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Creative Mark & Melissa

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big Top Chef Fan. It’s one of the few cooking shows that a) features real chefs; and 2) keeps the reality TV stunt stuff to a minimum (I don’t care what a cook can do with a mystery box of artichokes, gummy bears and a dirty sock).

This recipe (with a few tweeks) is a recipe from Chef Melissa King who won the 17th season of the show, and it’s wonderful. I’d been looking for an excuse to make it without having leftovers around the house. Those carbs can call out loudly late at night sometimes. Since it was my friend Mark’s birthday, I brought it to him, and he was kind enough to take this beautiful picture of it.


3 large egg yolks

1/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided

8 1/2 tablespoons instant Hong Kong milk tea powder, divided

1 (8-ounce) container cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 vanilla bean pod, split

1 cup warm water

4 tablespoons dark rum

36 ladyfingers

Milk chocolate bar, for grating


Whisk together egg yolks, milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tablespoon tea powder in a medium saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium-low, whisking constantly, until thickened, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer mixture to a heatproof container; cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Place cream cheese, sour cream and 1/4 cup cream in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; add chilled egg custard.

Beat on medium-high speed until mixture is fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

Place 1 cup of heavy cream and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar in a medium bowl.

Using the dull side of a knife, scrape vanilla seeds from split vanilla bean pod into bowl. Discard scraped pod. Add cardamom, and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Stir together 1 cup warm water, the rum, and remaining 7 1/2 tablespoons tea powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Arrange ladyfingers in the bottom of a glass flat-bottomed bowl or a triple bowl, filling in holes with broken cookie pieces. Drizzle half of the tea mixture onto the ladyfinger layer.

Cover the ladyfingers with the custard mixture.

Place another layer of ladyfingers, covering the custard. Drizzle the rest of the tea slowly, covering each cookie.

Cover the ladyfingers with the cardamom whipped cream. Chill at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours or overnight. Finely grate milk chocolate over tiramisu just before serving.

Unlike the traditional Italian coffee flavors in tiramisu, Hong Kong–style milk tea is used here. Made with strong black tea stirred together with evaporated or condensed milk and plenty of sugar, it dates back to the days of British colonial rule. Today, it remains a popular beverage in cafés across the Hong Kong.

This recipe uses a concentrated powdered version (often used to make bubble tea) to add complexity to the custard.

It’s easily ordered on Amazon, as are the ladyfingers, which I would recommend. The “ladyfingers” that you find at the supermarket are more Twinkie-like and won’t stand up to the liquid in this recipe. Those that come from Italy are a bit more biscotti-like.

You can also make this in small clear glasses for individual servings, which is very pretty.

Buon appetito and Hǎo wèikǒu.

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