The worst and best recipes for tiramisù
A workshop icebreaker:
We’re split into two teams of five people.
Two large tables in the center of the conference building garden. Some cooking ingredients are scattered on them. A couple of Savoiardi boxes hint at what’s about to go down.
“Your task is to prepare a Tiramisù.”
“Knew it! Ok. Got it. Easy.” I think to myself. I’m the only one from southern Italy here which makes me the most qualified.
“But there’s a catch.” the facilitator says.
“Shit, why must there 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."
Both groups are given a recipe on a piece of paper and a minute to pick and blindfold their chefs.
"Make the best tiramisù, and you win. You have twenty minutes, starting ... now!"
The two groups form a circle and try to architect a strategy, whispering so the other group can't hear. The group I’m in devises a sloppy plan nobody really understands but all seem satisfied about. Time to get to work.
Seeing us rolling up our sleeves makes the other group uncomfortable. A few moments later, they also break their circle and rush to the table.
Surprise: there aren't enough ingredients for two tiramisù.
The realization creates a whole new brand of urgency for both teams. What follows is fifteen minutes of Hell's Kitchen, but everybody is Gordon Ramsay but without any cooking skills and both arms tied to his back.
At the end of the twenty minutes, my team is 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 still better than the other group's, which was just poop.
The facilitator works up the courage to taste the preparations, then obviously disgusted, says:
"You know what? This would have been much better if your groups worked together rather than against each other."
"Oooooh, I see what you did there!"
We look at each other in disbelief. Nobody at any point told us this was a competition but our instincts immediately positioned against each other.
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 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 them 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 because tiramisù is hard to resist to for that long. Dust it with cocoa powder right before serving.