Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Berry & Cherry Tiramisu


So there was a little bit of pre-Christmas debate about what I would make for dessert on Christmas Day.  It came down to two options; the panettone bread and butter pudding  (which I featured last week) or my berry & cherry tiramisu.  In the end I went with both!  These two desserts can be made in advance - always a bonus - and with both available there was something for the folks who wanted a hot dessert and something for the folks who wanted something creamier and colder on Christmas Day.


I love the berry variation on the traditional coffee-flavoured tiramisu.  It seems so festive when you slice into it and all the red splashes of raspberries and cherries are revealed amidst the mascarpone cream and soaked sponge biscuits.  But the inspiration for this recipe is actually the home-made cherry brandy that the sponge biscuits are doused in.

I make my own every year.  Now by "make", I don't mean I am distilling bootleg brandy in my garage.  Instead, I buy a fairly cheap brandy and mix it with 1 kilogram of cherries and a 1 cup of white sugar in a jar, then I leave it to its own devices for a couple of months in the back of my pantry.  I stir it up once in a while, sloshing the mason jar from side-to-side, but it's otherwise a pretty simple process.   My first batch of cherry brandy was an attempt to recreate some given to me by a friend who'd bought it from a elderly man on the side of the road somewhere in Greece.  Obviously, I couldn't buy it again, so I attempted to make my own.


After making your own cherry brandy the inevitable question is - what on earth am I going to do with it?So, when I was looking into recipes, I came across a tiramisu recipe of Donna Hay's that I adapted freely to my own cause and the rest, as they say, is history.  I have made this dessert for two orphan's Christmases in Jakarta, always to great acclaim.  I hope you enjoy it as much.



Berry & Cherry Tiramisu

- 300 grams cherries
- 250 grams raspberries (I prefer fresh, but frozen is A-OK)
- 500 grams mascarpone
- 1 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 cup cherry brandy (or replace with muscat or dessert wine)
- 1 packet Italian sponge finger biscuits
- cocoa powder to dust before serving

If you are using fresh cherries, now is the time to pit them.  I now use a German cherry pitter I bought at Essential Ingredient, which makes the job easier (if not less messy).  Alternatively, just slice the cherries in half and remove the pit.  If you are using frozen berries and cherries, now is the time to pop them in a bowl and defrost them.




Whip the cream until it forms peaks and then fold through the mascarpone.  Set aside.


Pour your cherry brandy in a shallow dish - I sometimes use a pyrex pie dish.  Next, one-by-one, dip both sides of your sponge finger biscuits in the cherry brandy so it soaks up the liquid.  Lay them next to each other in the base of your (approximately 7 inch x 7 inch) serving dish.




When you have a layer of biscuits along the base of the serving dish, layer your berries across the biscuits, then cover with a layer of cream.  Repeat another biscuit layer, then a final layer of cream.  Smooth the cream on the top layer, but don't be too fussy - you're going to sprinkle this with cocoa powder anyway.



The tiramisu must now be covered with cling film and refrigerated overnight.  This is why this is such a great dessert to make ahead.  The flavours intensify and the dish firms for easy cutting while it sits in your fridge as you sleep.



When you are ready to serve, use a sieve or small mesh tea strainer to sprinkle cocoa powder over the top.   Then cut and use a cake server or spatula to serve up the slices.  This recipe should give you nine small serve or six huge serves.  I prefer to reserve some of the berries to serve on the side of the dish.  And, of course, a small port or sherry glass of cherry brandy or sweet dessert wine complements it perfectly.


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