Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tiramisu (by Kat)

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 they state in their challenge:

And, because we're adventurous, dangerous, daring sorts of people, we were required to make each of the components from scratch. That's right, Aparna and Deeba taught us to make the whole she-bang! No store bought sponge, no mascarpone to purchase, just lots of eggs, cream, and elbow grease!

Mascarpone is the first ingredient, made from cream heated in a
double boiler to 190F, then combined with a bit of lime juice and
left to strain overnight in the fridge.


Zabaglione starts out thin, but with constant stirring over simmering water,
a thick custard-like sauce slowly appears in the bowl.


And pastry cream--another new adventure!

Okay, now for the unpronounceable savoiardi cookies.
Beat the eggwhites...

Add a little cake flour...

Fold to combine.

Pipe into the traditional ladyfinger shapes,
or not.
Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.


Whipped Cream!
Finally, an easy part of the challenge!

Fold the mascarpone, the zabaglione, and the pastry cream
into the whipped cream.
Get a spoon from the drawer and sit down to a bowlful of goodness.
Or, refrain and continue on to make tiramisu.
Your choice...

Dip your savoiardi into sweetened espresso,
then layer alternately with the creamy filling.
The recipe calls for an 8" square pan,
but I found these glasses irresistible!

Sadly, I couldn't eat these. I ate about one third of one glass and fell over on the ground. I figured I'd have to be rolled about if I was ever to move again. These are RICH! Belly-busting, moan-inducing, Nancy Kerrigan "Why oh why oh why me?" hysteria producing desserts.

Of course, Mr. Boom, Chirp-chirp, and my aunt were each able to scarf theirs down entirely.


I'm extremely happy to have made these, however, and I'd be happy to do them again for another family (preferably on another planet), and I came away from this challenge with four new techniques under my belt--mascaprone, zabaglione, pastry cream, and the unpronounceable savoiardi.

I encourage you to try this recipe, too. Here's the challenge as it was presented to us, minus the photos:


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.
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.


Site Links:
Step by step pictures for Tiramisu including zabaglione & pastry cream

Gluten Free Ladyfingers: 1000 gluten-free recipes by Carol Fenster (ladyfingers pg 436, Tiramisu pg 651)
Gluten free Ladyfingers and Tiramisu

Diary Free Tiramisu: Levana Cooks Diary-Free by Lévana Kirschenbaum, Menachem Adelman, Meir Pliskin (pg 86)

Video links for making tiramisu:
These are not for the recipe given for this challenge, but the procedure in the video would be a helpful guide.

Gordon Ramsay - Video for dipping savioardi -

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Splish Splash (by Kat)

Splish splash I'm loving the bath!

I couldn't wait any longer!!

I grabbed a bar of my homemade 100% olive oil castile soap and took a shower with it!

Can I just say wow?! I can't believe I made this stuff. I can't believe I'm sharing my shower with such an amazing bar of soap. Don't you have to be rich to have this kind of shower experience?

I guess not.

Did you know that commercial soap manufacturers, using a chemical process, remove the glycerin from their soaps, then sell the glycerin as a lotion?

It's kind of like the dairy industry.
The cream is removed from the milk product and then sold separately,
at a higher price of course.

When you make your own soap, the glycerin stays in, and the soap is just amazing.

Excuse me, I'm off to take another shower....

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Bit Weird (by Kat)

Mr. Boom thought "an artsy photo" of me
would be a good thing for the blog...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pruning Rewards (by Kat)

If you're pruning your plums, cherries, and apricots...

Do yourself a favor.
Put the pruned-off bits into a can of nice warm water.

You'll be thankful one week later!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Come to perch (by Kat)

This fella came to perch in our yard.
He's been eyeballing the chickens.

He's probably a sharp-shinned hawk,
but he could be a Cooper's hawk.

I told him that he better stick to munching on the sparrows!

Friday, February 12, 2010

And the winner is....

Happy Valentine's everyone!

Send me your address, Kim, and I'll ship the book off to you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Huh? (by Kat)


Not allowing Chirp Chirp, my twelve year old daughter, to superglue earrings (minus their posts) to her ears is enough to ensure my nomination in The Worst Mom of the Year Awards?


Oh well.

I just wonder if the title comes with a pay increase?

Just a few more hours to enter our giveaway!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Odd Harbinger of Spring (by Kat)

One of yesterday's tasks involved taking my grandma to a medical appointment in the big city.
On the freeway coming home to our little town, we saw a semi truck with two trailers. The trailers were piled high with bags of bark mulch.

I never thought of bark mulch on it's way to market as a harbinger of spring.

But heck, I think I'll take it...

Bark mulch, coming soon to a garden center near you!

Thursday is the last day to enter the drawing for the The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book. It's so good, I'm reading it one last time before it leaves my little home.

Good luck!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Spring? (by Kat)

Spring is visible here, but only out of the corner of my eye.

This weekend we traded in our parkas for sweatshirts, and began to survey the yard.

I pruned the apricot, cherry, and plum trees, then Chirp Chirp put the twigs in water for me. We brought them inside, and scattered vases and jars throughout the house. Hopefully we'll have some cheery blossoms in our home soon.

I also pruned the roses, and have all the scratches and puncture wounds to prove it.

We built shelves in the shop, and cleaned out the winter's worth of cobwebs and dust.

We mucked out the chicken pen, but I'll spare you the detail on that chore! The hens are laying again, and all is right with the world....

