Friday, November 28, 2008

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Although my mom cooked our Thanksgiving lunch/dinner, I made dessert. Of course I had to make something pumpkin, because there’s some law somewhere that states that at least one Thanksgiving meal item must contain pumpkin, and since nothing my mom made contained pumpkin, the responsibility fell to me.


I was thinking about making pumpkin pie, but pumpkin cheesecake (actually, a kabocha squash cheesecake) is on the menu for our big gather in Saturday, so I didn’t want to eat the same (or similar) dessert twice in three days. At first I was planning on making pumpkin soufflés with bourbon whipped cream, but after running across a recipe for pumpkin zuccotto, I got an idea: pumpkin tiramisu.


I usually do not like tiramisu – of all the incarnations of it that I’ve eaten, I’ve only liked it at two places (here, and here, the latter of which is my absolute favorite Italian place in NYC), and I thought it was because they’re both authentic Italian restaurants so they know what they’re doing. Apparently I was not completely correct on that – apparently tiramisu was invented in the '70s by Carminantonio Iannaccone, the owner of Baltimore’s Piedigrotta (which I learned only earlier this year courtesy of this article). I'm not sure how Max and Supper make theirs, but, after a bit of research, I found that whereas most tiramisu recipes call only for mixing zabaglione with mascarpone (and sometimes a whipped egg white), the real deal requires two more components, pastry cream and whipped cream. I decided that if I was going to make tiramisu, I was going to make it right, so I used Carmantonio’s recipe as my starting point.

The predominant flavors in traditional tiramisu are coffee (actually, espresso), marsala, and cocoa – none of which go terribly well with pumpkin (unless you’re Starbucks, in which event you think that pouring artificially flavored overly-sweet pumpkin syrup into a cup of bad coffee is a good idea, but I digress). I thought a bit and decided that I wouldn’t use any white sugar but rather mostly maple syrup and some dark brown sugar, and in place of the marsala, bourbon. The flavor of the bourbon is subtle, but it’s there, the maple syrup adds a deep rich note, and the 4 different components of the filling provide for a rich texture that ultimately comes off not-too-sweet and very light when layered with ladyfingers.

Pumpkin + Vermont maple syrup + Kentucky bourbon (in this case, Maker’s Mark) = a very American spin on an Italian classic.

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Pumpkin Tiramisu
serves 6-8

For the pumpkin pastry cream
¾ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons maple syrup*, divided
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the bourbon zabaglione
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
¼ cup bourbon

For the spiced maple-bourbon syrup
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/8” coins ginger
2 whole cloves
½ stick of cinnamon
¼ cup bourbon

To assemble
¼ cup heavy cream
8 oz mascarpone, room temperature
24 savoiardi (ladyfingers), available at Italian groceries

*I use only Grade B maple syrup, which is darker and has a richer taste than Grade A

***************

Make the pumpkin pastry cream
Combine the milk, cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat and bring to a simmer. In the meantime, whisk the yolks and 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Slowly stream ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Transfer the egg yolk mixture to the pot and cook over medium-low heat until thick and custard-like, about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Make the zabaglione
Add all ingredients to a metal bowl and beat well to combine (use a hand mixer). Set the bowl over a double boiler and whip continuously until thick and custard-like, about 6 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a bowl and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Make the syrup
Bring all ingredients except for bourbon to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat, add bourbon, set aside until cool, then strain.

Assemble
Whip the cream until it holds stiff peaks, then fold it into the mascarpone. In a separate bowl, gently fold together the pastry cream and zabaglione, then fold in the mascarpone mixture.

Put the syrup in a shallow, wide bowl. Quickly dip each side of 1 ladyfinger in the syrup, then place in a deep 8x8 dish. Repeat with 5 more savoiardi. Evenly spread ¼ of the pumpkin mixture on top and smooth out. Make 3 more layers, using 6 savoiardi and ¼ of the pumpkin mixture for each layer. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight and up to 4 days. [You can’t serve this immediately – the savoiardi are crisp and need a good amount of time to soak up the liquid from the filling so that they become soft and sponge-like.]

8 comments:

strawberriesinparis said...

Oh yum!! I am so glad you are getting back in the kitchen Roopa!!

Joanna said...

Oh wow, this looks so good! I don't usually like tiramisu either - I think it's the bitter espresso. It needs to be balanced perfectly by the sweet elements and a lot of the time that just doesn't happen. Someone on Top Chef made a pumpkin tiramisu this past week, but I can't find the recipe anywhere, so I'm glad I have yours!!

Anonymous said...

Unbelievably good. I wish I could have eaten the entire thing.

Anonymous said...

This looks delicious but I don't often buy whole milk. How important is it to use whole milk vs. one with less fat?

Julie said...

This sounds fabulous. I subscribe completely to that same unwritten law that there must be pumpkin in some form on the Thanksgiving table, so it would be wonderful to have something like this which is pumpkin in a completely new and more exciting form.

navin said...

Wow... that looks yummy. I could devour that in like 2 seconds.

Evie said...

Nice work, your blog is awesome :)
http://evieskitchen.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

The real deal includes both types of cream, because the original version from the 1600s had no savoiardi or mascarpone. Baltimore dude added those ingredients, but when he worked in Treviso, then he brought his recipe to the USA upon immigration. In any case, throughout the years is has been perfected into creamy yumminess by Italians and foreigners alike, and now even modified! My cousin's restaurant makes a raspberry version with chambord soaked savoiardi... I am sure your is faboo too! xo Margie

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