Warmer weather means one important thing for me: summer fruits! Berries, melons, mangoes, and peaches galore! Don’t even get me started. Strawberries have come back in season, just in time for Mother’s Day desserts! This year, I decided to make some strawberry tiramisu (essentially a trifle) for my mom and mother-in-law. Asian people have specific taste when it comes to their desserts: they like them with reduced sugar compared to American desserts. Many desserts made by American and French bakeries are often cloyingly sweet-too intense for me. The thing is, we can adjust our taste buds to be able to appreciate sweet and salty flavors without overdoing our seasonings. Whenever I look up desserts recipes, I always adjust the sugar to 1/3 – ½ of what the recipe calls for. That usually gives me the perfect amount of sweetness without falling into a diabetic coma.
In California, May is not exactly the best month to enjoy fresh strawberries. This is the beginning of strawberry season, which means the berries are often more bland or sour. When I take a gamble and buy some fresh strawberries, I’m never sure what I’m going to get. Which is why I love having strawberry dessert recipes on hand so that I can repurpose the strawberries if they are not sweet enough on their own to eat by themselves. I often make strawberry jam from strawberries that are just under or past their peak ripeness. I come from a family that firmly believes in wasting as little as possible so we try to be resourceful when it comes to preserving our food and stretching it that extra mile.
The strawberry tiramisu recipe that I’ve prepared can easily be altered using other summer fruits, including blueberries, blackberries, peaches, or even mango. In writing this, I suddenly feel the urge to experiment with all these other fruits! Tiramisu can use different cream bases along with mascarpone. I personally love crème patisserie and anything custard-related really. So I combined crème patisserie with mascarpone to create a delicious pillow of creaminess to cushion the bite of the cake and tartness of strawberry. Hope you enjoy!
When in doubt, always put less sugar than you think a recipe will need. You can always add more sugar, but you cannot take it away once it has been added. Think about the sweetness level of all your ingredients. I knew that the sponge cake I was using had a higher level of sugar, so I made sure to make my strawberry jam and crème patisserie/mascarpone cream mixture minimally sweet to create balance in this dessert.
Tiramisu is traditionally made with lady fingers, but prepared vanilla sponge cake or angel food cake can be wonderful substitutes.
I almost always make tiramisu the day before because you need time for the cake or lady fingers to soak up the flavorful liquid with which you have doused it.
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
2 loaves sponge cake
3 egg yolks
4 cups 2% milk
¾ cup corn starch
¾ cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 containers (24 oz) mascarpone
5 lbs fresh strawberries
½ cup white sugar
3 cups whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp powdered sugar
Wash strawberries and place in a large saucepan. Reserve 24 strawberries for decoration at the end. Add sugar. Turn on high heat and allow to boil and reduce for approximately 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. When liquid begins to reduce, lower heat to medium or medium-low. Continue simmering until jam begins to thicken.
Optional: use immersion blender to blend the chunks out of the jam
Allow to cool for approximately 20 minutes. Set aside.
Heat milk in a sauce pan
In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and corn starch together.
When milk almost comes to a boil, slowly whisk milk into egg mixture, one ladle at a time. This will heat the egg mixture. After egg mixture has become warm, add the rest of the milk and whisk into egg mixture.
Return the mixture to saucepan and heat on medium until it thickens to the consistency of a thin pudding. Whisk constantly to prevent curdling of egg mixture.
When crème patisserie is at the desired consistency, immediately remove from heat. Continue whisking and add in vanilla extract and mascarpone.
Transfer to a large clean bowl. Pass through a sieve when transferring to the bowl to ensure a smooth mixture (or at least pass the mixture from the bottom of the sauce pan through the sieve to prevent clumps from getting in).
Cover with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic to make contact with the top of the crème patisserie. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Find a large square or rectangular container that is at least 4 inches in height.
Cut sponge cake into ½ inch thick slices and place a thin layer of cake onto the container.
Spread a generous layer of strawberry jam on top of the cake layer.
Spread a generous layer of crème patisserie/mascarpone cream mixture on top of jam layer.
Repeat until there are at least 2 complete sets of layers. Top the last layer of crème patisserie with a generous layer of strawberry jam.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Serve with fresh whipped cream and fresh strawberries. To prepare Chantilly cream, place whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract into a mixer or mixing bowl. Whip for 3-5 minutes, or until soft peaks form on the cream.
Decorate to your heart’s content and enjoy with friends and family!