Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Bakers do Tiramisu

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.

P1020523 It turned out perfect.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to dip the cookies in the espresso mixture for longer.  I was afraid of them becoming mushy!

And what an incredible challenge this was!  And not because I screwed anything up this time!  They made us make this from complete 100% scratch.  Right down to  making our own mascarpone cheese.  I had to read through the directions several times just to be sure they didn’t want us making our own vanilla and rum extracts!!!

I truly loved this challenge and for me it was probably one of the most rewarding.  If I had never done this challenge I would NEVER have made my own mascarpone cheese and it is something that is so delicious, simple and satisfying to do!  Thank you my dear, sweet friend Deeba and Aparna for this wonderful challenge!!!

P1020514 Mascarpone cheese, zabaglione, pastry cream, and Ladyfinger/Saviardi Biscuits

Due to time restrictions for me (we are leaving town today for a BMX Race) I only made a small one in a bread pan, but it was truly delicious…

The recipes for this challenge are presented in the following order:

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


You MUST make your own savoiardi / ladyfinger biscuits and mascarpone cheese with the given recipes. You must also make the zabaglione and pastry cream using the given recipes.
If diet or health restrictions do not allow you to use these recipes, please go ahead and use one of the alternatives provided or other suitable recipes to make them, but please include links to the original recipe in your DB post.
Sponge cake may be not be used as a substitute. After all, a large part of this challenge is making those biscuits.


Tiramisu is usually made in square dishes and cut into squares to serve. If you want to be different, please feel free to give full rein to your creativity as to how you want to present, decorate and serve your tiramisu. Make it square, round, as individual servings, or whatever! However, your version of Tiramisu must contain the mascarpone cheese and the savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits you made.


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.


  • A double boiler (a stainless steel bowl that fits inside a large saucepan/ pot without touching the bottom will do)
  • Two or three large mixing bowls
  • Whisk
  • A medium sized heavy bottomed pan
  • Fine meshed strainer (to remove lumps from pastry cream, if any)
  • Electric mixer, hand held
  • Serving dish (or dishes) of choice (8" by 8" should be fine)
  • Spatula for folding and spoons as required
  • Plastic wrap/ clingfilm
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper or nonstick liners
  • Pastry bag (can be disposable)
  • Plain 3/4" pastry bag tip or cut the end of pastry bag to this size (If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off)
  • Oven
  • Cooling rack
  • Thin-bladed spatula for removing ladyfinger biscuits from the baking sheets
  • Instant-read thermometer (optional)
  • Strainer
  • Cheesecloth or cotton napkin for draining mascarpone
  • Fine-mesh strainer for shaking cocoa powder on tiramisu


(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

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

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. (I should have soaked mine longer!!!)
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.


(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

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


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.
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.

(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.

Thanks again Deeba and Aparna!


Friday, February 19, 2010

Turkey and Pinto and Black Bean Chili

I’m cold. Now I am not talking just a little cold here, I mean I am bundle up in a bunch of sweaters, fuzzy sock and big slippers, gallons of hot tea being drank, but I still can’t seem to get warm so I guess that’s why my family is eating lots of soups and comfort foods right now! Anything to try and be warm. This chili fit the bill. Needed to simmer on the stove and I knew if would smell just perfect and add the illusion of warmth to the house!

Turned out absolutely perfect and I can’t wait for the leftover for dinner tonight!

Recipe for the cornbread can be found here!


Turkey and Pinto Bean Chili (adapted from )


  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium-size red bell peppers, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained
  • 1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped


Heat Olive Oil in a large heavy bottom pot. Add onion, bell peppers and garlic and sauté over high heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add turkey and sauté until no longer pink, breaking up large pieces with back of fork, about 5 minutes. Mix in chili powder, cumin and oregano and stir 1 minute. Add beans, tomatoes with juices, broth and chocolate. Bring chili to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour but can be simmered longer for a thicker chili. Season with salt and pepper.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Pancake Day!

What you didn’t know it was Pancake Day today?  Funny isn’t it when you grow up with a tradition and then almost 30, ummmm, maybe more years later you realize that not everyone even knows what it is???  That’s what happened to me this morning with Pancake Day. 

I was on twitter (follow me at and I mentioned that I was making pancakes for the girl’s for Pancake Day.  That’s when I was forced to realize that not everyone celebrated the way we always had.  Here is a good link to some history behind “Pancake Day” and all of the other traditions and names that  this one day has!!! 

Shrove Tuesday 2010 (Pancake Day)

I grew up in Canada and my Mom is from England so that explains why we call it Pancake Day!  What do you call it???

Here is our favorite “Breakfast For Dinner” recipe that would be perfect for your dinner on Pancake Day!


Apple Pancakes (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)


2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups of milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
14 tsp nutmeg
3 medium apples, peeled and coarsely grated (I used macintosh and a honey crisp apple.  You could use any)

1. Mix the eggs with the milk and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together.
3. Combine the wet and the dry ingredients and stir in the apples.
4. Heat a thin layer of oil in an electric skillet on medium heat. Drop large spoonful of batter into the pan and flatten it out a little (otherwise, you might have trouble getting them to cook in the center) and cook until golden brown underneath. Flip the pancakes and cook them for an additional two or three minutes.

I sprinkled these with cinnamon sugar and topped them with maple syrup but apple sauce will be great on them too!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Zesty Spinach Soup

My sister turned me onto this cookbook. Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook: Delicious Recipes That Will Burn Fat and Re-Shape Your Body! Heard of it?

Pretty incredible recipes. My sister has tried a whole bunch of them but me being the slacker that I am lately have only tried one. But it was good. Really, really good. To the point of being so good that when I told the girls that we were having it again for dinner tonight (slacker and eating up leftovers) they were pretty happy about it again!!! Perfect soup for the cold weather and totally healthy too…


Of course I had to make some changes based on what I had available but I stayed true to the real recipe. It was fast and came together perfectly. I made it in the afternoon but left out the pasta and the spinach. When we got home later on I had the girls shower and get ready for bed while I finished it up. This was a perfect make ahead soup for me…I also figured out that it was 5 Weight Watcher points based on a 1 1/2 cup serving.


Zesty Spinach Soup Tosca Reno's Eat Clean Cookbook: Delicious Recipes That Will Burn Fat and Re-Shape Your Body!


2 Tbsp best quality extra virgin olive oil
1 purple onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 thick carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup chopped celery, including leaves
3 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper
6 cups of low sodium chicken or vegetable stock (I used 4 cups of stock and 2 cups of water)
2 vegetable or chicken vegetable bouillon cubes (I used 2 tsp of Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken)
2 cups chopped tomatoes (I used one can of diced and drained some of the juice out, tomato hater in the family)
1/2 cup of well rinsed quinoa (I used 1 cup of uncooked orzo pasta because I couldn’t find quinoa!)
2 cups of white kidney beans, well rinsed and drained
1 tsp curry powder
pinch of ground nutmeg
3 cups of baby spinach leaves


  • Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent.
  • Add carrots, celery, garlic and salt. Sauté until vegetables are golden, about 5 minutes.
  • Add stock or water. Add bouillon cubes and add to liquid. Add tomatoes, quinoa, beans and spices. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender.
  • Add the spinach and cover. Cook briefly, just until leaves are wilted.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve hot with crusty bread.