A decidedly Japanese twist on the classic tiramisu, this Hojicha Tiramisu uses roasted green tea for the soak and adds a layer of chocolate ganache for good measure!
The first time I ever had a legitimately good tiramisu, I thought it was the poshest dessert of all time. I think I was 12, and I remember I had it in this equally posh restaurant we only went to for special occasions. I even remember the large beige sofas they had that made eating there feel extra luxurious. Even though that restaurant closed its doors a long time ago, it still has that special distinction in my heart as the place that planted the seeds of my appreciation for tiramisu. I could never go back to eating icebox tiramisu made with cheap cream after that. I know it makes me sound like a snob, but it’s hard to deny that there’s a huge world of difference between a properly made tiramisu and all-purpose cream tiramisu.
I wonder sometimes about how if I never had the magical tiramisu from that time and place, would I even be interested in this dessert now? Would I have went out of my way to make the Classic Tiramisu recipe that required so many extra steps including cooking eggs over a double boiler, or investing on pricey mascarpone cheese? Would I have had the guts to experiment on different flavors like I have been doing these past months? Because I feel like with each and every new tiramisu recipe I make these days, I fall in love all over again. In the past few months I have made two tiramisu flavors that I have fell in love with, but the first one I’m going to talk about is this Hojicha Tiramisu.
For starters, this Hojicha Tiramisu is a bit of a shortcut recipe in that it has no eggs. However you won’t miss that creamy richness that the egg yolks lend to a traditional tiramisu because this tiramisu is packed with flavor. The mascarpone-cream layer is creamy but light and airy at the same time, nestled between a layer of hojicha-soaked ladyfingers, and a layer of chocolate ganache. Eating all the layers together is a luxurious party in the mouth, as tiramisu usually is. I’ve always found that eating really good tiramisu can only be described as something that will make you close your eyes in pleasure. This time, the Asian flavors make the experience even more interesting.
To be honest, I went into the making of this Hojicha Tiramisu a little nervously. I wasn’t sure if my family would enjoy the flavors of hojicha considering I have never made a dessert using it before. I did however first fall in love with hojicha in the form of the Hojicha KitKat I bought in Japan. I never drank it in tea form until now though. It’s a little hard to explain what hojicha tastes like exactly. It has this nutty, roasted flavor to it, with a hint of bitterness. Hojicha is actually green tea that’s been roasted in porcelain pots over charcoal fire at high temperatures. This process turns the leaves from green to a brown hue and imparts a unique flavor.
Not burnt, mind you.
What I really love about this dessert is how all the flavors come together into this really delicious layered delight. The spongey tea-flavored ladyfingers complements the melt-in-the-mouth chocolate ganache layer. All of that is tied in by the mascarpone-cream layer that is neither too sweet nor too rich. It acts like that “glue” that not only literally binds the dessert together, but also tempers the other flavors, creating harmony. I wish I could call this Tea-ramisu since it uses tea rather than coffee and booze (and it’s such a cute play on the word!), but for the sake of SEO, let’s just stick with Hojicha Tiramisu for now. I seriously hope people find this creative tiramisu flavor and try it out themselves.
Don’t you just love how the food world knows no bounds?
- DO I NEED TO BUY MASCARPONE CHEESE TO MAKE THIS? Mascarpone is a slightly sweet cheese that’s traditionally used for this dessert because it creates a rich and creamy base. While there isn’t an exact substitute that comes close to the taste and texture of mascarpone, most people do use cream cheese as a replacement for this harder to find and more costly Italian cheese. The main difference is that cream cheese tends to have a tangier, stronger taste than the more delicate mascarpone. (Think that pow you get in a cheesecake.) It will still taste delicious though so I am not entirely against the idea.
- WHERE CAN I BUY MASCARPONE CHEESE? I buy my mascarpone from a shop labeled DELI on the Metromart app. (I’m not getting paid to mention them. I just really like purchasing my cheese from them.) It’s much less expensive than Rustan’s, but if Rustan’s is more convenient for you location-wise, then by all means go for it!
