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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Daring Bakers: 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.

Tiramisu is one of The Husband's favorite desserts so I had planned to make it for Valentine's day... but, things did not go as planned. In fact this is being posted a day after the reveal date, as I only finished the dessert today. The week before Valentine's day, I started getting a sore throat and it escalated into a full blown bad case of strep throat plus a bad sinus infection set in, and since the first doctor's visit amounted in an antibiotic that didn't work, by Friday I also had pink eye in both eyes and my ears hurt and I felt just terrible. It took a good week to get over and finally last week I began thinking about putting together the tiramisu. The recipe is made up of several components... a zabaglione (like an egg custard type of thing), mascarpone cheese, whipped cream, pastry cream, savoiardi / ladyfinger biscuits, and such.. many of it having to be done in advance. I began with the mascarpone cheese on Wednesday but again my plans were foiled for finishing the tiramisu on time.

The Husband had gotten the stomach flu earlier in the week and by Thursday it had spread to me... awesome.. sick again! So, with more days off work and not wanting to even look at food, even by Saturday the 27th, the reveal date, I wasn't able to put together the tiramisu in time, let alone even eat it if I had it. Still, I was starting to feel a little better, though my stupid throat still hurts due to that sinus infection that won't seem to go away and my immune system must be in terrible condition.... anyway I finally made two more components on the 27th (yesterday). I made the pastry cream which was basically milk and flour and very tasty, as well as the zabaglione, which was egg yolks, lemon, and marsala wine. I am not so sure about my zabaglione... it seemed really thick and there wasn't much of it. It tasted pretty good though and I was happy to use up some of my marsala wine.

This morning, my appetite was finally starting to come back and The Husband has pretty much totally recovered, so it was time to finish up this challenge. I made the savoiardi / ladyfinger biscuits, which actually turned out really good. You make them by making a meringue of egg whites and then folding in the yolks and flour and then pipe them into finger shapes and top with powdered sugar.. they baked up great and mine were crispy and tasty. I brewed some extra espresso and added the sugar and had that ready to go.

I then whipped more heavy cream with vanilla and sugar and was ready to incorporate that with the homemade mascarpone cheese (I think mine was a little soupy), the zabaglione (mine had to be warmed up so that it was mixable), and then the pastry cream. Then it was simply a matter of dipping my ladyfingers into the sweetened espresso, laying them in a layer in the bottom of my trifle dish, putting a layer of cream, a sprinkling of cocoa and repeating for 4 total biscuit layers. Then it was off to the fridge to chill.

I found the taste to be very rich, from all of the crazy amounts of heavy cream in this and it was heavy on the lemon flavor. I did enjoy the marsala touch, and I wished it had more of a coffee flavor so maybe I didn't dip my biscuits long enough or just needed to add more coffee somehow.. I think I would like a little more chocolate or coffee incporated in my next trial of this, maybe in the form of a chocolate/coffee liqueur which I have used in previous tiramisu recipes. This is the first time I've made my own ladyfinger biscuits and they were delicious, and I'd definitely try the zabaglione and cream mixtures again. A very tasty challenge and I know my coworkers will appreciate tasting it tomorrow and the leftovers won't last long around here.

Thanks for the great challenge and sorry it's a day late but I'm glad I finally feel well enough to finally do some baking! I missed the January Daring Bakers and I certainly didn't want to miss two in a row and risk getting the boot!! :)

Dinner Tonight: Our Favorite Meaty Chili

I'll have to see what The Husband says, but this was my first attempt at remaking the Epic Chili for Deer Camp 2009, which was the best venison chili we've had to date, by far. I make decent chilis, which I got a general "add a million spices" idea from my mom and growing up, and from having tweaked it over the years including entering and winning and hosting several chili cookoffs at work. Anyway, last fall I noticed that there were some different styles of chili being brought to my chili cookoff and I took note of different components that I enjoyed. I decided to switch up my recipe a bit to see if I could add more depth and just make it more balanced and .. well, tastier! More tomatoes and the addition of stew meat to add that tender beef stew texture were on the list of things to try. I never follow a chili recipe but I had a feeling that the Epic Chili for Deer Camp 2009 was going to be special so I wrote down the ingredients I put in as I went, although I didn't measure all of the spices exactly, but at least they were there on paper to spark my memory.

