Daring Bakers February: Tiramisu

Updated below!

Finally the deer eaters are back among the Daring Bakers after having missed both December's and January's challenges. This one was far too good to miss (and the rules won't let us anyway, not if we want to remain in the fabulous kitchen posse which is the Daring Bakers), because in February we are making one of our favorite desserts: 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.
As I said, Tiramisu is not a stranger to our table. The one we usually make (from the modern Swedish classic cookbook Nya Annas Mat by Anna Bergenström) can be put together in half an hour, plus some chillin' time. But this being the Daring Bakers, there was of course a much more involved recipe, coming from Baltimore pastry chef Carminantonio Iannaccone. This tiramisu certainly isn't one you make in half an hour, and the challenge also required us to make the savoiardi biscuits and mascarpone cheese ourselves!

Savoiardi biscuits with their snowy dusting of confectioner's sugar.

Markus started the day before with making the mascarpone while I was in Stockholm celebrating my mom's birthday by having dinner at Berns Bistro - delicious breast of duck with puy lentils and truffle sauce - and watching the musical Hairspray - both highly recommended if you happen to be in Stockholm! Markus says that making mascarpone was quite easy; the problem was knowing when it was done - what is "a few clear whey streaks"? It's also important to use quadruple cheesecloths for straining- we only have two and Markus thinks some mascarpone got lost in the process. Apart from that - way (whey!) cool that we now can make our own mascarpone! It looked and tasted just right! I love discovering how you can make cheese on your own - we have mastered ricotta earlier, and next up is either mozzarella or paneer.

So, the next day - and here I have to confess that "next day" means today, as in posting day, as in yes, we waited with the challenge until the very last minute again - we made the savoiardi biscuits, the zabaglione and the pastry cream. No major problems with any of these, we had forgotten to buy marsala and were out of both port and amaretto so we had to substitute coffee in the zabaglione, and vanilla extract is virtually unheard of in Sweden so instead we exchanged some of the sugar in the zabaglione and the pastry cream with homemade vanilla sugar.

After the chilling, it was time to assemble. We decided to skip sweetening the espresso, as we (correctly) assumed that the Tiramisu would be sweet enough without that additional sugar. And rum extract in the coffee? We of course went for the real deal - Captain Morgan! Lacking a suitable dish, we made individual Tiramisus in cocktail glasses. Not very traditional, but quite pretty!

We're sorry, but you have to wait until tomorrow to get the answer to the most important question: how did it taste? It's past midnight here (so really I'm posting this late) and we don't really feel like Tiramisu for a midnight snack today. But we promise to update the post tomorrow with the verdict!

In the meanwhile, go visit the Daring Kitchen to see all the other Daring Bakers' creations! Thank you Aparna and Deeba for a really nice challenge!

Yes, yes it was good. Very good. Very very good. As in, great that we still have some left in the fridge. As in, too bad I'm going away to work in an other city this week and have to leave Markus with that bowl all to himself. (Yeah, we made some in a bowl as well, besides the two pretty cocktail glass ones which were mainly to get good photos.)
I was worried that the coffee flavour would have been too much, with coffee both in the cream and for dipping the savoiardi (and I like coffee) but it wasn't, it was very balanced. I'm sure it would have been even better with marsala though, and will definitely get a bottle for next time.
But. I don't know if the pastry cream, with the extra work that entailed, really added that much to the end result. Texture-wise it made the tiramisu fluffier, which is nice, but I'm not sure that it made much difference to the flavour.
Homemade mascarpone and savoiardi was definitely worth it though, and neither of those were difficult to make, so we'll do that in the future, but, I think, with our old tiramisu recipe. It uses raw eggs in the zabaglione which isn't a problem here in Sweden (yay for strict rules and salmonella testing) but which I know can be iffy elsewhere so I understand why a cooked zabaglione recipe was chosen for the challenge.
In sum, this was a great. We learned something. We were challenged. We got a really delicious result. We will do it again (at least parts of it). What more can you ask for? Thanks again Deeba and Aparna!


(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 (50 g)
60 ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
55 g sugar
1 tbsp all purpose flour (8 g)
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
175 ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
235 ml chilled heavy cream
55 g sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
470 ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 tsp rum extract (optional)
110 g sugar
75 g mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (30 g)

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.
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

500 ml whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tbsp 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
75 g granulated sugar
95 g cake flour, sifted (or all purpose flour with 2 tbsp cornstarch)
50 g confectioner's sugar


Preheat your oven to 175°C, 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.


