A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
For February, Daring Bakers' host Deeba of Passionate About Baking & Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen chose Tiramisu as the challenge of the month based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obession.
Et bien sûr, nothing is ever simple with Daring Bakers' (hence the name sake), this time around, we aren't taking the easy road like I did with my first Tiramisu in 2007 where everything was store bought and put together. The challenge is to make our own mascarpone cheese and our sponge fingers/ladyfinger biscuits, pastry cream and zabaglione (a cooked one) and piece it all together to make this pick me up dessert.
So what is this famous Tiramisu? As mentioned in my older post, it means "pick-me-up" (metaphorically, "make me happy") made of mascarpone cheese, sponge fingers or savoiardi & zabaglione.
When I first read what is needed to be done for this challenge, I nearly fainted on the spot. I assure you would too when you read the following list. But fear not, it's not as complicated and difficult as it looks. Once I got started, I got into the swing of things very fast and all jazzed up... all too soon, the fun ended and I felt a bit bereaved that it ended so fast.
Making pastry cream was a breeze since I have made it before for a Blueberry Tart last year. However I was unsure how a zabaglione should look like after it is done so I just relied on my ninja chef instinct.
For this challenge, I have split things into 3 posts for easy reference :
As we are making all of it from scratch, it's easier and less stressful if you make the sponge fingers first and mascarpone cheese, zabaglione & pastry cream another day or vise versa. Then assemble the tiramisu the following day. The mascarpone cheese needs to be refrigerated overnight while the zabaglione & pastry cream need to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours. Are you still with me after reading the long list of things to be done? OK, whenever you are ready, I'm ready. Let's go!
(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007)
For the zabaglione
For the vanilla pastry cream
For the whipped cream
To assemble the tiramisu
For the zabaglione
For the pastry cream
For the whipped cream
To assemble the tiramisu
It's great! Very creamy and sinful but surprisingly it
didn't taste as sweet as I expected it to be. There's not an incredible difference with the one made with your off-the-shelf ingredients, but this one is a bit more subtle and flavourful.
The next time I make Tiramisu, I wouldn't hesitate to make my own sponge fingers (ladyfingers) and mascarpone at home, but assemble it using the simpler version ie. make it with raw egg yolks and whipped egg whites. However if you or one of your guests is pregnant or has aversion about eating raw eggs, I would recommend making tiramisu using above methods with zabaglione and whipped cream.
Update: We defrozed one of the tiramisu totally the other day and found that it indeed tasted a little bit sweeter than usual. I have also just realized that I added all the mascarpone (180 g) I made in my tiramisu instead of the 75 g as required in the recipe. So if you are making this version, please reduce the quantity of sugar indicated in zabaglione and pastry cream or else your tiramisu will turn out to be very sweet.
Placing the bowl (in which cream is to be whipped) and the beaters of the hand held electric mixer in the fridge for about ½ to 1 hour before hand helps to whip up the cream whip very well.
As there were already sugar in pastry cream and zabaglione, I omitted sugar in the coffee as I didn't want the tiramisu to be too sweet.
You can assemble the tiramisu in wine glass, cups or verrines as you wish. Leave it to creativity and imagination. Obviously a transparent container will show it's layered structure better
The other not-so-secret ingredient needed for making Tiramisu (Daring Bakers' February Challenge by Deeba of Passionate About Baking & Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen) is home made Sponge Fingers, alternatively known as Ladyfingers or Savoiardi biscuits. It's a very simple and straight forward recipe to do. Nothing to be afraid of except maybe if you are afraid you can't get your whites to stiff peaks. A little dash of salt in your whites before you whip will do the trick. One of the little problems I encountered was controlling the batter coming out of my ziploc piping bag. I'm not very skilled at piping my batter yet. LOL! The other is that my sponge fingers were baked earlier than the time indicated. So do watch your savoiardi biscuits in the oven. Other than that, making these biscuits is a breeze.
The other thing I want to draw your attention to is CAKE FLOUR is not self-rising flour. Do not confuse these two. Self rising flour (known as farine à gateaux in France) has baking powder in it whereas Cake Flour has none - contains only plain flour & some corn starch/corn flour.
