What’s for dessert??? Stolen sweets and consequences!

Tiramisu came into my life rather late – i think sometime in my thirties… it was like falling in love  all over again – the sweetness of the amaretti, mildness of cream, bitterness of cocoa, creaminess of the zabaglione, the sheer “rumminess” (!) of the coffee liqueur… all combining to form the most irresistable dessert on earth! I feel the same way when I eat “rasmalai” and so when I have to choose between the two, I feel like King Solomon deciding on which mother-claimant the child belongs to! Luckily since Italian restaurants don’t serve rasmalai and Indian restaurants and mithai shops don’t deal in tiramisus, so far I’ve managed to sit quite successfully on the fence!

We are a family with a combined sweet tooth that would stretch all the way from Trichy to Jamaica (both sugarcane -growing places!). We love sweets and sweets love us – in a diabetic India, there can’t be many households where sweets don’t get a bad press! Deepavali sweets, of which many dabbas are received by every household every year and equally quickly re-distributed by most of those selfsame households are carefully examined and earmarked for consumption over the next few weeks – with the softer, perishable ones going first and the dry fruits and nuts being saved for later!  With Deepavali falling usually in the month of October, is it any wonder that by New Year’s, one has put on enough pounds to drive one into making extreme resolutions – “Not another sweet this year!!” Oh yeah, say the sweets, sniggering away – “We’ve GOT you”! And so they do 🙁

I have known my mother and brother between them to put away a whole kilogram of sweets in the space of less than an hour! My brother-in-law is just as bad. “Gulab jamuns for dessert!” announces my mother-in-law to her guests and goes to fetch the bowl of g.j’s from the counter. The dish feels lighter than it should. Thinking maybe she’s put on some muscle from cooking dinner, mom-in-law carries it to the table and opens it with a flourish – presenting all of FOUR little gulab jamuns for eight people at the table! My brother-in-law, unaware of the dinner guests, had decided his mom had made him a treat for being extra good (or in his case, for having hidden some piece of mischief extra well!) and eaten the other thirty jamuns! There were consequences, obviously, which necessitated him sitting down rather gingerly for the next few days but he says it was worth every jamun!

Here’s my CHEAT’S TIRAMISU: (avoiding all the painful zabaglione making process!)

  • Sponge cake – 250 gm – cut into fingers
  • Instant coffee – 3 heaped tsp mixed with 3 tbsp Cointreau and 1/2 cup dark Bacardi
  • 200 gm + 100 gm whipping cream (very cold)
  • Icing sugar – 1 tbsp
  • 100 gm condensed milk + 50 gm cream cheese – whipped
  • Cocoa powder for dusting – 2 tbsp

Whip 200 gm of cream and fold into the condensed milk, cream cheese mixture.Put back in the frig. In each of five brandy or wine glasses, lay four fingers of cake at the bottom. Spoon over the coffee-liqueur mixture. Put a layer of the whipped cream-condensed milk-cream cheese mixture on the top. Sieve cocoa powder over the top.Whip the 100 gm reserved cream with icing sugar – about 1 tbsp and spoon over. Repeat layers, ending with cocoa. Chill for at least four hours before serving.

JAI MITHAIWALE KI! MITHAIWALA ZINDABAD! LONG LIVE THE PASTRY GUY! And oh, btw, that’s a LOT of alcohol in one lil’ dessert… hic!