TIRAMISU – Heaven on a Dessert Plate! … a Daring Baker Challenge co-hosted

TIRAMISU … Heaven on a Dessert Plate!
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 Aparna wrote to me in July last year saying she had had a very Daring idea, and asked if I’d be willing to join her cohost a DB challenge in 2010, I was game. What a brilliant idea! For the next 2 months we toyed with many different ideas for the challenge.
1. Sweet or savoury?
2. Cake kind of thing or what?
Probables off the top of my head were
1. Phyllo pastry with the option of sweet or savoury filling
2. Pavlova
3. Meringue baskets
4. Macarons (scary) … and then we both finally agreed that it was time to Tiramisu!
The idea clicked with us instantly and being in India, where we don’t have the luxury of local savoiardi and mascarpone available in every corner store, we just knew this was to be a fun challenge. A bit intimidating at first read, but once we tried it, we were both singing the Tiramisu Anthem.
This months challenge involved three recipes.

A. Tiramisu (includes zabaglione & vanilla pastry cream)
B. Mascarpone Cheese
C. Ladyfinger/ Savoiardi Biscuits

(You can find them at the bottom of my post)

Tiramisu is made up of several components which can be made separately and ahead of time and put 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. So this challenge requires some prior planning.
Please read the instructions as you need to begin making the mascarpone at least a day in advance. The zabaglione & pastry cream also need 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, in case you are not serving it immediately.
The recipe is Carmin Antonios‘, and for me, is a winner, original in every way and it allowed plenty of room for creativity. One look at the forum after puting the challenge live, we were floored by the response. Thank you, you daring baker types of people, you have made every second of this month worthwhile. The creativity and enthusiasm has blown us away. Thank you for taking Tiramisu so whole heartedly. It is a fab recipe and certainly lives up to it’s name Heaven on a Plate.


RECIPE SOURCE:
Mascarpone Cheese- Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits- Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu- Carminantonio’s Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007

We chose Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone’s version of tiramisu for a couple of reasons…

  • Firstly, his recipe is different from most other tiramisu recipes as he makes a zabaglione, an egg custard which is flavoured with Marsala wine (you may use coffee instead). Even more important is that his zabaglione is cooked so there is no risk from using raw eggs.
  • He also makes a vanilla flavoured pastry cream which we haven’t seen in other tiramisu recipes.

The good thing also is that we’ve discovered that making ladyfingers / savoiardi are simpler than anything in the world, and so forgiving. They get all covered by the luscious cream, so it doesn’t really matter that they aren’t ‘all good looking‘. Some of the DBs found them pretty yummy too, and had a second go at doing the challenge and/or savoiardi. That in itself was so heartening to hear.

Though a few of the DBs had issues making the mascarpone, I think the panic comes in only the first time you make this beautiful cream. Once you’ve been past the experience, you know what to expect and are never disappointed. Having made mascarpone several times in the past using Vera’s recipe, and I do mean several, the challenge was a learning experience for me because I never once thought that it might pose a problem of any sort. The response on the forum was amazing, very soap opera types sometimes … drama, mystery, euphoria, everything in there, and in the end - FUN!

It has been our absolute pleasure to have hosted the DB challenge for February 2010, the month of love, where many DBs lovingly created the dessert for Valentines. Thank you Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice, the ladies behind this wonderful DARING KITCHEN, for having given us this opportunity. We loved it, and couldn’t have done it without your patience and support! Thank you Aparna for cohosting with me; you were wonderful to work with!!
Please do make sure you stop by the DARING BAKER BLOGROLL and check out the creativity of our DB’s. You will be amazed!
~ THE RECIPES ~
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:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms 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/ 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 190F. 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
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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H2Ope for Haiti – a BLOGGERAID fundraiser & a Tropical Fruit Pavlova

“Although each person’s donation may be small, even single drops of water will eventually fill a swimming pool”
BloggerAid
It’s time to give back … to give back to a blogging community that has helped us grow, finds time to stop by, has something nice to say, shares the highs as it does the lows, is there for you no matter what! It is heartening to see foodie bloggers come together for Blogger Aid to put together a cookbook which at one time seemed impossible. To see it happen was like a dream come true. This couldn’t have been possible without 2 truly wonderful hard-working bloggers, Val and Giz, the hearts behind Blogger Aid.

