“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu CharlotteA Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte. Another personal challenge that has been a few years coming, and amazingly enough achieved early in the year. If the Tea Rose Fondant Cake from scratch wasn’t achievement enough, the Charlotte was a daunting milestone to reach. I made this for my SILs birthday earlier this month.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Way back in Feb 2010 Aparna & I co-hosted the Daring Baker challenge, inviting the team to make Tiramisu from scratch  saviordi {lady fingers} zabaglione, mascarpone … the works  What a strange coincidence that I should post this today. I didn’t get a chance to do the DB challenge this month, yet repeated an earlier one!

I really had loved doing that challenge. I did several versions of the tiramisu, made a tiny little charlotte too the flavours were traditional  coffee {my favourite choice of flavour in dessert}. At the time, I was blown away by the creativity of the daring bakers, especially one by Vera @ Baking Obsession.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Vera’s blog is inspirational, amazing, beautiful. Her fondant cakes are masterpieces in themselves; creations that dreams are made of! The Candied Kumquat Tiramisu has remained etched in my memory.

Kumquats KumquatsEvery winter, once the first kumquats {or tangerines as we call them, OR calamondis as Sangeeta rightly figured out} make an appearance on my little shrub, I wonder if I dare to emulate her creation.

Candied kumquatsI made Kumquat Marmalade in early January. This year I have decided to push myself to try and do stuff that I have long thought of doing. Since I had candied kumquats the previous day, the dessert seemed rather doable. It was a tall order, but well worth all the time and effort.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte I went a step further and decided to make a charlotte. Read the number of steps and you’ll get daunted! It certainly was a ‘challenge‘ I placed before myself. So many different components and steps that threatened to confuse.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte The laptop was constantly being referred to, notes being made, substitutions being updated. A TIRING exercise, one that made me look at myself skeptically. Why do I punish myself with such grueling stuff? In the end, pure joy!

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte I did everything on one morning. If you are up for a challenge like this, please be smarter than me. Make the savioardi several days before. Do the zabaglione and pastry cream a day before. To be honest, the thermomix took all the work out of the zabaglione and pastry cream, but still.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Maybe because the daughter was at home with fever, and constantly hungry! Maybe just the process appeared tiring and an uphill one. The good thing is that it’s a great make ahead dessert cake.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Imagine the joy of waking up to unmold a beautifully set cake, everything perfect. All one needs to do is to unmold it, transfer it to the dessert plate, top it with fruits and give it a quick brushing of apricot jam or honey.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte The taste? Unbelievable! I braced myself for even the slightest hint of egginess given all the eggs, yolks that the pastry cream and zabaglione and the savoiardi had. Not the faintest of egginess. Just pure tiramisu luxury in every bite.

Urban Dazzle CeramicsDo you see all these little white ceramic bowls {and the precious little creamer}? They form part of sets of ceramic ware from Urban Dazzle which I received recently. I fell in love with all the white. They hold so much promise, and make for simple props too. Look out for them in the near future!

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Back to the tiramisu … The filling was stable, beautifully set; the cake such a joy to slice. It tasted beautiful, and worth every bit of frenzied hard work. It’s one dessert that gives you so much culinary school basic practice.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Mascarpone from scratch, piping skills, savioardi, pastry cream, zabaglione, candying, assembling … many basic skills covered to make one Italian classic which is well loved. On hindsight, I could have trimmed the fingers slightly.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte 9″ meant a good sized cake, but also meant just one layer of sponge fingers within. Had I made more fingers I could have achieved a more characteristic tiramisu. That’s just notes for next time, but I was very pleased with the overall result. Fab light charlotte, perfectly set, sweetness just right and beautiful fruity flavours.Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte

Do you have any culinary must-do’s set for the year? I’m already dreaming of a few! Madeleines is one of them; financiers another. Not challenging bakes, but things on my list-to-do! Oh and a sticky toffee pudding too. So much yumminess that it makes the year ahead feel sweet.  Is there something you might like to see on PAB?


Recipe: Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte  your picture

Summary: A twist to the traditional tiramisu. Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte … orange flavoured thanks to kumquats in season, and strawberries because they are in plenty too. With a charlotte instead of the traditional layering, this make ahead dessert is well worth the time & effort. Adapted minimally from Baking Obsession 

Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 3 hours plus resting time

  • Tiramisu:
  • For the savoiardi biscuits (makes about 28}:
  •  3 large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup plain flour, sifted before measuring
  • About 2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar, for sifting
  • For the savoiardi cake base {makes a 9″ base}:
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plain flour, sifted before measuring
  • About 1 tbsp confectioner’s sugar, for sifting
  • For the soaking liquid:
  • Juice of 1 orange/keenu
  • ¼ cup candied kumquat syrup
  • For the zabaglione:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼ cup kumquat puree
  • Zest of 1/2 orange/keenu zest
  • For the kumquat pastry cream:
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Zest of 1/2 orange/keenu zest
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • A few drops of orange extract
  • For the whipped cream:
  • 200ml chilled low fat cream
  • 15g sugar
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • For assembling the tiramisu:
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 ½ tsp gelatin
  • 3 tbsp kumquat marmalade
  • 500g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature {the temperature is crucial if you are using gelatin}
  • 400g strawberries, chopped
  • About 28 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits {as many as you have; I didn’t have any left overs}
  • Candied kumquats, and a few fresh if desired


