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Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Pick Me Up….

Well, well, well….it’s been a while since I’ve actually been on time posting a DB challenge. I’m not too sure whether it’s cos I’m so excited about it, or whether it’s cos I really won’t get the time to do it tomorrow since I’m gonna be stuck at work all day till late at night!

If people were to ask me what my signature cake is, it’d be a really toss up between Tiramisu and Chocolate Banana Cake. Tiramisu cos I’ve become such an expert at it and after all trials and errors, have found what I think in my opinion is the best tiramisu. Chocolate Banana cos it was born of my craving for Secret Recipe’s Choc Banana Cake and over time I’ve come up with my version of which has never failed me in any event.

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.

When Feb’s challenge was announced, I was like “Yes!! Something right down my alley! I should nail this with my eyes blindfolded!” Now I’m beginning to sound cocky but what-the-heck…we are all allowed to be like that once in a while! :p

Although loving my personal recipe for tiramisu, this challenge was in many ways new to me. For one, I’ve never done it the traditional way with zabaglione and marsala wine. And for another, I’ve never made my own cheese, much more mascarpone cheese! *Whee!* This is so exciting!

For those who don’t know, this Italian dessert is literally translated as “pick me up”. And this name is indeed well suited for this ever so tempting and mouth-watering wonder! I modified the recipe a little as I like my tiramisu a little bit more cheesy and definitely with more alcohol in it! I was tempted to try new flavours but in the end decided classic was definitely the way to go.

TIRAMISU

(Recipe source: Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

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

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

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

To assemble the tiramisu:
1.5 cups brewed espresso, warmed
1/4 cup tia maria + 1/4 cup amarula liquer
2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

Method:
For the zabaglione:

  • 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 pastry cream:

  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • Working quickly, dip 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 as many ladyfingers as required 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.

MASCARPONE CHEESE

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

Ingredients:
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

Method:

  • 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. 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.

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

Ingredients:
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,

Method:

  • 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.

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Hhmm…this month’s DB challenge was one interesting challenge – not just in its name but also in the combination of the dessert itself! With a base of shortcrust pastry, filled with jam and topped with a nice, spongy layer – tell me isn’t this an unusual dessert?! :)

June 2009 daring baker’s challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of A Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history back to the 1800’s in England. Some say it is a tart while some say it is a pudding…well, I’ll let you decide if it’s a tart or a pudding…my verdict is that it’s a tart but who cares! It’s the taste that matters! :)

For the jam filling, I’ve chosen to make my mum’s famous pineapple jam. As a kid, mum used to make this jam every Chinese New Year for her famous pineapple tarts. I still remember many a time where I complained about being forced to help her with this stupid task. Now, overseas and alone, one misses simple joys such as this.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Ingredients:

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract (optional)
4 tbsp cold water

Method:

  • Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.
  • Lightly beat the egg yolks with the vanilla extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.
  • Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Frangipane

Ingredients:

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) vanilla extract
125g (4.5oz) almond meal
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Method:

  • Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.
  • Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to curdle but don’t worry it’ll be fine.
  • After all three are in, pour in the vanilla extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.
  • With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

Pineapple Jam

Ingredients:

2 pineapples
4 cloves
Raw sugar, to taste (approximately 2-3cups, I didn’t measure)

Method:

  • Clean and peel pineapple. Cut into chunks.
  • Place pineapple into a blender and add some water. Blend it but don’t overdo it as you want the pineapple pulp.
  • Run it through a sift but not till juice is fully drained. Leave a little juice with the pulp.
  • Heat a non-stick pan or pot on medium heat. Add a little bit of oil followed by pineapple pulp.
  • Add sugar and stir it well. You’ll most likely have to adjust sweetness later so don’t add too much sugar at early stage.
  • Allow it to slowly cook over low-medium heat. Give it a stir every 10-15 minutes just to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • Jam will slowly thicken and turn a nice golden brown colour. Add sugar to taste. If you want it drier then cook a bit longer. If not, remove from heat and allow to cool when it is sticky and semi-dry.
  • Refrigerate when cool. Store in an airtight container.

Assembling the tart:

  • Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it’s overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.
  • Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll.
  • When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
  • Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.
  • Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.
  • The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.
  • When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

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Wow! Can you believe it?! Winter is here! Half the year has just passed us by without us realising it! Man! Talk about time flying! I’ve now officially been in Sydney for 6 months. Winter here is so different from Hobart! Iy’s probably averaging about 15C here and people are wrapped up in scarves and thick winter coats! On top of that, we actually get clear, blue skies with sunshine in winter!Sydney siders sure get a watm winter in comparison to the rain and snow in Hobart!  People who know me will know that my favourite season of the year is in fact spring, but people who don’t know me that well think it’s winter! This is because I abolutely LOVE the cold! Trust me, when I say I love it, I really literally love the cold! I love the thought of laying in bed with a hottie, snuggled between my doona, hot cup of tea in my hands, a good book or movie – man the luxuries of winter! And above it all, SNOW – my favourite part of winter! Every year in Hobart, whenever the mountain snows, I switch into a 5 year old kid all over again! I get all excited, and people around me are dragged up the mountains with me cos I NEVER get bored of the snow! :)

People often say that winter months don’t favour the females especially since we eat and can’t stop eating! Well, in my case, I just wanna cook. I don’t particular enjoy or savour my own cooking, but I love cooking up a storm! It’s really sad that now I don’t have the luxury of time to cook whenever I want to. Who knows what I mean when I say that you aer just too drained – emotionally, mentally and physically – when you get home from work that the most decent meal you can whip up is something instant? Well, that’s my life in short now.

Well, I finally reached the brink of my cooking/baking deprivation so on my day off last week, I whipped up a storm in the kitchen! This here was one of my creations of the day – sticky date pudding! Alan and I often visit Badde Manor in Glebe – whether it’s for lunch, dinner, tea or dessert. (Yeah, we are quite boring people! :) ) They’ve got this simply divine sticky date pudding there, of which I can never resist! Well, when I saw this recipe in the Donna Hay winter pullout from the Sunday Telegraph, I knew that I HAD to make it! Boy! It was so simple it was unbelievable! Yum! Sweet, warm, gooey and melt in your mouth – simply irresistible! :)

Sticky Date Pudding

adapted from Donna Hay – June/July 09 Winter Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/2 cups chopped pitted dates
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup self raising flour

Toffee Sauce:

  • 150g butter, chopped
  • 1 cup single cream
  • 1  1/2 cups brown sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a square cake tin and line with baking paper.
  • Place dates, water and bocarbonate of soda in a bowl and stand for 5 minutes.
  • Place date mixture, butter and sugar in a blender and process till well combined.
  • Add eggs  and flour and process till just combined.
  • Pour into tin and bake for 30-35 minutes, or till cooked.
  • Cool in the tin for 10-15minutes then cut into square.

Sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and melt over medium heat. Stir till butter is melted. Bring to the boil and cook till thicken slightly.
  • Serve pudding with sauce and ice cream or double cream.

    Notes:

    • Recipe processes ingredients for pudding in a food processor. I don’t have one so into the blender it went!
    • Pudding can be cut into squares and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Heat it up briefly before serving.

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