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Tiramisu for Daring Bakers February 2010

Tiramisu Close up

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.

Weird, how someone, somewhere reads your mind, isn't it? Take for instance, this Daring Bakers challenge. I have been meaning to make Tiramisu ever since I first saw it so prettily displayed at our neighbourhood Italian bakery. Gorgeous individual portions of, what to me looked like, layered mousse and biscuits. I wanted to recreate all that lovely-ness. Now, just how did Deeba and Aparna know my inner mind workings, I don't know. Perhaps, there is some sort of metaphysical connection between us... Hmmmmm..

So, if you are wondering why I am rambling on about minds, metaphysics and such... It's just the influence of Dan Brown's latest in the Langdon series. He has opened my eyes to this whole new (to me) world of "Noetic Science". Apparently, the field really exists and not a mere figment of his imagination (oh!! soo many puns in that sentence!). I googled.. Even Wikipedia has an article on Noetic Theory (Quid Pro Quo!). The basic hypothesis (and belief) behind the science is that the human mind is capable of physical change through the power of thinking!

Rather cool, I think. Well, we'll just have to wait and see how much of it can be scientifically proven. So, anyway, the book is all over it. And Mr. Brown, being who he is draws a ton of parallels between it, the Masons and the religions of the world. Decent book; I am about two-thirds through it and while not compelling or un-put-down-able, it's an interesting read. Maybe, there will be a twist in the end...

Tiramisu

Anyway, back to the subject of the post, the Tiramisu. I chose to make individual portions for two reasons. One, that's how it looks in the store. Two, I had been looking for an opportunity to use the pastry rings that Deeba had sent me when I was in India. It's was a pre-ordained match - the rings and a challenge co-hosted by her! Circles within circles, or what! :)

I pretty much followed the recipe. The only changes I made were using rum instead of marsala wine for the zabaglione, rum-ed coffee for soaking the savoiardi, orange zest for flavoring (no extracts at all) and chocolate whipped cream because I had some left over from making something else. The last is why my cream doesn't look yellow but a more muddled color. But, take my word, it tasted fantastic!

It was rather an elaborate process, with many different components that all come together nicely for a rich dessert. The savoiardis were ok for me; a bit too eggy eaten as is but gave a nice sponginess and body to the tiramisu. The mascarpone was creamy and rich. And yes, I panicked when I was making it because it didn't seem to be doing anything but after the refrigeration, it firmed up so nicely! I made extra, so happy!

Tiramisu single

You know the funny thing; for all my wanting to make tiramisu, I honestly don't remember tasting one or if I have (as Mr. FSK insists), it's actual taste. So, I don't know how this creation compares to the store. But, it was real good, stand alone!

Now, the litmus test is a couple of friends who just love Tiramisu. I saved a portion for them. My fingers are crossed and I'll keep you updated on the results! :) Meanwhile, enjoy my creation and visit the Daring Kitchen for everyone's gorgeous creations!!

The recipe below includes the tweeks I made for the individual portions.

Tiramisu
(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007)
Makes 3-4 individual serves depending on size

For the zabaglione:
1 large egg yolks
1.5 T sugar
1/8 cup rum
1/2 tsp orange zest

For the vanilla pastry cream: (this makes twice the amount needed)
1/4 cup sugar
1 T all purpose flour
3/4 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/8 cup powdered sugar
1/2 T unsweetened cocoa powder

To assemble the tiramisu:
1/2 cup brewed espresso, warmed
1 T rum extract
1/4 cup sugar
1/6 cup mascarpone cheese
20-25 savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

To make 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, rum and 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.

To make the pastry cream:

Mix together the sugar, flour and zest 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.

To make the whipped cream:

Combine the cream, cocoa and sugar in a mixing bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu: (individual portions)

Place the pastry rings/molds on base. 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, each ladyfinger in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the inside of the dessert ring, 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 some 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 one or more layers, alternating the 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. Run a sharp paring knife along the inner edges of the ring and ease it up. The tiramisu will stay on the base. Sprinkle the top with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please.


Mascarpone Cheese
(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes twice the amount you need for the Tiramisu

1 cup whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream
1/2 to 1 T 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.


Savoiardi Biscuits/ Ladyfingers
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

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 (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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