Friday, August 21, 2009

Experiments in Durian - Durian Tiramisu or Durian-Misu

Upon receiving an invitation to attend one of her sister's fabulous food extravaganzas from a buddy, I decided to experiment, seeing as it is durian season here in Malaysia, with a durian dessert.

My last attempt at a durian dessert was my Durian Pie and that went down generally quite well with friends who were into dessert + durian. So this time I was inspired to make a Durian Tiramisu (or Durian-Misu)

I am not by any means the first person to think this is a great concept (google Durian Tiramisu and you'll find someone has beat me to the idea, in the form of a Durian Tiramisu Cake). That being said, I am a purist when it comes to certain things (like NOT using gelatin) and at the same time, I have a Nigella-like aversion to adding extra work to my dessert efforts. Perhaps it's this that is the inspiration behind some of my dessert experiments.

The Durian Tiramisu took me about 1 hour to make although I was being very leisurely about it. It has no booze, because I adhere to that time-tested superstition that Durian and Alcohol do not mix (and I haven't found something that goes with it yet). I'm planning to try out a different incarnation of this particular recipe this weekend so it might be Version 2's recipe here next if that works out . In the meantime, my guinea pigs responded brilliantly to this so I think this one's a keeper. I don't usually put pictures on my blog but this one deserved it (if only because it's a personal creation) and to preserve the recipe idea for posterity. Thanks to my pal Honey for the pictures, taken with her amazingly brilliant camera.

As with all things Durian, it's never obvious it's durian something unless you smell it. Alas, they haven't come up with a way for you to smell the pictures, as well as see them. But trust me - this has durian in it!

The recipe I culled from reading various Internet sources on the origins of tiramisu and then modified accordingly.


4 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
8-12 durian seeds
500 gm Mascapone Cheese
224ml liquid whipping cream

1 1/2 - 2 cups of cold milk
A carton of sponge fingers (chose the one with packs of 42- 48)
2 bars of 100gm 70% cocoa dark chocolate (Frei or Lindt is good)

Part 1: Prepare the chocolate milk.

You could use normal chocolate milk but we all know there's no chocolate in that. This has a much better flavour.

1. Break up 50gm of the chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and melt either in a microwave or over a pot of gently bubbling hot water.

2. Add the milk and whisk. Set Aside.

Part 2: Make Zabaglione

1. Remove seeds from durian. Mash the flesh with a fork, and then pass the mashed durian flesh through a fine sieve using the back of the spoon. You should end up with about 1/2 a liquid cup of pure durian puree.

2. Place egg yolks together with caster sugar into a heat-proof bowl and onto a bain-marie (that's a pot of gently boiling water). Whisk until you have a smooth, silky custard, known as zabaglione (Italian), or Sabayon (French) or custard to the rest of us. The custard should be heated through to avoid salmonella risk)and hot when you taste it. You shouldn't taste any of the sugar granules or a very raw, eggy taste when you test-taste the zabaglione. If you still can taste the sugar granules, continue whisking till it is smooth. Do not over-beat or let it boil - if it curdles, it's game over. Ideally it should be smooth and silky, and drip thickly off the whisk. Approximate time: anywhere between 10-15 minutes.

3.Put the room-temperature mascapone cheese into a large bowl. Pour the whipping cream into another bowl.

4. Pour the zabaglione over the mascapone cheese and then stir it together with a spatula. It might get a bit claggy or clumpy at this point but don't panic.

5. Whip the cream. Fold the whipped cream into your zabaglione-mascapone mixture. This should smooth out the custard.

6. Add the durian puree. It is best to add the puree in installments of 1/3 so that you don't create an overwhelmingly strong custard. Add 1/3, stir to combine and then taste. And then add another 1/3, stir and taste again. Depending on your audience, you may want to stop at 2/3 or go all the whole hog. I used all the durian puree (about 1/2 cup) because cold desserts often lose a bit of their flavour after being chilled. But to each to his own. This is durian. But you don't want to have too much.

Don't worry if the custard seems a little watery at this point. It will thicken up.

Part 3: Assemble

You need a glass/oven-proof dish that is about 6-7cm in height, and about 45 cm in length. Shallow dishes usually do better for this dessert than a deep one.

1. Dip the sponge fingers in the chocolate milk and lay onto the base of the dish. Pour 1/2 the durian zabaglione-mascapone mix using a ladle over the sponge fingers. Spread evenly with a spatula.

2. Layer another round of sponge fingers soaked in chocolate milk. Pour the rest of the durian zabaglione-mascapone mix. Make sure the sponge fingers are covered in the mixture.

3. Place it in the freezer for 2-3 hours if in a rush. Otherwise, chill overnight in the fridge.

Before serving, grate the remaining 150gm of chocolate finely. Sprinkle in a thick layer over the top. Serve within 10 minutes of removing from the fridge or 25 minutes if from freezer.

Pointers and Notes

Avoid using durian that is frozen as this tends to cause it to weep or release liquids. If you are using frozen durian, mash it, and then leave it to stand so that the liquids come out, and then strain off the liquids before using it. I use 1 day old durian that has been left in a tupperware in the fridge to firm up. This makes removing the flesh a lot easier.

I am against the use of store-made available around the year durian puree. Period. Fresh or nothing.

Use a genetically modified variant like D24, and go for one with a sweet flavour. Kampung Durian is not a good choice as the flavour tends to be uneven. How much you need varies because of the size of the seeds but look to get about 8-12 seeds. (anywhere between RM15-25).

For ease of grating, have the chocolate in a freezer before you start grating. Use the smallest section of the grater for better texture. I don't use cocoa powder because I find it creates a choking sensation when you accidentally 'inhale' the powder whilst eating the dessert.

Chocolate should be 70% cocoa - Frei or Lindt is best. Do not use cooking chocolate.

If chilling this dessert overnight, make sure to cover it tightly with clingfilm to avoid both the durian smell getting into other items in the fridge like milk and yoghurt that are highly sensitive to strong smells, and vice versa.


rokh said...

gosh! ultimate bliss! i love durian and tiramisu, now you put them together! but the recipe does seem a bit dauntingly long...

Bernice said...

ROKH: it's deliberately long because of the details that I have specified.I'm fussy about things like that but good point. I'll consider re-organising it so that it's a bit more clear.