Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Coconut Tira-wheee!-su!

I've been something of a Daring Baker's slacker these past few months. Not to bore you with whining, but it's been busy, none of the challenges have appealed to me, yadda yadda boo hoo hoo. But that all changed this month, when I learned that the challenge was tiramisu.

Whoooo, I LOVE me some tiramisu! Or, as I like to call it because I'm a lame cornball, tira-wheeee!-su.

My love of tiramisu is a little incongruous, since I don't drink alcohol or coffee, and tiramisu is basically a big ole boozy, caffeinated party. But the fact remains, anytime you have heavenly soaked cookies and luscious mascarpone-based cream in one dessert, I will be there, moochin' fork at the ready, drool already making its way down my chin.

So I was more than excited to tackle homemade tiramisu, and add my own teetotaling spin. I decided to combine two of my favorite flavors to make Chocolate-Coconut Tiramisu.

Part of the challenge was to make all of our own components to the dessert, including pastry cream, zabaglione, and ladyfingers:
Since I did individual desserts in dessert cups, I piped round ladyfingers the size of my cups. I've made ladyfingers before, but this recipe was by far better than any others, and it'll definitely be my go-to recipe next time I need to make them, which happens...every 4 years or so.

We also made our own mascarpone cheese:

Who knew you could do this at home?! And all it takes is heavy cream, a little lemon juice, and a whole lot of stirring and patience. It also takes a shiny new candy thermometer:
Look, Mama FINALLY got a new thermometer! If you look really closely at the old, beat-up one on the left, you can see a faint scratch in the middle of the thermometer. That, my friends, is at 245 degrees, and it is the scratch by which all other temperatures were estimated. See, each quarter-inch was about 10 degrees, so I'd squint at the scratch and estimate distance with my eyes and do a little voodoo and hopefully come to an approximation of the correct temperature. And yes, this went on for a long time. And yes, I do make multiple candy recipes a week as part of my job. And yes, I know they only cost $15 and I could have saved myself months of annoyance by simply buying a new one sooner. No matter, it's here now and performing admirably. Back to the tiramisu!
Since I didn't want to include coffee or alcohol, I decided that my major flavors would be chocolate and coconut. I made the pastry cream with coconut milk instead of regular milk, and soaked the ladyfingers in hot chocolate made with coconut milk. The hot chocolate mix was from Green & Black's, and was perfect--not very sweet at all.
I also added an extra layer of chocolate ganache in between the ladyfingers and the cream mixture, to up the chocolate flavor (and decadence.)
To top the tiramisus I used some lovely shaved coconut from Bob's Red Mill (I just love the large flakes) and chocolate shavings made with a vegetable peeler and a poor chocolate bar. The chocolate arcs were made by pouring some molding chocolate over an acetate-covered rolling pin, and the cookie is a coconut tuile, twisted around a spoon handle to form a spiral.
The verdict? Love, love, LOVE! I often don't eat that much of what I make--I'll nibble bites here or there, but we try to give it away (or even throw it out, sniff) as much as possible, to avoid dying of excess sugar consumption. However, hungry hungry hubby & I polished all 4 of these off in just a few days.

Everything was fantastic. The coconut flavor from the pastry cream and soaking syrup was strong but not overpowering, and the chocolate ganache really helped boost the dark chocolate taste. The taste and texture of the mascarpone cream mixture was to die for, and we loved how the coconut, chocolate, and tuile on top added the perfect amount of texture and crunch. If I had to do anything differently, I would try to squeeze in one more layer of ladyfingers, since the soaked cookies are one of my favorite parts, but overall this was a home run for us. I will most definitely be making this again (although maybe with store-bought mascarpone, as I'm not sure the homemade added anything special, and I'm afraid the extra is going to waste) and am thrilled to have found such a great, reliable recipe for one of my favorite desserts.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. World's absolute longest recipe under the cut!

Coconut-Chocolate Tiramisu


For the mascarpone:
500ml/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (I used ultra-pasteurized heavy cream and it was fine)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the ladyfingers:
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar

For the zabaglione:

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee) (I used water)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the coconut pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml coconut milk or cream

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

For the ganache:
4 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces heavy cream

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml strong hot chocolate, prepared with coconut milk, room temperature
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder


For the mascarpone (make one day ahead):
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy. Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

For the ladyfingers:
Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips. (I drew circles the size of my glasses and used these as guides to pipe my circular ladyfingers.)
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

For the ganache:
Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer, but do not allow it to boil.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk gently to incorporate. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to spoon, about 4 hours or overnight. It will remain a soft, silky ganache.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice. (I made four individual desserts.)
Prepare the hot chocolate using coconut milk instead of regular milk. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the coconut-chocolate mix, about 1-2 seconds per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Pour or pipe a layer of ganache on top of the cookies.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ganache, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with shaved chocolate and shredded coconut. Decorate with chocolate decorations and coconut tuiles.

Coconut Tuiles

1/2 stick ( 2 oz) butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Place the butter, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the butter and sugar have melted. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Once boiling, add the flour and continue to cook and stir for one minute, until the mixture thickens.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded coconut. Set the mixture aside until it cools to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the batter in small scoops on the baking sheet, pressing them with your palm to flatten them. Leave plenty of room in between, because these suckers will spread. I usually only do 2 or 3 at a time.
Bake 6-8 minutes or until golden brown.
Once out of the oven, allow to cool for 1 minute, or just until you can begin to lift them from the baking sheet. You can roll them over a cone mold to form cones, drape them over a rolling pin, or roll them around a wooden spoon handle. To make the twists, I used a pizza cutter to cut strips about 1/2 inch wide, then twisted the strips around a wooden spoon handle.
If the tuiles get too brittle, return the sheet to the oven for 30 seconds-1 minute to soften.
Also delicious on their own, or dipped in chocolate!


  1. This is beautiful Liz! Once again, you've outdone yourself! So refreshing... chocolate and coconut must be divine!

  2. Cool combination of flavours. Love the decorations on the top, looks like they're wearing rather fancy hats :). I think the appeal of home made mascarpone for me would be the cost, home-made costs about 1/4 to 1/3 of the price of store-bought over here!

  3. What a beautiful presentation! I love that you added chocolate ganache, I bet it tasted fantastic!

  4. Anonymous6:42 PM

    I love your twist on the flavor combination. I'll have to add in the coconut next time (because these will most definitely be a next time for this dessert), but I don't know if I can do without the zabaglione...its my favorite! Beautiful presentation as well!

  5. wow, they sound and look fantastic. I have the same thermometer!

  6. I love what you did! Great idea to add the ganache. I also made pastry cream with coconut milk, and I wish I had thought to layer it in glasses like a verrine. It is not easy to get the layers neat when you layer in glass and you did a great job. The tuile and chocolate decorations really take the presentation over the top.

  7. This is out of control. Seriously, I have to make this. You are an inspiration!

  8. This looks really beautiful! Great job!

  9. Awesome "mormon" tiramisu flavors! ;)
    When we made the TWD tiramisu cake, I used hazelnut flavoring, but to go with that theme, I should have used Nutella in there somehow.
    Your coconut version sounds fabulous and I love your individual serving sizes!

  10. Absolutely FANTABULOUS!! So creative. So beautiful. I may try your version as I am not a coffee lover at all

    (Except when the Hubs brings home his Sunday latte. He started getting bigger ones so I could share - so sweet)

  11. Gorgeous spin on my favourite dessert!!

  12. How did you manage to layer so neatly?? I love individual desserts, and this really appeals to me!

  13. Nice post. Thanks for sharing useful information.