Daring Cooks February: Mezze

The 2010 February Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Michele chose to challenge everyone to make mezze based on various recipes from Claudia Roden, Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.
This was a really creative challenge with only two mandatory parts: pita bread and hummus. Then it was up to the Daring Cooks to fill their mezze tables with tabbouleh, falafel, baba ganouj, lebneh, feta cheese, olives and whatever else Middle Eastern finger food they could think of. Fun!

I recently had a fabulous mezze meal at a Lebanese restaurant in Stockholm, and was looking forward to being inspired for the Daring Cooks challenge. But come the day of mezze making, I wasn't in the mood for tons of little dishes (going to the Middle Eastern supermarket and buying their ready-made stuff felt like cheating) and then there was the usual time constraints resulting from the usual procrastination, so I ended up a bit outside the box. But still, I hope, within the spirit of the challenge. My not-so-mezze mezze table ended up consisting of:
  • Tunsian lamb tagine with dried fruit
  • Orange salad with feta cheese and mint
  • Pita bread
  • Hummus
Let's start with the mandatory parts of the challenge, the pita bread and the hummus. The pita bread was easy to make, even if it took quite some time to roll it all out and bake it. It tasted real nice and I'm happy to have a reliable pita bread recipe now. The recipe makes a lot though, we got about 20 (more or less) round breads measuring about 15 cm in diameter. Next time I'll quarter the recipe if making just for the two of us.

I have to admit I took some liberties with the hummus (sorry!). When I worked in the kitchen at Kibbutz Hamaapil in Israel, I made loads of hummus and learned that tahine is not a necessary ingredient. What is necessary, however, is olive oil. So I omitted the tahine, added olive oil and also ended up forgetting the garlic. (Oups.) I served the hummus like we always did at Hamaapil: drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with paprika powder.

The recipe for the Tunisian lamb tagine with dried fruit comes from the lovely book Citrusköket (the Citrus Kitchen) by Caroline Hofberg. I've made a few changes to the original recipe. It's a lovely, warm, spicy and fragrant stew that you can serve with couscous or bulgur, but we just ate it with pita bread and some thick yoghurt.

As a side dish I made a small salad with oranges, feta cheese and mint. These flavors work really well together and the colors are lovely.

Thank you Michele for a fun and creative challenge! Wanna see the other Daring Cooks creations and all of the recipes? Visit the Daring Kitchen where you will find the recipe archive and the blogroll. Our lovely host Michele has posted a lot of great mezze recipes on her website.

Tunisian lamb tagine with dried fruit
(adapted from Citrusköket by Caroline Hofberg)

500 g boneless lamb shoulder
100 g dried apricots
100 g dried figs
3/4 dl almonds, peeled
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 orange
1 small yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
½ g saffron
2 tsp paprika powder
1 cinnamon stick
1½ tbsp freshly grated ginger
1½ tbsp concentrated vegetable stock
5 dl water
1 tbsp cornstarch (Maizena)
1 tsp harissa
  1. Soak the dried apricots and figs in hot water.
  2. Roast the almonds in a dry pan until they get a little bit of color. Set aside until later. In the same pan, toast the cumin and coriander seeds and set aside.
  3. Peel the orange with a potato peeler (you want quite long bits of peel with as little of the bitter white stuff as possible). Juice the orange. Set aside peel and juice.
  4. Chop the onion and garlic finely.
  5. Cut the lamb shoulder into cubes about 3×3 cm. Fry them in some olive oil until they are a nice brown color.
  6. In a large pot, fry the onion and ginger carefully so that it becomes soft but doesn't get any color. Add the toasted cumin and coriander seeds, saffron, paprika, the cinnamon stick and the grated ginger. Fry for about a minute, stirring constantly.
  7. Add the meat and stock, water, orange peel and juice. Boil over low heat for 1–1½ hours.
  8. Drain the apricots and figs, cut them in smaller pieces and add them to the pot. Boil for another 20 minutes.
  9. Remove about ½–1 dl of the liquid from the pot and use it to dissolve the cornstarch. Pour it back, stir well and let the tagine thicken for about 5 minutes. Season with harissa. Add the almonds right before serving.

Orange salad with feta and mint

Cut a couple of oranges into fillets (segments without any white peel). For two, I used two small blood oranges and a larger regular orange. Crumble up some good feta cheese and sprinkle on top of the oranges. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, season with freshly ground black pepper, and, for the final touch, add some fresh mint leaves.

