Daring Bakers February Challenge: 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.

I'm late again - there is plenty of time left until the posting date, but I'll leave for my winter holiday in less than 10 hours. So while you are reading this, I might ski into the endless white of the Norwegian mountains. That is why I just leave a few words here for this month's challenge. I love tiramisu and buy it all the time because I thought it would be time consuming to do it all by yourself - and I was right as this challenge proved, because you had to make your own mascarpone cheese and ladyfingers. Making mascarpone cheese was quite good - now I know what to do the next time my supermarket is out of  mascarpone (and believe me, there have been many out-of-mascarpone-times before which was frustrating for me). Nevertheless all the work  it was fun making it (thanks to Deeba and Aparna)! Even Robert who is not so keen about ready made tiramisu or eating the rests of fillings from the bowls when I bake, enjoyed nibbling the 'fruits' of my work.

Mascarpone Cheese
(Source: Vera's Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
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. 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)
makes app. 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small 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.

(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
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
For assembling:
  • 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
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.
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.
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.

from left to right: vanilla pastry cream - zabaglione - selfmade mascarpone - whipped cream

Assembling: 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.
Working 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.
How is it gonna taste and look? No idea - for the lack of time left, I wrapped the whole thing into cling film and put it into the freezer. I'm planning to serve it to my colleagues next monday when I'm back from vacation (Because I'll have had birthday I need to bring something - I guess nobody brought Tiramisu until now and I wonder how we are gonna eat it during the morning round ...)

Kaninchen französische Art (nach einem Rezept von Kolja Kleeberg)

Nach meiner durchaus kulinarisch gelungenen Begegnung mit Kaninchen in Form eines Risottos wollte ich schon seit längerer Zeit wieder einmal ein Rezept damit kochen. Nur leider fehlte es mir in zuletzt doch mächtig an Inspiration. Trotz aller möglicher Kochzeitschriften, die ich mittlerweile in den Einkaufswagen lege und welche überall in der Wohnung als Lektüre verteilt liegen, finde ich nicht die richtige Lust um etwas anzupacken. Deswegen habe ich mir mal wieder eine Sendung 'Lanz kocht' auf ZDF angeschaut - zum Glück ist dazu kein Fernseher notwendig (den ich nicht habe), sondern man kann sich das Ganze auch in der zdf-mediathek anschauen, wo man nach ein paar Klicks auch gleich noch zu den passenden Rezepten der Sendung findet - wirklich praktisch. Früher war es immer eine Tradition, dass Robert und ich diese Sendung zusammen angeschaut haben, aber das hat sich dann irgendwie verloren, auch weil wir beide das 'Original' mit Kerner so sehr mochten. Hiermit möchte ich meine Meinung revidieren, der neue Moderator Markus Lanz wäre nicht für so eine Sendung geeignet (wie ich zuerst dachte). Er macht es anders (und das ist auch gut so); und wenigstens nimmt er auch selbst mal den Kochlöffel in die Hand. Zurück zum Punkt: Neulich gab es eine Sendung zum Thema französische Küche; und Kolja Kleeberg servierte Kaninchen in einer Sauce aus Creme fraiche und Dijon Senf. Die Backpflaumen darin fand ich etwas seltsam, aber nach dem Geschmackstest muss ich sagen, dass die Süße hervorragend mit dem Senfaroma harmonierte ... Ich hatte zwar die 'ursprünglichen' Rezepte mit Rotweinsauce aus meinem 'Culinaria Frankreich' Buch hervorgestöbert, aber diese Variante war mir dann doch zu alkoholreich. Die einzige geschmackliche Änderung, die ich mir an Kolja Kleebergs Rezept erlaubte war Rosmarin gegen Estragon auszutauschen - da dieses Gewürz viel zu selten das Tageslicht erblick und gut zu Senf und Kaninchen passt, wollte ich es unbedingt verwenden; eine ausgezeichnete Entscheidung wie sich später herausstellte. Da keine braunen Champignons aufzutreiben waren, mußte ich den 'Waldpilz-Mix' aus der Tiefkühltruhe verwenden - ich könnte mir vorstellen, dass nur Pfifferlinge auch eine gute Alternative wären. Fazit: Wer ein etwas 'edleres Sößchen' zu Nudeln braucht, sollte dieses hier unbedingt ausprobieren!

