Pick Me Up

Worn down by demanding schedules and life in general, we could all use a little pick-me-up now and then, be it in the form of a stiff drink, a jolt of caffeine, or a pleasant little sugar buzz. Or, as some forward-thinking Italians realized so many years ago, all of the above. Enter the tiramisu, so aptly named and translated to just that, “pick me up” or “pull me up;” a dessert designed to awaken the senses. Traditionally combining espresso, coffee liqueur, and of course a decent dose of the sweet stuff, even the smallest helping sounds potent enough to fuel the most grueling of all-nighters. Perhaps the Daring Bakers were feeling my study blues as of late, because a more perfect challenge couldn’t have been chosen for this homework heavy month.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Tiramisu and I are no strangers, having romanced briefly in the pages of My Sweet Vegan, in the form of a Japanese-fusion, green tea version. Although back then I used what amounted to a sponge cake for the lady fingers, I had already planned to revisit this approach in my next book, and had thus developed bona fide vegan lady fingers for my latest creation.

Already halfway to the finish line, it was only a matter of choosing flavors from there. Opting to take advantage of the abundant citrus, a pinch of lemon zest went into those lovely lady fingers. A perfect highlight to brighten up the whole dessert, and making a pairing of limoncello only natural. To add depth, a rich chocolate mousse seemed the only thing that would do. Instead of a paltry topping of cocoa powder, I grated on a thick, crunchy topping of chocolate shavings, lending both texture and flavor in one fell swoop.

My only regret for this month’s challenge was that I reduced the recipes to make a tiny batch of only two individual servings- I could have used a pick me up like this every day!