Ch’tiramisu is Northern France’s answer to Italy’s Tiramisu. What a strange name, I thought. Where is it from? A quick search on the net yielded very few English results and the rest were all in French. There is a famous French movie, called Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis, which means “welcome to the sticks”. “Ch’ti” means out in the country and is associated with the cold and rainy Nord-Pas-de-Calais region in Northern France where they also speak Ch’ti dialect.
So what exactly is the difference between the Italian tiramisu and the French one? Not much really. The Italian version uses whipped cream as well as mascarpone and savoiardi (sponge lady finger biscuits) as opposed to speculoos. The latter is a special biscuit exclusively from France, Belgium and The Netherlands.
This hottie was the trainer for the afternoon at L’atelier des Chefs. He sure knows his stuff. Even though after lunch I was as tightly stuffed as a wheel of haggis, I couldn’t resist to see what he’s eating. He was kind enough to let me taste his Brandade, which I’ve seen many recipes of but never got around to making because I can’t get hold of salt cod. Yummy!
In a few easy steps the desserts were prepared and placed in the refrigerator. Now on to the main course!
Preparation: 15 mins + chilling
- 4 eggs
- 100g (3½ oz) sugar
- 250g (9 oz) mascarpone
- 24 Spéculoos biscuits
- 60ml (2 oz) Marsala, Amaretto, Bailey’s or dark rum
- 200ml (7 oz) strong, dark coffee
- 40 g (1½ oz) bitter cocoa powder
- Separate the eggs into two bowls: whites and yolks.
- In a mixer, whisk the yolks and 80g (2½ oz) of the sugar; the mixture should double in volume.
- In a bowl, whisk the mascarpone to make it creamy then stir in the yolks gently.
- Beat the egg whites until stiff, add the remaining sugar, and continue to beat for 2 minutes and gently incorporate the mascarpone mixture.
- Mix the coffee and liqueur in a bowl and set aside.
- In a Bodega/dessert glass or dish, arrange 2 biscuits and cover with a layer of the foamy mixture. Place two biscuits on top, douse with coffee and liqueur. Cover with another layer of the foamy mixture and sprinkle with cocoa. Refrigerate until well chilled.
This recipe can be made the day before and kept in the fridge.
If you can’t find Spéculoos biscuits, use a thin, ginger-based biscuit instead.
If you are like me and not a coffee drinker, omit the coffee and increase the quantity of liqueur instead.