Thursday, March 4, 2010

February Daring Baker'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.

When I read that the The Daring Bakers' February challenge was tiramisu I was so excited!  Tiramisu is one of my all time favorite desserts, anytime we eat at an Italian restaurant ordering this for dessert is a must.  I have always wanted to make this dessert but for some reason I just never got around to it; I'm not sure if I was intimidated by it or if I was just waiting for the perfect time (whenever that might be???).  It seems like the perfect time presented itself so I really had no other choice but to make this wonderful dessert.  This challenge called for us to make our own ladyfingers, marscapone cheese, and we were given the option to make our own pastry cream and zabaglione; although I probably would not have gone to this extent if I were making this for any other occassion I was excited about the challenge of making ingredients that I had never made before and probably would not have attempted otherwise.  It was a really fun challenge but very time consuming as well!

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


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


For the whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


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:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) 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.


MASCARPONE CHEESE

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


Ingredients:
 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-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 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.
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.
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 granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar


Preheat your oven to 350 F 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.


LINKS & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Site Links:
Step by step pictures for Tiramisu including zabaglione & pastry cream
Gluten Free Ladyfingers:
1000 gluten-free recipes by Carol Fenster (ladyfingers pg 436, Tiramisu pg 651)
Gluten free Ladyfingers and Tiramisu
Diary Free Tiramisu: Levana Cooks Diary-Free by Lévana Kirschenbaum, Menachem Adelman, Meir Pliskin (pg 86)

Video links for making tiramisu:
These are not for the recipe given for this challenge, but the procedure in the video would be a helpful guide.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TEJXgjId8w
Gordon Ramsay - Video for dipping savioardi - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HlqQqP6Mcw

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