Spring has definitely sprung, y’all!
The sun is making an appearance much more often, the tulips in my backyard are bursting into bloom and the lambs I visited a few weeks ago were definitely gambolling in the fields.
At the farmers markets, I am sadly saying farewell to the brussel sprouts but am warmly welcoming asparagus and a myriad of spring greens. Tables are groaning under the weight of buckets of glorious cut daffodils and happy seedlings, but alas, the fruit stalls remain an apple and pear only destination. It would seem that the cooler climate in Tassie delays the arrival of the local fruit crops (as confirmed in print by my moving-to-Tassie green Ghandi, Matthew Evans).
So what is a girl to do when faced with providing a transportable fruit dessert for a dinner party? Celebrate the state of origin of both my parents and get my freak on with some Sunshine Coast strawberries. I headed the fruit market and flashed my wad of fives, and for just a single note was rewarded with two punnets of perfectly formed plump red berries bursting with flavour.
My points of inspiration both appeared the day before said dinner party: in the latest issue of ABC Delicious (who was the genius who green-lit the bonus bar of Lindt Excellence?) and at the wonderful Bottega Rotolo, Hobart’s newest speciality food providore.
The recipe in Delicious is for a Strawberry Tiramisu and the product that Silvana, the co-owner of Bottega Rotolo, introduced me to is Crema di Pistacchi (Pistachio Cream), the flavour of which is best described as a combination of pistachio, nougat, happy-thoughts, crack and nirvana.
Using the Delicious recipe as a base, I omitted some of the sugar in the mascarpone/egg mixture and added in about 80g of the Crema di Pistacchi (the bottle contains 100g but not all of it made it as far as the mixing bowl…cooks treat!) and chose to use Chambord as the boozy soak for the savoiardi biscuits. This was mostly because didn’t want to add extraneous liquer-y sweetness (like perhaps some framboise might) or overpower the glorious strawberry or pistachio cream flavours, but also in part because when I was about 20, I would occasional order Chambord with pineapple juice at a bar to feel REALLY sophisticated…classy, no?!
Apart from a quick whizz in the KitchenAid and some setting/intermingling time in the fridge, tiramisu couldn’t be easier to put together. Folding in the Crema di Pistacchi gave the mascarpone layer a lovely pale green tinge, which looked gorgeous against the crimson of the strawberries.
Once the tiramisu had been hanging out in the fridge for the alloted 4-hour+ setting time, it was really easy to transport (d’uh) but I would say, it isn’t the most elegant of desserts to serve. I think you just have to embrace the whole casual flolloping Nigellla-ness of a big scoop in a bowl. I did also create a pistachio basil crumb to sprinkle over the top for visual appeal and to highlight the pistachio flavour (roasted pistacchios, fresh torn basil and white sugar pounded in a mortar and pestle). I don’t have pictures of the crumb because as soon as I scooped and sprinkled, the bowls were snatched and we all basically face-planted into the sweet scented strawberry commotion.
Oh and for all you tiramisu purists who would argue that, by its very definition (“pick me up”), tiramisu must contain espresso, you can call it “Strawberry Pistachio Face-Plant Trifle”.