für 4 Personen
  • 750 g Kaninchen-Rückenfilet
  • 4 - 6 EL Dijon Senf (mit Honig)
  • 4 Schalotten
  • 250 g Waldpilz-Mix (aus der Tiefkühltruhe)
  • 100 ml Weißwein, trocken
  • 500 ml Geflügelbrühe
  • 200 g Crème fraîche
  • 2 leicht gehäufte TL getrockneter Estragon
  • 8 Backpflaumen, ohne Stein
  • Öl und Butter zum Braten
  • Pfeffer aus der Mühle, schwarz
  • Salz
Das Kaninchenfilet würfeln, salzen, pfeffern und mit Senf einreiben. In Butter und Öl im Schnellkochtopf anbraten. Die Schalotten und Pilze zufügen und mit Weißwein ablöschen. Die Brühe zugeben und Crème fraîche einrühren. Estragon und Backpflaumen zufügen, aufkochen lassen, den Topf zudecken und das Kaninchen 14 bis 20 Minuten garen. Danach die Pflaumen zerdrücken (bindet die Sauce) und noch einmal ca 10 Minuten offen köcheln lassen um die Sauce zu reduzieren, bis sie die gewünschte Konsistenz hat. Mit Salz und Pfeffer abschmecken. Dazu passen am besten Bandnudeln oder Linguini.

Valentines Snowflake cake

Some time ago, I bought two silicon moulds in snowflake shape (well, I am a little bit obsessed with silicon moulds too). I planned to use them for a surprisingly otherwise shaped Panna cotta or ice cream, but never came that far. Just before Valentines day they catched my eye again and I though about making cakes ... Not normal cakes, they had to be layered ... So I came to the conclusion that a 'refridgerator cake' (what means not really baking the cake) would be best, and because I am a fan of lemon curd and blood oranges (which have season at the moment), I would do blood orange curd as one of the layers. Mascarpone seemed to be a nice combination, and to complete the Italian taste, I chose amarettini for the bottom. Of course it was to much filling for the two small moulds, so I lined a bowl with cling film to create another (bigger) mould (what you can do if you don't own such silicon moulds). The taste was fantastic and I will definitively make that cake again.

Valentine's Snowflake cake
for 6-7 snowflake cakes or one 'bowl' cake (22 cm diameter)

Blood orange curd
  • 160 ml blood orange juice
  • zest of one orange
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 sheets of gelatin
Whisk the eggs, zest and sugar together in a bowl. Whisk in the lemon and orange juice. Place the bowl over a water bath and whisk constantly until it thickens. Squeeze out excess water and when curd has thickened, add the gelatin to the bowl. Strain this curd through a fine sieve and fill into the snowflake moulds (about 1,5 cm high). If you make the 'bowl' version, let the curd cool until solid. Line a bowl with a diameter of 22 cm with cling film. Fill the curd into a pastry bag and pipe a pattern of your choice onto the cling film. Let rest into the refridgerator for at least one hour.

Mascarpone filling
(double ingredients for the bowl version)
  • 500 g Mascarpone (light)
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 50 ml buttermilk
  • juice and zest of half a lemon
  • 50 g sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 sheets of gelatin
In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, vanilla and juice and zest of the lemon until completely combined. Add the mascarpone and beat until creamy, then add the buttermilk in little portions while mixing. In the meantime, have the gelatin again softening in cold water. Heat the cream into a small bowl (do not boil) and dissolve the gelatine into it. Stir the cream-geatine mixture into the mascarpone. Fill the mascarpone into the moulds or the bowl, leaving about 2 cm to the top of the mould for the bottom layer. Cool for another hour.

  • 115 g butter, melted
  • 55 g finely chopped almonds
  • 130 g graham cracker crumbs
  • 120 g amarettini crumbs
Mix butter, crumbs and almonds until combined. Press on top of the mascarpone layer and flatten with a spoon util you have a plain surface. Cool overnight.

Before serving, put the moulds into warm water for a minute; then tumble onto a plate and serve.

Daring Cooks February Challenge: Mezze

The 2010 February Daring Bakers 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 Dugid.

To be honest, I'm not so fond about middle eastern food. Lot's of the things used there I don't like, for example dates, and especially chick peas. I'm fine with pita bread, so I decided to cook things additionally which I would actually eat. One recipe was a Turkish dish for chicken in a walnut sauce (two things I definitively like) and the other one a middle eastern recipe for a salad with avocado and citrus fruits. Both I found in a long forgotten book deep into my bookshelves, called "The essential Mediterranian cookbook" by Wendy Stephen. My first batch of bread dough was a mess because the dough was fluid, so I had to adjust the amount of water for my second try and reduced it to 360 ml of water which worked fine.

