Who wouldn’t love to sit in the sun at an outdoor café in Italy sipping a chilled glass of wine and eating a delicious Italian dessert? Unfortunately, we still can’t travel to Italy but that doesn’t mean we can’t bring a bit of Italy to our own homes. Coleen Kirnan and Rhonda Vilardo, the owners, and hosts of Tuscan Women Cook, the unique and popular culinary vacation located in the heart of Tuscany, want to bring a bit of Italy to home kitchens during this pandemic. Tuscan Women Cook is about celebrating the food and culture of the Tuscan region of Italy ensconced in the charming village of Montefollonico.
Coffee lovers prepare yourself for this outrageous truth: Some people do not like coffee. Crazy as this may seem, many find the smell and taste off-putting and will even pass on a serving of tiramisù, one of Italy’s most popular desserts, because espresso is a key ingredient. Tiramisù translates to “pick me up,” due in no small part to the surge of caffeine that comes with every creamy bite.
Fear not, coffee refuters. No need to pass on Tuscan Women Cook’s tiramisù recipe that replaces coffee with fresh strawberries and Alchermes, a bright crimson Italian liqueur which is still made today by the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy in Florence with the exact same recipe formulated back in 1743. It is infused with a variety of common spices, along with the most unusual ingredient, dried insects, which contributes to its vivid scarlet color. We totally understand if you want to leave out the Alchermes. We promise this recipe will still be authentically delicious without it. Substitute Fragoli wild strawberry liqueur or Chambord.
Why not travel to Italy in your imagination and make this your go-to summer dessert?
Guests of Tuscan Women Cook love this strawberry tiramisù served at Ristorante 13 Gobbi. It’s become a house specialty as a result of a partnership Albo and Simonetta forged with an organic strawberry farmer near their restaurant in Montefollonico. Strawberries are in peak season right now.
For the cream:
500g mascarpone cheese, room temperature
500ml heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3/4 cups granulated sugar
For the strawberries:
2 1/2 cups of strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup Alchermes liqueur,* Fragfoli wild strawberry liqueur or Chambord
1 tablespoon sugar
2-3 tablespoons rum
1 cup orange juice
1 box dry ladyfingers (Pavesini brand preferred**)
Put the strawberries, Alchermes liquor, sugar, rum, and orange juice in a bowl. Set aside. With a hand mixer or a KitchenAid standing mixer, beat the egg yolks, sugar, mascarpone, and heavy cream on medium speed for 5-10 minutes, until creamy.
In a small bowl, strain the strawberries and keep the juice in a separate bowl. Dip the ladyfingers in the juice (a quick dip, you don’t want them to be soggy), and arrange cookies on bottom of a baking dish.
Cover with half the cream mixture, then cover with the chopped strawberries, repeat cookies for another layer, and cover with remaining cream mixture.
Decorate it top with strawberries just before serving and dust with powdered sugar. Chill for 2-3 hours before serving. It can stay chilled for up to 2 days.
* Alchermes is a scarlet colored Italian liqueur made by infusing neutral spirits with sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and vanilla, and other herbs, and Kermes, a small parasitic insect.
** Pavesini ladyfingers may be difficult to find in stores. However, they are readily available online. Other brands may be substituted.
Recipe reprinted with permission of www.TuscanWomenCook.com.
Simonetta from Ristorante 13 Gobbi in Montefollonico, shows you how to make this delicious Strawberry Tiramisu recipe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43Nmpb83pyI&feature=youtu.be n
During each day of Tuscan Women Cook’s week-long program, their group of 18 participants learn to cook authentic Italian recipes from some of the best cooks in all of Italy…the local grandmothers, or “nonnas.” These extraordinary women teach their cooking classes sharing family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.
And after a day of cooking, eating, and wine tasting, participants are taken on shopping and sightseeing trips in the many beautiful villages and towns of Tuscany, with maybe a little more wine tasting and afternoon gelato sampling, ending each day with a memorable gourmet dinner in the region’s top locales.
Los Angeles-based Coleen Kirnan and Rhonda Vilardo are two inventive business dynamos who decided to take a career risk that changed their lives. In 2016 they purchased Tuscan Women Cook, a career move that changed both of their lives personally and professionally.
For more information on Tuscan Women Cook, visit their website, www.TuscanWomenCook.com.