Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chocolate Tiramisu

I'm very excited to reveal my very first Daring Baker's Challenge! This was a lot of fun. If you missed it in my last post, I was accepted into The Daring Kitchen as a Daring Baker and Daring Cook! Each month, they release a challenge and I have to create it using their methods but giving it my own personal twist. The challenges are things that are challenging to make or just not made often in the home.

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.

The challenging part about this Tiramisu was that everything had to be made from scratch. When I say everything, I mean everything. The marscapone cheese, the zabaglione (egg custard), the pastry cream and the ladyfingers all were made from scratch. The results were fabulous but this was a process that took several days (4 in my case) to prepare since most of the ingredients had to set up in the refrigerator. I started my tiramisu last Monday and cracked it open last Friday. YUM. Definitely worth the work and time. It was all relatively easy, as well. I only had one mess up with the zabglione and had to start over. Plus, hubby was in the kitchen helping me so this was a fun time for us to be together. I highly recommend it. :)

The best thing about this recipe, in my opinion, is the endless possibilities. Normally it is made with espresso. I like coffee flavored desserts but I just wanted to do something I made a chocolate version! I saw fruit versions, versions with tea instead of coffee and even non-alcoholic versions. The versions seems limitless. The recipes here are directly from The Daring Baker's challenge except when you get to the assembly of the tiramisu where my version is displayed. (My notes are labeled with SN.) There is when you can play with espresso or any other types of flavors.

Mascarpone Cheese (Monday night)

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/340gm of mascarpone cheese

474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

I have to admit, I used ultra-pasteurized. I didn't see that until I was about to pour the cream into the bowl...and mine turned out fine. I also halved this recipe because in the assembly, it says you only need 75 gms and I didn't want a ton of mascarpone hanging around my fridge. I forgot to halve the lemon juice though. Although it turned out fine, it had a definite lemon flavor, even in the final version.

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. (Steph's note: This is more than you think! I had to keep adding water and rebringing it to a boil which was a nightmare, so do more than you think the first time due to evaporation.) 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. (SN: I never got to 190° F...but all the little bubbles floating were making me nervous so I stopped watching the thermometer and paid more attention to them.)

It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. 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. (SN: I used a clean (brand new, actually) thin, waffle towel.)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.

(Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.) (SN: Me too! But, I was amazed by how well it set up!) Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.
(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007)

Zabaglione (Egg Custard) (Tuesday night)

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee) (SN: I used spiced rum...looved the flavor!!)
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. (SN: I tried using the top to my double boiler first and had disatrous results. I tried a stainless steel bowl on my double boiler and it was perfect.)

In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/coffee/rum), 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.

Vanilla Pastry Cream (Tuesday night)

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.

Ladyfingers/Savoiradi Biscuits (Wednesday night)
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)

This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers. (SN: I was tired and this was my first time making them so I didn't get ladyfingers that were all uniform like I would've liked. Next time, I plan on drawing the cookies on a piece of paper and placing that paper under the parchment that way I can just trace and fill until I get the hang of these. I definitely plan on making these again - if not just for eating! They were YUMMY.)

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, 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. (SN: I highly recommend using a gallon ziploc bag for this process. Much easier. Also, I would chill my batter slightly before beginning. When it's warm it gets really messy very quickly.) 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.

Whipped Cream (Thursday night - right before assembly)

1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream
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. (SN: As always, this goes faster if your bowl and beaters are chilled beforehand.)

(SN: I'm going to be honest with you - I both tried each of the componets of this and was nervous. Besides the ladyfingers and the whipping cream, the rest of the ingredients tasted odd and bland. Not inedible, just nothing special at all. But miracously, when they all go together, it tastes amazing!! I was floored by it.)

My Chocolate Tiramisu (assembly)

1.5 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tb. unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
Half recipe of mascarpone cheese
Savoiardi/Ladyfinger biscuits

Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice. (SN: I used a loaf pan and lined it with plastic wrap for easy removal.)

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.

Heat the milk in a saucepan. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla and 4 Tb. of the cocoa powder until dissolved. Transfer to a shallow dish. (If you are experimenting with flavors, I highly recommend that you take a ladyfinger, dip it in the mixture, let it set for about 2 minutes and then try to ensure the flavor sets well.)

Working VERY quickly, dip each of the ladyfingers in the chocolate milk, ONE AT A TIME, 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. (SN: This is where uniformity in the biscuits would've been helpful.) 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. (SN: This is where my camera battery died but I think you get the idea.)

To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. (SN: I made swirls out of melted chocolate the night before and then topped it all with cocoa powder.) Cut into individual portions and serve.

