The Best Chocolate Tiramisu

On our interview trail Scott and I ate at Bosco’s in Nashville, TN where we had the best tiramisu either of us had ever had. It was my order, and after tasting it I insisted that Scott taste it too. On doing so, he promptly left his mountain of an uber-chocolate brownie dessert untouched to team up on the tiramisu and the sumptuous sauce it rested in. If it wouldn’t have been at an interview dinner, you can bet that we would have taken turns licking that plate clean. Honest, it was that good. Scott said it was the best dessert that he had ever had. In the months that have followed, Scott has joked about ranking Nashville number one on our list just so we can go to Bosco’s and eat their tiramisu whenever we want. He’s said that if we were like the celebrities who fly across the country just to have dinner at their favorite restaurant we would be flying to Bosco’s once a week for dessert. Now, for those of you who know my husband, you know that he is prone to exaggeration so perhaps it’s been so built up in our minds that if we had it again we would be disappointed, but nevertheless it made such an impression on us I resolved to master a tiramisu recipe and my first attempt would be for our Valentine’s Day dinner.

First, I searched the internet to see if Bosco’s would perhaps have their recipe posted somewhere but sadly they don’t, so I searched for hours more comparing and contrasting different recipes. Traditional recipes have raw eggs in them, some just egg yolks, other recipes use whip cream instead of eggs and blend that with the mascarpone. Some cook the eggs as you would in a custard, and some American versions even have instant JELLO pudding and cream cheese! Would a restaurant like Bosco’s serve raw eggs? Restaurants serve beef tartar so maybe raw eggs don’t bother them either? My head spun and I didn’t know what to do so I decided to take a break and check what new recipes one of my favorite blogs had posted recently. There, on the Smitten Kitchen website I read about Chocolate soufflé cupcakes with mint cream. I loved the idea that a chocolate soufflé had the same level of chocolate intensity as a flourless chocolate cake, but wasn’t so dense, instead it was light and porous. As I thought about this new concept, I couldn’t help but think that the texture of these soufflé cupcakes might make them perfect sponges; perfect sponges for say . . . coffee and liqueur? Ding, ding, ding! Yes! Re-energized I returned to my search, settled on a recipe who’s author I trust, and added the ingredients to our grocery list. I made the chocolate soufflé recipe in an 8 by 8 inch pan and cut the cake up into strips and used these in place of the traditional ladyfingers in tiramisu.

We had our tiramisu for the dessert of our “cocky” (as Scott would say) homemade Valentine’s Day meal and it was so good. It was devoured very slowly, partly because we wanted to savor it and partly because I was in shock it turned out so well that with each bite I let the tiramisu rest on my tongue, siphoning out the flavors and textures with the different parts of my tongue to confirm once more what I already suspected from my first bite, that it was better than Bosco’s.Scott raved about it and after a few days he said, “Whitney, I’ve been waiting to say this because I wanted to be sure, but I think that if you took away that amazing sauce that Bosco’s tiramisu was served in, and had the tiramisu alone, your tiramisu would be better.” Yes! Woo hoo! If I ever figure out that sauce, watch out Bosco’s! There’s a new sheriff in town! ;)

Chocolate Tiramisu

Chocolate souffle cake: From Smitten Kitchen

6 ounces (170 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) (86 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) espresso or instant coffee powder
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons (97 grams) sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray and 8x8 inch cake pan with nonstick spray. In a medium saucepan over low heat melt butter and chocolate together being careful not to burn the chocolate. (If you feel uncomfortable doing this try the double broiler method.) Whisk in the espresso powder to the chocolate mixture and remove from heat and whisk until fully melted and smooth. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.

With an electric hand mixer (with clean beaters!) beat egg whites in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add three tablespoons sugar and all of the salt while beating until medium-firm peaks form. Set aside. With the same electric mixer beat egg yolks and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until mixture is quite thick and pale, about two minutes. Beat the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture and then mix in the vanilla extract. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 17-20 minutes until at toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Tiramisu: Adapted from David Lebovitz

Makes four large servings or six smaller ones

**This recipe uses raw eggs which is the traditional way of making tiramisu. If you have concern, be sure to use very fresh eggs. As David Lebovitz puts it "ones that you practically stuck your hand in the chicken and plucked out for yourself." As I don't have chickens I can not do this, but I've used Eggland's Best brand of eggs twice now for tiramisu and they've worked great! Also, upon making this tiramisu a second time for my inlaws, Eggland's Best eggs were sold out at my grocery store and while looking for a suitable substitute I came across pasturized eggs which can be used for any raw egg recipe with no fear of salmonella. These eggs worked well though I'm convinced it took longer to beat the egg whites into peaks.