They came together to help publish the Blogger Aid Cookbook for the World Food Programme, and have now, with an intiative from Jeanne @ Cook Sister, have come up with another great event to extend a much needed hand to the horrific natural calamity we saw in Haiti.


As clean drinking water was one of the most acute needs in the aftermath of the quake, BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine selected Concern Worldwide because of its long track record and quick response after the quake to provide clean drinking water and water purification tablets.

From Sunday, February 21 – Sunday, February 28th, BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine (BA-CFF) is running H2Ope for Haiti, an online raffle to raise funds for Concern Worldwide’s relief effort in Haiti. For full details and how you can help please visit our HOME page at BloggerAid Changing the Face of Famine  as well as our donation page at Justgiving. A list of prizes is available on the here.
It is time, dear readers, to try and give back a little bit. I have got much joy and inspiration from blogs and blogging, that I’m here to support Jeannes’ call  in my own little way…

 As part of the auction, I am offering a pair of hand painted Mughal miniature paintings (unframed) by artists from the princely state of Rajasthan in India.

Dimensions are 20cms X 10 cms each. Total 2 in number.
Will post worldwide.
PRIZE CODE:  HFH05
The Mughal miniature paintings feature stylized imagery in rich draped figures with a blend of Indian and Persian styles, reflecting India’s rich cultural heritage. The miniatures have a lyrical quality that enamors the mind and the soul. Most of the paintings are unique compositions on innumerable themes that are characteristic only of India. The colors used in the miniatures were derived from minerals, vegetables, precious stones, indigo, conch shells, pure gold and silver. Some other themes revolve around love scenes, Mughal Royal courts and the battle fields in gold and stone colors.
Mughal miniature paintings are still being created today by a small number of artists in Rajasthan concentrated mainly in Jaipur. Although many of these miniatures are skillful copies of the originals, some artists have produced modern works using classic methods to, at times, remarkable artistic effect. A miniature painting, as the name signifies, is an intricate, colorful illuminations or painting, small in size, executed meticulously with delicate brushwork. The skills needed to produce these modern versions of Mughal miniatures are still passed on from generation to generation, although many artisans also employ dozens of workers, often painting under trying working conditions, to produce remarkable works sold under the signature of their modern masters. They reflect the painstaking efforts of skill and talents exhibited by Indian artisans, and are well acclaimed worldwide.
Tweet about the raffle ( #H2OpeforHaiti), Retweet it, mention it on Facebook, purchase a raffle ticket for a minimal amount,  tell all your friends, bloggers and non-bloggers alike. Any help you can give would be most appreciated. Thank you!

For this post, I chose to post a recipe from a beautiful book on desserts that I received from BloggerAid to review some time back. You can read a review about INDULGE – 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark here where I made an Apple and Black Grape Band Aux Fruit. To connect to the H2Ope for Haiti event, it seemed right to pick something from the same book to post today. It’s a Tropical Fruit Pavlova from Indulge by Claire Clark. This was my first time making pavlovas …

Pavlova is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Ánna Pávlova. Colloquially referred to as “pav“, it is a cake of meringue with a crispy crust and soft, light inner.The dessert is believed to have been created to honour the dancer during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Where it was created and the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years, but research indicates New Zealand as the source. The dessert is a popular dish and an important part of the national cuisine of both countries, and is frequently served during celebratory or holiday meals such as Christmas dinner.

The results were absolutely delicious, and I am amazed that I have procrastinated about making them for so long. The bases were light as air, crisp from the outside, and slightly soft from within. I painted the bases with some melted chcoolate because I was filling them ahead. Make sure you fill them with cream and fruit just 30 minutes prior to serving as they could go soggy otherwise. The melted chocolate prevented mine from getting soggy. I used a mix of low fat cream and mascarpone for the filling, and it complimented the fruit beautifully. This is an awesome dessert to make, and I know it shall be a difficult choice in the future to decide where to use the whites …  in macs or pavs!!

