Thanksgiving weekend has arrived here in Canada and it feels a little too soon. It was practically summer here in Toronto this past week, so I’m not exactly in the mood for turkey and all the fixings. I would happily take a Caprese salad instead. But alas, the calendar and the weather report don’t coordinate with each other, so I’m trying my best to get jazzed about mashed potatoes and roast squash. But thankfully, this year, I at least won’t have to preheat the oven for my dessert. Nope, this year I am making this no-bake wonder – London Fog Tiramisu. This beauty delivers the flavor profile of the cozy tea latte in a classic tiramisu format. This is such a fun little riff, so let’s get into it.
When I was growing up I was personally offended by coffee desserts. I could not understand why anyone would interrupt sugary excellence with bitter breakfast sludge. Honestly, I couldn’t understand why all the grown-ups in my life liked coffee. That was back when I didn’t have a job, wasn’t concerned about the state of the economy, and banked 8 solid hours of sleep regularly. To say things have changed would be an understatement.
I now know that contrasting sweet with bitter can be an enjoyable experience and I rely on my morning espresso quite a lot. But even now, I wouldn’t call myself a coffee lover. Drinking coffee is more of an act of survival. What I do find myself gravitating more towards is tea and no one is more shocked by this development than I am. I did not grow up around tea drinkers. I doubt there was even tea in my childhood home. But here I am with piping hot Earl Grey in a mug.
Arguably the most famous coffee dessert of all time is Tiramisu. Tiramisu hails from Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions in Italy. And in spite of its global reputation, the dessert is not all that old. It made its first appearance in print in the 1970s and restauranteur Ado Campeol claimed his wife invented the dish on Christmas Eve 1969. The word “tiramisu” didn’t even enter any Italian dictionaries until the 80s. So tiramisu is sort of the dolce version of an overnight success. There are claims that tiramisu is based on more traditional Italian dishes, but tiramisu, as we know it today, isn’t even a senior citizen.
But enough about the origins of tiramisu, let’s have a little fun with it and make this London Fog Tiramisu. Before we get too far into the recipe, let’s first discuss what a London Fog is. London Fog is a kind of tea latte. It’s usually comprised of Earl Grey tea mixed with lavender or vanilla syrup and steamed milk. This beverage is even younger than tiramisu, making its debut in the 1990s in British Columbia, Canada. We’re taking the flavor profile of this very soothing beverage and applying it to the tiramisu format. I’m sure the Internet will love it…I’m being very sarcastic.
First things first we’re going to infuse some cream. This will take a little while, so start this process early in the day. But even if you do start early, tiramisu in any form is not a same-day dessert. It will need to be chilled overnight, so make sure you make your tiramisu the day before you need it. Pour heavy cream into a small saucepan. Add a vanilla bean pod and three bags of Earl Grey tea. Place the pan over medium-low heat and bring the cream up to the verge of boiling. Do not let it come up to a boil at any point. If it does, toss it and start over again with fresh cream.
Once the cream comes up to the barest simmer, take it off of the heat and cover. Let steep for 30 minutes. Take the tea bags out of the cream. Give them a good squeeze over the saucepan before discarding them. Remove the vanilla bean pod as well. Transfer the cream to the fridge and let chill for a good 2-3 hours. We want the cream to be very cold before we do anything with it.
Take three more teabags and place them in a heat-proof container. Pour boiling water over the tea and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and whisk in two shots of cognac. This will be the dipping liquid for our ladyfingers. Okay, let’s discuss a potential pitfall while we’re here. The worst thing that can happen to a tiramisu is sogginess. And trust and believe, I wound up with a few soggy-bottomed tiramisus when I was testing this recipe.
Now, a soggy tiramisu can happen for a multitude of reasons such as the egg whites not being whipped enough or overworking the mascarpone mixture. But more often than not overly saturated ladyfingers are to blame. That’s why I suggest selecting the most rigid ladyfingers you can find. Storebought is better than fresh for this reason, so ignore any gourmand tendencies. And when you find those, um, dusty ladyfingers, make sure you dip them in the tea very quickly. Do not soak them. Just quickly coat the exterior of the fingers. Layer the dipped cookies in a 9×13 pan and pop it in the fridge while we move on to the cream.
