I was born in April, and one of the fantastic features of this wonderful month is that besides the flowers, the birds and the bees, another thing that starts popping out left and right are big, red, juicy strawberries. I love strawberries. It’s a love I just cannot control. And my family knows this oh so well.
Every year since I was born, my birthday cake has always included strawberries. Layered in the middle of a devil’s food chocolate cake, carefully placed on top of a beautifully frosted vanilla cake… It doesn’t matter whether I’m 5 or 55, and whether I live in Rome or Timbuktu, my mother will not let the day of my birthday go by without having a cake with strawberries somewhere in the middle!! But hey, I’m certainly not complaining!
Back to tiramisu. I’m not sure how or when, but a few years ago, my sister started warping the great original tiramisu recipe and she eventually came up with this gem: -brace yourselves- Strawberry and Pistachio Tiramisu! The best thing about this recipe is that it is 100% ours! It’s hard to say that about most recipes. But I challenge you to google this one. You’ll find nothing! Well, nothing similar to how we make it, at least.. The secret in our tiramisu (and I wish you could see the pain in my sister’s face as I slowly reveal her secret) is texture. Any of you ever seen an episode of Masterchef? The thing that pretty much every chef will stress the absolute most is always texture, texture, TEXTURE. Why? Because texture is what makes a dish either POP, or FLOP! Unlike all the other recipes for strawberry pistachio tiramisu, we keep the original cream zabaione, and use the chopped pistachios to add the texture. When you take a bite of the soft ladyfingers surrounded by the runny cream, that little burst of salty crunch from the pistachios in the middle is simply divine.
Anyway, today was my 24th birthday and to my great surprise, my sister made me my favorite dessert. She usually makes it in a normal dish like traditional tiramisu, but this year she took it one step further. I was very impressed. And if you took a good look at that picture right up there, I’d be surprised if you weren’t too! So without further ado, wipe that drool off your faces, roll those tongues back into your mouthes, because you’re about to be let in on only the greatest recipe OF ALL TIME.
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 pacco ladyfingers (savoiardi)
3 Tbsp icing sugar
2tsp caster sugar
1 Tbsp marsala wine
1/2 litre strawberry juice
Cut up the strawberries and sprinkle with 2 tsp sugar. Coarsely blitz the pistachios (not too fine) or chop roughly by hand. Set both aside for later use.
Start on the zabaione cream. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, icing sugar and marsala until pale yellow and dense. Add the mascarpone and mix well. In a separate clean bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks and slowly fold into the mascarpone mixture.
To make the tiramisu cake like we did, you will need the tray you’ll be serving the cake on, and a removable ring. If you are making it in a normal serving dish, that’s all you’ll need.
To make the cake, cut the dry ladyfingers to the desired height and place them around the ring vertically, flat side down. Start the base of the tiramisu by soaking the ladyfingers in the strawberry juice for a couple of seconds (don’t soak them too long or they will become soggy) and using them to cover the entire base of the tray. Place the chopped strawberries over the ladyfingers, followed by the pistachios and the zabaione cream. For the next layer, place only a few ladyfingers here and there (if you make another complete layer, the tiramisu will turn out too dense). Once again, layer with strawberries, pistachios and finish off with the cream. Place the tiramisu in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set.
To serve the cake, remove the ring and hold everything together with a ribbon of your choice. Finish by decorating the top of the cake with the remaining pistachio crumble and a few chopped or whole strawberries.