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 different...so 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.)
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
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!