Bellissimo! Defintiely not the healthiest dessert on the block but very good and fun to make!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coffee Cake, Broccoli Fish Bake, Cilantro Rice

Blueberry-Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
from my brain

Crumb Topping
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/6 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 Tbs butter, melted
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in melted butter and combine with your fingers until the mixture is coarse crumbs. Let sit for 30-45 minutes before using.

1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup blueberries, rinsed and drained (thawed, if frozen)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and cream cheese until well blended and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. Mix well. Add sugar; mix well. Add milk alternately with the flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Butter an 8x8 pan very well. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Tap lightly on the counter to release any air bubbles. Scatter the blueberries over the batter. Scatter the crumb mixture over top the blueberries.

Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack to room temperature. Cut into squares and serve with fresh whipped cream.

Nom nom nom! I don't mean to brag but this was gooood! Plus, I'm getting pretty awesome at whipped cream. I've certainly perfected my skills in that area lately :)

I was looking through my Weight Watcher's cookbook (surprise surprise! lol) looking for broccoli recipes after getting a massive amount of broccoli on sale and then running out of things to make with it. I found a recipe for cream of broccoli soup...and a while back I had gotten an e-mail from Campbell's with some Broccoli Fish Bake that called for cream of broccoli so I decided to give it a shot.

Cream of Broccoli Soup (makes approx 1 3/4 cups)
from Weight Watcher's New and Complete Cookbook

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 medium garlic clove, minced
1 pound broccoli, tough ends removed, stems and florets chopped
2 cups fat-free chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1 cup fat-free milk
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste

*I also had carrots and celery in my fridge that I chopped up and through in there as well :)

Saute the carrots, celery, onions and garlic in a tsp of olive oil.

Add everything else (EXCEPT THE MILK!) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. It says to do this in batches but I was able to do it all at once. Be careful and be sure to use the lid - it's HOT!

Transfer the puree back to the pan and add the milk. Stir well and bring slowly to a simmer and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Broccoli Fish Bake (serves 2)
from Campbell's Meal Mail

1 package (about 10 ounces) frozen broccoli spears, cooked and drained
2 fresh or thawed frozen firm white fish fillets (cod, haddock or halibut) (--I used tilapia!)
WW Cream of Broccoli soup (or you can use a can of Campbell's COB soup and a 1/3 cup milk)
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 Tbs dry bread crumbs (--I used crumbs from my corn muffins!)
1 tsp butter, melted
1/8 tsp paprika

Preheat over to 450° F. Lay the broccoli in the bottom of a 2 qt dish (be sure to cook it first!!). Top with the fish fillets. Pour the soup over the fish. (If using canned, combine the soup and milk before doing this.) Top with cheese. Combine butter, crumbs and paprika in a bowl and sprinkle on top. I added some extra broccoli on top because I loove the way that broccoli roasts! Cook for 20 minutes and serve!

My favorite thing about this dish? That it doesn't have an overwhelming broccoli flavor! Seems impossible, doesn't it? But, trust doesn't! It was fabulous. I think it had to do with the fact that there were three "layers" of broccoli that were prepared different ways. The broccoli in the soup was chopped and boiled with seasoning and chicken broth, the broccoli in the middle of the dish was steamed and then baked while the broccoli on top was steamed and then roasted. It brought three different broccoli flavors to the party. It's very AB, if you ask me :)

Cilantro Rice (serves 3-4)
from Aida Mollenkamp

1 3/4 cups packed cilantro leaves (about 1.5 ounces)
2 medium garlic cloves
1 medium serrano chile, halved lengthwise and seeded (-- had none, used chili powder instead)
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 Tbs kosher salt

I used my scale to measure out the cilantro and it was a little shy of the 1.5 oz but I think it worked fine. For reference sake, I used the whole big bunch I got at Publix (in the fresh herbs section, not packaged) for a buck.

Put cilantro, 1 cup broth, garlic and chile (or chili powder!) in a blender. Pulse until smooth. I didn't do this long enough and had to fish out the garlic pieces later on so pulse, pulse, pulse!!

Heat oil in a frying pan. Add and cook onion until it is translucent. Add rice and salt and cook until the rice becomes opaque, about 2 minutes.

Carefully pour in the cilantro mixture and the remaining 3/4 cup broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat and let rice rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. I served mine with pork chops with leftover guac and black beans.

I HIGHLY recommend putting black beans into the rice. The rice was good before but the black beans were just a perfect addition!

Does anyone else notice how I use my kitchen appliances in batches? I won't touch it for months and then twice in two weeks I use it! Last post, it was the food processor. This post, the blender. What will it be for my next post?? The mandolin slicer, perhaps? It's very underused in its box.... :D

Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates