November 30, 2014

Pumpkin Tiramisu

I was born in Arad, a fairly large city for Romanian standards located on the Hungarian border in the western part of Transylvania.  As I mentioned before in this blog, the German, Austrian and Hungarian influences are strikingly visible everywhere in my city from the grand architecture to the rich and flavorful food.  But recently, a thick tide of Italian interests, businesses and investors added a new dimension to the food scene of my humble hometown with Italian restaurants springing up like mushrooms after rain.  In no time, Romanians happily embraced the new cuisine with many local owners striving to keep it as authentic as possible with just the right amount of Romanian touch.  My parents were no exception and for several years, they owned the most popular Italian restaurant in town, Il Padrino

Il Padrino, a very suitable name for the two story restaurant, was a place that screamed Italian flair from the dark green linens and deep brown wooden chairs to the intrinsic movie-based artwork displayed all over the white walls, and the faithful, real Italian patrons that would mob to the restaurant every time they came to town.  The locale had an extensive menu that incorporated homemade pasta dishes, thin crust wood oven pizza, mouthwatering meat plates and antipasti, fresh salads, and delicious Romanian offerings interjected through the menu to satisfy the demanding local palette.  But what would please any palette, Romanian and Italian alike, would be the ever-present tiramisu.  This iconic coffee-flavored Italian dessert would always do the trick.    

Leafing through this month’s Food & Wine issue, I came across a very intriguing tiramisu recipe that brilliantly incorporates the season’s most valued ingredient.  Curiosity won out and I had to try it.  So glad I did!  The Pumpkin Tiramisu is everything a classic tiramisu should be plus the added bonus of the pumpkin.  The layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and smooth pumpkin-spiced mousse topped with sweet whipped cream, a dust of cocoa powder, shaved chocolate and peppery candied ginger meld in a beautiful carnival of autumn flavors.  Although this Pumpkin Tiramisu is intended to be a fancy trifle dessert, if you’re like me and don’t own a proper trifle dish and don’t entertain the thought of buying one, I can fully attest that the end result looks beautiful and is just as wonderfully tasty in a plain cake pan.  I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving!      

Pumpkin Tiramisu
Adapted from Food & Wine (November 2014)

Makes:  12 servings


·         1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
·         ½ cup light brown sugar
·         ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
·         ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
·         Pinch of ground nutmeg
·         ¾ cup granulated sugar
·         1 ½ cups mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
·         2 ½ cups heavy cream
·         2 cups brewed coffee, cooled
·         2 7-oz. packages dry ladyfingers
·         Cocoa powder, chocolate shavings and candied ginger, for garnish


In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree with the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and ½ cup of the granulated sugar.  Add the mascarpone cheese and 1 ½ cups of the heavy cream.  Using an electric mixer, beat the pumpkin mixture at medium speed until soft peaks form; do not overbeat.  

In a medium bowl, whisk the brewed coffee with 2 Tablespoons of the granulated sugar until it’s dissolved.  Dip both sides of the ladyfingers in the coffee and arrange them flat, one by one, in a single layer in the bottom of a 14 by 10-inch baking pan.  Spread half of the pumpkin mousse on top.  Layer the remaining ladyfingers over the pumpkin mousse.  Spread the remaining pumpkin mousse on top.  Cover and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight. 

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 cup of cream with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipped cream over the tiramisu, dust with cocoa powder, garnish with shaved chocolate and candied ginger and serve.

Note:  If you have a trifle dish and intend to use it, this is how you adjust the recipe.  Follow the instructions up to dissolving the 2 Tablespoons of sugar in the brewed coffee.  Then, dip both sides of 6 ladyfingers in the coffee and arrange them in a single layer in a 4-quart trifle dish.  Spread 1 cup of the pumpkin mousse on top.  Repeat the layering 5 more times, ending with a layer of the pumpkin mousse.  Cover and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.  Once you’ve prepared the whipped cream, dollop the whipped cream over the tiramisu, dust with cocoa powder and garnish with shaved chocolate and candied ginger and serve.  I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving!      

Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)