Eric Akis: Let tiramisu carry me up to culinary heaven

Eric Akis

The other day, I saw first-of-the-season Vancouver Island-grown raspberries on sale at my corner grocer and they reminded of a dessert I’ve been meaning to try. So I picked up a few pints of them and the other ingredients I needed to make the dish, and got to work.

What I made was a summery version of the classic Italian dessert tiramisu.

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According to the New Food Lover’s Companion, the English translation of that Italian word is “carry me up.”

The culinary reference book notes that many who taste this rich and dreamy dessert assume the unspoken notion that culinary heaven is where you will be carried.

Traditional versions of tiramisu are made by dipping pieces of sponge cake or ladyfinger cookies in rich coffee, often spiked with Marsala wine, before layering them with a decadent mascarpone cheese mixture and grated chocolate and/or cocoa.

Over the years, as with other desserts that have been made for eons, variations on how tiramisu is made have appeared. They include versions in which the coffee/chocolate flavour is replaced with the taste of fresh berries, which I have done in today’s recipe.

It’s quite a divine creation that I called raspberry almond tiramisu. That’s because, along with fresh berries, raspberry jam flavoured with raspberry liqueur and a rich mascarpone mixture, I also layered almond-flavoured finger cookies into the dessert.

If you need a special dessert for a dinner party, this will certainly qualify. It serves 12 and, because it needs to sit and set a while in the refrigerator, can be made many hours before needed.

Raspberry Almond Tiramisu

This summery version of tiramisu layers fresh raspberries into this splendid dessert that features rich mascarpone cheese and raspberry liqueur. This dessert should be refrigerated at least six hours before serving.

During this chill time, the ingredients meld and the dessert becomes something that holds together when sliced.

Preparation time: 40 minutes, plus chill time

Cooking time: none

Makes: 12 servings

1 cup raspberry jam (I used Bonne Maman)

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp raspberry liqueur (divided: see Note 1)

1 (475 gram) tub mascarpone cheese (I used Tre Stelle)

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1/3 cup icing sugar, plus some for dusting

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

16 almond flavoured finger cookies, each halved lengthwise (see Note 2)

2 pints (4 cups) fresh raspberries

• mint sprigs, for garnish (optional)

Place the jam and 1/4 cup raspberry liqueur in a small bowl and mix to combine. In a second, larger bowl, combine the mascarpone and remaining 2 Tbsp raspberry liqueur.

Place the whipping cream, 1/3 cup icing sugar and vanilla in a third bowl, or bowl of your stand mixer, and beat until medium to firm peaks form.

Whisk 1/4 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone to lighten it. Now, with a rubber spatula, gently fold the remaining whipped cream into the mascarpone.

Set 16 half pieces of almond finger cookies, in two rows, into the bottom of a 13-by-9-inch dish. Spoon and spread half of the jam mixture (1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp) over those cookies.

Now spread on half the mascarpone mixture, and then top with half the fresh raspberries. Top those raspberries with remaining cookies. Top cookies with remaining jam mixture, spread on remaining mascarpone mixture, then top with remaining raspberries.

Cover and refrigerate the raspberry almond tiramisu at least six hours. (The tiramisu can be made up to 12 hours before serving.)

When ready to serve, cut the tiramisu into portions and, with a lifter, set them on plates. Dust each portion with icing sugar, garnish with mint sprigs, if using, and serve.

Note 1: Raspberry liqueur is sold at many well-stocked liquor stores. I used Chambord.

Note 2: Almond-flavoured finger cookies are sold in the packaged cookie aisle of many supermarkets. I used Driehoek.

Eric options: If you don’t want to buy raspberry liqueur, other types that would work in this recipe are orange liqueur and amaretto.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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