In this blog post, I aim to share with you a little bit about my creative process for a recent dessert inspiration. My partner and I were out to dinner last weekend at an Indian restaurant in Seattle that we hadn’t tried before. The food and atmosphere were great! Too bad I walked away without my leftovers in hand that I intended to savor for lunch the following day.
But that’s beside the point. At the end of the meal, the server attempted to satisfy our sweet tooth with the dessert menu. My partner has been craving tiramisu a lot lately, which happens to be one of my signature desserts. The odds of finding this classic Italian dessert in an Indian restaurant were slim to none. Sure, we could have left the restaurant and sought dessert in an Italian restaurant nearby. I often feel disappointed with restaurant tiramisu, so that creative lightbulb went off in my mind. Wouldn’t it be interesting to make an Italian-Indian fusion version of tiramisu?
Quick! What are classic Indian flavors for sweets and desserts? My mind ran through a selection of ginger, cinnamon, mango, rosewater (wait, that’s leaning more toward Persian cuisine), almonds, saffron, coconut, pistachio, cardamom, and raisins. I envisioned the pack of ladyfingers already in my pantry, the lady in waiting to be transformed into an elegant, exotic dessert. There was also a box of Tazo Chai Latte that would be a perfect substitute for the espresso or coffee in which ladyfingers are typically soaked. All that remained were a couple other key ingredients to pull off this dessert inspiration.
After we left the dinner table, I told my partner I had a plan. We walked to the Safeway around the corner where I purchased mascarpone cheese and fresh, ripe mangoes. The booze aisle proved a little perplexing as I wanted something clever to blend with the coffee for soaking the ladyfingers. Lo and behold, and luckily on the clearance rack, there was a bottle of caramel whiskey marked at 50% off. Perfect!!
We got home, where I set right away to peeling and pureeing the cut mangoes in my blender. I wanted a super-smooth consistency. Once the mangoes were sufficiently smooth, I added in the mascarpone cheese along with a dose of powdered ginger, a good splash of Madagascar vanilla, and raw agave syrup to taste. This I continued to blend until achieving a silken creaminess with a sweet tang. Since the color of the mango was diffused by the creamy mascarpone, I made a quick infusion of saffron with a splash of warm water and let that rest for a few minutes. This greatly enhanced the dessert filling’s color in a natural way using ingredients still true to Indian cuisine.
In a separate bowl, I poured an equal mix of chai and caramel whiskey in which I dunked the ladyfingers to absorb. The process for making tiramisu is a relatively simple one. In the bottom of a casserole dish, I placed a single layer of boozy-chai ladyfingers. Top that with a heaping scoop of the mango-mascarpone then smooth the cream out into a full layer. Next comes a sifting of high-quality cocoa powder (I used Pernigotti) over the entire dessert. Repeat the process for another two or three complete layers of ladyfingers, mascarpone, and cocoa powder, with the cocoa powder serving as the final layer/garnish of your completed dessert.
Voila! I now present to you The Dinner (and Dessert) Whisperer’s MANGO-MISU!!