I’m three days late on posting the Daring Baker’s Challenge for February – so its MARCH LAWLS! But I’m hoping its okay because a) this challenge was DELICIOUS and b) Uh, I can bat my eyelashes really impressively? :D :D
I was actually quite excited about February’s challenge – MUCH MUCH moreso than January’s which I’ll blog about soon (yes, out of order too, GO ME! xD). I love tiramisu though I’ve had some very odd renditions of it over the years, and so sometimes it can taste great and other times… Well, lacklustre doesn’t quite cut it. So it was a LITTLE daunting to make this, especially as I was going to go my usual “pretty close to the recipe but not quite depending on how I feel at the time” way of cooking.
The challenge specified that not only did you have to make your own Savoiardi lady fingers (which were hella fun and I’m going to try and make a chocolate version at a later date :D) but your own mascarpone, zabaglione and pastry cream. CRAZINESS!
When my brother, the chef, found out his eyeballs popped right out of his head as apparently the way they usually make it ‘in the business’ its one of the easiest and simplest desserts ever; taking about 20 minutes to make + fridge time vs the three/four days it takes to make it THIS way. I was very glad to hear that AFTER I’d finished and not before, I have to say.
As I beat the ingredients for the Savoiardi into submission, I was really glad I’d decided to do this while visiting my parents in the country. They have a stand mixer, for example, and I don’t. HANDY? I think so! Though I’ve got to say I’m not too much of a fan of the plastic bowl on it. It makes all these weird contortions whilst anything and everything is being beaten within it. Once, while making biscotti, it started spitting cranberries at me. HOW UNCOUTH!
Folding in recipes often has me looking askance at the ingredients before I intrepidly attempt to follow through with the instructions. But this seemed to work well, and I managed to maintain the light, fluffy consistency you’re supposed to end up with without deflating the whole thing into a runny mass. GO ME. Not that I think I’ve ever actually DONE that, but it doesn’t pay to be cocky in these kind of situations.
And now I will refrain from making a really dirty joke. Because this is baking, and I’m attempting to be a lady about it. I even wore a chocolate and mint-finished apron while cooking. Fifties housewife, GO!
*includes image of me, because Greg insists on taking photos of me baking, not the actual baking at hand*
BEHOLD! Really fat savoiardi biscuits! Note for those trying to do this – and for myself? – cutting a hole in the bottom of a ziploc bag is REALLY no substitute for a proper piping bag. The recipe I think was supposed to make twenty four or thirty six or something? I made about twelve. BUT! In the end it actually worked out really well as they spanned the bottom of my pyrex dish perfectly.
So, not the most awesome visually on their own, but worked out great for the final dish. But I’m definitely getting myself a proper piping bag with all the accoutrements at the earliest juncture. I’m a little sick of the reputably reusable plastic sets you get from supermarkets too – the plastic ALWAYS splits! >_<;;;
Tip on how to zest a lemon – or any citrus really – that I got from my brother and reiterated by my Dad. :D Baking paper on top of the grater, then you go crazy with your grating, then you can simply lift off the paper, and crumble the zest into your dish. VOILA! No muss, no fuss.
Awww, the poor zestless lemons. How will they protect themselves from the elements now!?
I put the zest of an entire lemon into the zabaglione – the same again for the pastry cream – instead of just the teaspoon the recipe asked for. Greg doesn’t like coffee and as he was going to be my first guinea pig (my Dad being the second xD) I didn’t want him to NOT eat it!
Turns out, it was a genius plan as you could hardly taste the coffee, but it had a nice caffeinated edge to it, and the lemon wasn’t at all over-powering so despite all the cream and sugar the final product was very light and zestily delicious!
With my back and health I was worried I’d be unable to do all the steps where you basically stand and whisk/stir continuously for a dozen minutes or more. And there were a lot of them. I did it for the zabaglione, in my very very make-shift double boiler, and was pleasantly surprised at how much it thickened up. Though, I often warily asked Greg if the consistency was ‘thick custard’ yet. Usually he’d give me a wry smile and say “Well, its RUNNY custard?” to which I’d sigh and keep stirring.
So when I finished the pastry cream I decided to confirm if I could use shop-bought mascarpone and the answer came back was yes if you’ve got a solid reason. I think being a muscular cripple is a pretty good reason, yes? xD
PS: Don’t you just love Mum’s dishware? xD *squeals with delight*
The next day, after massive refrigeration, I gathered all the parts together… And horrified my diabetic mother with how much sugar was going into everything. I believe at this point she decided to label everything I was baking for the challenges as “Poison.” She point blank refused to try any of the completed tiramisu, even though it was WAY lighter and less death-inducing than January’s Nanaimo bar action.
The recipe calls for a strong espresso mix to soak the savoiardi in, which I was wary about, as again, Greg is not at all a coffee drinker. Thusly when putting this together I decided to use a hot sherry and coffee & chicory essence concoction instead. Much milder flavours, still similar to what was required but in theory a HELL of a lot more palatable to my intrepid guinea pigs.
With all the parts complete, and my Mum’s fork-style decorations upon it, it was BACK OFF TO THE FRIDGE WITH IT!
The next and final day, it was out of the fridge, and into our bellies time! My partner and my parents gathered around, my mother scoffing at me adding more toxins to the poison by sifting drinking chocolate onto the top of the dessert for visual appeal. *loves her, crazily*
With the ‘toxic’ decoration applied, it was time to nom it..!
And nom it good..! :D
Greg and my Dad found it to be delicious and light, and not at all ARMAGADS!COFFEE!™ which I was my desired end result. HUZZAH! It was deliciously moist, and though I could only handle half a slice to myself (I’m not the sweetest of tooths xD) I thoroughly enjoyed every bite. Later, Greg’s parents had some and declared it ’eminently consumable’ or words to that effect which also cheered me greatly. WOOT!
As provided by the challengers @ The Daring Kitchen
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
And because you can’t access the Savoiardi recipe without buying the book, here it is replicated for your pleasure :D
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.
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.