The world’s favourite pick-me-up: Mumbai chefs pay a tribute to the tiramisu


For every one who possesses a sweet tooth, the tiramisu ranks among their top favourite indulgences. The layered dessert has the ability to entice a diner’s palate with the bitterness of coffee, the cloud-like whipped mascarpone cheese, and the gentle sweetness of biscuits.

Ado Campeol, the ‘Father of Tiramisu’, whose restaurant is credited with having invented this spectacular pudding, passed away on October 30 at the age of 93. It was actually his wife Alba Di Pillo and the dessert chef Roberto Linguanotto, who created it at the couple’s restaurant ‘Alle Becherie’ in Italy’s Treviso in 1969 as ‘Tirame Su’, which translates to “Pick me Up”. As luck would have it, the dish, which was introduced on their menu only in 1972, was never patented and as they say, the rest is history. This is also why people can eat it anywhere in the world today. 

With Campeol’s death, gastronomy has certainly lost one of its dearest but the tiramisu lives on in more ways than one. The dish has fans around the globe including in Mumbai where restaurants celebrate it on their menus. While some chefs here have stuck with the classic style of making tiramisu, others have innovated with their own twists.

Smoke House Deli uses local ingredients such as Pollachi vanilla, organic eggs, locally-sourced chocolate and in-house cream to make the Smoke House Tiramisu. Photo: Smoke House Deli

City-based restaurant Smoke House Deli serves a local version of the classic Italian coffee-flavoured dessert. Chef Rollin Lasrado says the restaurant uses organic vanilla from Pollachi, organic eggs, locally-sourced chocolate and mascarpone cheese with cream obtained from Dope Coffee, the in-house artisanal coffee brand, which is also run by Riyaaz Amlani’s Impresario Handmade Restaurants. “We have such an amazing variety of cheese and coffee that is grown and made across the country. The tiramisu, being a favourite on the menu, we felt it would be the perfect dish to showcase the products from local producers,” adds Lasrado. 

While the classic has been on the menu since the restaurant’s inception in 2011, the current version is two-years-old and is quite popular among diners. Ask Lasrado what is the secret to a really good tiramisu and he says, “The richness of the zabaglione, flavour and aroma of a great coffee, texture and hint of bite from the ladyfinger all together is what makes the tiramisu an indulgence.” 

Lasrado at Smoke House Deli isn’t the only one experimenting with the classic dessert. Rachel Goenka, city-based chef and founder of The Chocolate Spoon Company has given it a hyper-local spin by making with it the Parsi semolina pudding known as ravo. “This version of tiramisu has dark chocolate mascarpone cream, layers of coffee-soaked lady finger biscuits with layers of the classic Parsi dessert, ravo,” she says. Goenka first created the dish when she was working on her book ‘Adventures with Mithai’ in 2019. Her experiment with the combination turned it into a unique dessert. “Neither overpowers the other and all the flavours are balanced beautifully,” explains Goenka, who believes a really good tiramisu comes from good quality mascarpone, freshly brewed espresso and lightly dipping lady finger biscuits into coffee, rather than soaking them. 

Unlike traditional preparations, Jamjar Diner makes an alcohol-free tiramisu by using a cooled strong espresso along with other ingredients. Photo: Jamjar Diner

The dessert can be spotted at another restaurant in the city, which has had it on their menu for more than a year now. Unlike the typical version of the dessert, Jamjar Diner’s tiramisu does not feature booze. “We make our tiramisu alcohol-free by using a cooled strong espresso made from our special roasted coffee beans. Instead of the traditional savoiardi biscuits, we soak Lotus biscoff biscuits in our own espresso blend. We also flavour the mascarpone cheese with a biscoff jam,” says head chef Sandip Dalvi. Giving in to people’s love for crispy and crunchy textures in desserts, they place a dark chocolate coated waffle crisp, promising to take diners on a gastronomic journey. “The Lotus Biscoff is a good alternative as it goes well with mascarpone and coffee,” adds Dalvi. To get a good tiramisu, he recommends practising restraint in the sweet profile to complement the bitter coffee flavour, and allowing the dessert to set in the refrigerator overnight or for at least six hours. 

While most of them have stayed true to the traditional form of the tiramisu, Bastian, the Bandra and Worli-based restaurant has reimagined the dessert using the ‘pull-me’ cake concept, says pastry chef Dhiraj Jankar. “The layers are built with chocolate sponge, coffee syrup, mascarpone but the real, final punch comes from the coffee glaze and crumbles at the top,” he explains. In the past, the restaurant has showcased waffles, French toast and cheesecake in tiramisu. Last winter, they decided to make versions with Lotus biscoff and vegan chocolate.

While other chefs stress on the importance of ingredients, Jankar says finding the right balance between flavours and textures is the key. “We were altering the physical structure of an extremely popular dessert, which is risky but striking a balance between the creamy subtlety of the mascarpone and the robust punch of coffee is something we learned through experimentation,” informs the city-based chef, about the establishment’s love affair with the Italian dessert. 

