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 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