Sweet Marsala Tiramisu

Desserts and Sweets, Recipes

My dad only recently developed his sweet tooth, so back when I was experimenting with recipes in college, I knew he would rarely accept an offer of dessert. I definitely remember one such lucky occasion, however, when I dug up a recipe for tiramisu. It’s one of his favorite desserts and arguably my favorite, at least from Italian cuisine, over cannoli, spumoni, even gelato! Though it took a bit of coercing for him to take that first bite, I can still vividly recall his eyes lighting up as he polished off his serving wordlessly. This recipe has been in my repertoire ever since.

Tiramisu

Tiramisu

Three things. First, you’ll want to make sure you have some strong arm muscles for beating those egg whites to a stiff peak (thanks to the souffle, I’ve had plenty of practice). It’s the aerated whites that really makes this cream filling fluffy and light and not-too-sweet. Possibly among the best tiramisu, or so I’ve been told ;) Second, at six tablespoons of Marsala, this particular recipe is a bit more boozy than others. Have fun with it. (If you do need to cut back, play around with the coffee-Marsala ratio.) Lastly, this tiramisu is topped with grated chocolate just before serving, which truly makes a difference — it tastes way better than the bitter cocoa powder that some restaurants use instead.

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup strong black coffee, freshly brewed

6 tablespoons sweet Marsala wine

1 package of ladyfingers (16-24 pieces)

3 eggs, separated

8 ounce package of mascarpone

Dash of nutmeg

Dark or semisweet chocolate for garnish (about 1-2 ounces, grated)

I got this recipe many years ago from a cookbook that I just cannot seem to track down (it doesn’t help that I’ve made some adjustments from the original proportions). If anyone recognizes the source, please let me know and I will gladly credit it.

Coffee-Marsala Mixture

Coffee-Marsala Mixture

Step 1: Dissolve one-half of the sugar (1/8 cup) into the coffee. Stir in the Marsala; you should end up with about 1 cup of liquid total.

Layer #1

Layer #1

Step 2: Arrange a single layer of ladyfingers in the bottom of an 8-inch round trifle dish (or a 1.75 quart Pyrex round). Drizzle about one third of the coffee mixture. Set aside.

Beating the Yolks and Mascarpone

Beating the Yolks and Mascarpone

Step 3: In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the yolks and the remaining sugar. Fold in the mascarpone.

Adding the Nutmeg

Adding the Nutmeg

Step 4: When the yolk-mascarpone mixture is creamy and fully integrated, sprinkle in the nutmeg. Stir.

Beat the Egg Whites

Beat the Egg Whites

Step 5: In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Folding

Folding

Step 6: Fold the mascarpone mixture into the egg whites — first, lighten the mascarpone mixture by stirring in a bit of the fluffy whites, then cut down and scoop over with a rubber spatula, turning the bowl as you go, “folding” the mixture onto itself so as to minimize deflating the whites.

The Setup

The Setup

Step 7: Spoon about one-third of the mixture over the soaked ladyfingers and spread smooth.

Next Layer

Next Layer

Step 8: Continue with a layer of ladyfingers, drizzling with one-third of the coffee mixture and topping with one-third of the fluffy mascarpone cream. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, finishing with mascarpone on the very top layer.

Ready to Chill

Ready to Chill

Step 9: Let chill in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. This will help set the cream.

Shaving the Chocolate

Shaving the Chocolate

Step 10: Just before serving, shave or grate the chocolate over the top of the tiramisu using a microplane. Buon appetito!

Yields: 6-8 servings

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Day 3b: Morgan Hill – Maurizio’s

Food Adventures, San Francisco

The evening of Day 3 – dinner at Maurizio’s, or as we affectionately nicknamed it, Italian Take #2.

A glimpse into the kitchen through the pass

After an exhausting drive in traffic crossing the Bay Bridge, we finally arrived in Morgan Hill where we planned to stay over before continuing our journey down the coast. We used our trusty Yelp app to figure out where to go for dinner and decided to check out Maurizio’s. Located just off the quaint little downtown area, Maurizio’s features an enticing menu of authentic Italian dishes with warm, rustic decor and a hole-in-the-wall vibe.

Warm table bread and roasted garlic oil

Our friendly server Daniel guided us to our entree selections and brought us delicious fresh baked bread accompanied by roasted garlic in olive oil to nosh on. The bread was warm and fluffy and the roasted garlic reminded us of the bagna cauda we had at The Stinking Rose in Beverly Hills. A wonderful start to our meal!

Pan Seared Scallops over Risotto ai Funghi

Having read a tip that the daily specials here are awesome, Martin selected the Fish of the Day – seared scallops served over a bed of mushroom risotto. The scallops were pan seared and then finished in the oven, yielding a beautiful caramelized crust and a pale opaque center. The risotto was good and hearty and I liked how the parmesan did not overpower the mushrooms. The dish was garnished with arugula that had been drizzled with a white wine vinaigrette, but it may have been a bit heavy on the dressing because the taste of alcohol was present in almost every bite! (Not necessarily a bad thing…)

Orecchiette alla Pugliese

I chose the Orecchiette alla Pugliese — “ear” shaped pasta with Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, and fresh tomato. The pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and the broccoli rabe with its bitterness contrasted nicely with the sweet ripe tomatoes and caramelized onions. The Italian sausage is juicy and so flavorful! It is not made in-house, but it is sourced from a local meat shop / sausage maker by Maurizio himself. I really enjoyed how satisfying and well-balanced my dish was. (By the way, someone at the restaurant may want to proofread some of the menu descriptions for interesting spelling mistakes….)

