Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Tiramisu


The Daring Bakers challenge is a group project at our house. This month Mini Me joined me in the kitchen to make Limoncello Tiramisu. I hadn't made mascarpone cheese before and she had not made ladyfingers, so we knew our assignments.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Since we love classic tiramisu and make it often, this was our chance to experiment with flavor. I have been wondering what to do with the bottle of limoncello that my neighbor Mrs. M had made. It's the perfect drinking limoncello, full of bright lemon flavor, but I have been itching to make something with it. The mascarpone was made with lemon, and had a slight lemon flavor, so we went with the lemon theme, and made limoncello tiramisu.

Mascarpone is really simple to make, but you need to plan in advance because it takes about 24 hours.
(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)

2 Cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice.

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating (This took longer than 15 minutes. I was impatient, so I poured my cream in a sauce pan and heated it directly over low heat). Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

 The next step was to make Savoiardi Biscuits. I have made ladyfingers many times, and homemade are just incredible in taste and texture. My tried and true recipe comes from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I thought we should try the recipe provided since it was slightly different than my favorite one. Mini Me did a beautiful job, the biscuits were light and airy, but they were more spongy than the Fannie Farmer ones which we prefer.

(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings
Zabaglione, Pastry Cream,  Whipped Cream,Savoridi Biscuits,

 Working together we made the zabaglione and pastry cream. substituting limoncello when ever we could.

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)-we used limoncello
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder
To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.(we used a spring from pan)
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool. (we used limoncello)
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso,(limoncello) about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.

We could  make this again with a few simple changes. I would make a lemon simple syrup to mix with the limoncello for dipping the biscuits, I think this would give them more of a lemon flavor. Or perhaps I might add lemon zest to the ladyfinger batter before baking. I would definitely use the Fannie Farmer ladyfinger recipe, they were more delicate and creamy than the Savoiardi biscuits recipe.

Thank You Deeba and Aparna for hosting this challenge. If you want to see what the other Daring Bakers put together visit our blogroll.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TWD: Honey-Wheat Cookies

It's hard to believe but there is no chocolate in the TWD recipe this week.   Michelle of Flourchild decided on Honey-Wheat Cookies, page 81 of  Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan. These cake like cookies were coated with wheat germ and  flavored with honey and lemon. The taste and texture of theses cookies were like muffin tops,  a little firm at the edge but soft and cakey in the center. They were good cookies, but not ones I would rush to make again.

Easy to make, they do require chilling time.  Even after several hours of chilling the dough was still soft and sticky.

If you would like the recipe for these tasty cookies, visit Michelle at Flourchild.  To see what the other  TWD bakers did visit our blog roll.

If you are at all interested in fabrics and quilts take a visit to Lila Tueller Designs she is having a fantastic giveaway.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rustic Corn Bread

Presidio Winery

I spied this bread recipe at Pause Gourmande and I knew it would be perfect to take on our trip to Presidio Winery. It's grape vine pruning time and we invited ourselves along on the family trip to prune the vines. I grew up with wine maker Doug Braun's family, so it was easy to worm my way in to the pruning event.

The morning fog still hangs over the hills

 This is not a slash and dash pruning operation- Presidio uses a French method of “Guyot Simple" to train their vines. It involves removing old growth and careful pruning to select the proper (one or two) canes that will keep the vines healthy and produce the next crop of grapes. Once the cane(s) are selected they are twisted and tied to the fruiting wire. Time consuming work. Over the course of two days our crew of 6 only managed to prune about 400 of the 60,000 plants in the vineyard.

Cover crops are selected for the nutrients that they will add to the soil.

Presidio Winery and Vineyard is an organic and biodynamic winery located on the central coast California, just north of Santa Barbara. The tasting room is located in Solvang, a charming Scandinavian village, and the vineyard is across the highway near Lompoc. Doug and Angela Braun are the driving force behind Presidio Winery. Doug, the wine maker has been making wine in California for at least the past twenty five years, maybe longer. His wife Angela is not only the manager of the tasting room operation but she also handles the business end at the winery. Doug and Angela are warm and welcoming, so if you are in the area stop by the tasting room and sample some of the excellent wines they make.

Barrel Aging

 At the vineyard

After a long day pruning grape vines, a thick slice of this bread along with a glass of wine was the perfect way to relax. You can find the original recipe (in French) at Pause Gourmande. Aurelie has an absolutely beautiful blog. Drop by for a visit; you will be glad you did! Simply put, she has great recipes and stunning photography.

Cornmeal Bread
Adapted from Aurelie at Pause Gourmande

2 Tablespoon dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 1/3 cup corn flour (corn meal)
4 cups of flour
2/3 cups warm milk
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Polenta – a course corn meal (or you can use regular corn meal)

Pour the yeast into a large bowl and gradually mix in warm water until yeast is dissolved. Add half the flour and about ½ cups corn flour. Mix until dough is soft.

