individual strawberry tiramisù & pragmatism

in my last post, i revealed that i’m probably just this tiny bit too busy at the moment… a bit stressed, you could call it (if we’re super hairsplitting about it). and with my mind never where it should be, namely in the ‘now’. though i’ve come to realise that all this running around and keeping myself busy and not really being happy with the results… it’s not really what i want. yes, i love a busy social calendar! yes, i love fab weekend plans (like going sailing for the first time, or spending some time with friends in the mountains, or jetting to milano and back, or attending a wedding outside of zurich). but when i feel like i’m permanently lagging behind, like my mental to do list is getting longer instead of shorter with each day (oh, yes, it stresses me awfully), it’s just no good. it’s like i’m rotating and never stopping to rotate. even at night, my mind wanders off to think about things that don’t need thinking about (at least, not at bloody 2am in the morning, alright?) sounds crazy? well…

let’s put it nicely: i think i need a break. it doesn’t have to be a holiday, necessarily (though i’d take it, anytime. st.barth for a fortnight would be just wonderful, thank you). but what might sound a bit cruel is really an observation that i made: i don’t need a break from ‘things’ or ‘people’ or ‘friends’ or all the blody and jolly activities that come with life. much more, i need a break from myself. i need a break from my busy, list-making mind*. of course, i’ve got a really good plan for it. a ‘how to take a break from yourself’ plan. you want to hear all about it? why, you must!

you see, i’m the constant, perfectionist. be it the look (teeth professionally cleaned, tan but not too tan, skin smooth, hair done, mani pedi immaculate, facial not forgotten…), the home (fresh flowers, floors cleaned, trinkets dusted, cutlery polished, fridge stuffed…), the job (emails replied, files sent, presentation finished, desk tidy, invitation sent, follow up planned…), my pet projects (diy stuff bought, kitchen rearranged, photography lens replaced, photoshop tutorial completed, photos backed up, blog posts planned, ingredients sourced…) or the friends (thank you note sent, present bought, birthday remembered, gift wrapped, sms answered, listened to stories, shared things about me) – everything, literelly everything in a girl’s life is a mental to do list. note: yes, boys, we’re all like that, us girls… and yup, it’s difficult to live with ourselves, haha. who are we fooling?
and now i decided i’m going to escape myself and my, uhm, busy mind with a simple trick. it’s called pragmatism. it’s not about drifting off into mediocricity. or turning lazy (ugh) – after all, i’m proud of my neat home and polished – mostly occasionally – appearance and my ability to bake a cake for everyone and their dog’s birthday… but then again, sometimes it’s just nice to leave it all be. to focus on ‘good’ instead of ‘perfect’. or to really just let things go their own way. to forget something that you swear not to forget. to not do something you wanted to do today because hell, there is always tomorrow. and if you can do it tomorrow, why do it today? procrastination, baby. it’s wonderful. it’s good for you. it gives your mind peace. say the mantra with me: ‘it’s okay to not be perfect today. i can be perfect tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. today is only me and now and this piece of cake. everything else is secondary’. skip perfectionism and embrace pragmatism. if only for a while (an hour, a day, a week). life will be so much better. an trust me, the lists are still there when you get back to them…
* i still do and forever will love lists! but sometimes, they’re evil little fucked up creatures that spoil your day. that’s when you just have to lock them up in a hidden corner and be done with them for the day. yay! no list – no to dos, harr harr.
individual strawberry tiramisù
this makes at least 8 individual stacks

for the biscuit / sponge cake:
70 g sugar
3 yolks
3 egg whites
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp. sugar
70 g flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

for the mascarpone cream layer: 
1 kg mascarpone
1 organic lemon, zest and juice
1 vanilla bean, pods extracted
4 tbsp. sugar
for the strawberry layer:
1 kg strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup strawberry liquor
2 tbsp. grenadine syrup
1 cup cranberry juice

for assembling:

1 small spatula
as many patissier rings as you want servings
chocolate powder for dusting & some berries or flowers for decorating, if you wish 

for the biscuit / sponge cake, combine the sugar and yolks in a bowl and mix (by hand or with a mixer) for several minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. in a separate bowl whip the egg whites with the pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. add the remaining sugar, spoonful after spoonful, and whip until incorporated and the mixture is glossy. combine yolk mixture and egg whites mixture. combine the flour with the baking powder in a third bowl, then carefully fold in the wet mix. line a large, rectangular baking pan with parchment and spread out the dough mix evenly in a rectangle, leaving out only the corners of the pan (should be about 5mm thick). bake for about 4 minutes at 240 degrees celsius (460 fahrenheit). slide the biscuit onto the workspace, then immediately turn over the baking pan and cover the biscuit with the pan. that way, the biscuit (sponge) remains moist and won’t break later when used. let cool, then cover with a clean kitchen towel until used. biscuit is best prepared on the day on which you use it, super fresh.

for the strawberry layer, we need two things: strawberries (chopped finely) and a strawberry-liquor-syrup. chop up the strawberries finely and refridgerate until used. put the sugar in a saucepan and let it caramelize. meaning: do not stir until the corners start to turn brown. when most of the sugar has turned into caramel, add the grenadine syrup and cranberry jucie and cook on low until the sugar / caramel has dissolved and a syrupy liquid forms. put aside to cool, then add the strawberry liquid to the mix.

for the mascarpone cream, simply combine the mascarpone, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and sugar in a bowl and beat with the paddle attachement of an electric mixer until smooth. taste and sweeten some more if needed. cover and refridgerate until used.

to assemble the tiramisù, there are two ways. the easy way would be to fill patissier rings with every layer of the tiramisù individually. this means, however, that you need as many patissier rings as guests (easy maths). i really think you should leave the finished individual stacks in the rings just until before you serve it. so, if you do the tiramisù for, say, 6-8 people, then you need 6-8 rings. it’s honestly feasible for 8. i made it for 14 and i didn’t have that many same-sized patissier rings (to heck…) – so i ended up making the tiramisù in a normal rectangular mold and ‘cut’ each individual sized tiramisù out with the rings, later. much, much more waste and so much more (dirty) work… so i’m going to explain it the individually-stacked-version here. okay? ready? steady, go.
start withe the biscuit. use a ring to cut it out. push the biscuit to the bottom of the ring. place the ring on a cutting board or a flat surface. now drizzle it with the strawberry liquor and grenadine liquid. with a spoon, fill in a 1cm layer of the chopped, unsweetened strawberries. carefully add a dollop of the mascarpone cream into the ring. press it firm on top of the strawberries and even out with the spatula. cut out another layer of the biscuit, add it on top of the mascarpone and proceed as explained before (drizzle, strawberries, mascarpone). finish off with the mascarpone, cover with cling film and put in the fridge. proceed with the other rings until you’ve finished all of them. refridgerate for at least 2-4 hours. before serving, remove from the fridge, put the tiramisù in the ring on a plate, gently press the tiramisù down while lifting the ring. slide off the ring. dust the tiramisù with a little chocolate powder if you want and decorate with anything on hand (berries, flowers, some chocolate shaves, mint leaves…).
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