Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tiramisu with the Daring Bakers

Daring Bakers time again!  Tiramisu this time, with homemade lady fingers.  The homemade ladyfingers are definitely worth making - they really weren't too difficult, and they tasted much better than store-bought.  In addition to the mini-trifles (above), I made a tiramisu sandwich as well (see pic below); I think it's adorable!

I absolutely loved the cream filling on this tiramisu, though I didn't follow the recipe exactly.  Instead of making the pastry cream (which is not present in a traditional tiramisu anyway), I increased the zabaglione, and just folded that in with the whipped cream and mascarpone.  It was delicious! I absolutely loved the cream filling on this tiramisu.  The coffee and lemon combination was wonderful, and I'll definitely serve this as a mousse in the future, with some raspberries on top.  Yum!

Fine Print:  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. 


Recipe Yield:  3 individual tiramisu trifles + 1 tiramisu "sandwich" + some leftover ladyfingers

For the Ladyfingers

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
6 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs.  Beat whites until foamy, then gradually add sugar while beating.  Keep beating to stiff peaks.  Whisk yolks together, then gently fold into the whites with a wooden spoon.  Sift the flour over the egg mixture, and gently fold in.  Work gently so as not to deflate the batter.

Fill a decorating bag with the batter, and a wide round tip. I think I used a 1/4" or 3/8" tip, but I'd use bigger next time.  Pipe your desired ladyfinger shapes:  disks, individual lady fingers, or lady finger band (pipe individual ladyfingers that touch), so you can either make the tiramisu sandwich or wrap the ladyfinger band around the outside of your round tiramisu.

Bake for about 10 minutes, then rotate pans, and bake another 5-7 minutes until just golden.  Cool for about 5 minutes on the tray, then use a metal spatula to remove the ladyfingers from the pan while still warm (otherwise, they might stick to the parchment).

For the Zabaglione

3 yolks
1/4 cup + 1/2 tablespoon sugar
3/8 cup brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Whisk together all the ingredients in a metal (or other heatproof) bowl, and place over a saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water.  Whisk constantly over low-medium heat until the mixture thickens.  This took me a little over 15 minutes.  The original recipe says it should resemble a thick custard, but mine never really looked like a custard, though it did get considerably thicker.

 For the Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream until very soft peaks, then gradually add the sugar while continuing to whip.  Add the vanilla, and beat to firm peaks.

To Assemble the Tiramisu

1/2 cup brewed espresso (4 shots)
2-3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone
chocolate shavings or unsweetened cocoa powder

For the individual tiramisu trifles:  Dip a ladyfinger disk in the sweetened espresso on both sides, and shake off excess liquid.  Place on the bottom of the trifle dish, and spoon a layer of cream on top.  The cream should be about as thick as or slightly thicker than the ladyfinger disk.  Top with some chocolate shavings if desired.  Repeat with a second ladyfinger disk.  You can use a decorating bag and star tip to pipe little rosettes of cream on the very top.  Top with chocolate shavings or cocoa powder.  Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

For the tiramisu sandwich:  I piped a ladyfinger band roughly 3" x 6".  I cut the band in half to make two 3" x 3" squares.  I just dipped the flat side of the band in the sweetened espresso, and kept the ridged, undipped side for the exterior.  Spread a thick layer of cream on the wet side of one of the ladyfinger squares, and top with chocolate shavings.  Place the remaining ladyfinger square on top, wet side down. Top with a dollop of cream, and more chocolate shavings or unsweetened cocoa powder. 

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Friday, February 26, 2010

Baking Class: Cheesecakes

 Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Oreo Crust

Baking Class has been over for awhile now, but I still have lots of goodies to post from it.  During the last week of class, we made cheesecakes.  This is a recipe adapted from the Daring Bakers; the students made a lot of different varieties.  It's a very adaptable recipe - so have fun and design your own flavor combination!

 Anna & Jen

Graham Cracker Crust

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray the springform pan with baking spray.  Stir together the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until it begins to clump.  Press into the bottom (and up the sides if desired) of the prepared pan, and bake for 8-10 minutes until set.  Cool completely.