We devoured every last bite!

We both polished off our dishes completely. But as they say, there’s always room for dessert!

Tiramisu

After the interesting tiramisu the night before, we were hoping for a more traditional style here at Maurizio’s and they certainly delivered. Snagging one of the last slices of the popular dessert, we were surprised to learn that they do not soak the lady fingers in a rum-espresso mixture but rather a non-alcoholic rum extract of sorts to make it kid-friendly. The marscapone had a bit of heavy cream whipped in for added fluffiness and it was delicate and not too sweet, just the way I like it. The perfect way to end the meal!

Daniel was so nice to answer our many questions about the dishes and about the chef-owner Maurizio. He proudly mentioned that the chef comes in every day during prep to taste the components of each dish and to demonstrate how to plate them. They do make some fresh pasta; the papparadelle and the fettuccine are both made in-house. Even though the orecchiette and sausage in my dish were made elsewhere, Daniel reassured me that Maurizio is a discerning chef who only chooses the best for his restaurant, and you can definitely taste the quality of the ingredients in the dishes served here!

We don’t find ourselves in Morgan Hill very often, but if we’re ever back in town, I know where we’ll be eating! Make sure you come early before we snag the last slice(s) of tiramisu :)

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Check out Maurizio’s: mauriziosrestaurant.com

25 E 1st St
Morgan Hill, CA 95037

See their Yelp reviews here!

Day 2b: Sonoma Farmer’s Market & Mamma Tanino’s

Food Adventures, Napa & Sonoma

After visiting Lancaster Estate and Medlock Ames we were just about dead tired, quickly hopping back into the security of the car and its air conditioned heaven. Healdsburg was a good hour away from the city of Sonoma and we were expecting to arrive in time for the Sonoma Tuesday Night Farmer’s Market. After checking into the nearby hotel, we took a brief stroll to the park in front of city hall where the farmer’s market was located.

The entire block and surrounding neighborhood were bustling with people enjoying the sun and mingling around the tented shops. Stalls of produce from nearby farms lined the walkway around the city hall building carrying a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. The colors were spectacular and we were enjoying the beautiful day so much that we had forgotten to take photos of the area.

Having drank most of the day and filling up on wine, we had forgotten to eat very much for lunch and were famished. At 6:30pm and without a reservation at any restaurant, we should’ve known better than to try walking into the restaurants that enclosed Sonoma Square. We decided to try Mamma Tanino’s – a place a little out of the way that we found on Yelp, a homely-looking, literal hole-in-the-wall in the corner of a strip mall. The patrons seemed to be an older, more local crowd. The interior was a warm, cozy space with an obnoxious yellow glow that enveloped every nook and cranny. This glow, while warm, took a terrible toll on the quality of our photos, but please bear with us.

Alice found out an interesting piece of information about Chef Gaetano that we didn’t want to speculate about its accuracy: he was accepted into culinary school at the age of 13 and graduated at 15. We managed to verify this information with his wife Kimberly who runs the front of the house.

Without further adieu…the noms:

Housemade Focaccia

The table bread was a simple fresh-baked focaccia that was extra toasted and a little burnt on its extremities. We didn’t mind too much, and I myself am a fan of slightly charred bread. Alice found a piece that tasted like pizza crust, in a good way.

Appetizer: Calamaretti Fritti

Fried calamari was very crispy but the batter was unevenly coated and didn’t adhere well to the calamari. The homemade pomodoro sauce had a little kick that kicked me in the…taste bud. The creamy tartar sauce with capers wasn’t all that special but I’m glad we were given the choice of two different dipping sauces.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Alice had the homemade, hand-cut pappardelle accompanied by a ragu-style sauce with beef, beef stock, carrots, and mushrooms. Just a little al dente to give it a more firm texture, making it a hearty and winning combination.

Gnocchetti Piemontese

I ordered another one of their homemade dishes – hand-cut mini gnocchi with a creamy tomato sauce. Texture was more like a cloud than a pillow, extra light and fluffy. I was able to polish off the entire dish and was left wanting more but that’s not to say that the portion was too small – it was just that good.

Tiramisu

I have to admit that this was definitely not that great of a tiramisu. There was a little too much marscapone and it was made using both rum and kahlua. When it came down to it, the tiramisu had a strange sour taste to it, perhaps from the kahlua or perhaps from the marscapone, but we couldn’t tell. Either way, the tartness tasted a bit awkward.

All in all, Mamma Tanino’s was a great find. It’s unfortunate that their location in the forlorn strip mall seems to have a negative impact on their business. People of Sonoma, swing by and give them a try! The pasta dishes are awesome and the service, courtesy of Kimberly, is very friendly.

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Check out Mamma Tanino’s Ristorante: www.mammataninos.com

500 W. Napa St. Suite 512
Sonoma CA, 95476

See their Yelp reviews here!