The February 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession. You can find the complete recipes on either of their blogs.
I've never been that crazy about tiramisu. I don't dislike it, but it's just not on the top of my dessert list. That said, I thought it would be a lot of fun to make. And it was. But for me, the odd thing about making tiramisu was that almost every component was more delicious on its own than in the final product.
The creamy part of the tiramisu is a mixture of zabaglione, pastry cream, marscapone, and whipped cream. This is spread between layers of espresso-dipped ladyfingers. How could that combo go wrong, right?
Well, just listen to the wonderful contrasts between the components. My zabaglione was thick and custardy, with notes of rich rum and tart lemon. My pastry cream was supersweet, smooth, and just short of cloying with vanilla. The homemade marscapone was fresh, mild, heavenly. Whipped cream was... well, whipped cream. But mixed together, they were merely sweet, and very rich. Oh, the lemon was there, the rum and vanilla, but smooshed all together they became one round flavor, without the contrast of textures and flavors that I enjoyed tasting while I was cooking. Ladyfingers, fresh from the oven, were like fluffy sandcastles, but in the assembled tiramisu, they lost their delicate crunch and became merely a coffee-flavored interruption to the otherwise overwhelming sweet creaminess.
I still enjoyed the outcome, but if I do this again, I think it will definitely be tirimisu:deconstructed.