Sean, Andrew, & JC

Oreo Crust

1 ½ cups oreo cookie crumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray the springform pan with baking spray.  Stir together the crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until it begins to clump.  Press into the bottom (and up the sides if desired) of the prepared pan, and bake for 8-10 minutes until set.  Cool completely.

Batter Mixing

Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake Batter - Before Baking


24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tbsp liqueur, optional

Be sure to have all ingredients at room temperature, especially the eggs and cream cheese. This will help keep cracks from forming in the top of the cheesecake.

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put a kettle of water on to boil for the waterbath. Wrap springform pan in 3-4 layers of aluminum foil to prevent (or lessen at least!) leakage.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium speed for about 4 minutes, until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 4 minutes, until the cream cheese is light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well (about 1 minute) and scraping sides of bowl after each addition. Beating at low speed, add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Stir in the liqueur, if using. The batter will be thin.

(Note: If you're using a hand mixer, you will want to increase the mixing times).

Bake the cheesecake for about 80-90 minutes in a water bath; it should hold together, but there will still be a lot of jiggle in the center. Turn the oven off, and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another hour. After one hour, remove the cake from the water bath, and let it finish cooling on the counter top. Refrigerate overnight, and bring to room temperature before serving.

Lemon Cheesecake

Flavor Variations

Lemon:  Replace liqueur with fresh lemon juice, and stir in 2 teaspoons lemon zest.

Coffee:  Dissolve 2/3 tablespoon espresso powder into 1 tablespoon very hot water, and cover until using.  Add to batter at the same time as the vanilla extract.  Omit the lemon juice, and use Kahlua for the liqueur.

Chocolate Swirl:  In a separate bowl, stir together about one-third of the batter and 3 ounces melted semisweet chocolate. Pour the plain batter on top of the cooled crumb crust. Drop the chocolate batter mixture on top of the other batter in spoonfuls. With a knife, gently swirl the chocolate batter through the plain batter.

Coffee with Nutella Swirl : See my previous post.

Pumpkin:  See my previous post.
Coffee Cheesecake with Chocolate Swirl

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hazelnut Brown Butter Financiers

Is it clear by now how much I love hazelnuts and brown butter?  It will be soon enough if it's not already.  See, I thought that I didn't like nuts, especially nuts in any sort of baked good. But I recently discovered that I love the flavor, I just hate the texture.  So no nuts in brownies or cookies or cakes or anything like that unless they're ground up (or just scattered on top for decoration maybe); if they're ground up, I can't get enough apparently!  So I'm really just making up for those 30 nut-free years.

Financiers should be made in a financier pan - they look like tiny little loaf-shaped cakes.  But I don't have a financier pan, so I used my mini-muffin pan instead.  They're sort of like a Madeleine in that they're a cross between cookies and cake. I liked these, and the rest of my department seemed to really enjoy them too, so I'll definitely make them again.  But I think I may play around a little more - maybe add one whole raspberry to the middle of each one or some sort of chocolate...  and the brown-butter glaze with fleur de sel is delicious! 

For the Financiers  (Adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes)

Makes 28 mini-muffin-shaped financiers, or 16 actual financiers (3" x 1" x 1 1/4").

3/4 cup toasted and ground hazelnuts
10 tablespoons butter
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 egg whites, room temperature
3 tablespoons hazelnut praline  (you can use store-bought or make your own)

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting & Chocolate Glaze

Wow, seems like forever since I've posted anything I've made... and I only helped make this cake!  My student Teresa did most of the work.  We made this back in November, but I did another caramel cake last week, so I wanted to compare the two.  This cake is moister I think, but the frosting on the other (coming soon) is amazing.  This cake also is better the day after it's made, which is really convenient.

Big week this week.  My kitchen is being officially inspected on Wednesday.  I have to have (minor) surgery Thursday.