1/2 cup espresso, room temp. (I made this using the same instant espresso powder used in the cake above)

2 tablespoons dark rum (I used 1 teaspoon of rum extract)

1 tablespoon ameretto or cognac

2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

pinch of salt

7 tablespoons (90g) sugar, divided

1 cup (250g) mascarpone

1 recipe chocolate souffle cake

unsweetened cocoa powder, for serving

Mix together espresso, rum, and ameretto. Don't be afraid if it tastes strongly of alcohol now, it should be this way and it will tone down when combined with the other ingredients.
In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they begin to get stiff. Beat in half the sugar until stiff peaks are able to form. In another bowl beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until thick and light colored, about three minutes. Beat in the mascarpone by hand with a spatula or whisk until no lumps remain. Fold in half of the egg whites into yolk mixture and then the other half until just fully incorporated.
Slice the chocolate souffle cake into 3 inch by 1 inch strips. On a serving dish, in a glass, or in the cake pan (whatever works for you!) line up the cake strips and pour the espresso mixture over the cake until the cake is soaked. Place large dollops of the mascarpone mixture over the chocolate cake and smooth into an even layer with the back of a spoon. Repeat these layers (cake, pour espresso, spread mascarpone mixture) one or two more times depending on the size of your serving vessel. This will keep in your fridge overnight just fine if need be. When serving sift cocoa powder over top. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!


Risotto Cakes

Oh Happy Friday! This week has been a great week for Scott and I and this weekend is going to be just as great! My parents and brother are coming down to celebrate my birthday and I am so excited to see them! I’m excitedly planning the menu for a brunch on Saturday when they get here and then for supper we’re going out to eat at my favorite restaurant in town. Then, after they leave on Sunday, Scott and I are going to my boss’s house for authentic Raclette, which I haven’t had since my first night in France (believe me, that meal set the tone for the rest of my time in France and my new found love of good cheese). Then of course, there’s the Super Bowl and the parties that go along with it which presents yet another opportunity to experiment a new recipe and make something yummy! (By the way, I recommend this recipe for a Super Bowl party--it's the best carmel corn I've ever popped into my mouth.) Yes, though it will be busy, I daresay it should be quite a good weekend and I am very much looking forward to it!

In the meantime though, I wanted to quick give you this recipe just in case you would be making a certain Aged Cheddar Cheese Risotto this weekend or maybe for Valentine’s next weekend (!), and end up with some extra left over. Trust me, if you have left over risotto, any kind of risotto, not just this cheddar cheese kind, it does not work well to simply reheat and eat. It’s just not near as good! But, it can be just as good as the original, or, gasp, better if you transform it to fried risotto cakes. They are so good! Picture this: a crisp, light crunch on the outside gives way to a warm, cheesy, soft, smooth, melty, bath for your tongue. Hello! Can you say “yum!”? Ok, enough with the dramatics, I’ll get on to the recipe.

Fried Risotto Cakes

Like I said before, this works well with any kind of risotto, even a sweet dessert kind. If you’re doing this with a savory one, that does not have cheese as a main ingredient, many people stick a cube of mozzarella (or other cheese of choice) inside the risotto ball/cake so they get that wonderful melted cheese on the inside. The making of the risotto cakes is pretty quick, easy, and straight forward which is another reason why I love it. In ten minutes you can have a delicious meal or appetizer at the ready that is sure to impress. Serve with a good tomato sauce or over a salad of mixed spring greens with a balsamic vinaigrette.

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a meal

2 cups refrigerated leftover risotto

2/3 cup flour

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup bread crumbs (I recommend Panko to get that light, crispy crunch)

Olive or canola oil for frying

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking pan with paper towels. Form the cold risotto into 2 ½ inches long and ¾ inch thick patties using wet hands. Put the four, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls. Coat cakes first with flour, then with egg (let excess drip off), and then with the breadcrumbs. Transfer to wax paper and repeat with the remaining cakes.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté cakes in batches, turning over once, until browned, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer with a slotted spatula to a paper-towel-lined baking pan and keep warm in oven. Heat more oil if needed and sauté remaining cakes in same manner.