At the time of writing this post, I was on the tail end of bronchitis. And a week of choking down horse-pill-sized antibiotics with honey and ginger tea, I needed a pick-me-up.
The Secret Recipe Club assigned me to make and post about a recipe from Cooking Whims. Megan happened to have a recipe she adapted from Kraft that made my almost-but-not-quite-gone disease a little easier to tolerate.
I made Megan's delicious yet easy version of tiramisu. Tiramisu, which literally means "pick-me-up," is a no-bake uber-rich Italian version of an English trifle (or vice versa, I didn't bother using my super-librarian powers to check which came first).
Real tiramisu uses massive quantities of whipped cream and marscapone cheese, a soft Italian version of cream cheese. Kraft, owning the Philadelphia and Cool Whip brands, uses these very products instead (surprise, surprise, surprise). Megan suggested using low-fat versions of the cream cheese and whipped topping. I didn't have low-fat versions of either so I stayed with the originals. I don't really care for a strong coffee taste, except maybe in coffee (and that's only on select mornings at my day job), so I reduced the amount of coffee granules by half and the water by a tad. Several comments on the Kraft version of the recipe suggested adding vanilla and almond extracts. I added vanilla along with Amaretto. Yumyumyumyum! They really boosted the flavor!
In answer to a Dear Reader who asked, regarding a different recipe, what "cream cheese, softened" meant: it does not mean whipped cream cheese! Whipped cream cheese is cream cheese pre-aerated so that straight from the fridge it spreads easily on your bagel. "Cream cheese, softened" is a package of cream cheese tossed onto the nearest countertop, still wrapped so as not to make too big a mess, and left for 30 minutes to an hour (depending upon the warmth of your kitchen) in order to soften up. In case you wonder why pre-softening is really necessary, what with the invention of the kitchen-aid and all, unwrap a brick of cold cream cheese, dump it into a mixing bowl and flip on the mixer's switch. You will quickly learn the hard way why it's called a brick. Unplug your former mixer and head to the nearest small appliance dealer for a replacement.
|Mmmmmm ... healthy cocoa ...|
The cocoa powder is used as a tasty yet decorative garnish, but not the optional kind. The inclusion of cocoa qualifies this as a healthy dessert.
Megan didn't mention it, but Kraft says this recipe makes 12 servings. It'll stretch to up to 16 if there are other desserts served alongside or you have really polite guests. But with a teen or two in attendance, the yield is closer to 8.
Quick and Easy Tiramisu
Adapted from: Cooking Whims
Yield: 12 servings
Can be halved or doubled
1 Tbl. instant coffee granules
1 Tbl. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
3/4 cup boiling water
2 (4 oz.) packages ladyfingers
2 (8 oz.) bricks cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbl. Amaretto di Saronno (or 1/2 tsp. almond extract)
2 cups whipped topping, thawed if frozen
1 Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
Stir coffee granules and 1 tablespoon of the sugar into the boiling water until dissolved; set aside.
Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with the whisk attachment of a mixer at high speed until creamy and frosting-looking, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Whisk in remaining sugar, vanilla and Amaretto. Gently whisk in the whipped topping just until incorporated (to avoid deflating the topping); set aside.
|This is not an 8x12x2 pan ... I made half a recipe.|
Split the ladyfingers in half lengthwise (If not pre-sliced, use a serrated knife for a cleaner cut). Arrange half of the ladyfingers, cut side down, along the bottom of an ungreased 8x12x2 pan. Drizzle evenly with 1/2 of the coffee.
|A full batch is twice this size.|
Carefully spread half of the cream cheese mixture over the ladyfingers. Avoid pressing down to prevent destroying the now-fragile moistened ladyfingers.
Place remaining ladyfingers, cut side down, over the cream cheese layer. Spoon remaining coffee evenly over the ladyfingers. Gently spread on remaining cream cheese mixture.
Dust the top evenly with the cocoa powder. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving to let the ladyfingers soften evenly.
Carefully cut into small squares or rectangles. Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days.
Someone who thinks if he wags his tail fast enough he'll get leftovers.
Disclaimer - because this recipe is part of an online cooking group, the linked recipes below might not be kosher.