Caramel Cake with Caramel Frosting & Chocolate Glaze
Makes a 2-4 layer 9" round cake.

Caramel Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water

Heat the sugar in a cast iron skillet or another heavy bottomed pan with high sides. Heat over a medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts into a clear brown caramel syrup. Gradually add the boiling water, pouring it down the sides of the pan so that if the syrup foams and bubbles up, you should be protected.

Continue cooking, stirring often, until the water combines with the syrup and becomes a deep brown. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Store the cooled syrup in a sealed jar if not using immediately.

Caramel Cake (AKA Burnt Sugar Cake by Nancie McDermott)

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1¾ cups sugar
4 eggs
½ cup Caramel Syrup
Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and stir with a fork to mix well. Stir the vanilla into the milk.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer at high speed for 2 – 3 minutes, until soft and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one by one, beating well each time. Pour in half a cup of the caramel syrup and beat well. Add a third of the flour mixture and about half of the milk, beating at a low speed, until just incorporated. Mix in another third of the flour and the rest of the milk. Finally, add the remaining flour.

Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake  for 20 to 25 minutes until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched gently in the center and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out the cakes into the wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Frosting

3¾ cups confectioners sugar
½ cup Caramel Syrup
¼ cup (½ stick) butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
3 – 4 tablespoons milk 

In a large bowl, combine the confectioners sugar, the caramel syrup, butter, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl now and then to bring the ingredients together. Add 2 tablespoons of the milk and continue beating until the frosting is thick, soft, smooth and easy to spread. Add a little more sugar if it is thin, and a little more milk if it is too thick.

Chocolate Glaze (From Payard)

4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup (for shine)
1/2 cup heavy cream

Bring the heavy cream to a boil.  Remove from heat and add the chocolate and light corn syrup.  Whisk until smooth.  Strain, if necessary, and use immediately.


Be sure the cake layer are completely cool.  Cut each cake layer in half, horizontally.  Place one layer of cake on your plate, and top with 1/4 of the frosting.  This is a thin layer - the frosting is very sweet, so you don't want too much.  Repeat with the remaining layers and frosting.  Chill for an hour.  Make the glaze while the cake is chilling.  Pour the chocolate glaze over the top of the cake, and let drip down the sides.  It's not the neatest presentation, but it's yummy.  For a prettier presentation, cut slices of the cake before it's glazed, and serve each slice in a pool of chocolate glaze.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Almost Open for Business!


My business cards are done, my website's almost ready!  I realized one day that the only way I would actually make even a fraction of what's on my to-bake list is if it becomes more than just a hobby, so here goes!

Hopefully soon I'll be making even more cakes and pastry, and assembling home-made care packages for students.  What fun!

More to come soon...

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Friday, February 5, 2010

World Nutella Day: A Hazelnut Cake with Chocolate-Dipped Florentines and Nutella Mousse

Happy Nutella Day!

I love Nutella.  A friend once told me that my slogan should be "Life is Better With Nutella."  I use it to fill macarons, to decorate cupcakes, to flavor pastry cream, to enliven ganache or frosting... there are so many possibilties.  But this Nutella mousse is one of my favorite (and easiest!) Nutella recipes.  Here it is as the filling for my favorite yellow cake.

The cake, however, is not so easy.  The frosting alone took me over two hours, though that includes the time it took to skin the hazelnuts and make homemade praline.  If you're in the mood to spend a few cozy evenings in the kitchen with your mixer and your oven though, it's totally worth it.  If not, just make the mousse, and your guests will still be smitten.

For more Nutella recipes, see the World Nutella Day Website; World Nutella Day is sponsored by Ms. Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso.


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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Baking Class Project: How to Make a French Buche de Noel


Another final project from my baking class:  Peter made a beautiful French buche de Noel.  This was a Daring Bakers project about a year ago if you want to look for other interpretations, but I'm not sure you'll fine a prettier one.  He did a great job!

Oh, and did you know that this Friday, February 5th, is World Nutella Day?  Come back then for a Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Mousse and Chocolate Dipped Florentines.



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