Tiramisù (which literally translates from the Italian as ‘pick-me-up’) must be one of the best-loved desserts in the world. It has all the essential elements of a perfect pudding—alcohol, creamy custard and cocoa. Pears work particularly well with anything sweet, creamy and cheesey so mascarpone makes an ideal partner. Do choose your pears carefully. Soft and sweet varieties, such as Packham, do not poach well and will end up as an overly sweet mush. Bosc are good, but any firm brown variety will work.
6–8 sponge fingers (savoiardi)
250 ml/1 cup Marsala or brandy
115 g/½ cup sugar
2 firm brown pears (such as Bosc), peeled, cored and cut into eighths
2 egg whites
4 egg yolks
250 g/1 cup mascarpone cheese
Cocoa powder, for dusting
4 individual serving dishes
Line the bottom of each serving dish with sponge fingers, breaking them in order to fi t them in.
Put the Marsala or brandy, half of the sugar and 125 ml/½ cup water in a non-stick frying pan/skillet and cook over high heat until the mixture boils, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pears and cook on a gentle simmer for 20 minutes, turning them often until they are soft and glossy and there is about half of the liquid remaining.
Lay the pears on top of the sponge fingers and pour over the poaching liquid. Using electric beaters, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar for 4–5 minutes, until they are pale in colour and doubled in size, then beat the mascarpone into the yolks until smooth.
Using a large spoon, fold the egg whites into the yolk and sugar mixture and spoon this over the pears. Cover each dish with clingfilm and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Dust each one with a little cocoa powder just before serving.
Excerpted from Home-Grown Harvest, published by Ryland Peters & Small (CAN $27.95). Photography © Ryland Peters & Small. Used with permission from the publisher.
This original recipe first appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.