Tiramisu is an all-time favorite. The first time I had it was on a family trip to France, and I proceeded to order it everywhere I could get it -- despite being in France, where I could've ordered any number of classic, local desserts. Oh, well. That's 12-year-old me, for you.
I found this recipe on Food and Wine, and had to make it, because there's a dusting of snow joining all the leaves on the ground, now, and it is firmly Pumpkin Dessert Season.
I have never used applejack before, for anything. I substituted this old-school spirit for the Calvados that the recipe originally recommended, thinking that this was a local twist on the boozy portion of the tiramisu. Turns out, this "cyder spirit" is pretty steeped in U.S. history; its story factors in George Washington, himself!
One note of caution: As good as applejack is in this recipe, I would not recommend a shot of it, straight. This one'll really put some hair on your chest, as they say.
First, you layer the gingersnaps across the bottom of a casserole dish -- we used Murray's gingersnaps. Then, you hydrate the gelatin in a dish and, in another bowl, combine your egg yolks, cornstarch, salt, and sugar. After heating the milk, you add 1 cup to the yolk mixture, and then combine it all back in the saucepan. Add the pumpkin purée, then the gelatin, vanilla, and cinnamon. Then add in the mascarpone cheese -- the creamy, classic ingredient for a perfect tiramisu.
In another small bowl, microwave a few tablespoons of the applejack with a tablespoon of sugar. Use this to liberally brush the gingersnaps in the pan.
Layer the mascarpone-pumpkin mixture over the gingersnaps, and repeat this pattern for two more layers, making sure to brush each layer with the applejack. Top with crushed leftover gingersnaps, and freeze!
Make sure you take time to thaw this recipe out -- several hours at room temperature will do the trick! I took this out before my potluck began, and it was at its creamy, layered best by early evening.
Try to get the lumps out of the mascarpone mixture as best you can -- it won't be perfectly smooth, and that's perfectly fine.
It's kind of a mess, when it's served, but those gingersnaps soak up the applejack and take on some softness from the pumpkin-mascarpone mix in a way that will have you looking past the appearance and facing a round of seconds, head-on.