I’ve started playing Risk Legacy with a bunch of like-minded nerdy, competitive, and slightly obsessive friends on weekends. Somehow the hosts get suckered into cooking dinner for everyone every week, and so the rest of us pitch in with some of the side dishes.
Last week the main course was Stromboli, filled with home-made pesto and even home-made sausage! Originally I volunteered to bring the salad, but then I remembered I have a nice Venetian recipe for tiramisu from one of my college art teachers, Sally Spector. That would go nicely with the Stromboli, and I had a fun idea for how to make it appeal especially to we five would-be Caesars!
This version of tiramisu builds on a sponge cake rather than ladyfinger cookies and I tend to like it better than the cookie version. I like my cookies crisp, not soggy: cake should be cake. Besides, it reminds me of my time in Venice, where the restaurants almost all served the cake version, probably because you can slice it thin and still have your customers think it is rich and satisfying.
Let me know if you’d like the actual sponge cake recipe.
If you’d like to make a similar pattern on your cocoa-dusted cake, then you’re in luck. It is pretty easy. Frost your cake like normal — I couldn’t find any real marscapone cheese, so I just mixed powdered sugar into spreadable cream cheese. Put the cake back in the fridge to help stiffen the frosting.
While the frosting is firming, print the image you’d like to have on your cake. Make sure to scale it up or down to fit! Then take some waxed paper and lay it over your image. Trace the outlines of the shapes with a pencil — it is not too important to actually “write” on the waxed paper because the pencil itself will scratch the wax enough to see the outline. You’re going to cut along this edge, so don’t make it too detailed. Smooth edges will separate from the frosting easier too.
Once you’re done tracing, cut along the line with scissors or an Exacto knife to get the shapes, in my case, each continent. If you have a lot of shapes or they are small, you might want to put one or more toothpicks through the shapes at this point. Later these will help you find the paper under the cocoa dust.
Take the cake back out of the fridge and lay the shapes onto the frosting, gently pressing it into the frosting like scotch tape on paper, just touching enough to stick to the frosting. If you used toothpicks, push them gently into the cake too so that they stick straight up.
Now dust with cocoa powder. I sprinkled spoon-fulls gently through a wire strainer to help distribute it evenly. Once your cake is completely covered to the density of cocoa you desire, gently lift off the waxed paper objects, leaving the nice white frosting behind.
Ok, it never works that perfectly, but hopefully you can smooth down the frosting pulled-up by the removal of the waxed paper. I only had a few big shapes, so I didn’t use the toothpick trick this time, though I kind of wish I had.
In any case, there it is, a dessert fit for Nerd Caesar.