Cover the bowl with a cling wrap and let stand in warm area about 30 minutes, remove the cling wrap.
Stir in milk, and olive oil, and then gradually mix remaining flours and salt until dough is smooth.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes so that it becomes smooth and elastic.
Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn over so oiled side is up, cover with cling wrap, and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with corn flour. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and compacting with his fist. Form a ball, flatten slightly and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle polenta, cover with an upside down bowl and let rise 1 hour in a warm spot.

 Place baking stone, if using, in oven, preheat the oven to 450 ° F
When dough has doubled in size,slit the top with a razor blade, and slide the loaf onto baking stone or place baking sheet in oven and bake 10 minutes spraying water inside the oven 2 to 3 times during cooking. Reduce temperature to 350 ° F and cook another 20 to 25 minutes and let cool on rack.
printable recipe

 I would like to thank Susan of Baking with Susan for the Creative Writer award and TAQ award for photography. Susan is a great baker and one of the friendliest blogger around. Stop by and enjoy her wit, recipes and photos.
Next I would like to Thank Juliana of Simple Recipes  for the Happy 101 Award.

Juliana has a beautiful blog where she shares not only fantastic recipes and photos but fun information about her ingredients.
Thank You Juliana and Susan.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

TWD: My Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

This week,  Kait of Kait's Plate selected My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. Chocolate chip cookies have  several of different camps: thin and crisp, thin and chewy, cakey, and thick and chewy.  My cookies had great flavor, lots butter and brown sugar, they were chewy, but were to thin. These cookies seemed malnourished, with chips sticking out all over the place.  I like my chocolate chip cookies thick enough to hide the chips, crisp on the edge and chewy in the center. 

However, even in my own family opinions differ vastly, my son and his friend loved these cookies. In fact Boy Mimi made a second batch the next day. He wanted them crispier so he added 1/4 cup more flour and baked them a few minutes longer and his cookies were thin and crispy

While not my favorite chocolate chip cookie, with a glass of milk, these cookies were tasty.  If you want to see what all the fuss is about and  bake these chewy chocolate chip cookies visit Kait for the recipe or pick up a copy of Dorie's book Baking: From  My Home To Yours.  To see what the other bakers cooked up visit the TWD blog roll.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

TWD: Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia

And the chocolate continues! Tanya of Chocolatechic  chose Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia as this week's TWD recipe.  These fudgy brownies were a hit. As dense as these look, they had a light melt in your mouth quality and fabulous chocolate flavor. 

A lot of bakers had trouble with the baking time and the center of the pan not setting up. Since this recipe was almost identical to my "go to" brownies recipe I used the  9x13 pan it suggests and the brownies were perfect, soft and fudgy,  without being underbaked. Some bakers also mentioned they were difficult to cut cleanly.  I find that with bar cookies and candies, if I score the surface of the pan when they are just out of the oven that they cut neatly when they are cooled.

Rick Katz Brownies for Julia 
Adapted from baking: from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks in salted butter (8 ounces), cut into 16 pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 f.  
1. Melt together the butter and chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler, until just melted. Add 1 cup of sugar and whisk to incorporate. Stir in the vanilla. 
2. Combine the remaining 1 cup sugar and the eggs with a mixer or whisk. When thoroughly combined, slowly stir 1/2 of the egg sugar mixture   into the warm chocolate, stir constantly so the eggs don't scramble.
3. With an electric mixer beat the remaining egg sugar mixture on high speed until double in volume,  about 3 minutes. Fold into the chocolate mixture.
4. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the chocolate and gently fold to incorporate. Don't over mix.
5. Pour batter into pan , smooth to an even layer. Bake at 350 f. for 25-28 minutes. Brownies should be just barely set in the center. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.
*Dorie's recipe called for  9x9 in pan but I used a 9x13 and the brownies were perfect, no under baked center. A foil sling makes it easy to remove the brownies from the pan to cut and serve.
  To see what the other TWD bakers turned our visit our blog roll.
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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

TWD:Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes

It seems like TWD is all about chocolate these days .   Kristin of, I'm Right About Everything , picked Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes.   These cute little cakes had  perfect milk chocolate flavor, were moist, and had an almost melt in your mouth softness. The deep chocolate glaze on top added just the right finishing touch.

Dorie's recipe called for a cinnamon nut swirl in the midst of these little cakes, but I opted to use cherry preserves instead. They provided just a hint of sweet tart flavor buried in the soft chocolate cake.

This is a recipe that I would definitely make again. If you want to make these delicious mini cakes visit Kristin at I'm right About Everything or buy the book Baking: From My Home to Yours.  To see what the other TWD bakers did this week visit our blog roll.

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