The DB challenge was announced this time with "Heaven on a Dessert Plate", quite promising I thought!! When I opened the post I saw the word "tiramisu", and to be honest, I am probably one of the few earthlings on this planet who doesn't really like tiramisu...
I actually don't like anything with coffee in it, so that limits the desserts right away :-) Although with chocolate the sky (or heaven) is the limit and I always find something divine for myself :-)
But, I thought it was an absolutely great challenge, and since my family are all coffee lovers I decided to go for it!! So, thank you Aparna and Deeba for this month's challenge!
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.
That is how it was summarized, sounds quite short and easy, doesn't it? I have to say that making my own savoiardi biscuits sounded really adventurous, my own zabaglione sounds more like "adventurous at level 2" and the mascarpone cheese and also the pastry cream make it a walk on level 3 to heaven! I guess there is no easy way to get to heaven anyway ;-D
So I left my high heels in the closet and put on my firm baking/walking shoes!!
I will give you some information about Tiramisu as both of the ladies from the DB gave to us, always nice to read I think:
This divine Italian dessert translates to mean ‘pick me up’, supposedly referring to the ‘kick’ provided by the strong coffee, sugar and alcohol in it!
Classic tiramisu is made of alternate layers of espresso soaked ladyfinger biscuits and a cream made from mascarpone cheese and zabaglione (an egg custard).
You make the several components ahead of time and put them together the day before serving. Making tiramisu from scratch requires about 2 to 3 days (including refrigeration) from when you start making the mascarpone to the time the tiramisu is served. In other words, planning is required ;-)
The mascarpone cheese needs to be made at least a day in advance. The zabaglione and pastry cream also need about 4 hours to an overnight for chilling, as does the main dessert. The flavours mature after an overnight rest, and the dessert can be kept refrigerated for 2-3 days. Once assembled, the tiramisu can be frozen till you need to serve it.
And here we go on our adventurous walk to heaven!! ;-)
(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 340grams of mascarpone cheese
474ml ( 2 cups) whipping (36 %) pasteurized, preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh 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 87,8ºC. 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. 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. I didn't have cheesecloth and just a normal kitchen towel (fresh and washed of course ;) ) 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.
My personal note: I got a bit concerned about the cream not thickening at all, but read on the forum that is was not really an issue. One of the participants who made the challenge also suggested just to put the bowl into the warm/hot water and let it simmer like that. So my controlling side won from the adventurous side and I did this ;-)
Right now we are taking another path, the one of the sunny side of the oven :-) I first thougth, why not buying these, that is sooo easy, but during baking I realized that these are quite easy to make (also quite fool-proof) and that the taste is so much better than the bought ones. My whole family also thougt it was really cool ;-) that I made these so I got a bit up in the adventurous level ;-D
As you can see they turned out beautifully. You can also bake them in rounds (big circles) if you want to assemble a round dish with the Tiramisu.
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small ladyfingers.
3 eggs, separated
75 g granulated sugar
95 g cake flour, sifted (cake flour = normal all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons of cornstarch)
50 g confectioner's sugar
Preheat your oven to 175ºC 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 strips that are the length you want or make circles if you are making a round tiramisu.
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.
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. Mine didn't take that long, they were done in about 12 minutes.
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.
And now up to to the clouds of Zabaglione!!
2 large egg yolks
50 grams of sugar
60 ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
I made it with Marsala, and I have to say my family just loved it!! For me, it tasted like wine and liquor and I am not really into that ;-) I had some trouble getting the mixture to thicken, I think my "double-boiler" system (which I don't have) wasn't working well enough, so make sure you put a bowl on top of the pan that fits really well (no steam should escape from the sides).
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:
8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
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.
And more clouds on our way with the whipping cream!
For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled cream for whipping
1/2 teaspoon 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.
And at last we reach our goal of the divine Tiramisu!
Heaven on a Dessert Plate: Tiramisu
470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon rum extract (or any other liquor, I used Tia Maria)
75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 20 x 20 cm is just fine) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
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, 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.
I put the tiramisu in the freezer for a couple of hours, it's quite soft and I wanted it to look professional (or at least made my angels ;-) ) to serve it as Heaven on a Plate :-) My family all just loved it, they all confirmed they never had such a delicious and divine Tiramisu!! So I guess my heavenly (with a few cloudy bumps ;-) ) walk was a success! :-)