Pita Bread - Recipe adapted from Flatbreads & Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
  • 12 g dry yeast
  • 2.5 cups of water (for my second batch I used 360 ml)
  • 500 g flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
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.
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 1 1/2 hours.
 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 (230 °C).
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.
 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.

Hummus - Recipe adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
  • 300 g of chickpeas (canned)
  • 90 ml lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled an mashed
  • a big pinch of salt
  • 50 g peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • one handful of dried tomatoes, chopped
Puree the beans in a food processor (or you can use a potato masher) adding as needed until you have a smooth paste.Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

Cerkes tavugu (Chicken in walnut sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • four chicken breasts (with bones)
  • one large onion, chopped
  • two bars of celery, chopped into large pieces
  • one carrot, chopped
  • one bay leave
  • four sprigs parsley
  • one sprig thyme
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro seeds
  • salt and pepper
  • 250 g walnuts, roasted
  • two slices toast, crust removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
Put chicken, onion, celery, carrot, bay leave, parsley, thyme, peppercorns and cialntro seeds into a pot and add water (about one litre) until everything is covered. Cook for about 20 minutes until the chicken is done. 
Meanwhile rost paprika and cayenne pepper in a pan until they start to smell, add the walnut oil and set aside. Mash the walnuts into your kitchen machine (keep some for decoration). Add the toast, garlic and the flavoured oil. 
Strain the chicken and vegetables through a sieve and fill the broth back into the pot, cook until the fluid is reduced to halv. When ready, fill into a jug. Remove skin and bones of the breasts and tear the meat into small pieces, season with salt and pepper. 
Add some of the broth (about 250 ml) to the walnut mixture, puree until smoth and put back into the pot, adding the meat. Cook for another five minutes and season if necessary.

Slat avocado ve pri hada (Salat with avocado and citrus fruits)

  • one grapefruit, peeled and cut into filets
  • two oranges, peeled and cut into filets
  • two avocados, sliced into 1 cm thick pieces
  • 90 g of salad (rocket or lamb's lettuce)
  • one tablespoon mint, chopped
  • one teaspoon orange zest
  • one tablespoon orange juice
  • 75 ml olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon red vinegar
  • half a tablespoon dijon mustard
  • one tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper
In a large bowl, mix the avocado and citrus fruits with the salad. In another bowl, mix the ingredients for the dressing until combined (I usually fill everthing into a clean screw top jar and shake). Pour the dressing over the sald and sprinkle with the mint.

So finally, here is my ready assembled plate:


Für mich gibt es (fast) nichts Beseres als ein Risotto. Eigentlich bin ich immer auf der Suche nach neuen Rezepten, und mein Risotto-Rezeptbuch kann meine Gier nach neuen Ideen schon lange nicht mehr befriedigen. Normalerweise verwende ich das Risotto auch gerne dazu Rest zu verwerten. So entstand auch dieses Rezept hier - nach dem kulinarischen Höhepunkt der Weihnachtsente hatte ich noch Maronen und Äpfel übrig und wollte den wunderbaren Geschmack des Weihnachtsessen noch einmal in ähnlicher Weise wiederholen.

  • 250 g Maronen, fertig gekocht, gewürfelt
  • 250 g Schinkenspeck, gewürfelt
  • die Hälfte einer großen roten Zwiebel, gewürfelt
  • Butter (1+2EL)
  • eine Handvoll frisch geriebener Parmesan
  • 2 EL Entenschmalz
  • ein halber säuerlicher Apfel, geschält und in kleine Würfel geschnitten
  • 200 g Risottoreis
  • 700 ml Gemüsefond
  • ein Glas Rotwein (optional)
  • Salz, Pfeffer, Majoran
Den Speck im Entenschmalz und einem EL Butter anbraten. Die Zwiebel dazugeben und andünsten. Die Äpfel und die Maronen hineingeben und mit Majoran (ca 2 gehäufte TL) würzen. Das Ganze für ungefähr eine Minute weiter dünsten, dann den Reis unterrühren, dabei die Hitze erhöhen. Inzwischen den Fond erhitzen. Wenn der Reis anfäng zu 'knistern', das heißt wenn er heiß genug ist, mit Rotwein ablöschen. Wenn die Flüssigkeit vom Reis aufgenommen wurde schöpfkellenweise den Fond dazugeben und so lange wiederholen, bis der Reis außen weich und innen noch bißfest ist. Falls der Fond vorher alle sein sollte, heißes Wasser verwenden. Nach 18 Minuten (Risotto braucht als Faustregel 20 Minuten) mit Salz und Pfeffer würzen und die Butter und den Parmesan einrühren. 2 Minuten durchziehen lassen.