I tend to think of Valentine’s Day as a gimmicky commercial scam, however, I’ll celebrate LOVE any day of the week, and take any excuse to bake a romantic decadent dessert for the people I love. Which is where this Rose Saffron Tiramisu comes in!
This time of year, I just love creating Middle Eastern inspired LOVE cakes. Rose, Cardamom, and Pistachio are all thought of as natural aphrodisiacs, and are often married together in Middle Eastern desserts. Last year I made a whimsical Gluten-Free Rose Cardamom Coffee Cake with Rose Whipped Cream for an overnight snowshoe yurt trip at the top of Taos Ski Valley. Talk about a magical adventure. Feeding that cake to a dozen friends for breakfast on Valentine’s Day was a perfectly sweet opportunity to infuse the day with love and care. (Maybe one of these days I’ll get that recipe up here too.) So as the infamous St. Valentines Day approached this year, I wondered how I could top myself.
This Rose Saffron and Cardamom Tiramisu recipe sat in my inbox for months. I considered it momentarily, but didn’t give it too much thought really. As you know, I like to let life unfold in its own time and way. Then last week I ate quite possibly the best Tiramisu I’ve ever had at a friend’s place. A few days later I asked another friend what kind of desserts she liked in preparation for her Birthday. She said Tiramisu! At that point, there was no choice in the matter. I must make this Rose Saffron Tiramisu. For Love. And Friends. 😉
Rose Saffron Tiramisu
(Inspired by Rocket and Basil) (Serves 8, Difficulty-Advanced)
For the Chamomile Rose Tea:
- 2 bags chamomile tea
- 2 Tbsp dried rose buds
- 1 c boiling water
For the Sponge Cake:
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2/3 c organic sugar
- 1/4 c chamomile rose tea (directions below)
- 1 c organic all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
For the Custard:
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 1/4 c hot water
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 c organic sugar
- 1/4 c Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 oz mascarpone cheese
- 1/2 c organic heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp rose water
- 1/2 c chamomile rose tea
- 1/4 c Frangelico liquer
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- chopped pistachios
- dried rose petals
Make the Chamomile Rose Tea: In a mug, steep 2 bags chamomile tea and 2 Tbsp dried rose buds/petals in 1 cup boiling water for at least 10 minutes (or even overnight). Remove the tea bag and rose buds and let rest at room temperature.
Make the Sponge Cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray and line a 10 x 15 baking sheet with parchment paper. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat 4 yolks, 1/3 cup sugar and the room temperature chamomile rose tea on high speed for about 5 minutes. until light in color, fluffy, and voluminous. In another metal bowl (if you use the same bowl and whisk, they should be perfectly clean and dried or the whites won’t whip properly), beat the egg whites on medium speed until they start to foam, about 1 minute. Slowly add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar and continue mixing until the whites are shiny and hold a stiff peak, another minute or so.
Fold about 1/2 of the whites into the yolks. Sift the flour and salt over the egg mixture. Add the remaining egg white mixture, and gently fold with flour and salt into the yolks using a rubber spatula. Spread the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 11 to 13 minutes, or until the cake springs back when gently pressed. Let cool for a few minutes, and then run a butter knife to release the cake edges from the pan. Invert onto a cooling rack or an inverted baking sheet. Allow the cake to cool completely.
Make the Custard Filling: Place the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of sugar. Grind into a fine powder and cover with hot water. The saffron water will be a bright orange color. Set aside to cool.
Create an ice bath by filling a medium metal bowl with ice and water. In a double boiler beat together 4 egg yolks, sugar, Frangelico, and salt, using a handheld mixer. Beat on medium speed until the mixture begins to thicken and increase in volume. Place the bowl of custard in the ice bath and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment beat together the mascarpone and heavy cream until they hold stiff peaks, just a couple minutes. Be sure not to over-whip it. Slowly fold in the cooled custard, saffron water, and rose water. The custard should be a beautiful pale yellow color.
Assemble: Combine the remaining chamomile rose tea and 1/4 cup Frangelico liqueur. In a deep square or rectangle baking dish, cut the cooled sponge cake to form a single layer of cake in the bottom of the pan. Slowly pour about half of the tea mixture evenly over the cake. Using a spatula or pastry scraper, evenly spread a layer of Saffron Rose Custard over the cake, about 1 inch high. Sprinkle with a pinch of ground cardamom. Create a second layer by repeating these steps. Top the cake with dried rose petals and chopped pistachios. Let set in refrigerator at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight, before serving.