Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Rum Tiramisu & Salted Caramel Walnuts

Tiramisu, the “pick me up” dessert, is a food of the culinary gods.  Rich, creamy, and loaded with calories – just the way it was meant to be.  But everything you’ve known about tiramisu is about to be shattered.  This recipe will break the mold of any preconceived notions and create a new tradition this autumn season.  You will be in love with tiramisu once again.  The romance will continue…

Simple Concept.
This recipe is surprisingly easy.  It can be served almost immediately and takes about an hour to make.  Traditionally, lady fingers – a sponge cake cookie – soaked in espresso coffee are used.  Instead, the lady fingers are replaced with thin slices of angel food cake and the custard is piped through a rosette tip to create a lovely presentation.  It is then topped with Salted Caramel Walnuts.

Creating Harmony among the Ingredients.
There was a bit of difficulty conceptualizing this recipe.  The pumpkin Italian custard and espresso soaked cake initially clashed.  It didn’t make sense on the taste buds.  Some recipes change the espresso to another liquid, but then the contrast of the sweet cream and bitter coffee flavor would be lost.   It needed something to bring the two ingredients to harmonize.

Eggnog Always Makes Things Better.
Since I was stuck on using espresso and pumpkin, something had to be added to connect the flavors together.  The answer – Eggnog.  Mixing equal portions of espresso coffee and eggnog gave the dish the distinguished taste it deserved.  Eggnog was also added to the custard.  Finally, it made sense.  The bitterness of the espresso and the flavor of the pumpkin came together reminiscent of a pumpkin spice latte.  Topped with another layer of espresso-eggnog soaked sponge, topped with more custard, and sprinkled with salty, sweet walnuts, perfection is served!

The Recipe:
Spiced Pumpkin Rum Tiramisu & Salted Caramel Walnuts
Makes 6 Servings.
Serve this dessert with a bold brew of Italian roasted coffee.  Be careful though, your guests will never leave!

Salted Caramel Walnuts
5 oz. halved walnuts
3 Tbsp. turbinado sugar (pure cane sugar, i.e. Sugar-in-the-Raw)
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


(1) Heat a medium pan over medium heat until hot.  Add walnuts and stir until hot and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

(2) While walnuts are cooking, in a small bowl, combine sugar, salt & spices.

(3) Once walnuts are hot and fragrant, add sugar mixture to the pan.  Stir continuously.  Sugar should begin to dissolve over walnuts and create a caramel.  Cook and stir for 1 - 2 minutes.  Do not allow the sugar to dissolve completely.  It should be sticky and adhere to the walnuts while still in a semi-granule form.

(4) Allow the walnuts to cool completely before using.  The sugar will harden and create a sweet and salty coating on the walnuts.

Spiced Pumpkin Rum Custard
2 Tbsp. espresso or strongly brewed coffee, cooled
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. rum extract
2 Tbsp. pumpkin, canned
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
3 Tbsp. eggnog
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

1 cup (8 oz.) heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp. powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. rum extract
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg

Espresso-Eggnog Mix

½ cup espresso or strongly brewed coffee, cooled
½ cup eggnog
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. rum extract

12 thin slices of angel food cake, no more than ½” thick 


(1) In a small bowl, mix together espresso, vanilla & rum extract.

(2) Next, take three sheets of paper towels and stack them on top of each other.  Next place the pumpkin on the towels.  Take three more sheets and press on top to extract any excess moisture.  Set aside.

(3) In an electric mixer, place the mascarpone, eggnog and powdered sugar together.  Beat on low speed for 1 minute to incorporate.  Next add the pumpkin to the cheese mixture.  Turn mixer on low speed and slowly add the espresso & extract mixture just until incorporated.  Scrape into a bowl and keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use.


(1) In an electric mixer, with a clean bowl, add the cream, sugar, extracts, and spices.

(2) Turn on medium, until almost stiff peaks (Just short of whipped cream consistency).

(3) Next add PART 1 to the whipped cream mixture and beat on medium speed just until combined, about 30 seconds.  DO NOT OVER BEAT.

(4) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.  Can be made up to 24 hours in advance to serving.


(1) Mix espresso, eggnog and extracts together.  Cover and chill until ready to use.

Assemble the tiramisu directly on the plate(s) or platter you will be serving.

(1) Place six angel food cake slices down on each plate or serving platter.

(2) Working back to front, spoon approximately 2 tsp. of espresso-eggnog mix over each slice of cake.  Then go back and spoon approximately 2 tsp. more of the espresso-eggnog mix, working back to front.  (If you add all 4 tsp. at once, it will run off the cake.  It needs to be added to the cake in short increments to have maximum absorbency of espresso-eggnog mix)

(3) Next, in a piping bag setup with a medium rosette tip, pipe swirls of custard onto each cake piece, generously.  Be sure to reserve some of the custard for the top presentation.

(4) Place another thin slice of angel food cake on top of the custard mix and offset it so the custard piping underneath can be shown.

(5) In the same manner to step (2), spoon 2 tsp. of espresso-eggnog mix over the second layer of cake.  Then go back and spoon 2 tsp. more of espresso-eggnog mix.

(6)  With the piping bag, pipe a generous swirl of custard on the center of each top piece of cake.

(7) Sprinkle generously with Salted Caramel Walnuts.

Serve this dessert with a bold brew of Italian roasted coffee.  Be careful, though, your guests will never leave!
~ Smacznego ~

*Ingredient Brands Used in Recipe:
Vanilla Extract: Watkins Madagascar Bourbon
Rum Extract: Watkins Rum Extract
Espresso Coffee: Gevalia Espresso Roast, brewed double strength
Canned Pumpkin: Libby's
Cinnamon: Saigon Cinnamon
Eggnog: Southern Comfort Tradition

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