Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lou's Most Excellent Berrymisu

"Paul loves berries...and chocolate," said his wife, Angela. It was Paul's upcoming 50th and Angela was writing for support in the mighty task of satisfying a group coming to celebrate. I volunteered myself for dessert:

> Dessert! ME ME ME!!! OOO! OOOO! I want dessert!!

Before I go on, a shout-out to Angela for providing these great pictures!

I came up with "berrymisu" because berries, especially blueberries, are plentiful in the DC region and I've found a new love for them (which means I'll be sick of them in about two weeks).

This recipe is a pain - there's a lot of work here. You could shorten things (such as buying ladyfingers instead of making Pan di Spagna) and leaving out the sides (raspberry coated chocolates and chocolate stuffed strawberries). In fact, if you left out these things the recipe is quite easy and quick. I've broken this down into subrecipes: pan di spagna, strawberry juice, ganache, and the 'misu' itself. Below is a list of everything you'll at least need:

16 large eggs
16 oz mascarpone
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
1 lemon
1 pound blueberries
1½ pounds strawberries
4 oz raspberries
6 oz 60% semi-sweet chocolate
Raspberry liquor
Unsalted butter
9 x 13 glass pan
Two 9" cake rounds
Canned air
Fine mesh strainer

Pan di Spagna
10 room temperature eggs, separated
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
3 cups sugar
2 TSP grated lemon peel
1 TBS vanilla extract
Two 9" cake rounds

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour your cake rounds.

Add the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until thickened, having the consistency of frosting. Set aside.

Beat the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the egg yolk mixture (about six foldings required), then fold the flour into this (again, about six foldings). Gently fold in the lemon peel and vanilla.

Spread evenly between the two pans and cook for about 20 minutes. Do the toothpick test; they will likely not be done so check again every three minutes. When done, flip upside down onto a wire rack and cool for two minutes. Remove the cake from the pans and continue to cool to room temperature (about an hour).

Straberry Juice
1½ pounds strawberries, hulled
1 TSP fresh lemon juice
2 - 3 TBS sugar

Quarter the strawberries and add to a blender. Add a ½ cup of cold water and the lemon juice to this and blend on the lowest speed until the berries are well ground up. Taste the juice - if not sweet enough add sugar as desired. Continue blending on low speed for about two minutes.

Line a fine mesh strainer with two folds of cheesecloth. Pour the berry mixture into the strainer (set over a large bowl to capture the juice) and let sit unoccupied for about 10 minutes. Lift the cloth from the strainer and gently squeeze the mixture into the strainer. Discard the cloth.

While the juice is straining using a spoon or spatula mix the juice in the strainer to alleviate potential clogs. When finished, clean the strainer and then restrain. I know this sounds ridiculous but just do it.

Store in the fridge until ready.


6 egg yolks, room temperature
¼ cup sugar
16 oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1 TBS grated lemon peel
1 pint heavy cream
2 TBS strawberry juice
2 TSP raspberry liquor

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale yellow and slightly thickened. Add in the mascarpone and beat at low speed until mixed, then add the heavy cream and beat until thickened and creamy at medium speed. Add in the lemon peel, strawberry juice and raspberry liquor and mix until incorporated.


Cut the cake rounds in half, and then slice each one down its length to make a total of eight, half moon shaped cakes. Cut each shape into a rectangle by lobbing off at the round edges, saving the edges.

In a 9x9 dish, add 1 cup of the strawberry juice and 1 TBS of the raspberry liquor and stir to mix.

Line a 13x9 dish with two pieces of plastic wrap, with about 8 - 10" of wrap hanging off the longer edges. Press the wrap against the inside of the pan and into the corners so the inside is completely covered. Pour about ½ cup of blueberries into the bottom.

Quickly dip sections of the cake into the strawberry/liquor juice and press along the bottom of the pan, forcing the berries into it. This does not have to look pretty so no worries. If the cake breaks, no worries on that either. Repeat this until the bottom is covered.

