Heston’s Tiramisu recipe from Heston at Home makes the ideal rich, creamy Italian dessert.
Although according to the book it’s not that traditional, the recipe originated in the 70’s or 80’s in a hotel near Venice.
Either way this coffee-laden Italian take on a trifle recipe made an ideal dessert for the 10pm Supper Club, after we’d made Heston’s Perfect Pizza recipe from In Search of Perfection. (Though you’re welcome to question the wisdom of eating this “pick-me-up” so late in the evening).
Recipes: Heston’s Tiramisu Recipe
Special Equipment: Acetate
Special Ingredients: Marsala wine, Leaf Gelatine
Time: 7+ hours (1 hour to make, plus at least 6 resting in the fridge)
Cost: Approx £6 (more if you need to buy Marsala)
Serves: At least 4
Heston’s Tiramisu recipe features both in the book Heston at Home and on the TV show How to Cook Like Heston. On the telly there’s some of his signature trompe l’oeil business going on, where the Tiramisu is made to look like a potted plant (with the aid of some edible soil made from a couple of chocolates and an obscure breakfast cereal).
The magnificent blog I Want to Cook Like Heston has a spectacular and detailed report on this visually impressive version of Heston’s Tiramisu recipe. We’ll be sticking to the more traditional book version as we’ve already got our hands full making Heston’s Perfect Pizza recipe.
This recipe uses gelatine and requires at least 6 hours in the fridge to set. So, along with the Perfection Pizza recipe pre-fermented dough, it’s best to start the day before serving.
Step 1: Cream and Mascarpone Base
UH-OH! First problem: One of our two tubs of Mascarpone was granular and ricotta-like when we opened it. Heston unhelpfully asks for 300g of this smooth, fatty Italian cheese, yet our local supermarkets only sell 250g tubs.
This means buying two packs, and since half of the first one had been lost to snacking we were forced to use the grainy tub as well. I presume that this ruined appearance was the result of the cheese having been frozen somewhere along its journey to the shelves. Just in case, we won’t be buying Morrison’s Mascarpone ever ever again. You shouldn’t either.
WHOOPS! We figured adding everything, cream, cheese and Marsala, then whipping it together would work out ok (and bash the granular bits of cheese into smooth submission) but solid cheese and liquid cream don’t work well together – within seconds I’d sent cream spilling over the sides while the cheese clumped between the wires of the whisk. We tried to banish the grainy bits, and make the slop more whippable, by smooshing the cheese with a spatula.
These efforts meant that within seconds the cream was over-whipped into thick, stiff peaks. And it was still full of grains. Our final rescue attempt was to push the whole mix through a sieve. This worked, but our cream and cheese was now holding its rigid shape like a slumbering Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Step 2: Eggs and Sugar
OH DEAR! I whisked the eggs and sugar by hand and it looked fine at first. When it came time to combine this with the cheese there was still a lot of runny liquid in the bottom. On the plus side: adding this made the mixture look a lot more smooth and pourable.
This step seems simple enough, provided you take a casual approach to salmonella and other raw-egg pitfalls.
The final thing to add to this mix is a small amount of cream that’s been infused in a pan with 1.5g of leaf gelatine. That’s slightly less than a single sheet, according to our jewellers / drug dealer’s scales.
DAMN! The split second I saw crisp gelatine sheets to the pan I realised I’d forgotten to bloom them. A dash of kettle water reduced them to a sludge. Pause, cut off half a sheet more, bloom for two minutes, hope for the best.
BUGGER! Doing this one step too late meant the cream I added to the pan already had the eggs mixed in. Obviously this risks scrambling some of the egg if the heat goes too high.
The gelatine-cream is now whipped back into the main mixture. Please feel free to try a taste at this point, it will be absolutely delicious.
Step 3: Sponge fingers
ERM! So Heston’s recipe asks you to make a coffee mix using 150g of ground coffee and 400ml water. A PINT of strong coffee seems a bit excessive – that’s much more than our 4 serving glasses will hold, even without all the other ingredients.
