I grew up eating Tiramisu. It was just one of those things that was always there in the background. We would have it for weeknight dessert, when you went to visit your grandparents, there it was, visit a favorite aunt or family friend and out came the Tiramisu with the coffee. It was never one of my favorite things and it certainly wasn’t one of the long anticipated fancy desserts that you only got once or twice a year on holidays. It was just like an old reliable friend always there waiting. Then in the 1990′s when it seemed like everyone suddenly discovered it and you would have thought that they found some sort of miracle cure. Suddenly it turned up everywhere and every restaurant in the country seemed to have their version of it on the menu. It was then that I developed a true hatred for the stuff. It just seemed that you couldn’t escape it no matter how hard you tried. It still seems to turn up everywhere and to my mind at least it just isn’t worth all the fuss.
This cake is a nice variation on the Tiramisu theme. It has all the flavors of a traditional Tiramisu without all the hubbub and certainly without the not so good parts which to me are the dreadful soggy ladyfingers. I admit to an aversion for wet, soggy foods. I don’t like a lot of condiments and things on my sandwiches. Somehow I just don’t like picking up my sandwich only to find half of it stuck to the plate or taking a bite of it and finding I am eating baby food. It just seems wrong to me.
This cake does away with the soggy mess and uses instead a firm ricotta pound cake as its base. This is the same pound cake that was used for the Ricotta Passion Fruit cake. The recipe calls for grape seed oil which I know is supposed to be flavorless but when I made it the first time I felt that it had a slight undertaste from the grape seed oil that I didn’t particularly care for. No one else seemed to notice so I figured it was just me. When I made the cake again with my friend Jill I once again noticed that undertaste although no one else seemed to, This time I decided to make it with vegetable oil which the recipe says may be substituted. I found that undertaste was good and so from now on vegetable oil it is. I guess it really just boils down to my dislike of oil based cakes in general but this truly is a really marvelous cake base.
The rest of the cake is very simple as compared with many of the other cakes in the book. It is composed of a mascarpone mousse filling and whipped cream. Very easy.
The mouse is a standard cooled vanilla custard with the mascarpone cheese folded in. And the whipped cream is just flavored with a bit of sugar.
The cake is torted into three thin layers. The first layer goes down and is drenched with espresso coffee as the soaking syrup. Then a layer of mousse and a layer of whipped cream. Traditionally shaved chocolate with go in next. The recipe doesn’t call for it but I took artistic license and dusted the layer with cocoa powder just for effect. The next layer repeats the same process and then the final layer goes on and is soaked with espresso. The entire cake is then frosted with sweetened whipped cream, edged with chocolate sprinkles and then the cake is decorated as desired and dusted with cocoa powder.
There you have it, the Tortamisu. All the great flavor of a traditional Tiramisu without the soggy mess and certainly a small effort with a very big payoff.