Friday, July 15, 2011

Tiramusu Smackdown!

This was a diversion from student cake month although student's were involved. We had a challenge that had to be addressed. One of our summer friends was pontificating at one point about cooking skills and his restaurant experience. Somehow the subject of tiramisu came up which prompted the youngster to volunteer that with his culinary capabilities he could probably make an award winning tirasmisu despite not having previously made one.  Oops!  Had he not seen previous postings and not know that we have been spoiled with a superb tirasmisu for the past few years? 

The challenger!
The challenger's creations!
A tirasmisu-off aka smackdown was suggested similar to the flan-off we had oh so long ago.  The challenger accepted (or we goaded him into it) and the reigning expert also agreed.  Today was the day and the buildup brought people back for the monumental event.  Also to ensure the greatest participation gluten free versions were also offered so that everyone could get a taste.

The defending champion!

Her legendary tirasmisu...

and the gluten free version!
Both tirasmus were in square baking pans to be comparable.  Our challenger opted for a recipe that included the lady fingers being seemingly randomly distributed in the pan with considerable mascarpone. Once this was assembled a dusting of cocoa was sprinkled erratically on top.  A similar technique was used for the gluten free one though it was not clear what the gluten free lady fingers were made of. They looked more like lady balls. The "normal" tiramisu did taste good and lived up to expectations.. Towards the end the ratio of mascarpone to lady fingers swung heavily in favor of the mascarpone and the remnants were somewhat liquid. There was general agreement that this was the creamier version for sure.

Let the judging begin!

Well structured and layered!
A little more haphazard and pudding like!

The gluten free version..are those floating fun balls?

Mostly lady finger remnants

The mascarpone takes over in the challenger's recipe

The final slice still shows the details of the assembly.

Champ on the left, challenger on the right

The challenged stuck with her tried and true recipe. In fact some of the neophytes were immediately impressed with the presentation.  (Little did they know that the cocoa dust on top had gotten moist so they did not get the full effect.) The assembly of this tiramisu is very disciplined and the execution bespeaks the experience of the chef.  As usual the ratio of mascarpone to lady fingers was correctly balanced so neither of the two overpowered the other and you could thus easily taste the coffee and rum that the lady fingers are dipped and not just the mascarpone mix.  The tirasmisu sliced neatly and held together right up until the end. It was regarded as being less sweet than the competition and to some that was preferable.  The gluten free version, nicely presented in ceramic bowls was received quite well and some were incredulous to see some people actually eating something at cake hour for the first time in a long time.  (Maybe we should do more soy based things.)
The judging included returnees

The mystery man from yesterday was there

Judging went to the highest levels

The champ is looking confident!

Getting to the end!

So although the challenger's efforts were greatly appreciated and he was such a good sport, the champ retained her title and the prize for best entry in the tirasmisu smackdown went to her.

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