Pita Bread

Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Prep time: 20 minutes to make, 90 minutes to rise and about 45 minutes to cook

2 tsp regular dry yeast (12.1 grams)
2½ cups lukewarm water (591 grams)
5-6 cups all-purpose flour (may use a combination of 50% whole wheat and 50% all-purpose, or a combination of alternative flours for gluten free pita) (497-596 grams)
1 tbsp table salt (15 grams)
2 tbsp olive oil (29 ml)
  1. In a large bread bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in 3 cups flour, a cup at a time, and then stir 100 times, about 1 minute, in the same direction to activate the gluten. Let this sponge rest for at least 10 minutes, or as long as 2 hours.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and stir in the olive oil. Mix well. Add more flour, a cup at a time, until the dough is too stiff to stir. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Rinse out the bowl, dry, and lightly oil. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until at least doubled in size, approximately 1½ hours.
  3. Place a pizza stone, or two small baking sheets, on the bottom rack of your oven, leaving a 1-inch gap all around between the stone or sheets and the oven walls to allow heat to circulate. Preheat the oven to 450F (230C).
  4. Gently punch down the dough. Divide the dough in half, and then set half aside, covered, while you work with the rest. Divide the other half into 8 equal pieces and flatten each piece with lightly floured hands. Roll out each piece to a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter and less than 1/4 inch thick. Keep the rolled-out breads covered until ready to bake, but do not stack.
  5. Place 2 breads, or more if your oven is large enough, on the stone or baking sheets, and bake for 2 to 3 minutes, or until each bread has gone into a full balloon. If for some reason your bread doesn't puff up, don't worry it should still taste delicious. Wrap the baked breads together in a large kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft while you bake the remaining rolled-out breads. Then repeat with the rest of the dough.


Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Prep Time: Hummus can be made in about 15 minutes once the beans are cooked. If you’re using dried beans you need to soak them overnight and then cook them the next day which takes about 90 minutes.

1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight (or substitute well drained canned chickpeas and omit the cooking) (301 grams)
2-2½ lemons, juiced (89ml)
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
a big pinch of salt
4 tbsp tahini (sesame paste) OR use peanut butter or any other nut butter—feel free to experiment) (45 grams)
additional flavorings (optional) I would use about 1/3 cup or a few ounces to start, and add more to taste. You can use sun-dried tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers etc.

  1. Drain and boil the soaked chickpeas in fresh water for about 1 ½ hours, or until tender. Drain, but reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding the cooking water as needed until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.


Paper Chef 49: Prawns meet Peppery Passionate Pinaple

It's Paper Chef time again! I know, we haven't been doing this much lately (feels like forever since last time), but now we're back on track!

This months challenge is brought to us by Cath of ShowFood Chef, and with only a few days 'till Valentine's day it time to get jiggy with it, the ingredients for this month are prawns, fennel, sweet peppers and... passion, smoking hot and with a carte blanche in terms of interpretation!

Now, let's get the boring stuff out of the way so we can focus on the hawt stuff! We're making a prawn burger... it's like a crab-cake-in-a-bun, only with shrimp instead of crab. Well throw in the fennel and bell peppers for seasoning. After two tries, this is the recipe:

Prawn burgers

(makes three large or four smaller)

250 g Shrimp
75 g Fennel
75 g Red bell peppers (for keeping with this month's theme)
15 g Bread crumbs
1 tbsp Rice flour
1 Egg
Salt and Pepper to taste

If you're living in Sweden and can come by frozen peeled shrimp practically for free, thaw and pat them dry, if you live somewhere where you get good quality fresh prawns, dice them. Dice the fennel and bell peppers and add it all to a food processor. Give it a few spins, don't over do it (you could probably get away with a knife and hard labor instead). Add the bread crumbs, rice flour and egg and combine thoroughly. I don't think it's a good idea to actually add salt and pepper and then taste the batter, so just add whatever amount seems appropriate to you (that's how I usually do it when it says “to taste”, unless it sits on the stove). Let it rest for a while. Heat a frying pan with some butter (or oil if you are so inclined), shape the batter into patties and fry until golden brown on both sides. This is the tricky bit since they have a tendency to fall apart, but perfectly manageable.

Sandwich between two halves of a bun of your choice (we typically go for some roll rather than ready-made burger buns)... voilà!

In retrospect, some fresh red chili would have added a nice tang to this. I guess third time's a charm, but that will have to wait for another post.

That's the “prawns” bit of the title, now for the Peppery Passionate Pineapple!

This is a real killer salsaish thingy we made for the burgers that really elevate them to new culinary heights. For enough to the above recipe, combine

2 slices Fresh Pineapple, diced
2 Passion fruits, the gooey innards
2 tsp Peruvian Pepper, lightly crushed
1 tbsp White Crema di Balsamico (reduced white balsamic vinegar)
1 tbsp Crude (or Muscovado) Sugar

in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer while frying the burgers.

Mmm, mmm! Makes you want to rip out the spoon and gobble it down to the last gooey slurp! Perfect for that Valentine's Day's atmosphere!