Originally created 02/14/01

Rich in love



Hearts are everywhere today: candy hearts, Valentines and even heart-shaped Snickers bars. And while you're thinking "hearts," the American Heart Association wants you to think about your own heart, the one that's pumping away in your chest.

It's fitting on this holiday of hearts to celebrate the association's Heart Healthy Week. Why not serve those you love a classic sweet transformed to fit a heart-healthy lifestyle?

This week's recipe for tiramisu, from the association's Around the World Cookbook, trims the fat from the original Italian dessert but maintains a luscious richness. Light and nonfat cream cheeses are combined with sugar and skim milk. The cheese mixture is layered with ladyfingers that have been drizzled with strong coffee mixed with a bit of rum or rum extract.

I've varied the recipe from the original because it called for 6 ounces of both types of cream cheese and three-quarters of a package of ladyfingers. By increasing the amounts to standard package sizes, you won't be left with miniscule amounts the ingredients.

Look for ladyfingers in the bakery section of your supermarket or in the bread aisle. I never find them in the same place from one store to the next, so ask for help if you have trouble locating them. Cubed angel food or pound cake can be substituted.

The name tiramisu means "pick me up." The dessert became popular in the early 1990s and was even mentioned in the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan film Sleepless in Seattle.

The traditional version of this classic dessert uses eggs and mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese to make an uncooked custard. Because of concern over food-born illnesses, I usually use pasteurized egg substitute for the eggs. However, I omitted eggs altogether from today's recipe.

Tiramisu can be layered in a pretty glass bowl, much like its English counterpart, the trifle. Or, it can be made into an attractive terrine or loaf, which can be sliced.

To make the terrine, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving several inches of wrap over the sides of the pan. Layer the tiramisu according to the directions, but divide the ladyfingers into three layers and make the final layer ladyfingers. Cover the last layer with the extra plastic wrap. When ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap from the top of the terrine, and place a plate over top. Invert the terrine onto the plate, remove the plastic wrap, ice with fat-free whipped topping and sprinkle with cocoa powder and grated chocolate.

Nutritional data:
(per serving)

Calories: 282
Total Fat: 8 g
     Saturated Fat: 4.3 g
Cholesterol: 21.5 mg
Sodium: 447 mg
Total Carbs: 36.6 g
     Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 12.6 g

When sprinkling the cocoa powder on top of the tiramisu, use a small mesh strainer, which will give you an even dusting without lumps. This also is a great way to give dishes a pretty dusting of powdered sugar.

Although this tiramisu calls for rum or rum extract, I've often varied the flavors by adding a bit of Grand Mariner or orange juice to the custard. You'll only need a tablespoon of either. Kahlua also can be substituted for the rum in the coffee mixture, and the rum flavor can be omitted altogether without being missed.

Tiramisu

8 ounces light cream cheese

8 ounces nonfat cream cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup skim milk

1 3-ounce package ladyfingers

1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso, chilled

2 tablespoons dark rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, optional

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Grated semisweet chocolate, optional

Beat cream cheeses and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add milk and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mixture is light and fluffy.

Break ladyfingers into bite-size pieces and arrange half in a 1 1/2-quart glass bowl. Stir together coffee and rum. Drizzle half the coffee mixture over ladyfingers. Spoon half of the cream-cheese mixture on top; smooth with the back of a spoon or a metal spatula. Sprinkle with half the cocoa powder. Repeat layers.

Cover and chill for two to 24 hours before serving. Spoon tiramisu into dessert dishes and garnish each serving with grated chocolate, if desired.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrient analysis provided by registered dietitians of the Augusta District Dietetic Association. Send questions via e-mail to augustadietitian@yahoo.com.

Karin Calloway is the online chef for Viking Range Corp. (www.vikingrange.com) and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. You can write her in care of The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903. Or send e-mail to karin.calloway@home.com.