The Mixing Bowl: Tiramisu by Zara Picken

I love learning interesting tidbits about food, like why there isn’t flour in flourless chocolate cake or how and when chocolate and peanut butter first hooked up, so when illustrator Zara Picken sent me her recipe for Tiramisu, along with an explanation of the dessert's name, I was instantly smitten.

From Zara: I wanted to evoke the colours of the dessert and the meaning –"tira mi su" loosely means “pick me up” or “lift me up” in Italian and the dessert was intended as a cheering dish to be eaten when feeling low. I also referenced the Italian origin of the dessert by imagining the illustration in the context of a 1930s Italian Art Deco poster, the sort you might see in a café.

Pretty neat, huh? I love that Zara put so much thought behind her recipe/illustration!

Zara Picken is an illustrator based in Bristol, England whose work combines mid-century modern design, muted colors, and surreal elements to create something totally unique. Given the fact that Zara is influenced by things like the writing of Haruki Murakami and the film Inception (both of which I love), it's not really surprising that I've developed a fairly major crush on her work. I'm especially fond of her series of people with electronic devices instead of heads. Those may be my favorite pieces. You can check out more of Zara's marvelous work, including the electronic head people via her Etsy shop, Web site, and Flickr page.

You can find the tiramisu recipe and more pics after the jump.

Tiramisu (Recipe adapted from The Food of Italy”)

5 eggs, separated
180g caster sugar
300g mascarpone
250ml cold strong coffee
3 tablespoons brandy or sweet Marsala
36 small sponge fingers
80g dark chocolate, finely grated

1. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is light and fluffy.

2. Add the mascarpone and beat until the mixture is smooth.

3. Whisk the egg whites in a glass bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the mascarpone mixture.

4. Pour the coffee into a shallow dish and add the brandy. Dip enough biscuits into the coffee to cover the base of a 25cm (approx 10in) square dish. The biscuits should be fairly well soaked but not so much that they break up.

5. Arrange the biscuits as a tightly packed layer in the base of the dish.

6. Spread half the mascarpone mixture over the biscuit layer.

7. Add another layer of soaked biscuits and then another layer of mascarpone, smoothing the top layer neatly.

8. Dust with grated chocolate to serve.