Pour ½ of the mascarpone mixture over the cake and top with another 1 cup of blueberries. Repeat the cake lining procedure as before, cover with the other ½ of the mascarpone mixture with another cup of blueberries, and additional cake (not dipped). Cover the cake tightly with the overlapping plastic wrap; the cake will likely be taller than the pan - this is OK. If you have one, place another empty glass 13x9 pan on top of this and set in the fridge for at least 4 hours. [If you don't have another pan, put a cutting board on top of the cake weighted down with a 3 quart pot.]

Raspberry Covered Chocolates

6 oz 60% semi-sweet chocolate
2 TBS butter
1 TBS cognac

Gently rinse the raspberries under cool water and roll on paper towels to dry. Using the canned air, carefully blow out any remaining water inside the raspberries.

In a small pan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter undisturbed until the ganache appears milky. Mix with the butter and then mix in the cognac. Set aside for 1 hour.

Arrange the raspberries, hole side up, in between the rails of a cooling rack.

Fill a small tipped pastry bag (or a small Ziploc, cutting of the corner prior to use) with the ganache. Fill each raspberry with ganache. Cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour and let come to room temperature prior to serving.

Chocolate Filled Strawberries

Strawberries (as many as you think you need)
Ganache from above

Using a sharp knife carefully hull the strawberry as you would the top of a pumpkin prior to carving. If you have a bird-beak knife this is much easier. Remove the green leaves of the strawberry and cut off/discard the hull; set aside the top.

Hollow out the strawberry as best you can with a small knife. Set each berry upside down on paper towels to let drain a bit. Fill each with ganache and replace the top of the berry, pressing into the ganache. Fridge for at least 2 hours, not longer than 6 as the berries will begin to discolor. Let the berries come to room temperature prior to serving.

Final Steps

Whip up 2 cups of whipping cream sweetened with 1 TBS sugar and 1 TSP vanilla.

Unlayer the overlapping plastic wrap from the berrymisu. Place a large cutting board on top of the cake and flip over; remove the glass pan and carefully peel back the plastic wrap.

Cut slices of cake and top with the whipped cream; pour about 3 TBS of strawberry juice on the plate and garnish with the berries. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.



  1. Hmm, since we discussed making tiramisu the other week, I have looked at a number of recipes, including this one. It seems nobody cooks the egg yolks and sugar mixture anymore, except me. I keep toying with not doing it anymore, but it seems ill-advised to me to serve raw eggs to company (eating cookie dough in the privacy of my own home is a different matter). I know it used to be hard to make custard, but, yes, Virginia, you can make custard in the microwave. And it's easy. Any thoughts on this, Lou, foodie-science guy?

  2. Hi Donna -

    Interestingly enough, Salmonella contamination from raw eggs typically comes from the shell of the egg and not the egg itself; if Salmonella contaminates a growing egg the egg is not likely to develop. If Salmonella does manage to get through the egg shell, it will contaminate the white and not the yolk. See for more. There is a variant of Salmonella infection where the hens eggs are infected before the shell develops ( In this case, there's not much one can do about it but suffer (e.g. get sick) the consequences. It's a rare event.

    I've also seen "Pasteurized" eggs in some groceries. I've never tried them.

    In other words, there is a risk, it's slight, but speaking for myself I'm not worried about it. If there is a 1:20,000 possibility that an egg is infected, and given the amount of eggs I eat, I say the odds are very much in my favor.

  3. Ok, that's the science I wanted to know--and I can continue to eat raw cookie dough in the privacy of my own home and not lose sleep. I was talking to Caroline about this today (almost as you were responding) and we want to know if a good thick custard (and actually, mine is a zabagione -a marsala wine custard) mixed with the mascarpone tastes better than just beaten egg whites and sugar. There may have to be a bake-off blind taste test kind of thing.

  4. Also, the chance of a Salmonella infected egg it 1:20,000. Say you eat only 25 raw eggs per year, the chance of you coming across a contaminated egg in a year 0.125%. Those are pretty safe odds in my mind.

  5. Great post, Lou, and thanks for the shout out! I'm glad the pictures worked out. See you soon.