It’s a pretty well known fact that I love watching food shows and I can say I’ve watched them all, at least for one episode. But one of the most interesting shows I’d never had the chance to watch was the Great British Bake Off. I’d put it off as something I would just have to live without, until Netflix acquired it last month. As soon as I started watching, I was hooked! The show is so wonderfully British, with the meanest comments: “It looks a bit slapdash” or “I don’t think you’ve quite nailed this one”. All the contestants are lovable and interesting and the challenges are difficult but educational. I haven’t learned that much about cooking from a TV show since I started watching Good Eats when I was in middle school!
While there were so many fantastic breads, pastries, and cakes I learned about for the first time, Mary Berry’s Tiramisu stood out the most. It’s one of Owens (few) favorite desserts and I knew I had to make it. At the time, I was also itching to make a seasonal ice cream dessert (read: pumpkin) and my genius friend Sam simply said “Why not both?” So this crazy Pumpkin Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake was born.
Following Mary Berry’s recipe for her traditional tiramisu sponge, whisk eggs and sugar together until very pale and thick. It’ll take about five minutes on high speed; you’ll know it’s ready when the batter leaves a light trail across the surface. Slowly and gently fold in the flour and baking powder, ensuring not to stir out too much of the air in the egg and sugar mix. I added cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to the dry mix to reinforce the fall flavors in the cake.
Traditionally, tiramisu is made of several thin layers of sponge cake and cream, but for our Pumpkin Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake, I wanted the cake to be a stable base for the rest of the ingredients. Slicing it thin would not do us any favors. Pour the batter into a buttered and floured 9-inch springform pan. Although the cake won’t rise significantly, give it a little room on top. You can also split the batter between two 9-inch rounds. No matter what pan you use to bake your cake, you want to end up with layers about an inch thick so we get a nice and thick base.
While the cake bakes, whip up your mascarpone cream. Make sure the bowl you whip in is clean and cold, this will help the cream whip up easily. Beat the mascarpone cheese until smooth, slowly add in the cream and icing sugar until creamy and thick. You still want to be able to easily spread it though.
Now for the stuff that gives tiramisu it’s kick! Dissolve instant espresso powder in hot water and pour in some brandy. You could also use strong coffee, but using instant espresso is easiest for me since we don’t have coffee in the house. And for those who are curious, the mixture is, ah, quite strong, shall we say. You probably don’t want to drink it. Like how I did. Poor choice on my part.
Originally, I had planned to make one large 9-inch ice cream cake, but for unforeseen reasons, ended up making mini ones instead. I simply split my cake in half so each side was an inch thick, soaked them with the coffee and brandy, and then cut out 4 inch rounds. You should be able to get 10 rounds out of two 9-inch cakes.
Don’t throw away the trimmings! Make an extra tiramisu, you know, just for yourself! After all, you have to taste test! Start with a layer of cake, soak with the coffee and brandy, spread mascarpone whipped cream, sprinkle chopped chocolate over the top and repeat! You can do as many layers as you like. I only did three as I didn’t want to bother slicing the cake trimmings any more. There will always be willing friends and family to take the extra cake, cream, coffee goodness off your hands.
On to the frozen dairy goodness. I have made my own ice cream before. In fact, I made three scrumptious flavors this summer: Rosewater & Pistachio with Sweet Cream, Sour Cherry and Dark Chocolate, and Goat Cheese, Blueberry & Rosemary. Honestly, I didn’t feel like making ice cream this week. I didn’t have the freezer space for and Trader Joe’s makes this kick-ass Pumpkin Ice Cream. There’s really no need for me to make it harder on myself. You are more than welcome to make your own ice cream, but I’m telling you, this TJ’s Pumpkin Ice Cream is hard to beat.
To get little rounds of ice cream to stack right on top of your Pumpkin Tiramisu Ice Cream Cakes, you can do this fun little trick with your ice cream carton. You can also punch out rounds with the same cutter you used for your cake. The mascarpone is fairly malleable and won’t melt like the ice cream. I opted to “frost” the tops of the little cakes freehand. Melt some chocolate, toss it in a plastic bag, and drizzle warm chocolatey goodness over the top. Conversely, the slower you drizzle out of a desire to be precise, the messier it ends up looking. Be confident in your drizzling abilities and sure keep consistent pressure on the bag to continue a steady chocolate flow. I love how the chocolate hardens on the ice cream cake and turns into Magic Shell! I haven’t had since elementary school, but it’s so fun to crack and eat. Just like a creme brulee!
I’ve found the easiest way to melt chocolate to be with the microwave. I even asked a chocolatier at Ghirardelli Square this summer in San Francisco. Unless you’ve got one of those chocolate warming faucets installed in your house, you’re better off microwaving chocolate in short five second bursts. Using a double boiler may get tricky as even a single drop of water will cause the chocolate to seize. If you need to keep your melty chocolate on hold, just put a sealed bag of melted chocolate in a bowl of warm water until you are ready to use it.
Remember, your Pumpkin Tiramisu Ice Cream Cakes don’t have to be perfect, we’re not competing on the Great British Bake Off. No matter how “slapdash” it looks, it’ll all taste the same at the end! Mary Berry appreciates our effort.
Once you drizzle the chocolate on top of these Pumpkin Tiramisu Ice Cream Cakes, they’re ready to eat! Invite a bunch of friends over and treat them to a wonderful fall dessert. Or make a huge batch and individually wrap them for the freezer, designating them as emergency cake. You might think you don’t need emergency cake, but no freezer is fully stocked without a couple slices. Do yourself a favor and make a giant Pumpkin Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake for your next social gathering or the next solo Netflix binge. I don’t judge.
If you need a new show to watch, might I suggest The Great British Bake Off? You don’t want to watch that show hungry so make sure your Pumpkin Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake is at the ready. No Netflix? Fret not! Mary Berry will be hosting a US holiday version this year. Keep your fingers crossed that it will maintain the polite, genuine, and instructive atmosphere of the original. Well, one can hope.