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As promised in one of my last posts, I wanted to share the recipe for the Tiramisu I made as dessert for the “meeting of the parents” a couple of weeks ago. The “meeting of the parents”, and my parent’s visit more generally, went really well. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, my parents came and spent a few days with me and Kirk in our new place. I can’t remember if I’ve already mentioned this, but Kirk and I live in a timber loft. Anyone who’s familiar with loft living knows that most traditional lofts do not have “rooms”, per say. We have some strategically placed 10 foot tall dividing walls (note that our ceilings are 14 feet) that make certain areas “feel” like separate rooms, but they’re really not. Sounds carry EVERYWHERE. In our “guest” bedroom/office/library, there was only one wall that we could but the inflatable mattress against. Ok. It just so happened that wall is the same one that the head of our bed is against. So yes.  There was that. But all in all everything was fine.

My parents arrived in town on a Wednesday evening, they came and visited me at my office on Thursday (where my dad proceeded to do the adorable dad thing and want to take pictures of his “little girl” at her “big girl” desk – my co-workers had fun with that one for a few days). I took a day off on Friday and spent the day driving around the city with them and running various errands. And then Saturday arrived. The day of the “meeting of the parents”. We started the day by taking the El to Lincoln Park to go to the Green City Farmer’s Market, where we picked up s beautiful bouquet of massive sunflowers for the apartment. We then took the train to the South Loop and went to Loopy Yarns, one of the cute little yarn boutiques in Chicago. My mom used to co-own a yarn shop with one of her good friends (Rainy Day Creations), so she likes to check out other shops whenever she’s traveling. Dad and Kirk were very patiently following us around. The four of us then stopped in Panera to grab a quick sandwich, and then we headed home so that I could get some grocery shopping down and start prepping for the dinner extravaganza.

After finishing my errands, I immediately started in on the most complicated part of the meal: the multi-step Tiramisu. I had spent a lot of time the previous week searching for seemingly good tiramisu recipes, and I finally found one on the Food Network website that had consistently high ratings and looked complicated enough that I assumed it might taste like an authentic tiramisu. The recipe I adapted my version from is Woflgang Puck’s, which you can find here.

It didn’t come together exactly as I had hoped it would, but it ended up being a delicious end to what I would consider a fairly successful first dinner party. Kirk’s parents showed up just as I had put our roast in, and they brought us a lovely housewarming gift – a grill pan and a straining pan (with strainer holes in the lid! What a concept… you don’t need a strainer to strain items you’ve boiled… I love it!). As I worked away in the kitchen (which is really part of the living room, so I still felt like I could be part of the party) everyone got to know each other while munching on italian meats, french cheeses, and greek olives. By the time I was ready to check my roast, I realized (to my dismay) that my meat thermometer was not working. that stupid little needle wouldn’t budge. In my old apartment this wouldn’t have been a big deal since I “knew the oven” – – –  and by that I mean I knew how long something needed to be in the oven before it would be done. In the new oven, I had no idea. So the meat ended up being a bit overcooked, but it wasn’t bad – just a little dry.

I served my tiramisu for dessert, and it was so delicious I couldn’t believe it was something I had actually made myself. It was a bit runnier than I wanted it to be, but the flavor was amazing. I think if I had let it set in the fridge for a few more hours, the ladyfingers would have had more time to absorb the espressor syrup. Well, at least I’ll know for next time. The wine and beer kept flowing liberally, and everyone enjoyed themselves. By the time I had cleared the table Kirk and I sat on the couch and were ready to crash. Out parents, of course, were all still sitting at the table… getting giddy and talking about 70’s cookware and furniture, and I think some comments were tossed around regarding George Bush’s stupidity or something. By this time it was nearly 11pm (nearly 2 hours past my parents’ bedtime!) and I was ready to collapse out of exhaustion.

The stress of worrying about being “the host” and wanting to make sure everyone got along had finally caught up with me. I felt slightly ill (which happens to me when I get really tired) and I’m sure I must have looked totally wipped out, sitting there on the couch… still, for some reason, wearing my apron. Eventually the parents all got the message and started to shut things down. Kirk’s parents left and Kirk and my parents proceeded to clean up the kitchen. I went to bed and slept soundly that night – rich food and built up stress will do that to me 🙂

Traditional Tiramisu:

Ingredients:

  • Store-bought Lady Fingers (about 30… depending on how big your dish is or how many layers you want) – I usually buy two large packages to be on the safe side. If you want to be super-authentic, Wolfgang Puck’s recipe tells you how you can make your own!
  • Mascarpone Cream:
  • 6 Egg Yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup Marsala
  • 1/8 cup Brandy
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua
  • 2lbs Mascarpone Cheese (softened at room temperature)
  • Espresso Syrup
  • 1 cup hot Espresso
  • 3 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Grated Bittersweet Chocolate

Instructions:

  • Starting with the Mascarpone cream: In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
  • Add the Marsala, brandy, and kahlua and place the mixture over a double-boiler (in a bowl set over a boiling pot of water) and cook until the mixture resembles a thick paste (apparently this is called a “sabayon”).
  • Remove from the double-boiler and cool mixture over ice bath, until room temperature. Whip the room-temperature mascarpone cheese to soft peaks. Fold into the cooled sabayon until well incorporated. Use as layers in the tiramisu or as needed. Chill in the fridge until ready to use. Can be made up to 4 hours ahead
  • For the Espresso Syrup: Brew fresh espresso (or use instant espresso, like I did – – – easy is sometimes what works best!).
  • To 1 cup of hot espresso, add the brown sugar, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  • Stir until dissolved.
  • To Assemble: Divide espresso syrup into 2 portions. Divide the mascarpone cream into 3 portions.
  • In a deep rectangular pan or dish (I used a deep round bowl… but that made it difficult to serve in an attractive way) spread the first portion of the mascarpone cream at the bottom of the dish. Sprinkly with some of the grated chocolate.
  • Figure out how many ladyfingers you’ll need to cover the mascarpone cream, and pre-soak them (on a cookie sheet or in a seperate dish) in half of the espresso.
  • Once the lady fingers have soaked up most of the liquid, using a spatchula, gently place the layer of landy finders over the mascarpone cream.
  • Repeat the process by layering more mascarpone cream over the soaked landy finger, sprinkle the cream with some of the grated chocolate, soak the second batch of lady fingers in the expresso syrup, and then layer them on top of the mascarpone.
  • Lastly, top with the remaining mascarpone cream and cover with remaining grated chocolate. Cover mold and refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

So delicious… I should be Italian!

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