strawberry tea-ramisu; a no-bake summer recipe

if you give a pastry chef a bottle of pennington’s strawberry rye, chances are she will whip up a dessert.  and if said pastry chef is feeling a little daring, she might just reinvent the classic tiramisu into something totally southern.  guess what, this happened, it really, really happened!

with many thanks to my good friend, the food sheriff, i found myself in possession of some penningtons, strawberry rye and the instructions to “make something!”  have i ever told you that i am good at following instructions?  okay, that is stretching it, a lot, but this time, i did exactly that.

 if you have made a true, classic tiramisu, you know it can be a little intimidating.  zabaglione is one of those recipes that require you to follow instructions carefully for the best results.  but that does not mean that you cannot improvise.  for this recipe, the technique is intact, it is the components that have changed.

the first change came when i decided to replace the espresso with a strong batch of black tea.  this dark tea was combined with the pennington’s strawberry rye and a little sugar to make the soaking liquid for the savoiardi.

to further adapt the recipe, the traditionally called for marsala was omitted from the zabaglione and the strawberry rye was used in a one to one switch.  to keep it light and simple, whipped cream was used rather than whipped mascarpone cheese.  the result of these changes is a lovely, creamy whiskey and tea infused dessert that is both simple and sophisticated.

the best type of cookie for this recipe is a true italian savoiardi, a crispy lady finger that soaks up the tea and rye syrup.  finding them in the grocery store can be a challenge but in nashville, i quickly found them at publix.  for best results, make the dessert the day before so that it has time to set and make cutting it into portions for serving.

 strawberry tea-ramisu
1 (8″x 8″) pan serving 6-8
1 (7ounce) package of savoiardi 
1 pint fresh strawberries
white chocolate shavings
tea syrup, recipe follows
zabaglione, recipe follows
press plastic wrap into an 8″x 8″ dish so that the sides and bottom are covered.  dip a few of the savoiardi into the tea syrup and line them up on the bottom of the dish so that the surface is covered.  carefully spread a third of the zabaglione cream over the top using a small, offset palette knife or a spatula.  place enough tea soaked savoiardi over the top of the cream, going in the opposite direction to completely cover it.  top with another third of the zabaglione cream and spread it out evenly.  repeat the process with the final portion of tea soaked savoiardi and zabaglione cream.  press plastic over the surface and allow it to sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.  
to serve the dessert, carefully invert the dessert onto a plate-do not remove the plastic on the cream side, leave it intact for now.  holding the plastic wrap that is lining the bottom of the pan, gently pull the dish away.  remove the plastic wrap that is on the cookie side of the dessert and place a serving dish over the dessert and invert it.  remove the remaining plastic wrap and using the tip of the palette knife to create a swirled design over the top of the dessert.  cut into the desired portions and serve with slices of fresh strawberries and a generous sprinkle of white chocolate shavings.
tea syrup
2 cups water
6 black tea bags, single cup size
3 tablespoons pennington’s strawberry rye
1/3 cup sugar
bring the water to a boil over high heat.  add the tea bags and allow the tea to steep for at least 5 minutes and as long as 10 minutes.  remove the tea bags and gently squeeze the liquid out of them and into the pot.  
to make the syrup, measure out 1 1/2 cups of warm tea and combine it with the rye and sugar.  gently mix to dissolve the sugar.  set aside to cool completely.  can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
zabaglione cream 
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pennington’s strawberry rye
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
in a heat proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and rye together.  to create a double boiler, choose a pot that is large enough to allow the bowl to rest over a few inches of water without touching.  over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture continuously until it reaches 135 degrees F.  
pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk and allow it to whip until it reaches a thick ribbon.  fold in the whipped cream and use immediately.

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