before being laid in the dish, each biscuit is bathed rapidly in strong black café with a touch of Marsala wine. Sprinkle cocoa over the surface of the resulting "cake", and cool for a few hours in the refrigerator. For observers who aren't familiar with the secret art of tiramisù preparation (like me, up until yesterday), this delicacy is both tasty and mysterious.

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