Candied Kumquat Tiramisu

This month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was Italian tiramisu. Deeba from Passionate About Baking and Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen, the hosts of the challenge, chose Carminantonio’s tiramisu recipe from the “The Washington Post”, July 11, 2007. The whole thing was supposed to be made completely from scratch, including the savoiardi/ladyfingers biscuits (the chosen recipe is from the “Le Cordon Bleu at Home”) and mascarpone cheese (thank you for choosing my recipe here).

Frankly, it was quite a surprise for me to read through the tiramisu ingredients list. The recipe is somewhat unusual. It calls for only 75g of mascarpone (it’s a rarity a tiramisu recipe requires less than a pound of cheese) and some pastry cream (my first thought was a cheaper substitute). The recipe creator, probably, was using what he had on hand (there’s always some crème patisserie stash in a commercial fridge). I’ve encountered many different recipes of the Italian classic and mostly everywhere Zabaglione is a must, folded whipped egg whites are quite common, pastry cream…? Really unusual…

I changed a few things here and there (couldn’t help myself, sorry). I tripled the cheese amount (I still made the required pastry cream, don’t disqualify me, please) and reduced the sugar. I used a different technique for mixing the savoiardi batter (I’m a strong believer in the power of well-whipped egg yolks) and higher temperature for baking: it is really a full-proof method that never fails me. I also added a touch of gelatin to the cream filling mixture, just a tiny bit to stabilize the whole thing, so the dessert could be presented free-standing and sliced neatly without freezing in advance. And since there was no need to chill the zabaglione and pastry cream, the addition of gelatin also allowed me to speed up the assembly (as usual, I procrastinated until the 27th and had to rush). I actually was able to unmold and slice it just after 3 hours of refrigerating (although, no doubt, the flavor does improve after overnight chilling).

As for the flavor I stepped out of the tradition (we were allowed to). I used the kumquats – wonderful citrus fruits with a very short season. I flavored the pastry cream and zabaglione with the kumquat zest, and used Grand Marnier instead of Marsala. I dipped the ladyfingers into a mixture of orange juice, Grand Marnier and candied kumquat syrup. The candied kumquats themselves became a topping and a layer at the bottom. Extra syrup was passed around to dribble over the plated slices.

Deeba, Aparna, thank you for hosting! It’s a great idea to master the ladyfingers; they are so versatile!

Makes about 10-12 servings

For the candied kumquats (makes more than you will need for the tiramisu assembing):

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb kumquats, sliced and seeded

For the tiramisu:

For the savoiardi biscuits (makes about 36; you might not need all):

  • 3 large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup cake flour, sifted before measuring
  • About 2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar, for sifting

For the soaking liquid:

  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup candied kumquat syrup
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier

For the zabaglione:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup Grand Marnier
  • ½ tsp finely grated kumquat zest

For the kumquat pastry cream:

  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp finely grated kumquat zest
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • A few drops of tangerine or orange oil

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

For assembling the tiramisu:

  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp gelatin
  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese, at room temperature (the temperature is crucial if you are using gelatin)
  • About 36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
  • Candied kumquats (reserve the syrup for serving)

Make the candied kumquats:

In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced kumquats, reduce the heat, and simmer the fruits, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the candied slices into a lidded bowl. Return the syrup to the high heat and boil until reduced to about 1 ¼ cups. Pour the reduced syrup over the candied kumquats. Cool. Cover and keep refrigerated until needed. Can be kept over a week in the refrigerator.

Make the tiramisu:

Make the savoiardi biscuits:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 400F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg yolks, 2 tbsp of sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip with the wire attachment until pale in color and thick (for about good 4 minutes). Set aside. If you don’t have the second stand mixer bowl, transfer the whipped yolks into a large bowl and thoroughly wash the first one.

In another clean grease-free bowl, using another whisk attachment (or thoroughly wash the whisk used for whipping the yolks) beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually, add the remaining granulate sugar, and continue beating until the egg whites form firm peaks, glossy and smooth.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold about 1/3rd of the whipped whites into the yolks to lighten them up. Spoon about a half of the remaining whites over the yolk mixture, then sift a half of the flour over the whites. Gently fold until the ingredients are barely combined. Spoon the rest of the whites over the yolk mixture, sift the rest of the flour over the whites, and then fold delicately until combined. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in the ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.

Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip about ½-inch wide and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 4-inch long strips leaving about 1 inch space in between.

Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.

Bake the ladyfingers, in batches (slide the first sheet into the oven as soon as you’ve piped), for 7 to 8 minutes, until they puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.

Cool completely on the sheets on a cooling rack, and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula (or pry off the parchment, if using).

Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Assemble the tiramisu:

Lightly spray a large loaf pan with oil and line with plastic wrap. Line the bottom with the slightly overlapping candied kumquat slices. Set aside.

Make the syrup:

In a bowl, stir to combine the juice, kumquat syrup, and Grand Marnier. Set aside.

