Tiramisu

Sometimes the simplest desserts can be the most challenging to make. Take for instance, Tiramisu. It’s assembled rather than baked, and consists of only a few ingredients. Yet so much can go wrong. It can be soggy, dry, sweet, tasteless, dense or hot with alcohol. Getting it right is in the proportions and the technique. After much trial and error, this recipe suits my taste. And an added bonus is there are no raw eggs in this recipe to be concerned about.

Ingredients
1 package of 30 Savardi or ladyfingers
1-1/2 cups brewed espresso
1-1/2 cups marscapone cheese

8- egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup sweet Marsala wine

1 cup heavy cream

2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Equipment
9 x 12 serving dish
Small dish for dipping ladyfingers
Spatula
Stand mixer with beaters
Double boiler

Procedure
Make the cream- Fill the bottom of a double boiler with 1- 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, Marsala, and a pinch of salt. Set the bowl over the simmering water. It’s important that the bottom of the bowl not touch the water as it is easy to scramble the eggs. With a heatproof spatula, stir and scrape while cooking until mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl with electric beaters, whip the marscapone and cream together until the mixture holds a soft peak. Fold into the cooled egg yolk mixture.

Assembly
Pour espresso into small rectangular dish. Dip ladyfingers one at a time in espresso. Dip, do not submerge each side for no more than 2 seconds and place in a serving dish. They should be neither soggy nor dry. Continue until you have 1 layer. Spread with 1/3 of the mousse and grate chocolate on top.

Repeat with 2 more layers finishing with the cream as your top layer. Grate chocolate over the cream and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight to allow the ladyfingers time to soften and the flavors to meld.

Serves 10 happy people.

Layered Lemon Angel Food Cake

When you need a birthday cake that’s light and airy and not too sweet, Angel Food Cake comes to the rescue. It’s fat free, gluten free, but a bit plain for a birthday. So this spruced up version is cut into layers, spread with a lemony filling, and covered in whipped cream! Served with fresh raspberries or strawberries, it covers all the bases yet is fancy enough for a special occasion.

Start with an angel food cake, either homemade, or store-bought. In either case, you will need an angel food cake pan with a removable bottom.

If homemade, cool the cake upside down in the pan by resting it on the pan’s “feet”. Once cool, remove the cake from the pan by carefully running your knife between the side of the pan and the cake, and then around the tube. Push up from the removable bottom of the pan and release the cake.

Now run your knive along the bottom, cover with a plate or cutting board and release the cake.



Set the cake aside while you make the filling.

Lemon Curd
1 cup fresh lemon juice from 6-7 lemons
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 T. heavy cream
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. vanilla

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the lemon juice, butter and cream. Place over medium high heat and bring to just under a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the sugar until combined. Remove the lemon juice mixture from the heat and gradually whisk a little of it into the sugar-egg mixture. Continue adding a little at a time until all of it has been incorporated.

Once incorporated, return the saucepan to medium heat. Cook stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan frequently to prevent the eggs from scrambling for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the salt and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

In a mixing bowl with beaters, whip the cream and sugar until thickened. Fold into chilled lemon curd.

Brush the angel food cake pan with canola or salad oil. With a long serrated knife, cut the top fourth off the cake. Place it upside down in the oiled pan. Spread one third of the filling on the cake layer. Continue this process to make a four layer cake with three layers of filling. The top and bottom layers should be cake.

Top this final layer of filling with cake and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Remove the cake from the pan by once again cutting around the sides and tube with a long knive. Cover the cake with your serving dish. Turn them upside down. Lift and remove the sides of the pan and then the bottom. Refrigerate while you prepare the frosting.


Frosting
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 t. vanilla

In mixing bowl with beaters, whip cream with sugar and vanilla until the cream is stiff enough to hold a shape. Frost the top and sides of cake and serve with sliced strawberries or raspberries.
I hope they save a piece for me!

Chocolate Peppermint Snowflakes

What a fun and festive variation on traditional Peppermint Bark. I found this silicone Wilton Snowflake mold on Amazon.

Recipe: adapted from Baked by Rachel

10 oz. dark chocolate

10 oz. white chocolate

6 peppermint candy canes

1/2 t. peppermint flavor

Yield: 24 Snowflakes

Place candy canes in a zip lock bag. Using a hammer or mallet and a cutting board, smash the canes into small pieces, but do not pulverize.

Melt dark chocolate using the tempering method (see video below).

Stir 1/4 teaspoon peppermint flavor into the tempered chocolate. Using a small spoon, fill the silicone molds. I found it helpful to pour the chocolate into the center of the snowflake and with the aid of a toothpick, spread the chocolate into the cavities. Work quickly before the chocolate hardens.

Repeat this process using the white chocolate and adding 1/4 t. peppermint flavor after tempering. Pour the white chocolate over the dark and sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top.

Tempered chocolate hardens quickly without refrigeration. Pop the snowflakes out of the mold and store at room temperature.

