The past few weeks have been filled with a birth, a death, a job offer, a subsequent resignation from a six-year long job, and now packing for a move. To say I have felt overwhelmed would be an understatement. I am not one who handles change very well as it always seems to sneak up on me, violently arriving, slapping me around. I wouldn't say I'm resistant to change, but that I like to be able to anticipate it, be prepared for it - even if that preparation is merely mental. It doesn't really make any sense, but having the time to think about what's coming tricks me into believing I am then, as a result of pondering, ready and able. There are few things that console me when I'm freaking out, but routine is one of them. So how can I get a sense of routine when my whole world is blurring past at a frantic pace? I can bake.
I recently got a copy of Nigella Lawson's Kitchen, but up until yesterday, hadn't even opened it's pages. This is not like me. So flicking through it yesterday in an attempt to console myself, I found a recipe that was absolutely perfect for mood, my busy schedule, and my small amount of kitchen supplies that haven't found it's way to a taped-up box. Tiramisu. A booooozy tiramisu.
This recipe really is a breeze, barely involving any effort at all. Aside from the six hour rest period, it took me about ten minutes to make. This, in combination with my usual skepticism about tiramisu, I wasn't so certain the result would be anything but ordinary - but I was pleasantly surprised. The espresso flavour (though made slightly weaker than suggested due to a low supply of coffee!) is made even more rich by a whole cup of Frangelico. So if you do have this liqueur sitting in a cabinet, like I did, it's a great way to use it up quite quickly.
Ingredients (serves 12, or fills a 24cm square dish)
Recipe from Nigella Lawson's 'Kitchen'
250 mls espresso coffee (or 8 tsp of good quality espresso powder dissolved in 250 mls boiling water)
250 mls Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
30 (about about 375 gms) savoiardi biscuits (approximately)
2 eggs, separated
75 gms caster sugar
500 gms mascarpone
60 mls Frangelico (extra)
100 gms chopped roasted and skinned hazelnuts
3 tsp cocoa powder
Combine the coffee and 250 mls Frangelico in a jug, stir to combine and allow to cool slightly.
Beat the egg whites until frothy. In a separate bowl, beat the yolks, sugar and extra 60 mls Frangelico until sugar dissolves. Add the mascarpone, beating well to combine. Then, fold the egg whites into mascarpone mixture, mixing until well combined.
Pour half the coffee-liqueur mixture into a shallow bowl. Dunk enough biscuits to cover the bottom of your dish in the mixture - ensure they absorb some liquid but beware they will fall apart quite quickly! Pour any leftover liquid over biscuit layer.
Put half the mascarpone mixture on top of the soaked biscuit layer and spread evenly.
Pour the remaining coffee-liqueur mixture into the shallow bowl and make another, final layer of biscuits, dipping as before and layering on top of the mascarpone in your dish. Again, pour any remaining liquid over the biscuit layer, and cover with the final layer of mascarpone mixture.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
When ready to serve, mix the chopped hazelnuts with 2 tsp cocoa. Sprinkle over your tiramisu, then dust with a final tsp of cocoa powder, pushing it through a sieve for lighter coverage over, as Nigella puts it, the "nut-rubbly tiramisu". She has such a way with words.
Nigella helpfully adds that this can be kept refrigerated for up to four days in total. Alternatively, it can be kept in the freezer sans hazelnut-cocoa mix within a layer of plastic wrap and foil for up to three months! It can then be defrosted in the fridge overnight. This would be such a good idea if I had freezer space...
This is definitely a recipe I will come back to, much to the delight of my better half. It's smooth and rich, and the booze hits quite hard, in a good way. It is handy to have the liqueur laying around as I did, however, as I imagine a regular introduction of this dish would also bring a decent dent in my hip pocket. The frothy egg whites also add a particular lightness to it, which I think it really needs.
Recommended baking soundtrack: Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love.