custom cakes/cookies

Saturday, February 27, 2010

the chase...limoncello tiramisu

Do you ever feel like you're chasing ingredients in the kitchen? Here's what I mean: a recipe, say gelato, calls for 6 eggs--just the yolks; now 6 divested whites sit waiting for your attention. Possibly a family dinner of skinny omelets or dessert of angel food cake? Or, if feeling daring, aged to make a double batch of macarons? But wait! The filling for the macarons calls for several eggs--just the yolks. Now you've more whites to chase around both the kitchen and you're imagination. Certainly the scenario could just as neatly apply to say making a stock from leftover bones, or was it, that you now have extra poached chicken because you needed to make a stock for a certain dish. If you're frugal (which I am, or as my mother would say "a good steward") using every last bit of something becomes that much more important.

Ingredient chasing happens to me quite a lot, and I dare say, actually pushes me to be more creative with the leftovers. In fact, it was from ingredient chasing that I decided to make a less traditional version of tiramisu to complete this month's baking challenge. 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. The challenge included making from scratch the ladyfingers (or savoiardi biscuits), mascarpone, and two components not normally found in tiramisu recipes: a zabaglione (egg custard) and a vanilla pastry cream.

I happened to have a large supply of lemons on hand from recently having had purchased an entire bag, when really just one would have been fine for my purposes. What to do with all the extra? Also, I knew my friend Susie had homemade limoncello in her fridge. As such, I invited Susie to bake with me, and this is the version of tiramisu that came about. On a technical note, we decided to make our version in tiny spring-form pans, which necessitated a retooling of the ladyfinger. Ours were piped in a round, spiraling, saucer shape; if you're making your own anyways, why not custom fit it to the baking pan at the outset?

The day we got around to baking, Susie's DIY limoncello was long gone, meaning a new (non-DIY) bottle had to be purchased. Currently, the ingredient chase is on for as what to do with the extras. A similar story could be said for the day I took these photos. I forgot to reserve lemon peel to place curled as a garnish. Not wanting to chase a single ingredient more for a silly photo shoot, I decided to let that one go. I hope you'll understand. Not to worry, though. I can almost guarantee that lemons will make another appearance here soon. And yes, this recipe leaves you with 3 extra egg whites. Imagine away what I did with them; more than likely, they became a buttercream.

(Recipe sources: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 which I varied based on Lidia Bastianich's recipe)
8 servings
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 TBS sugar
¼ cup limoncello
¼ tsp vanilla
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
¼ cup sugar
1 TBS all purpose flour
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

For the limoncello syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup limoncello
¾ cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup sugar

To assemble the tiramisu:
⅓ cup mascarpone cheese
1 TBS lemon zest
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less depending on size and shape)
2 TBS lemon sugar or large curls of zest for garnish

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 limoncello, 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.

For the limoncello syrup:
Mix together the water, limoncello, lemon juice, vanilla, and sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat, whisk to dissolve sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently and allow to cook 5 minutes or so until syrup-like. Refrigerate to cool completely.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or I used four 6-inch springform pans.

In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese and zest 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.

Working quickly, dip the ladyfingers in the lemon syrup, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the serving dish, 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. The spongy nature of the wetted cookies will allow them to squeezed snugly side-by-side into the dish. I simply stacked the saucer-shaped cookies neatly in the springform pan.

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 lemon sugar or garnish with lemon peel curls. Cut into individual portions and serve.

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
makes 12 ounces of mascarpone cheese

2 cups whipping cream
1 TBS 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.

(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 TBS granulated sugar
¾ cup cake flour, sifted
6 TBS confectioner's sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F 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 ¾" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips. I cut a pattern the shape of my small springform pans and used that as a template to pipe large, flat swirls of dough.

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.


Miss E said...

This sounds amazing! My friend Kevin makes his own limoncello - but I have no idea what he does with it. I'll ask!

Olivia said...

Please do let me know. I seemed to have acquired a whole 'nother bottle just recently. I'd be happy to share it with you =) It's supposed to make a fab cocktail...

the twins said...

i definitely have that problem with ingredients. i've had to stop baking now that i live in a dorm cuz i don't wanna waste anything =(
this recipe looks fantastic!

jen@ blooming tea said...

I love tiramisu but never had one like this before, it looks fantastic, 'so glad to have the recipe and the complete step by step instruction here, thanks a lot. :)