Okay, we’ve arrived at another potential deal-breaker – the eggs. Traditionally, tiramisu is made with raw egg. Now, I am not a particularly squeamish person and I also have the good fortune to have a rather robust immune system. I am also not a pregnant person. All of these are valid reasons to bow out of this recipe because yes, I am going to use raw egg whites. But first I’m going to whisk the yolks together with sugar and the caviar from the vanilla bean pod and place them over a double boiler. You want the yolks to reach a thin-custard-like consistency. Make sure you don’t scramble the yolks. Keep the heat low and your patience high. Fold the yolk mixture into some room-temperature mascarpone cheese and set it aside.
Retrieve the cream from the fridge and pour it into a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture as well. Now for the controversial part, the egg whites. Place the egg whites in the stand mixer as well and slowly stream in some sugar while whisking on high. Whisk the eggs to the midpoint between soft and stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture as well. If this isn’t your thing, you can add another cup of whipped cream instead. I would suggest fortifying it with some powdered gelatin to make a stabilized whipped cream.
From here all we have to do is assemble. Using an ice cream scoop, place dollops of the mascarpone mixture on top of the chilled ladyfinger layer. Spread the cream into an even layer using an offset spatula. Dip and arrange another layer of ladyfingers and top with the remaining cream. Once again, spread the cream into an even layer and then cover and chill for 12 hours. Top your London Fog Tiramisu your way. I went with pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, chocolate curls, and rose petals, but you do you.
And that’s everything you need to know about this London Fog Tiramisu. Rich, creamy, and luxurious, this little spin on the Italian classic may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it certainly is mine.
London Fog Tiramisu
- 1 9×13" pan
- 1 hand or stand mixer
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 heaf-proof bowl
- 1 heat-proof container
- 1 off-set spatula
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 6 Earl Grey tea bags divided
- 1½ cups hot water
- 2 oz cognac
- 400g (14oz) ladyfinger cookies
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup granulated sugar divided
- 475g (27oz) mascarpone cheese
- ¼ tsp salt
- pomegranate arils for sprinkling
- pumpkin seeds for sprinkling
- chocolate curls for sprinkling
- dried rose petals for sprinkling
- Split the vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise. Scrape out the caviar. Reserve both the pod and the caviar.1 vanilla bean
- Pour the cream into a small saucepan. Add the vanilla bean pod and three of the Earl Grey tea bags. Place over medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. ** Take the pan off of the heat. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.2 cups heavy cream, 6 Earl Grey tea bags, 1 vanilla bean
- When the 30 minutes are up, remove the tea bags and give them a good squeeze over the saucepan before discarding them. Remove the vanilla bean pod and chill the cream for 2-3 hours or until very cold.
- Once the cream is in the fridge, place the remaining tea bags in a heat-proof container. Cover them with hot water and let steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags and whisk in the cognac. Transfer the mixture to the fridge and chill until cold.6 Earl Grey tea bags, 1½ cups hot water, 2 oz cognac
- Working with one cookie at a time, briefly dunk the cookies in the tea mixture before arranging them in an even layer in a 9×13 pan. *** Chill.400g (14oz) ladyfinger cookies
- Separate the eggs, placing the yolks and the whites in separate bowls. To the yolks add half of the sugar and the reserved vanilla caviar. Whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook the yolks until they reach the consistency of a thin custard. About 5 minutes. **** Fold the yolk mixture into the mascarpone and set it aside.4 large eggs, ½ cup granulated sugar, 475g (27oz) mascarpone cheese
- Pour the cooled cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the cream on high until stiff peaks form. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture and set it aside once again.
- Thoroughly rinse and dry the mixing bowl and add the egg whites. Whisk on high while streaming in the remaining granulated sugar and the salt. Whisk until medium-stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped egg whites into the mascarpone mixture until no streaks remain.½ cup granulated sugar, ¼ tsp salt, 4 large eggs
- Take the ladyfingers out of the fridge and dollop half of the cream mixture on top. Spread to form an even layer using an offset spatula. Dip the remaining ladyfingers and place them on top of the cream layer. Add the remaining cream and spread to form a smooth surface. Cover and chill the tiramisu for 12 hours.400g (14oz) ladyfinger cookies
- When ready to serve scatter pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, chocolate curls, and rose petals across the surface of the tiramisu. Slice and serve immediately.pomegranate arils, pumpkin seeds, chocolate curls, dried rose petals