Make the zabaglione:

Place all ingredients in a small heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and whisk constantly until it resembles thick custard and the instant-read thermometer reads 160F.
Transfer the zabaglione to a small clean bowl to stop further cooking. Set aside while you are working on the pastry cream.

Make the pastry cream:

In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the boil over the medium heat.
In the meantime, combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a small bowl and whisk together. Whisk in the zest and egg yolk.

Once the milk has reached the boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
Pour the yolk-milk mixture back into the saucepan and place the pan over the medium-low heat. Whisk vigorously and continuously until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously until the pastry cream is thickened, about 3 minutes more. Strain the pastry cream into the small bowl with the prepared zabaglione, add the vanilla extract and orange oil; whisk to combine. This mixture should be slightly warm (about 98F) by the time of incorporating the gelatin. Place the bowl into the skillet with hot water for a minute or two, stirring, if needed.

Meanwhile, measure 2 tbsp of lemon juice into a small bowl or cup. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let it soften for a couple of minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds on “High” to dissolve the gelatin. Whisk a little bit of zabaglione-pastry cream mixture into the gelatin, and then whisk it back into the rest of zabaglione mixture.

Whip the cream:

In a chilled bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip until medium peaks form. Set aside.

In a large bowl, with the same beaters (no need to wash) beat the mascarpone until smooth (don’t overdo). Gradually mix in the zabaglione-gelatin mixture. Before folding the whipped cream, make sure the mixture is no longer warm, it should be about 85F. Fold in about 1/3rd of whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, and then fold in the rest. Transfer the filling into a large pastry bag fitted with ½-inch plain round tip. Pipe an even layer over the kumquat layer in the loaf pan.

Workings quickly, dip both sides of ladyfingers (work with one at a time), in the orange juice mixture. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger into the loaf pan, placing them side by side in a single layer. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to fit. Pipe another layer of mascarpone cream. Top with another layer of soaked ladyfingers. Pipe the last layer of cream. Arrange some kumquat slices over the cream layer, and then top them with the last layer of ladyfingers.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 4 hours, better – overnight.

To serve, carefully invert the loaf pan onto a serving platter, remove the plastic and drizzle some candied kumquat syrup over the top (if you wish).

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57 Responses to “Candied Kumquat Tiramisu”

  1. Your tiramisu is perfect! Lovely work!

    I was also surprised by the recipe, but it came together really well, I thought. Quite different from classic tiramisu, but definitely worth mastering.

  2. How creative to use kumquats! Your tiramisu looks awesome!

  3. This looks absolutely amazing! How patient you are to slice all those kumquats:)
    I think I used the same method and the higher temperature for the savoiardi, with great success. I’ll definitely be making those again!

  4. Just stunning! I want to eat that right off the page! Beautiful photos and presentation :)

  5. What a beautiful tiramisù.

  6. Love the addition of kumquats in this. I too found the recipe to be quite unusual. I made all the components but ended up assembling them in a different way.

  7. What a beautiful tiramisu! I absolutely love your pictures.

  8. I love the pictures and the kumquat ‘roof’ is simply gorgeous!

  9. such a gorgeous Tiramisu.. i just want to reach and dip my fork in that slice there!! Fantastic work!

  10. So beautiful, I love the use of kumquats.

  11. This looks so gorgeous! I had a kumquat dessert the other night and it was SO yummy! :)

  12. Wonderful choice on your tiramisu. I love your photography.

  13. Wow, stunning! That Tiramisù is so tempting and beautiful! I love the kuquat scales and the fresh photography!



  14. Stunning tiramisu. Very nice presentation. Well done :)

  15. What a beautiful textures combination, delicious it must have been :)

  16. Vera.. I’m always coming to you for any baking and pastry questions I have. You are such a professional! :) I have a question, is the recipe you have posted here your preferred savoiardi recipe? It sounds like the traditional way I have seen Arrigo Cipriani from Harry’s Bar in Venice write about.

  17. Wow.I liked it alot.The pictures are so wonderful.Using Kumquat is a great idea:).Loved ur blog.

  18. Vera, your tiramisu looks amazing!! Can’t believe it only took you one day to make, photograph and post!! Your piping skills are perfect as always…look at those perfect savoiardi!! You must be blessed with really steady hands!!

  19. Your tiramisu looks absolutely stunning! I think I need to go out and buy some kumquats now!

  20. Your Tiramisu is lovely. :) Great job on this challenge!

  21. Vera, you always do things so perfectly! Really lovely, luminous tiramisu photo, and your flavors sound fantastic. I have to say that I had the same baffled reaction about the small amount of mascarpone in the recipe. One more thing: your savoiardi biscuits look absolutely perfect–next time I make them, I am coming back here and doing just what you did! (but, then, I always check in with you when I bake, because your really do have such great instincts).

  22. Great ideas with the tiramisu such as the savoiardi, mascapone and adding the gelatine. I will be making some adjustments next time I make this recipe. The candied kumquats are beautiful. Great flavour comination!

