Sunday, August 29, 2010

Crisis Averted

As I've previously mentioned, I am responsible for the baking for a special wedding reception coming up in September. Now that it is safe to reveal the details, the happy couple is my sister Lisa and her new husband Joe. They were married on the beach in Key West a few nights ago and their reception is less than a month away.

I have changed my mind about the oreo cupcakes. They were a hit with the 13 year old boys at Connor's birthday party, but I really want the desserts at this occassion to be elegant. I've chosen a new theme (thanks to Jill who suggested coming up with some kind of theme!) and have some recipes saved. I'll share all of that after the fact as I want some of this to be a surprise and Lisa reads this blog!

What has remained in the plans from the beginning, however, is the "star of the show," the tirimisu cake. Tirimisu is Joe's favorite dessert and a special request from Lisa. Research indicates that tirimisu cakes are becoming quite popular for wedding cakes but they can be tricky. So I have been doing some practicing. I found a picture of one that gave me some great ideas for how to garnish and decorate the cake. The next step was to look for a recipe, make a practice cake, and find some guinea pigs to try it out.

My first attempt produced a beautiful looking cake, but the sponge layers were very fussy to work with and came out so thin that it had to be a two rather than a four layer cake. I served it at home to the kids and Gillian's friend Abby after dinner one night and everyone liked it. The cake stood up well and was still good a few days later when I shared it with some people at work. I was basically happy with the outcome, but knew I would need to find a different sponge cake recipe and try again. Additionally, I felt like it was missing something; like it needed more traditional tirimisu flavor...

...which brings us to round 2. Last night we had friends coming to the house for dessert after going out to dinner, so I thought I would try a new sponge cake recipe. I also decided to try a mascarpone filling recipe that was part of a traditional tirimisu. It involved making a zabaglione with marsala wine, cooling it, then adding it to whipped cream and the mascarpone. It made so much filling- about twice as much as was needed, so I decided to frost the whole cake with the filling as well. Big mistake. Since this filling was intended to be layered with lady fingers, it is much softer than a frosting and can't really stand up to a cake. An hour later I checked the cake and the top two layers had slid over and I was in disaster mode.

There was really no way to salvage this as a cake, and I didn't have the time (or ingredients) to start over, so I decided to try turning the whole thing into a trifle. I cut the cake up into big chunks, whipped up some cream with sugar and little Tia Maria to blend with the coffee soaked cake, and layered the two in a trifle bowl. The result is shown in the picture above. Baking crisis averted!

So now I feel ready for the final tirimisu cake without having to make another practice one. I'm going to use the sponge cakes from the second cake, the filling and decoration from the first cake and just spike the whipped cream frosting with coffee liqueur for a little extra flavor. You'll have to wait to see the finished product and the other desserts after September 19th!


  1. Great idea......tirimisu trifle! It's presented beautifully, Maria!