- WHERE CAN I BUY HOJICHA POWDER? I bought my hojicha powder from an online shop called Tea Klub. I never heard of them before and no one recommended them to me, but they had some good reviews on Shopee so I decided to take a chance. I am very happy with the quality of their hojicha, I must say. Yes, it is a little pricey, but just like good matcha is pricey, good hojicha is too. Apparently, they sell a brand that originates from Shizuoka, Japan.
- CAN I SUB MATCHA FOR THE HOJICHA? Technically, you can. You can even sub the dark chocolate ganache for white chocolate ganache, but that wouldn’t make this a Hojicha Tiramisu anymore, would it? I suggest you wait for the next tiramisu recipe I’m planning to share that involves matcha and something boozy.
- DOES THIS RECIPE NEED TO BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME? I highly recommend that you plan to make this Hojicha Tiramisu 1 day before you plan to serve it. There are two good reasons for this: First, you want to give the tiramisu ample time to set so you can have those really nice layers when you slice in. Second, you want to give the tiramisu time to develop its flavors. I personally find that tiramisu tastes best after 24 hours of resting in the fridge. Frankly, this tiramisu recipe is not as involved as a traditional tiramisu so I don’t think you will need too much prep time for this.
- CAN I DUST MY TIRAMISU WITH HOJICHA POWDER? You can, if you really love that hojicha flavor. I personally find my hojicha to be a little too precious to be used for that application, so I just dust with cocoa powder to finish the dessert. Besides, I think this balances the dessert better and avoids any possibility of the hojicha being too overpowering.
- HOW DO I SLICE MY TIRAMISU IN A PRETTY WAY? It’s always challenging to create a pretty tiramisu slice no matter what vessel you use. Generally, you will have to sacrifice the first slice and make that your portion rather than giving it to guests. I don’t know if you’ll agree, but there’s something rewarding about being able to show off the lovely layers of your tiramisu when you serve it.
Makes one 6-x-4-inch cake
For the tea soak
- 240 mL 1 cup freshly boiled water
- 3 to 4 tablespoons hojicha powder
For the chocolate ganache
- 50 mL heavy whipping cream
- 50 grams semisweet chocolate
- 1 teaspoon hojicha powder
For the cream filling
- 120 mL ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon icing sugar
- 200 grams mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 50 grams ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 to 18 Savoiardi-style ladyfingers
Make the tea soak
- Place the hot water into a bowl wide enough to fit your ladyfingers. Sift in the hojicha powder and mix until completely smooth. Set aside to cool.
Make the ganache
- In a small saucepan, heat the cream just until steaming. Do not boil! Add in the chocolate and hojicha then mix until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
Make the cream filling
- In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream (with a whisk or mixer) until bubbles form on the surface. Add in the icing sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
- In a separate bowl, beat the mascarpone or cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Take 1/3 of the whipped cream and beat into the cheese mixture to loosen it up. Add in the remaining whipped cream and fold into the cheese mixture until combined. Be careful not to overmix and deflate the mixture.
- Prepare a 6- x 4-inch loaf pan. Dip ladyfingers into the cooled hojicha tea soak, rotating to ensure all sides soak up the tea. Do not soak the ladyfingers for too long or it will disintegrate.
- Place soaked ladyfinger in the pan, spacing them tightly side by side until you have a layer of ladyfingers at the bottom. Spread half of the ganache on top of the ladyfingers in an even layer, then top with half of the cheese filling. Even it out as well.
- Repeat this layering process. Once you add the last of the cream, make sure to spread it out into an even layer, then cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours until set.
- Before serving, dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa powder. Serve cold. You can either eat it immediately while the layers are still firm, or let the cheese layer soften just a little at room temperature to get a very smooth and creamy tiramisu.
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