  23. Ooooooooooooooh I LOVE what you did with the challenge. You will never be disqualified on any level, ever, Vera! If I had seen this before, I would have probably presented this too, with your mascarpone, as the challenge. Tee hee. LOVE the candied kumquats. What a gorgeous addition, and I am sure you know what I want to do now… make your version ASAP. Tiramisu is one dessert we are happy to have anytime! Sorry this is so long, but you make me want to say so much. Thank you for the wonderful mascarpone recipe, and for doing the challenge so beautifully! {HUGS}

  24. Oh gosh, those glistening cumquats on top just made me drool. With your addition of Grand Marnier, this would be heaven!

  25. That looks heavenly! Loved your photography.

  26. Just gorgeous!! I love tiramisu and kumquats.

  27. Just gorgeous!! I love tiramisu and I love kumquats.

  28. Really like your take on the Tiramisu. This recipe is different from most which was why we thought of choosing it. Thanks for the mascarpone recipe.
    And for baking with us, Vera.

  29. Vera – Absolutely stunning! My favorite presentation and version, by far! Thank you for explaining your changes and supporting methods. You are truly inspiring!

  30. How beautiful with the candied kumquats.

  31. That looks extraordinary! I’m sure it was delicious!!

  32. Love that you used candied kumquats..and I’m doing this recipe soon.

  33. What a fabulous creation and variation on the classic. I’d like to try this refreshing dessert someday, but your stunning photos will have to tide me over for now.

  34. That picture is so beautiful. You’re photograpy always amazes me.

  35. i reduced the sugar and made a few tweaks too lol! but your mascarpone was perfect! loved the candied kumquats here perfect idea!

  36. So beautiful! I didn’t have a chance to participate this month but I must say that your version looks amazing!

  37. Vera, you did a fantastic job! And so daring:) I decided to stick to the recipe:) Luckily everything turned out great. I had a bit of a problem with mascarpone cheese but all in all everything was good. I think I will improve my cheesemaking with more practice:) Thanks for the recipe!

  38. I love your version of tiramisu; I bet it cuts down on the extreme sweetness and richness of the classic version; I have been thinking of using kumquats lately too as I have seen quite a lot of them in stores.
    Beautiful job!

  39. Oh my LORDS! The kumquats! How divine, they’re one of my most favourite fruits and this just looks so heavenly. Phenomenal job!

  40. It looks so so good. I almost tripled the mascarpone quantity myself, as it just didn’t sound like tiramisu otherwise.

  41. Your tiramisu looks so beautiful, love the addition of the candid kumquats :-)

  42. Absolutely gorgeous! I love candied kumquat, they’re so beautiful. And I’ve also seen tiramisu versions including pastry cream… I wonder what the “real” tiramisu is like, in Italy, I mean.

  43. wha a wonderful tiramisu

  44. That looks absolutely delicious, Vera! I love that you changed things up a bit.I would always shy away from making tiramisu because I don’t like coffee. This is a great alternative! Lovely! Do the lady fingers become crunchy when baked at a high temp, or do they stay soft?

  45. What an awesome take on the traditional tiramisu! It’s absolutely gorgeous and I am sure the flavour was equally fantastic.

  46. This looks gorgeous and what a great twist on the traditinal tiramisu. Looks very fresh and fruity. The little slices of kumquat on top are just perfect. Love the shape too

  47. You are the second person to speak to the stabilizing power of whipped egg yolks, and I wish I’d known to do this, as my end result was a little limp. Of course I wouldn’t have wanted to add gelatin as we are a meat-free household, but I love the looks of your stable tiramisu. The kumquats look spectacular.

  48. Great job! Beautiful photos! I’ve never thought of preparing Tiramisu in this way! Roz

  49. Wow, thank you, everyone, very much for such lovely comments! I greatly appreciate it!

    Laurie, you are too kind :)
    The recipe I usually use calls for a little bit more sugar and vanilla extract (it does matter, so I put the vanilla anyway). What really different is the method of mixing, baking and cooling.

    Hanaa, thank you! The higher temperature of baking doesn’t make the biscuits crunchier, it makes them puff better in the oven, so they become spongier, more absorbent.

  50. Vera CONGRATULATIONS !!!! This is the best blog ever, by far you are the best !!!

  51. What an ingenious idea – candied kumquat tiramisu. Looks amazing, wish I could taste some :)

  52. Hi Vera,

    I love your translation of a kumquat tiramisu! Who said it is always coffee and chocolate! This really reflect the season. Thank you. This will be on my to-do list.

    the gelatin idea is great also. i recently made some bavarian cream and this reminds me of last weeks dessert!

  53. yummmmm your tiramisu looks delicious!
    What a great version for this challenge.
    I love the flavors combination and the pictures are great
    Beautifully done!
    (also a DB)

  54. So beautiful! Very creative and love the flavours!

  55. This is beautiful and unique!
    I was just wondering, how long does it take you to make a dessert with several components, like this one? I always have to spread it out into 2-3 days to avoid rushing myself too much!

  56. This looks so beautiful, I would be afraid to cut it :)

  57. Vera, Thank you for the savoiardi recipe and for the inspiration to make them. They came out beautifuI! I enjoy your blog…

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