I remember the day so well, full of excitement at being able to indulge myself guilt free for 7 whole months while my first baby grew excitedly in my tummy. Browsing the aisles for a pudding to wash down the curry I constantly craved. Against all advice I was eating for two whether I liked it or not, this baby boy was sending my taste buds into overdrive with mustard, curry and tiramisu.
So here I was with a visually perfect delight of mascarpone, Irish cream and coffee sat in my trolly. My first of many and a pudding which I would never tire of. Unfortunately guilt got the better of me and as much as the pregnancy books said a glass or two of alcohol would be fine (this was 16 years ago), finding out that the ingredients included raw egg, it soon became a big no-no. So I searched and perfected a recipe which didn’t require either and my indulgence continued..
Over the years it has come in handy many times over making it a family, as well as expectant mum friendly version, or as in my husbands case, for someone just not that keen on Irish cream.
I’m sharing my alcohol and raw free free tiramisu recipe below, should you be wondering by now what it consists of. You can add Irish cream if you really aren’t too worried about adding alcohol or switch to caffeinated coffee, after all, it was once intended as a pick me up cake by the residents of Treviso (which is also where Prosecco is produced, giving it another valid reason for a visit!)
But if you want a truly family friendly version stick with the ingredients below.
- 3/4 cup double cream
- 1 cup of mascarpone at room temperature
- 1/3 cup caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300ml strong decaffeinated coffee, made with 2 tbsp coffee granules and 300ml boiling water
- 175g pack sponge fingers
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- optional; chocolate curls
- In a small bowl, combine hot coffee, 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk mascarpone vigorously by hand until creamy and smooth then fold in vanilla extract
- Whisk together double cream and sugar using an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold whipping cream into mascarpone in 2 additions until mixture is smooth.
- Dip the sponge fingers into the coffee and line them in one layer in individual glasses or an 8″ dish trifle dish. Spoon half of the filling over the sponge fingers and smooth the top. Repeat with a second layer of coffee-dipped sponge fingers, then with the rest of the cream. Use the back of the spoon to tap gently to make small peaks.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, it will keep for up to 2 days, just check there’s enough use by date on the cream.
- Serve cold. Right before serving, dust the top with cocoa powder or chocolate curls.
Watching your children grow up can be defined by one word; bittersweet. You make it your mission to nurture and guide them to the goal of a happy, healthy adult, revelling and marvelling at each milestone they conquer. There’s happy moments, proud moments, tough days and sad. Then just as you start to appreciate the person they’re growing into you realise that your work is almost done.
It’s not that you stop being a parent or guiding and supporting them whenever you can, it’s just there comes a time when your influence is out balanced by many other factors and they’re pretty much free wheeling without you as their stabilizers.
And that’s where I’m heading in my parenting journey with my eldest son, the Teenager.
Our family holiday days are numbered, I’d even say we’re on the final countdown. This sombre fact struck me just this week when I excitedly announced a weekend away and he floored me with his response,
do I have to come?
I hadn’t prepared for a time when our family holidays would be without him and here it was like a slap in the face dealing with that very fact there and then. So I did what every self-respecting, emotionally balanced parent does when they don’t get the response they’re expecting; I resorted to underhand threats and blackmail with a much less appealing option and I told him that he would have to stay with his grandparents instead.
Unfortunately on this occasion my tactics backfired and the thought of a few days away from his computer wasn’t enough to coerce his decision. He took it, a weekend away rejected in return for a few stolen hours with his mates.
Then ‘Boom’ and there it was. My light bulb moment. I needed to up the stakes and set about researching the perfect final family holiday for a teenager. I needed sun, sea and activity. My check list would have to be so exciting that he wouldn’t give his skateboard or XBox a second thought. There had to be other teenagers, they hunt in packs and gravitate towards each other or is it repelling against adults.
I haven’t quite worked it out yet.
One thing I’m sure of is that too much time with the olds could possibly be the nail in the coffin for any future calls on his time, so giving him the opportunity to have fun with his family while allowing some time within company of other teens could be the answer to my quandary.
The toddler’s the easy one to please, give him a sandy beach, short traveling times and the undivided attention of 2 adults and 2 older brothers and he’s smiling. And while I may crave a week of book reading, swimming and dining out, the reality is there’s a tween, teenager and husband who need more going on than a week by the pool.
Put simply, we need sun, sea and activity. That’s all. Water sports, sun and food tick our holiday check list.
Throw in a week with out the distraction of computer games, emails to answer and above all time to reconnect and make memories.
And hopefully, fingers crossed, wish upon a falling star, our final holiday with our teenage son, is nothing but a silly worry.
As if we get it right, there’ll be many, many more to come.
Several years ago I was handed a novel. I was off on a jolly to our usual Cornish retreat, Crantock. With 2 children and a bonkers spaniel I gave little hope of having any free time to read, but it came with glowing personal recommendations from my mum and sister, so took just incase.
It was mid April and we’d bagged a bargain caravan break in the school holidays. Nothing glam, but it gave us the chance to break away from the norm and spend time as a family, the boys loved our mini getaways more than anything. I worked on a term time contract and the crippling school fees meant anything other than staycations in the UK was financially out of reach.
So off we set, laden with everything but the kitchen sink, as you do when holidaying in your own country. And it wasn’t too long before I could take the opportunity of 10 minutes peace to read a few pages as the boys fired up their Nintendo DS.
The rest is history.
As we hurtled down the A38, I was already dreaming of blue sunny skies and a warm breezes, drinking Ouzo and snacking on olives in a Greek taverna as the words from Victoria Hislop’s novel, The Island, transported me so beautifully to the village of Plaka in Crete.
The historic novel, with a sad and moving story about the leper colony on the island of Spinalonga, created pictures in my mind which the unusual hot April sun helped cement. I was there, standing on the pebble shore, the sun on face, warm sea at my toes, watching the row boat make the short journey from Plaka to Spinalonga with passengers who would never return.
I can’t really tell you much more about our week away as I took every spare moment to bury my head in the book.
And ever since I’ve yearned to see the island, to find out if the pictures I have in my head bare any resemblance to the places described. I would visit the small hamlet of Plaka, take the boat trip to Spinalonga and experience the laid back Cretan days.Staying in nearby Elounda, a small fishing town on the northern coast of Crete, my family and I could spend long, lazy days on the sandy beaches or exploring the harbour. Our holidays are about doing our own thing, in our own time and not getting drawn in to overly tourist or commercial attractions. Elounda seems to offer just want we crave. With historic sights to see such as the huge abandoned windmills on the Spinalonga peninsula to the submerged ancient city of Olous and the ruins of the Minoan Palace of Malia. The lively bars and tavernas should keep my eldest teenager happy, a gentle and less intimidating introduction to holidays night life. While my 2 younger boys could make the most of having mum and dad relaxed, stress free and all of us creating memories we’ll all hold dear for many years to come.
And me? Aside from the historic places I’ll tick off on my must do’s, what else would I like to do on my perfect break to Elounda?
Why I’ll probably just read a book.