We’re not coffee users, and the half-full jar in the cupboard claimed it’d hold100g max when new. Dumping the whole lot into a pyrex jug of boiling water seemed like lunacy, so we settled for a good few spoonfuls. As if it were instant gravy. Then add another 100g of Marsala. This will probably be completely the wrong strength.
OH NO! Dunking the sponge fingers in the coffee mix will just cause them to disintegrate, as we found out to our cost. A few casualties sunk to the bottom of the jug. It’s best to just dribble the liquid onto them using a tray-and-spoon set-up.
Step 4: Chocolate Discs
HELP! So the unique trick in Heston’s Tiramisu recipe is to include discs of dark chocolate between the layers, creating a sort of Walls Vienetta effect. Heston asks you to melt 250g of dark chocolate so that you can make these. But then the recipe instructions only seem to require you to have a single disc per serving glass.
We figured two-and-a-half bars of good chocolate would be a pricey overkill (Heston’s other recipes have been very wasteful with ingredients, especially when it comes to chocolate. His Liquid Centre Chocolate Pudding recipe is a good example). Besides, for 250g we’d need giant, poster-sized sheets of acetate and an industrial freezer to set them in.
We just used 50g. This wasn’t too little, as the chocolate spreads very thinly when pressed between two sheets of acetate. And being spread so thin they freeze very quickly (though we’d recommend 20 minutes over the recipe’s 10).
Cutting the chocolate discs is trickier. The thin, frozen chocolate is very brittle, and our ring cutter was very blunt. We got around this by heating the cutter with our crème brûlée blowtorch and melting the shapes out.
SWINE! Not only is the chocolate brittle, which means it breaks easily, but being thin it’ll start to heat up once taken out of the freezer. Some of our discs broke, some began to melt and couldn’t be peeled from the acetate. A small knife and a quick trip back into the freezer helped here.
AWWW! Before you can assemble each Tiramisu you need some grated chocolate. We just grabbed the nearest grater, our fine one we use for Parmesan and the like. And completely forgot Heston’s original Tiramisu recipe from the Times in 2006, which recommends chopped chocolate for extra texture. Our finely grated stuff was more like a powder. Damn.
Step 5: Assembly
OOPS! We forgot the serving glasses we were using taper out towards the top, so should have used two cutting ring sizes instead of one. In the end our chocolate discs were far too tiny to fill the upper layers.
Heston’s Tiramisu recipe only seems to call for a single disc per glass. Our meagre 50g of chocolate gave us 12 discs (admittedly small ones) so we added 3 discs (or broken disc pieces) per glass.
Simply layer coffee-soaked sponge fingers, then Marsala-cream, then grated chocolate, then a chocolate disc and repeat. The third and final layer skips sponge fingers and is just Marsala cream.
They now need at least 6 hours in the fridge, which will allow the runny-but-gelatine-infused Marsala cream to set.
Step 6: Serving
Grate some more chocolate, combine with cocoa powder and sprinkle on top just before serving. Astonishingly we didn’t mess up this step. They are now ready to serve / scoff.
In spite of all the errors: granular cheese, over-whipped cream, under-whipped eggs, weak coffee, un-bloomed gelatine and broken chocolate discs, this was actually a massive success.
The flavours of the Marsala-cream are perfectly balanced, neither too sweet nor too boozy. And in spite of all the rich fats and gelatine the texture isn’t slimy or gunky.
Those chocolate layers are hugely important. We’d suggest adding at least one between each layer of cream. Our 3 discs per serving were perfect.
Overall we’d genuinely recommend Heston’s Tiramisu recipe. We screwed up every single step and it still turned out fantastic.
Fans of this dish should look no further than Heston’s Tiramisu recipe. In our opinion it was perfect in every single way. Add those extra chocolate discs and no other changes are needed.
Have you made either of these recipes, or have you got a favourite chilli con carne recipe of your own?Let us know in the comments section below.