Monday, 28 February 2011

Green tea tiramisu

Spinach-green and weirdly excellent. It’d be tricky and anxious-making to have to decide which I like better out of this variation or the espresso-choc classic. It’s not pretty, and the flavour is unusual and somehow dusty, yet good. And matcha isn’t lying about just anywhere. I went to a tea seller on eBay for that, and had to wait for it to come from China. But worth it overall. I took this into work and am not sure how it went down, but the end of day the dish was cleaned and sitting in the kitchen waiting to be taken home.

Despite my trials with Maida Heatter's ladyfingers, I think these gave the tiramisu the vanilla-ey, tasty biscuit edge. It’ll be hard to go back to the substanceless Unibic.

Recipes for green tea tiramisu abound online. I’ve seen them include everything from sambuca to cream instead of mascarpone. I cobbled together my own rough guide based on quantities of liquid for the traditional sort, which usually works when using commercial savoiardi, but was too much for these homemade ones. Recipe tweaked to work properly follows.

1 batch of Maida Heatter’s ladyfingers, or 250g packet savoiardi
1 tablespoon green tea (matcha) powder, plus more for sprinkling over later
½ cup caster sugar
3–5 separated eggs, depending on size of dish. To err on the side of excess and find some cream left over is no bad thing.
250g mascarpone

Heat ¾ cup water either on the stove in a small saucepan, or in the microwave in a cup or jug. Dissolve ¼ cup of the sugar, then whisk in 1 tablespoon green tea powder. Put aside to cool.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale yellow. Here’s where it’s ideal to haul someone away from their lesser pursuits and into the kitchen to add globs of mascarpone to the yolk mixture while you keep beating it, or vice versa. Very difficult to wrangle thick mascarpone with one hand.

Meanwhile, that other pair of hands, the KitchenAid, can be employed beating the egg whites to firm peaks. (I shall rhapsodise on the KitchenAid another fine day, because I have been converted and brainwashed and am in thrall to a shiny kitchen object I once derided as unnecessary and ostentatious.) If you’re bereft of both faithful servant and handy machine, just do it in sequence with the egg whites last.

Take a spatula-clump of stiff egg white and stir it into the egg yolk mixture to loosen. Then gently fold in the remainder, trying not to knock out too much of the aeratedness of the egg white. Resist getting rid of all traces of white fluff, though as a completist I find this hard.

Back briefly to the waiting green tea syrup. Some people are dippers, some are pourers. I’m habitually the former, my preferred technique being to transfer the liquid into a shallow pasta bowl and briefly turn two savoiardi at once in it before laying side-by-side in the dish. Well, that all changed with these structurally unsound homemade efforts – pouring over a layer of the dry biscuits was the way to go. 

Once half the biscuits, sodden with half the syrup, line the dish (which in my case was a 7"x9" lasagna dish), blob on and spread over half the mascarpone mixture. Repeat the process with the biscuits, then spread over the final layer of mascarpone.

Stretch cling wrap firmly over the dish, trying to make as little contact with the mascarpone as possible. It’s good to refrigerate overnight, or at least for a good few hours before serving – give the biscuits a chance to soften and the flavours to amalgamate. Unlike the cocoa dusting of traditional tiramisu, don’t sift over the remaining matcha powder until serving – that way, it’s offered up as a slightly more attractive bright green rather than darkening with the moisture.

One last thing – if you find you’re left with a small amount of concentrated green-tea syrup, don’t knock it back in one gulp like I did if you're shortly to go to bed. You may as well drink espresso for all the sleep you’ll get afterwards. Wired. 

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