Ingredients for ‘The Dunk’:
- 1 clementine or tangerine, washed carefully
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
Ingredients for Mascarpone Cream:
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 1 pound mascarpone (This is about 2 cups of mascarpone.)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Ingredients for Blueberry Compote:
- 3 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- the zest of one orange or 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
- 50 ladyfinger cookies, homemade or purchased
- fresh blueberries and orange zest, optional for garnish
This is not complicated, but it helps streamline the process if it is done in order. To simplify, I’ll number each step of the process.
1. Begin by creating the syrup that will be used to moisten the ladyfingers; referred to hereafter as ‘the dunk’. Add the cup of sugar to the cup of water in a small saucepan. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and bring to a full-rolling boil. As soon as it begins boiling, remove from heat. Make several cuts in the clementine or tangerine so that it is sliced deeply enough to release some of the juice, but not deeply enough to break up the fruit. Gently drop the clementine into the syrup, cover with a tight fitting lid and let it steep and cool for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, fish the fruit out, gently squeeze over the bowl and discard the fruit. Place in a mid-sized bowl, stir in the Grand Marnier and place in the refrigerator to chill completely…
2. Make the blueberry compote. In a small bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 Tablespoons or cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Toss with the blueberries and orange zest (or orange extract) in a medium saucepan. Add the water and stir over medium-low heat until the blueberries start to give up some of their juices. When there is more liquid in the pan, raise the heat to medium or medium-high and continue stirring until the blueberries begin to burst and simmer. Allow to simmer for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and chill in the refrigerator until cold all the way through.
3. Prepare the mascarpone cream. Carefully crack and separate the yolks and whites from your large eggs. Place the yolks and 3/4 cup of sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the yolk mixture looks thick, creamy and light-yellow. Add the mascarpone all at once and whip on medium-high speed until evenly combined, about 2 minutes. If using the stand-mixer, transfer to a large mixing bowl and set in the refrigerator. If using a large mixing bowl and hand-mixer, simply put the bowl into the refrigerator and turn your attention to the whites.
Mega Important Tip: If you are using the stand-mixer, carefully wash and dry the bowl and whisk attachment before proceeding!
Whip the egg-whites on high with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer until they form soft peaks. (In other words, when you raise the whisk from the egg whites it should form a little curlicue on top that looks like the tip of a warm Hershey’s Kiss.) With the mixer still running on high, add the remaining two tablespoons of sugar. Run for one minute, stop the mixer to scrape down the sides, and return to high until firm peaks form. (This means that when you raise the whisk from the egg whites, you should be able to recognize exactly where it left the egg whites and there should be no droopy curlicue. The whites should be very shiny and glossy at this point.
Use a spatula to scrape about 1/3 of the beaten egg whites onto the mascarpone mixture. Use a whisk to incorporate the whites. This lightens the mascarpone cream a bit so that you can more easily fold the remaining whites into it. Scrape the rest of the beaten whites onto the mascarpone cream. Use a rubber or silicone spatula to fold the whites into the cream. Don’t panic! While it sounds futzy, it’s really easy to fold egg whites into heavier mixtures. The best way to do this is to picture your mixing bowl as a clock. Insert the spatula, blade side down, into the center of the mixture and gently plunge it to the bottom of the bowl. Pull the spatula back toward six o’clock. When you hit the edge of the bowl, rotate the spatula so that the flat part scrapes against the bowl. Turn the spatula back blade side up at a 45-degree angle. Lift the spatula, and the contents on top of it and gently turn it over. Rotate the bowl about 15 minutes (a quarter turn) and repeat until there are no little white ‘clumps’ of egg white remaining. By this point, you should have an even, creamy and fluffy mascarpone cream. Place this, lightly covered, into the refrigerator until you’re ready to proceed (but no longer than an hour in advance!)
4. Time to assemble! Plunge the ladyfinger cookies, one at a time, into ‘The Dunk’ and count to 2. Lift for an additional 2-count to let extra syrup drip away and then arrange cookies snugly over the bottom of your trifle dish or serving dish. Scoop about 1/4 of the blueberry compote onto the ladyfingers and spread toward the edges. Top with 1/4 of the mascarpone cream and spread toward the edges. Repeat the layers -dunked ladyfingers, blueberry compote, mascarpone cream- until you run out of one item or space to fill. Tightly cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving.
5. The payoff: time to eat! Scoop into serving dishes and eat as is or garnish with fresh blueberries and orange zest.