Making the most of the `pull-me` cake concept, Bastian turns the classic dessert into a Tiramisu `Pull-me` Cake. Photo: Bastian

Smoke House Tiramisu at Smoke House Deli, across all outlets

For the Tiramisu
Egg yolk – 5 nos, castor sugar – 50 gms, coffee powder – 15 gms, whip cream – 100 gms, mascarpone cheese – 175 gms, lady finger – 150 gms, sugar syrup – 250 ml, coffee liqueur (optional) – 30 ml.
For the chocolate soil
Castor sugar – 50 gms, dark chocolate (roughly chopped – minimum 60 percent cocoa) – 20 gms, cornflakes – 15 gms, cocoa powder – 5 gms, coffee powder – 1/2 tsp.
For the Tiramisu
1. Place about one inch of water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and place a bowl on top of the small pot, so it`s sitting on the pot without touching the water.
2. Add the egg yolks and sugar to the bowl, whip to mix the ingredients together. Place the bowl on the small pot of simmering water. Using a whisk to mix, whip the egg/sugar mixture constantly for about 10 minutes. The mixture will increase in volume as it thickens. This is your sabayon (zabaione).
3. After you have finished whipping the sabayon (zabaione), remove the bowl from the heat and continue to whip yolks to help it cool. The mixture should be thick and a lemon-yellow colour. Allow to cool briefly before mixing in mascarpone.
4. Add room temperature mascarpone to whipped yolks, mix until well combined. Do not overmix this as it can cause curdling.
5. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer whip cream to stiff peaks.(Hand mixer or stand mixer is fine). This process should be slow, starting on low and increasing the speed over about ten minutes.
6. Gently fold the whipped cream in the mascarpone sabayon (zabaione) mixture and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the tiramisu.
7. Mix the cold espresso (or strong coffee) with the coffee liqueur and dip the ladyfingers into the mixture just long enough to get them wet, do not soak them.
(If you can`t use alcohol, just leave out the liqueur).
8. Arrange the ladyfingers in the bottom of a 9-inch square baking dish (or container similarly sized).
9. Spoon half the mascarpone cream filling over the ladyfingers.
10. Repeat the process with another layer of ladyfingers.
11. Add another layer of tiramisu cream.
12. Refrigerate at least four hours, preferably overnight is best.
13. Dust the top with coffee powder or cocoa powder.
For the chocolate soil
1. Put 20 ml of cold water and sugar in a saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and continue to heat until the syrup at the side of the pan begins to colour. Remove from heat and add the chocolate.
2. Whisk to incorporate the chocolate and continue whisking until the liquid has crystallised. Pour the crystal in a baking paper lined tray to cool.
3. Crush the cornflakes and then toast on high heat, shaking the pan continuously until caramelised, not burnt. Cool on a lined baking tray.
4. Mix the crystallised dark chocolate with the cornflakes, the cocoa powder and coffee powder well. Keep in an airtight container.
To serve:
1. Cut into portions and serve with a spoonful of the chocolate soil on top of the side.
2. You can also serve it with your favourite ice-cream, sorbet, coffee liqueur or hot chocolate.

Ravo tiramisu by Chef Rachel Goenka

Ravo layer:
Suji (semolina) – 60 gms, milk (warmed) – 500 ml, castor sugar – 100 gmsm, butter – 20 gms, cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp.
Chocolate cream layer:
Egg yolks – 3 nos, castor sugar – 45 gms, mascarpone cheese – 180 gms, vanilla essence – 1 tsp, whipped cream – 120 gms, melted dark chocolate – 200 gms.
Sugar syrup:   
Water – 100 ml, sugar – 30 gms.
Whipped cream – 120 gms, ladyfinger – 400 gms, cocoa powder to dust.
“A Parsi version of kheer, the ravo recipe I use was given to me by a Parsi family friend and blends beautifully with the dark chocolate,” says the chef.
1. Make the ravo by melting butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the suji and cook until light brown. Then, add the warmed milk, cardamom powder and sugar and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool.
2. For the chocolate cream, in a medium-sized bowl whip the egg yolks and castor sugar together over a double boiler to cook out the egg yolk. Add vanilla essence and continue whisking until the mixture goes from bright yellow to pale yellow. Allow to cool.
3. In another bowl, soften the mascarpone by whipping on low speed. Gently fold in the egg yolk mixture.
4. Add the melted chocolate and whisk manually to incorporate.
5. Fold in the whipped cream and set aside.
6. Make a sugar syrup by dissolving sugar in hot water. Set aside to cool.
7. Take a 7-inch round cake ring and place it on a cake board. Alternatively, you can wrap the base with cling film.
8. Dip the ladyfingers in the sugar syrup and layer them evenly on the base of the ring.
9. Pour an even layer of chocolate cream, about 1-inch high, over the ladyfingers and freeze for 5 to 7 minutes.
10. Top the chocolate cream layer with  a layer of ravo and freeze for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the ravo is firm to the touch. Repeat the layers, then chill the dessert for an hour in the fridge.
11. To unmould the tiramisu, use a blowtorch to evenly heat the sides of the ring, using just enough heat to loosen the layers.
12. Cut ladyfinger biscuits into 7-cm pieces and line the sides of the tiramisu. Pipe whipped cream on top of the tiramisu and dust with cocoa powder before serving.

(With inputs from IANS)

Also Read: Why be scared of pumpkins when you can dish them out in style?

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