Tropical Fruit Pavlova
From Indulge – 100 Perfect Desserts by Claire Clark, page 100
Serves 6
(recipe scaled down to 3 egg whites)
3 large egg whites
150gms castor sugar
1 tsp cornflour, sifted
3/4 tsp white wine vinegar
Filling
adapted from Indulge
150ml cream (25% fat)
1/2 cup mascarpone (recipe here)
1-2 tbsp sugar
Tropical fruit (strawberries, kiwifruit, cape gooseberries etc)

Method:
Prehat the oven to 120C.

Beat the egg whites with 1/3 sugar with an electrical mixer to firm peaks, followed by another third for 1-2 mintes on medium speed. Then add the remaining 1/3rd, and beat in until just incorporated.
Using a large metal spoon, fold in the sifted cornflour and the white wine vinegar. Be careful not to overmix and lose volume.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment, and drop a large spoonful of the meringue in a mound on the paper. Using the back of the spoon, make a well in the centre for the cream and fresh fruit to sit in, keeping the meringue as round as possible. Repeat to make 5 more mounds, making sure you leave 5cms/2inches between each one.
Bake for 1 hour or until the outside of the meringue is dry and golden, and the inside is still soft. Leave to cool completely. (I cracked mine a little because I was in a hurry to see how they baked!) 
Filling
Cut the fruit into different sized pieces.
Whip the cream and icing suger till firm. Smoothen the mascarpone with a spoon in a bowl, and gently fold in the whipped cream, being carefuil not to lose volume.
Paint the bases of the pavlovas with melted dark chocolate (optional)
Pipe or spoon into the centre of the cooled pavlovas, and decorate with an assortment of fresh tropical fruit.
♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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Tartine’s Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake … as healthy as it gets this end!

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”
Jim Davis

Saw something stunning the other day – Zucchini & Orange Marmalade Tea Cake. The minute I saw it at Manggy’s No Special Effects, I could hear Ten in 10 yelling at the back of my head. Having made a Chocolate Zucchini Cake in the past, and the children not figuring that out was a gleeful experience. But I hardly ever make that one because of all the butter it takes to make the cake luscious and delectable.
So when I read that Manggy had made this cake probably 4 times in nearly two months, it was bookmarked in my head. They say that the brain can remeber just about 140  friends on social networking sites, and more than that is forgotten. I’m not really sure about that, because I remember more frineds than those on Twitter, and have even more recipes stashed away in my mind. I’m quite past filing them away on the PC because I just can’t ever seem to find them.
My new mental filing system is good so far. I had this Zucchini Tea Bread  in my Ten in 10 folder. What added to the joy was that I had a couple of jars of fab homemade bitter orange marmalade, some waiting to jump right into this tea bread. The daughter loves orange/marmalade anything, so I thought I could pull this off. Veggies in there and no butter. This is as healthy as cake can get this end with veggies within!
Scared of the kids detecting zucchini and running  a few miles had me hypnotically adding some dark chocolate chips. I like walnuts in tea breads, even thought the daughter doesn’t seem to care for them. Crossroads as always with nutty decisions… Truth be told, I just thought if she gets the chocolate chips in there that she so loves, then she shall need to learn to live with walnuts too. Oh the lessons in life I dream of teaching them through food…he he! Might I add, a lot of them backfire!! 
The response was very good. Mr PAB loved the cake. The daughter asked for a second slice, and then a third, and she liked it enough to ask for 2 more the next day. That was be a good enough verdict! The son was a bit iffy about it, but ate it happily just the same. He thought it was a fruit cake!

Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake
Recipe adapted minimally from Manggy @ No Special Effects
Adapted from Tartine
1 & 3/4 cup s + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 small ones)
1/2 cup orange marmalade
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar

Method:

Spray, line, and spray again a 23cm x 12.5cm (9×5 inch) loaf pan and set aside (you can also just spray if you’re confident about your pan’s non-stickiness).
Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix all the remaining ingredients (except the walnuts, if using) in a large bowl until combined (no giant lumps of marmalade at least).
Sift the dry ingredients into it and stir until just combined (don’t worry about it being smooth, just be gentle). Stir in the walnuts if using. Pour into the prepared loaf pan.

Sprinkle the top with the about 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar.
Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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