If you're worried that this is a venison chili, first, feel free to use beef or something, second, if you are like me and are not a huge fan of the flavor of ground venison but always have lots of it in the freezer.. have no fear, this is the best chili and you don't taste any gamey flavor. The meat is not quite half venison so there's plenty of pig and cow to balance out the venison. It's just meaty goodness and this is a great way to use your frozen venison burger, stew meat, or bulk venison sausage that you have in your freezer. Anyway, this recipe turned out to be totally awesome and I unfortunately had to send it away for the boys to enjoy at Deer Camp (which they did), but I was so glad I had written down a few notes about what I put into it (and sorry I didn't save more for me!). Tonight is the first time I'm following those notes and I think it tastes really good again, but I can't remember if it is the same as E.C.4.D.C.'09 so we'll see what The Husband says when he gets home for dinner tonight. Three animals and over 36 ingredients!!

Here is a rough recipe in case any of you want to try your hand at it.. I know I'm always looking for a good venison recipe so hopefully this helps some one. I'll have to post my venison stuffed bell pepper recipe I made a few weeks ago which was also very tasty.

Epic Chili for Deer Camp 2009 RecipeThis makes a huge batch so feel free to adjust. Also, adjust any seasoning amounts.. the amounts are my best guess, I don't get out my measuring spoons for chili.

1 lb beef stew meat
2 lb deer burger (mine usually has pork ground into it, which is good)
1 lb sweet italian bulk sausage (or spicy if you like)
1 lb ground sirloin
3 small tomato paste cans
1 can corn, drained
2 cans of kidney beans, drained
1 can of chili flavored beans
1 can 16oz tomato sauce
32 oz beef broth
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 large onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1/2 yellow pepper chopped
1-2 tablespoons of cocoa
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons worchestshire sauce
2-4 tablespoons molasses
3 regular chili seasoning packets (McCormick)
1 mild chili seasoning packet
1 hot chili seasoning packet
4 or so bay leaves
garlic powder - lots
garlic salt, maybe 1 tsp
cumin - lots - 2 tablespoons maybe
cinnamon, allspice, cloves - 1/4 tsp of each maybe
pinch of 5 Spice
dash of Emeril Essence
onion powder
paprika - dash
red pepper - dash if you want more heat
chili powder - dash if you want it hotter
brown sugar - if more sweetness is needed

Brown the stew meat and set aside (this step might be able to be skipped). Dump all of the ground meats into a giant stock pot and add several cups of water, one at a time, mixing the ground meats with a big wooden spoon, trying to combine them uniformly. I keep adding water until I can easily mix all of the meats together and it is the consistency of rice pudding. While stirring, cook over medium-high heat. Brown the meat evenly, mixing frequently and breaking up the meat pieces into small bits.

Once the meat is thoroughly browned, turn off the heat and carefully drain the liquid out of the pot. Once it is fairly drained, add the stew meat back in, turn the heat back up to high, and begin adding all of the other ingredients, starting with the beef broth. Add the beans, tomato paste, tomatoes, corn, onions, peppers,
bay leaves,... etc etc etc. Add it all in there and stir it up and let it come to a bowl and turn the heat down to medium or even lower. Cook slowly for an hour or two, until the beef stew meat pieces are tender when you cut them with a fork. Taste the chili over and over and adjust seasonings until you get something you like. Needs more tang? Add vinegar or worchestshire sauce, .. too much tang? Add molasses or brown sugar.. .. and so it goes. :)

Hope you enjoy!