Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Babish takes on tiramisu

Below, we have Andrew Rea from Binging with Babish making the tiramisu from the movie "Superbad." (For those who don't know the show, Binging with Babish is a YouTube channel on which Andrew Rea replicates food seen on TV and in the movies. When the TV/movie versions of the food end up being awful, Rea re-styles them his way, improving them and making them more plausibly edible. Generally, he succeeds. Sometimes, though, he crashes and burns, as he did with carbonara.)

I hope my buddy Charles weighs in on this video because, years ago when we first met, he gave a fairly enthusiastic explanation of what constitutes a good and proper tiramisu in terms of structure, composition, and consistency. Charles and I had gone to an Italian restaurant called Puccini, and I recall ordering the tiramisu for dessert. Puccini's tiramisu was light and delicate; inferior tiramisus tend to be, as Charles put it thirteen years ago, "sturdy." It's safe to say that Puccini spoiled me when it comes to tiramisu, and I don't think I've had one since 2006 that was anywhere near as good as the one I'd had that evening.

So the memory of that experience definitely biased me as I watched the Babish video. Rea's final product, perhaps because he was replicating something from a movie, ended up looking, rather disappointingly, like the "sturdy" tiramisu that Charles had warned about. You'll note that Rea is able to slice his tiramisu like a pie. To me, that's a bad sign. I also think that Rea may have made certain choices, during the making of his tiramisu, that I might not have made. But as I said, I'd like to get Charles's opinion on this matter since he's more passionate about this topic than I am. Here's the video:

Was denkst du, mein Freund?


Charles said...

The custard looks a little too firm to me, which is odd, seeing as its not actually a custard (he didn't cook the eggs over a bain-marie). It should have some firmness, of course--you don't want the thing falling apart--but not that much.

Also, I think he might have soaked the ladyfingers a little longer in the coffee/rum mixture. They're not supposed to be soggy, but I think it would be nice if they absorbed a little more of the mixture.

Still, I believe him when he says it tasted good. The inferior tiramisu I was talking about will often use gelatin to set, which misses out on the flavor of a more traditional custard preparation.

Truth be told, though, I can't remember the last time I actually had tiramisu. I do remember that one at Puccini, though.

Kevin Kim said...

Interesting insights! I'd try my hand at making some tiramisu, but Rea makes it look like a lot of work.

Charles said...

It is fairly labor intensive, but given some of the dishes you've made, I don't think it would be out of the ordinary. If you don't make the ladyfingers from scratch, though, it is relatively easy.

Another point on the custard: Although in the narration he says that he is mixing four egg yolks with a cup of sugar to make the zabaglione, what he actually mixes in are six egg yolks, and there seems to be quite a bit of egg white in the bowl with the yolks (you can see this at 3:09); it looks like he might have been a little lazy in separating the eggs. Those egg whites are going to make the custard firmer than usual, and may have contributed to the cake ending up the way it did.