The worst and best recipes for tiramisù
We were split into two teams of five people.
Two large tables in the center of the big conference room. Some ingredients scattered on the tables. A couple of Savoiardi boxes revealing part of what was about to happen.
“Your task is to prepare a tiramisù”
“Knew it! Ok. Got it. Easy.” I thought. I was the only one from southern Italy there, which unequivocally made me the most qualified in the room.
“But there’s a catch.” the facilitator said.
“Shit, why there must always be a catch?!” Didn’t say this out loud.
“One: the person holding the recipe cannot talk, two: the chef will be blindfolded, three: the rest of the participants can’t use their hands."
We were given a couple of minutes to nominate the sous chef to hold the recipe, then to choose, and blindfold the chef. This was going to be fun.
"If you can make a good tiramisù, you win. You have twenty minutes, starting ... now!"
For the first few minutes, both groups formed a circle and tried to architect a strategy, whispering so that the other group couldn't hear. Our group felt satisfied with a sloppy plan nobody really understood, but twenty minutes was admittedly not a lot of time and we'd better get to work.
Seeing us already rolling up our sleeves made the other group uncomfortable. A few moments later they broke their circle and rushed to the other table.
Surprise: there aren't enough ingredients for two tiramisù.
This creates a whole new brand of urgency for both teams. What follows is fifteen minutes of Hell's Kitchen, but everybody is Gordon Ramsay just without any cooking skills and both arms tied to his back.
At the end of the twenty minutes, my team was pretty happy with our soggy mess. I wouldn't have had the balls to call that a tiramisù in front of my grandmother but it was definitely better than the other group's (which just looked like runny poop).
The facilitator worked up the courage to taste the preparations, then clearly disgusted said:
"You know what? This would have been much better if you worked together instead of splitting into two groups. That wasn't a smart move."
"Oooooh, I see what you did there!"
We looked at each other in disbelief. The woman was right, nobody at any point told us this was a competition.
Lesson learned: the best way to make tiramisù is together.
Here’s my mother-in-law’s top-secret recipe in case you wanna give it a try (Ingredients for 6/8 people):
Separate 4 egg whites from the yolks and keep them in two separate bowls.
Whip the yolks until they’re foamy and of a light lemony yellow. Throw in 500 g of Mascarpone and mix thoroughly with a spoon.
Add roughly 200 g of sugar and a pinch of salt to the egg whites, and whip to firm peaks, then mix the yolks and the whites together, again with a spoon. Don’t rush or the mixture will lose its foaminess and your tiramisù won’t hold together.
You’ll have prepared roughly 250 ml of coffee. It needs to be espresso, best if made with a Moka. Let it sit until it’s at room temperature, then pour it into a plate. Pour half a cup of rum into another plate. Now dip the Savoiardi, one second in the coffee on one side, one second in the rum on the other side, don’t let’em get soggy, then place them side by side into a standard casserole pan, try to leave no empty spaces in between.
Once you have a layer of Savoiardi at the bottom of the pan, cover it with 1/3 of the cream and repeat for 2 more layers.
Cover the casserole with tin foil, put it in the fridge, and let it sit for a couple of hours minimum. This is usually the hardest part. Dust it with cocoa right before serving.
Sorry, Michelle. You won’t be able to read this one on your watch.