One of the best things about the English is their love for brunches. Correction, their love for brunching out. On weekends, going out and queueing for the highest rated brunch spots in town with the aim of indulging in decadent creations is arguably the best way to start the end of the week. The standard orders include eggs, bacon, salmon, pancakes, muffins, hollandaise, sausages, avocado, the list goes on. Why not top it off with a reviving cocktail? After all, a meal without alcohol wouldn’t be typically British now would it.
Here is a simple recipe for a classic which cannot be omitted from any brunch menu. We didn’t make hollandaise because being Swiss and all, and growing up close to the Alsace where the asparagus (with hollandaise) season is something we rave about, hollandaise just didn’t seem right to include in a breakfast dish. But feel free to re-create with a saucy accompaniment.
While working at an oh-so-career-relevant summer job, I inadvertently found myself in the midst a tiramisu war. It all started when one of my friends naively asked a lady for the recipe of the strawberry tiramisu she had brought to the office. Mistake. I believe that her genuine request must have sounded something like this to this lady: “I want to steal ALL your tiramisu secrets and challenge you to the ultimate tiramisu bake(?)-off MWAHAHAHAHA”. People can get greedy over recipes, but this was extreme; on the spot, the lady publicly announced that my friend would attempt to emulate her tiramisu and bring it the following week so we could all compare. Much to her chagrin, the recreation far exceeded its predecessor and thus war broke out. We suddenly had a middle-aged German lady bringing in to work exorbitant amounts of tiramisus with strange twists, violently stuffing them in our mouths, just in order to proclaim “OH ABER SEE! IT EES ALL FINEESHED. EET WAS SEEMPLY ZEE BEST ONE YET!”.
The saddest part was that none of them were particularly good. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t really believe in putting fruit in tiramisu. One of the highlights was an “apricot tiramisu” which had a top layer of apricot goo that oxidized, turning into a delicious-looking diarrhea-inspired brown. There’s nothing more devastating than having to throw away almost an entire case of tiramisu, but it was honest-to-God inedible. We advertised it to colleagues from nearby offices, who would hurry along excitedly at the promise of an Italian treat and, upon taking a look, would suddenly go “oooooh, I’ll just have a bit… I’m on a diet really”. After having tried a plethora of different tiramisus (plural of tiramisu anyone?) I came across this traditional and simple, yet impeccable recipe.
The key is the mascarpone – no matter what you’re told, do not substitute with quark, Philadelphia or let yourself be tempted to engage in any other soft-cheese shenanigans. Tiramisu is made with mascarpone. Punkt. Having said that, the beauty of this recipe lies in its flexibility: you can adjust the alcohol, sugar and coffee levels to your taste. It is simply victorious.