Strawberry-Grand Marnier Tiramisu
This is a beautiful variation on tiramisu, the “pick me up” that is usually loaded with caffeine. In this version, the chocolate cake layers are filled with mascarpone cream and strawberry slices, laced together with Grand Marnier. Whipped cream covers the cake, which is studded with chocolate-dipped strawberries. Note that there are two raw egg yolks in the mascarpone filling. If you are not certain of the safety of the eggs you buy, you may want to eliminate these — the filling will be softer, as it will simply be whipped cream, but it will still work.
- Chocolate Sponge Cake
- Whole Eggs - 6
- Egg Yolks - 2
- Sugar - 1 cup
- All Purpose Flour - 1-1/2 cups
- Cocoa Powder - 1/4 cup
- Baking Powder - 1 teaspoon
- Strawberries - 2 pints
- Grand Marnier - 1 cup
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 1/2 cup
- Chocolate-dipped strawberries
- Dark chocolate Couverture - 3 ounces, chopped
- Perfect Strawberries - 8 large, washed, hulled, and dried
- Mascarpone Cheese Filling
- Mascarpone Cheese - 8 ounces
- Egg Yolks - 2
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups, beaten to soft peaks
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup, beaten to firm peaks
- Melted chocolate - 1/4 cup
To make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter two 8-inch baking pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper; butter the parchment. Beat the eggs and egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture lightens in color to pale yellow. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder together, then slowly beat into the egg mixture. Divide the batter between the two baking pans and bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes; turn out of the baking pans and cool completely on wire racks.
Meanwhile, hull and slice the strawberries vertically. Toss with the Grand Marnier and confectioner’s sugar in a non-aluminum bowl and let marinate for 30 minutes. Pass through a colander, reserving both the strawberries and the Grand Marnier.
To dip the strawberries: Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. Finely grate one fourth of the chocolate. Melt the remaining chocolate and heat to 110 F in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Take the chocolate off the heat and stir in the grated chocolate until the temperature has fallen to 90 F. Holding the top of a strawberry between your thumb and forefinger, dip two-thirds of the berry into the chocolate. Lift and hold over the chocolate until it stops dripping. Place upside down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat to dip all 8 berries. If the chocolate becomes too cool, rewarm slightly over warm water. Chill the strawberries in the refrigerator. This dipping chocolate can be rewarmed to drizzle over the tiramisu in the final step of preparation.
To prepare the filling: Beat the mascarpone with the egg yolks until blended and smooth. Gently fold in the whipped cream in three additions.
To assemble: Trim the cakes square and brush off crumbs. Split the cakes in half horizontally, brushing away crumbs. Place one layer on a serving plate. Sprinkle all over with the reserved Grand Marnier. Spread the cake with one fourth of the filling. Cover the layer with strawberry slices. Repeat to make two more layers. Top with the final layer of cake and the remaining filling. Cover the top and sides with whipped cream and press chocolate chips all over the sides to cover them completely. Garnish the top with 8 chocolate-dipped strawberries, points up, placing them in rows of four along opposite sides of the tiramisu. Drizzle chocolate over the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve: Cut the tiramisu in half down the middle between the rows of strawberries, using a sharp knife dipped in hot water and wiped clean between each cut. Then cut each half into four pieces between the strawberries, ending up with eight 2-by-4-inch pieces of tiramisu, each topped with a strawberry at its outside edge.