Perhaps the most fun we had, though, was celebrating Mr. Boom's grandma's 86th birthday. Per her request, I made my version of Smitten Kitchen's Cappuccino Fudge Cheesecake. Seriously good stuff! You can see I need to work on my basket weave, but the cake didn't last long enough for anyone to get too close a look.

It was a happy busy weekend, and I hope my hands heal in time to play in the yard again next weekend. We have major chicken coop overhaul plans...

PS Quick! Sign up for the giveaway before it's too late! Bet's mom brought the book over this weekend, so it's here and ready to go!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cloudy Wants a Birdy (by Kat)


I'm sitting on birdseed?

Huh, didn't notice. No really, I didn't notice.

I was just lying here in the sun, very innocently.

Very innocently.


Who knew?

You believe me, right?

PS You're not too late to join our giveaway! Hurry back to this post and sign up!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Birds (by Kat)

Yesterday, for just one hour, the heavy gloomy grey fog lifted--
and we had sun!

In that same hour, our yard was visited by hundred of robins.

The trees were full, the bushes were full,
and parts of the lawn looked like they were alive.

Somehow, the birds were able to wrestle large juicy worms
from our still mostly frozen lawn.

The clamor of their chirps was unbelievable.
Our hens were very quiet for the duration of the robins' visit.

Goldfinches are back, and re-examining the sunflower heads
they stripped clean in the fall.

Maybe they missed a seed then, a seed that would
make a good snack right now.

Oh, how we're all aching for spring to finally arrive!
How much this hour meant to all of us!
How the gloom seemed that much harder to bear
when our hour of winter reprieve ended.

Don't forget our giveaway!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Post 100: Our First Giveaway! (by Kat)

I do this to myself a lot, and each time I do it, I tell myself not to do it again. But, for whatever reason, I do it again. And again. And again.

Heaven help me!

Where have I been this last week? Why did I tell you we're having a giveaway to celebrate post 100, then drop off the earth? What's up with that???

Well, post 100 sounds so monumental, so significant, so amazing, so WOW! I wanted to make post 100 really special. I wanted post 100 to be unforgettable. I wanted so much for post 100.

So, each evening as I sat down at my desk, totally uninspired, totally tired, and totally bleh, I just felt I didn't have whatever it was in me to meet the mighty expectations I had built up for myself for post 100. So, poor post 100 just didn't' get written at all. My strive for perfection often ends up with me doing less than poorly--it ends up with me doing diddly!

No more, say I!

Post 100, welcome to the world. No blog re-design for you. You're stuck with this same brownish-yellow theme all the other posts had to share. Sorry, but you don't even get a new header. But hey, at least you're finally getting written, right?

World, welcome to post 100. More of the same, for the most part, but with just a little touch of new!

Our first giveaway! How exciting is that?! You, gentle reader, might think you're the only one winning something here, but we will be, too. Bet and I have wondered just how many people read this little blog of ours. Maybe this will pull some of you out into the open, let us know who we're talking to, let us know if we should be keeping the light on.

So, some of you may recall back in October I had a streak of luck. I won two books from two of my favorite bloggers. I'm passing one of those books on to you! Suzanne, the Farmer's Wife read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, raved about it, then gave it away. I promised I'd pass it along when I was done, and now I'm finally doing that. I loved loved loved the book, and passed it along to Bet. She loved it as well, and passed it along to her mom. I'm hoping to get it back from her, and will pass it along to you. If not, you'll receive a brand new copy of your own. So you'll either get a famous blogger's copy (Suzanne, not me) or you'll get a brand new copy.

So, to enter the post 100 giveaway, just answer the following question: how do you like your books--new or used?

Enter between now and next Wednesday. The winner will be chosen at random and announced next Thursday.

Good luck, and I wish you ALL could win!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Peaceful House (by Kat)

Last week Suzanne, the farmer's wife, discussed how taken she was with a post on Laura's blog.

I could totally relate.

There are houses, and there are homes. Beyond that, there are peaceful refuges that have some sort of magic floating in the air. These are the home that, once you have entered, you will never totally leave behind. These are the dwellings that have such a positive energy, a sense of peace, that convey such a happy welcome to visitors, that it just gets lodged into the heart (get it? lodged?).

Bet might deny it, but she has one of these homes. Once you step foot into her house, you're home. When you leave, you take a bit of it with you.

Warm, cozy, happy, loving, peaceful, joyful, fun, welcoming...

I've only known a few people who were able to create such places. The only commonality I can find is that they were all women. Financially speaking, one was destitute, one was rich. One was young, most were middle-aged. Married and single. Monotheistic and atheistic. Graduate student, stay at home mom, working mom.

The peace in their homes wasn't bought with wealth, wasn't bought with age, wasn't a result of religion.

Last weekend my in-laws stopped by. They didn't' come in past the entry way. I offered them tea, coffee, homemade graham crackers. They didn't stay.

I tried to remember the last time someone wanted to come to my house. Other than out of town family visiting at the holidays, I can't think of anyone coming over to hang out in the past year. This isn't the house where my daughter and her friends go to hang out. I haven't created a haven.

I'm not saying this in a boo-hoo kind of way. Instead, I'm trying to figure out how to convey my love and acceptance of everyone into my home.

Tell me, have you been in one of these homes? What's the secret to having one of those really special homes? Can anyone create that feeling? Where do I start?

PS Next post is #100! It's a party, and the present is going out to you!