Sunday, February 28, 2010

Daring Bakers: Tiramisù with homemade ladyfingers and mascarpone

When I read this month Daring Bakers Challenge I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is one of my favorite desserts: Tiramisù. I have made Tiramisù many many times. Whenever there is a party this is what I am asked to bring, even when we lived in Rome. Just making Tiramisù is of course not daring enough, so we also made our own ladyfingers and, yes, even the mascarpone.

I tried the recipe for the mascarpone before, but it wasn't successful.  This time it came out great. I think my mistake last time was that I didn't wait long enough before I put it in the fridge and also didn't layer my cheese cloth thick enough.

I never made ladyfingers before. Now I really wonder why. They taste so much better. They are also very easy to make and the ingredients are usually always in my kitchen.

The recipe for the Tiramisù is very different from what I usually do. You basically have to make three different creams, which are later combined. There are also no raw eggs in this recipe, and the zabaglione is based on Marsala. I usually fold in beaten egg whites in my cream, which is flavored with Amaretto.

I made a few minor changes to the original recipe, as I used a lot more mascarpone, less sugar and added some amaretto. I assembled my Tiramisù in a bowl, lined with cellophane, refrigerated it overnight and then put it in the freezer for about 2 hours. That made it easier to unmold it. It came out perfectly and was also easy to cut.

In the end it was a great recipe, very yummy and creamy, but I still prefer my version as it doesn't require you to make 3 different creams and I think the beaten egg whites give the zabaglione a good stability. I loved the ladyfingers, they are so easy to make and so much better than store-bought ones. I was also very happy that I mastered my mascarpone this time. With over $10 for a small box in North America I will definitely make it myself in the future.

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.

Friday, February 26, 2010


I promised in an earlier post that I wanted to make croissants, and here they are. I was so proud, that my first attempt making them turned out so well. They also tasted really good, crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the inside. Again, I used a recipe from "Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More" by Carole Walter.

The process of making croissant dough is similar to puff pastry. The difference is that you start off with making a yeast based sponge to add to the dough. Then it continues with the rolling and folding. It takes some time to make the dough, but it's well worth the effort. The dough can also be frozen, so it is perfect if you want to make fresh croissants next time.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Key Lime Pie Macarons

I have never tasted Key Lime Pie before or even seen Key Limes in the supermarket. So I was pleasantly surprised when I finally saw those green little balls in the store the other day. Key limes are more tart and aromatic than regular limes and they are also a lot smaller in size. They are named for their origin, the Florida Keys.

The first thing I made was of course Key Lime Pie, which tasted very good and had a great tartness. The filling is traditionally made with sweetened condensed milk. After making the pie, I had some leftover filling and egg whites. This made me think they would make good macarons.

The tartness of the filling compliments the sweetness of the macaron shells very well. You will have some leftover filling. You can either use it as pie filling (baked in a pie crust instead of the ramekins), or just eat it as a yummy lime curd.

I am submitting these Macarons to Mactweets, a Macaron Lovers' group I just discovered. Every month there is a different theme for Macarons. You should check out the great creations on their pages. This month theme is Valentine's Day.  Well, on the first look my Macaron might look not very Valentine like, but after the winter who wouldn't want to spend a romantic getaway on the Florida Keys.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fig and Walnut Loaf

I really like to bake with fresh yeast. I think it's not only easier to work with than dried yeast, but I also like the taste of the baked goods better. In Germany every supermarket carries little cubes of fresh yeast, enough for one recipe. Unfortunately, as I have learned, it is really difficult to find fresh yeast in North America. 

One trick I have figured out is to ask your neighborhood bakery. If you ask nicely and don't ask too often they usually would sell it to you. You can also try the bakery department at your local gourmet supermarket. The problem is that you will usually get a whole pound, because that is how the fresh yeast is packaged here. That means you have to do a lot of baking for the next two weeks, because the yeast is perishable and also it cannot be frozen. But the good news is that a lot of yeast doughs can be frozen, so you can bake them later.

Just before I bought my block of fresh yeast I borrowed the wonderful book "Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins and More" by Carole Walter from the library. I already marked several recipes I wanted to try and couldn't wait to start. I can really recommend this book. All the recipes I made turned out wonderful, and I immediately bought a copy of the book for myself. In the first week I made Sticky Buns, Cherry Crumble Cake, Brioche and Fig and Walnut Loaf, which is pictured here. I also made some doughs to freeze for later use. The next thing I would like to try is croissants. Besides the yeast breads and cakes there are also a lot of nice recipes for quick breads, muffins, pound cakes, scones and more.
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