easy desserts & recipes: tiramisu entremet
Entremets is an Old French word that means “between servings”. In modern French cuisine, entremet is a dish served in between courses to cleanse the palate for the next dish or it can simply be a dessert. This was common among the nobility and upper middle class in Western Europe, in the later part of the Middle Ages and the early modern period. An entremets’ main function was to herald the end of a course, be a conversational piece (hence, its elaborateness) and to prepare the diner for the next dish. Nowadays, entremet’s are usually chilled desserts that are made with layers of mousse and cake. It can even include pastry creams that help it set better.
One of my favorite entremet’s is the Matcha Entremet (green tea). Matcha is increasingly becoming popular, not just because of its health benefits and effectiveness to help you detoxify after a rich food binge, but more so its taste. It isn’t just served as a hot beverage but it is starting to be incorporated into savory and sweet edible concoctions.
It isn’t difficult to see the French & Italian influence in Japanese cuisine. Crepes are a popular French pancake whereas okonomiyake (savory pancake) or doriyaki (sweet bean pancake) are the Japanese versions. Much of the French influence on Japan happened in the mid-nineteenth century where many of the French artists were fascinated with the Japanese ukiyo-e prints. They were much like flattened blocks of color that was slightly off center. The Japanese were also influenced by the prominent artists in Europe such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, Klimt, van Gogh, Degas, Whistler and many more. The famous Japanese realist artist Katsushika Hokusai, best known for his work Thirty six Views of Mount Fuji, was heavily influenced by French and Dutch landscape artists as seen in a lot of his works with its distinct use of realistic shadows and shading. It was an era where shared concepts in art and cuisine were embraced and savored. More so, the French and the Japanese create desserts with such intricate detail they look much like art work. The desserts must be savored by your eyes as much as your mouth. In fact, enjoying Japanese desserts makes me sometimes feel like I’m strolling around Paris.
There are some ingredients that when combined, become a magical concoction, much like matcha and chestnuts. Chestnuts provide a deep, rich, earthy taste that perfectly complements the lightness of green tea. If entremets were intended to cleanse the palate, this will surely do the trick. And if you want to end your meal with a clean aftertaste, this is so much better than an after dinner mint.
For me, my favorite dessert still is Tiramisu.
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) cake flour, sifted
- 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated white sugar
- Powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar for dusting the tops of the cookies
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. To make the piping of the cookies easier, use a pencil and ruler to divide the parchment paper into three – 3 inch (7.5 cm) rows, with about 1 inch (2.54 cm) between rows. Have ready a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) round tip.
- In your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons (25 grams) white sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow. (When you raise the beaters the batter should fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.) Beat in the vanilla extract. Sift the cake flour over the batter but do not fold in.
- In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the 3 tablespoons (36 grams) white sugar and whip until stiff peaks form and the whites are glossy. Fold the whites into the egg yolk and flour mixture in three additions, mixing only until incorporated.
- Transfer the batter to the pastry bag and, holding the bag at about a 45 degree angle to the baking sheet, pipe the batter into 3 inch (7.5 cm) long ladyfingers, using the lines drawn on the parchment paper as your guide. Pipe the batter leaving about a 1 inch (2.54 cm) space between the cookies.
- When you have piped all the cookies, place the powdered sugar in a wire strainer, and lightly sift the sugar over the tops of the cookies. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the ladyfingers are firm but barely browned and are still spongy when pressed with a finger.
- Remove the baking sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper from the baking sheets onto a wire rack. Let the ladyfingers cool for a few minutes and release them from the parchment paper, with a flat spatula, while they are still warm. If you left them completely cool before removing them from the parchment they stick and hard to remove without breaking. Finish cooling the ladyfingers on the wire rack before using or storing. If you are not using the ladyfingers right away, freeze them. Ladyfingers stale very quickly unless they are soaked in a liquid. To store, place in a plastic bag between layers of wax or parchment paper and freeze up to 2 weeks.
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen 3 inch (7.5 cm) Ladyfingers.
Adapted from Joy of Baking
References: de Laurentis, Giada. ‘Everyday Italian’. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. New York: 2005.
Sax, Richard. ‘Classic Home Desserts’. Houghton Mifflin Company. New York: 1994.
- 2 cups (480 ml) milk, divided
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup (35 grams) all purpose flour
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) Marsala or dark rum
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 8 ounces (1 cup) (227 grams) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 28-32 crisp ladyfingers (Savoiardi)
Coffee Soaking Syrup
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) very strong brewed coffee or espresso
- 1/3 cup (65 grams) granulated white sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) dark rum or Marsala
- Cocoa Powder for Garnishing
- 1 ounce (30 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated or chopped
- Fresh Raspberries (optional)
- Cream Topping: Put 1 3/4 cups (420 ml) milk and 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar in a medium sized saucepan. Place over medium heat, and bring this mixture just to boiling, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar, flour, and egg yolks. When the milk comes to a boil, gradually whisk it into the egg yolk mixture.
- Transfer this mixture into a clean large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a boil. When it boils, continue to stir for another minute or two or until it thickens. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl. (This will remove any lumps that may have formed.) Whisk in the Marsala (or rum), vanilla extract, and butter. Immediately cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming.
- Refrigerate until thick and cold, at least two hours.
- Once the custard has cooled sufficiently, remove from the refrigerator. In a separate bowl, with a wooden spoon, beat the mascarpone cheese until it is soft and smooth. Gently fold, or whisk, the cold custard into the mascarpone until smooth.
- Coffee Soaking Syrup: In a large shallow bowl combine the coffee (espresso), sugar, and Marsala (rum). Taste and add more sugar if you like.
- To Assemble: Line a 9 x 5 x 3 inch (23 x 13 x 8 cm) loaf pan with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic wrap extends over the sides of the loaf pan.
- Have ready the ladyfingers, coffee mixture, and cream filling.
- Working with one ladyfinger at a time, dip 7-8 ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and place them, side by side, in a single layer onto the bottom of the loaf pan. Spoon 1/3 of the cream filling over the ladyfingers, making sure they are completely covered. Repeat with another layer of ladyfingers by dipping another 7-8 ladyfingers in the coffee mixture and placing them on top of the cream. Again, cover the ladyfingers with cream and repeat with another layer of ladyfingers, cream, and ladyfingers. Cover the Tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- To Serve: Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the tiramisu. Gently invert the Tiramisu from the loaf pan onto your serving plate and remove the plastic wrap. Sift cocoa powder and/or grated chocolate over the top of the Tiramisu and decorate with fresh raspberries.
Makes 8 – 10 servings. Preparation time 30 minutes.
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