How to Temper Chocolate

Bark if you love Halloween

With Halloween around the corner, it’s no wonder I have candy on my mind. I’m not talking about the little bars we give out to the costumed kids who appear at our door, but a grownup treat like a spiced chocolate bark laden with dried cranberries, apricots, and pumpkin seeds.I love everything about chocolate bark. It’s appealing to the eye, tastes amazing, and is not hard to make. Once you get past tempering the chocolate, you’re home free. Don’t be intimidated by the process. It’s really not that complicated. Just be sure to use a thermometer and follow the instructions in the video below. Use top quality chocolate and do not use chocolate chips. They contain additives that will interfere with tempering.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

You will need: 
16 oz. top quality chocolate (semi-sweet or milk) 
Toasted pumpkin seeds 
Dried cranberries 
Dried apricots, chopped 
Sea salt (optional) 
Pumpkin pie spice

Stir 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice into the tempered chocolate.

Pour the tempered chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread evenly into a rectangle using an off-set spatula. Do not spread too thick or too thin.

Sprinkle the toasted pumpkin seeds, cranberries, apricots, and sea salt onto the chocolate.

Allow around 2 hours to set, then break into pieces and serve.

Or pack into cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon. They make great gifts.

Happy Halloween Everyone!

 
 

Pâté de Fruit

Pâté de Fruit or French fruit jellies, are jewel like confections bursting with Intense fruit flavor. My first taste was in Paris and I was immediately smitten. Although expensive to buy, they are fairly easy to reproduce at home. And when packaged in a pretty box, make a luxurious and unexpected homemade gift for the holidays.  

 

Ingredients:

 
2 cups Fruit puree – You can make your own, but I prefer to use frozen purée for the ease and selection of flavors. Sicoly, imported from Lyon, France, offers 38 flavors of 90% all natural fruit purée and 10% sugar. They are shipped in 2.2 lb tubs, and can be purchased online here. A favorite with professional bakers and bartenders, these purees are also an easy way to make sorbets and exotic cocktails.  
 
3 cups Granulated sugar  
2 oz. Sanding sugar (available at Williams-Sonoma or baking supply stores)  
2T. Fresh lemon juice  
2- 3 oz. pkgs. Liquid pectin such as Certo or Ball (available in grocery stores.)  

 

Equipment :

 
8″ square baking pan  
Heatproof spatula  
Candy thermometer  
2 qt. Saucepan  
Parchment paper  

 

 

Procedure :

 
Cut 2 strips of parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of a 8″ square pan. It’s helpful to clamp the paper in place.  

 

 

In a medium saucepan, mix 2 cups of fruit purée with 3 cups of granulated sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar over medium heat. Attach thermometer and bring to a slow boil stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Continue boiling and stirring until mixture reaches 235F on the thermometer, 15-20 minutes.  

 

Once mixture reaches 235F, add the pectin and return to a boil.

 

Boil for 1 minute while continuing to stir, add lemon juice and remove from heat.

 

Pour into prepared pan.

 

Sprinkle the top lightly with sanding sugar and allow to set at room temperature for several hours, or overnight.  

 

 

Invert the pan onto a board that has been sprinkled with sugar.  

Peel off the parchment paper. 

 

Cut into squares or whatever shape you like, and roll each piece in sanding sugar.  

Yield- 35 one inch squares  

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Candied Orange Peel

 

 

Growing up, chocolate covered orange peel was my favorite confection. There was something about the pairing of chocolate with orange that tasted so special. With the abundance of oranges in December, this is a great time to make your own. Perfect for gift giving or holiday baking, fruitcake, panettone, cakes and muffins get their zing from candied orange peel.

 

 

5 navel oranges

3 cups sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

2 cups water

Cut the top and bottom off the orange. Score the peel in quarters and remove. Julienne into 1/4″ slices.

Put them in a 4 quart saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and drain. Repeat two more times. This process helps to remove any bitterness in the skins.

 

In another saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a boil and allow the temperature to reach 230F on a candy thermometer. Add the blanched peels. Simmer gently, do not boil, in the syrup for about 30 minutes or until the skins become translucent.

Cool to room temperature in the syrup, drain, and toss with granulated sugar.

 

Dry on a rack for several hours.

For a truly delicious treat, dip the peels in tempered chocolate. Instructions for tempering are on my “Bark if you love Halloween” post.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

That is if they last that long!

 

 

Moroccan Chicken Soup with Couscous

After an unusually balmy November, winter has finally made it’s way to Ohio. And that can only mean one thing…soup time ! This fragrant soup, chock full of chicken, vegetables and couscous, is inspired by the flavors of Morocco and is practically a meal in a bowl.

Makes 12 cups

3 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 red peppers chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced


2 t. ground curry
2 t. ground coriander
1 t. turmeric
1/4 t. cinnamon
1 T. sugar
salt and pepper

10 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ cubes
1- zucchini cut into I” cubes
1 cup frozen lima beans, thawed
3 chicken breasts cooked and sliced
1/2 cup uncooked couscous
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a medium stockpot. Sauté the onion, peppers, celery, garlic and ginger until tender.


Add the sugar, spices, salt, pepper and stir to coat the vegetables.


Add the chicken broth.

Add the squash and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover partially and simmer for 15 minutes until the squash is tender.

Stir in the zucchini, chicken, lima beans and couscous. Cover and simmer for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add the chopped kale, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and garnish with the chopped cilantro.