(taken from Cordon Bleu At Home)
Makes: approx 24 big ladyfingers
My sponge fingers turned out beautifully. It's very soft and spongy on the inside but not crunchy on the outside like it should be. Maybe it's because I didn't sprinkle all the icing sugar on top as indicated. (I only used ¼ of the quantity stated) The ladyfingers taste kinda flat/bland but tasty all the same. It's very eggy - reminds me of Chinese New Year cookies Kueh Bolu. I like to dip mine with tea. I'll definitely add vanilla extract or other flavours when I made these fingers again.
My ladyfingers are baked way before the indicated time in the recipe. Perhaps I made them smaller or maybe my oven is hotter. Anyway do keep a watch out on your spong fingers, if it's lightly brown on top and springy to touch before the time is up, you should take it out.
Making home-made cheese is something that I have always wanted to do but haven't got the guts for it - fear of failure I guess and wasting milk. So when Daring Bakers' announced that we have to make Mascarpone Cheese as part of their February challenge issued by Deeba & Aparna, I was excited but at the same time a bit apprehensive about it. I mean, making cheese sounds so professional. Can I do it? Will I succeed? Pushing my doubts aside, I said to myself: I've lots of time left before the reveal date. Well, time flies when you are having fun... and before long, the dateline for Dbs' challenge was staring at my face. Cornered, I had no choice but to face my fear. Frankly, it's just so ridiculous that I get all so stressed up about it. It's just making cheese, for goodness sake! If it didn't turn out right, it's no big deal, just try again, right?. But I guess we all have our own weird phobia of failures. LOL!
Facing my fear I did. Although I did try to duck out of it when seeing in the recipe that we needed pasterized cream and not ultra pasteurization or UHT (ultra-high temperature treatment). A search on the net gave me conflicting informations. Some sites claim that it won't give you cheese (can't remember the reasons behind it anymore) while others say that as long as you are making soft cheese like mascarpone, it can be done. Since I have only UHT cream with 30% fat in my pantry, I decided to just use it following Ninja's philosophy: if we don't experiment with it, we'll never know!
At first I tried Vera's method cooking the cream on skillet but after like an eternity, still no sign of any bubbles - a cue for me to add lemon juice (I don't have a cooking thermometer, you see... *hint*hint* to whoever wants to get me a gift). So I decided to switch to bain-marie - nope, still no bubbles. Anyway I decided to just squeeze a few drops of juice in the cream to see if anything happens...what can I lose, right? And the cream had been cooking for quite long enough. Well, NOTHING was darn happening! Arrgggh! Stir, stir, stir... can't tell whether it is milk scum or is it really thickening, but something was sure coating my spatula. LOL! I was getting pretty desperate at this point. I mean how long can I cook this cream? I decided to ditch the bain-marie method, put it on direct low heat and a few more drops of lemon juice for the road. Blink! Blink! Like magic, it was thickening. (yes, for a minute there, I doubted my own eyes) Hurray! Did a happy cheese dance 'I'm so excited. Yeah yeah yeah!'
OK, now that I had it thickened... How do I know what's the right consistency? Did a little stove dance: burner, off burner, back to burner as I wasn't sure if it was thick enough. LOL! Anyway, after a while, I decided to stop the musical stove with my mascarpone and let it cool for 20 minutes. Miracle! It had thickened. As I had to leave for grocery shopping, I put it in the fridge to cool while it was kinda warm. Came back a few hours later and found a nice thick textured mascarpone. Did a finger dip - tasted fantastic! I didn't have any water dripping from the sieve like some other bloggers did. By the way, I didn't use cheese cloth for this - don't even know where to buy it here in France so I used the alternative: hub's good old cotton handkerchief. And yes, it's a freshly cleaned one if any of you were wondering. It works like a charm.
(taken from Vera's Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
Makes: 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese
I like the tastes of home-made mascarpone better than the one bought from the store. It's creamy and silkenly delicious. I don't really know how to describe but it just taste differently good.
If the above method doesn't work for you, cook the cream on direct very low heat. But be careful not to burn it or else you will get a burnt flavoured mascarpone cheese.
If you don't have any cheesecloth at home, you can also use cotton kitchen towel, a big handkerchief or any coarse cloth. You can also use those newborn cotton nappy cloth that we often us as diapers, light blanket or wipers etc.