  1. Make the candied kumquats:
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced kumquats, reduce the heat, and simmer the fruits, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the candied slices into a lidded bowl. Return the syrup to the high heat and boil until reduced to about 1 ¼ cups. Pour the reduced syrup over the candied kumquats. Cool. Cover and keep refrigerated until needed. Can be kept over a week in the refrigerator.
  3. Tiramisu:
  4. Make the savoiardi biscuits:
  5. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 200C. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  6. In a clean grease-free bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually, add the remaining granulate sugar, and continue beating until the egg whites form firm peaks, glossy and smooth. Reserve.
  7. In another large bowl, combine the egg yolks, 2 tbsp of sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip until pale in color and thick {3-4 minutes}.
  8. With a rubber spatula, gently fold about 1/3rd of the whipped whites into the yolks to lighten them up. Spoon about a half of the remaining whites over the yolk mixture, then sift a half of the flour over the whites. Gently fold until the ingredients are barely combined. Spoon the rest of the whites over the yolk mixture, sift the rest of the flour over the whites, and then fold delicately until combined. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in the ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
  9. Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip about ½-inch wide and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 4-inch long strips leaving about 1 inch space in between.
  10. Sprinkle half the confectioner’s sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
  11. Bake the ladyfingers, in batches {slide the first sheet into the oven as soon as you’ve piped}, for 7 to 8 minutes, until they puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
  12. Cool completely on the sheets on a cooling rack, and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula..
  13. Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.
  14. For savoiardi cake base, repeat the process, but pipe the batter into a circle to fir a 9″ springform tin.  Once baked the circle will be slightly larger. While still warm, place tin base over circle and trim to exact size. Cool completely.
  15. Make the syrup:
  16. In a bowl, stir to combine the juice and kumquat syrup. Set aside.
  17. Make the zabaglione:
  18. Place all ingredients in a small heatproof bowl and whisk to combine. Set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water and whisk constantly until it resembles thick custard and the instant-read thermometer reads 70C.
  19. Transfer the zabaglione to a small clean bowl to stop further cooking. Set aside while you are working on the pastry cream.
  20. Make the pastry cream:
  21. In a small saucepan, bring the milk to the boil over the medium heat.
  22. In the meantime, combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a small bowl and whisk together. Whisk in the zest and egg yolk.
  23. Once the milk has reached the boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
  24. Pour the yolk-milk mixture back into the saucepan and place the pan over the medium-low heat. Whisk vigorously and continuously until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously until the pastry cream is thickened, about 3 minutes more. Strain the pastry cream into the small bowl with the prepared zabaglione, add the vanilla extract and orange extract; whisk to combine. This mixture should be slightly warm by the time of incorporating the gelatin. Place the bowl into the skillet with hot water for a minute or two, stirring, if needed.
  25. Meanwhile, measure 2 tbsp of lemon juice into a small bowl or cup. Sprinkle the gelatin over the juice and let it soften for a couple of minutes. Microwave for 10 seconds on “High” to dissolve the gelatin. Whisk a little bit of zabaglione-pastry cream mixture into the gelatin, and then whisk it back into the rest of zabaglione mixture.
  26. Whip the cream:
  27. In a chilled bowl, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whip until medium peaks form. Set aside.
  28. In a large bowl, with the same beaters {no need to wash} beat the mascarpone gently until smooth {don’t overmix}. Gradually mix in the zabaglione-gelatin mixture. Fold in the whipped cream when the mixture is cool. Fold in about 1/3rd of whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture, and then fold in the rest. Transfer the filling into a large pastry bag fitted with ½-inch plain round tip.
  29. Assembling:
  30. Line the bottom and sides of the springform tin with clingwrap overhanging.
  31. Place the layer of circular saviordi layer to line the base of the tin, and brush with melted marmalade.
  32. Working quickly, dip both sides of the ladyfingers in the orange juice, making sure they are just moist and not soggy. Immediately line the circumference of the tin with fingers, placing them side by side in a single layer to form a wall.
  33. Sprinkle the base with chopped strawberries, then pipe a thick layer of the cream filling over the strawberries.
  34. Working quickly, dip both sides of the remaining ladyfingers in the orange juice mixture and form a layer over the cream filling.
  35. Sprinkle over the remaining chopped strawberries, and top with the rest of the cream filling.
  36. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu for at least 4 hours, better – overnight.
  37. Unmold gently onto the serving platter, and top with strawberries and kumquats {I did candied and otherwise}. Brush the top of the cut fruit with melted apricot jam or honey.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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