Christmas has a different meaning for everybody. For me, it wasn’t always a merry day, not because of the lack of toys, lights, or food, but rather because of the fact that my parents didn’t get along well back then, their fights worsening the closer we got to the holidays. However that changed with the years, and thankfully the meaning of Christmas changed for me, too. We realized that sometimes traditions are good when they involve love and spending time with each other, rather than just buying presents and stressing out about how good the presents have to be or what to cook for dinner.
In Peru, traditionally some families go to mass at 10:00 pm on the 24th, so dinner is served at midnight. We eat turkey stuffed with different kinds of meats served with apple puree, salad and/or arroz Arabe (which is not the same as Arabic rice). For dessert we have paneton (which is the Peruvian version of the famous Italian panettone) and hot chocolate. We also have a toast with sparkling wine right at midnight on Christmas eve and give each other hugs and blessings along with the presents. After all that food and family celebration, we go out after midnight to parties, visiting family and relatives, while the streets are lit with fireworks and the local radios playing Christmas songs everywhere.
This year we celebrated Christmas in Missouri with my girlfriend and her family, which was a very nice experience. We had presents (a lot of them!), ate spaghetti and meatballs with salad, and for dessert we had tiramisu which I made because I wanted to bring something that is not usual for the holidays, because after all, we can always change the traditions we have for the better.
Tiramisu (my own version) serves 10
6 egg yolks (room temperature) *
6 egg whites (room temperature)*
1 1/4 cup white sugar plus 4 tsp for the coffee
16 oz of mascarpone cheese (room temperature so it gets soft)
2 packages (12 oz) of lady fingers
1 1/2 cup of strong espresso
1 Tbsp Amaretto liquor
1 Tbsp orange zest (divided into half Tbsp)
2 tsp vanilla extract dived into 1 tsp each
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa (divided into half Tbsp)
2 Tbsp ground cacao nibs ( divided into 1 Tbsp)
1 Tbsp dark chocolate shavings (at least 65% cocoa)
pinch of salt
* Since this recipe uses raw eggs I recommend buying pasteurized ones.
For this recipe, I used a glass baking dish with the following measurements: 9 inches x 13 inches x 2 inches
For the coffee: Add the 4 tsp of sugar while your coffee is hot and half tsp of the orange zest (that way it releases more of the natural oil scents). Also add 1 tsp of vanilla extract, and finally add the Tbsp of Amaretto. Set aside to cool down; it is very important that your coffee is cold so that the lady fingers don’t get too wet.
For the eggs: First mix the 6 egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl using a whisk (an electric beater is faster) until is smooth, then add the softened mascarpone cheese and mix using a silicone spatula very gently until the sugar is completely dissolved and the cheese is totally incorporated with the eggs. Add the rest of the vanilla extract and the orange zest. Set aside. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt in another large bowl until it forms stiff peaks. Then gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mix using a silicone spatula. For this part it is important that you do it very slowly and gently; otherwise the air of the egg whites will break and the mixture will become liquid.
Assembling the Tiramisu: Take the lady fingers and barely dip them into the coffee (be sure you don’t over soak them!) and place them in the container side by side, making an even layer. If you need to cut a lady finger to make it fit, that’s fine. Add half of the egg/cheese mix over the lady fingers using a silicone spatula, very gently spreading it out to make sure the mix is evenly distributed. You can pick up the container and gently bounce on the table, then using a fine strainer, sprinkle half of the cacao nibs and half of the cocoa over the layer of mixture. Repeat the process with the lady fingers for the second layer and top with the rest of the cocoa, cacao nibs, and the chocolate shavings. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. Buen provecho and Happy Holidays!!!