Monday, January 26, 2009

My Birthday Tiramisu Trifle

My handsome, wizened husband celebrated his 40th birthday last spring, which we marked with a lavish private dinner with friends and family at the exceptional NoMi. It was a big, glittering, memorable night... And so was the check. So when my birthday rolled around a few weeks later, I decided to invite our peeps over for a mellow tapas take-out party at home. It wouldn't break the bank and I still wouldn't have to lift a finger. Except for one critical element: the cake. This, I figured, was the perfect chance to make the birthday confection of my dreams.

Funny thing. When I thought about my ultimate mid-thirties birthday cake fantasy, just one word kept calling: TIRAMISU. Trifle style. Flavored with orange. Ok, that's seven words, and it isn't even a cake. But inspiration takes artistic license sometimes. You don't argue with the food gods.

So here it is. My multi-layered birthday opus that requires no actual baking, and you make it a day ahead. It drew a few gasps on the first bite. And not all of them were even from me.

Tiramisu Trifle with Orange

1 1/2 cups coffee - divided
6 egg yolks at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Cointreau (you can use brandy or another liqueur) - divided
17 oz. mascarpone cheese
30 ladyfingers
semisweet chocolate square or chocolate leaves
confectioner's sugar

Whisk the yolks and sugar with an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, on high for five minutes until they get thick and yellow. Lower to medium speed, and add a 1/4 cup of the Cointreau, 1/4 cup of coffee, and all the mascarpone. Mix until the texture is smooth and heavenly.

Combine the rest of the Cointreau and the 1 1/4 cup coffee in a shallow bowl. Dip 1 side of each ladyfinger in the liquid and line the bottom of a tall glass bowl with them. Pour a layer of the cream mix on top and spread evenly. Repeat, alternating cookies with the cream mixture until you have 4-6 layers, depending on the diameter of your bowl.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours. Before serving, decorate with chocolate leaves or sprinkle with shaved chocolate (heavily) and confectioner's sugar (lightly) on top.

Birthday candles optional. Champagne or sparkling Moscato is pretty much mandatory though.

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