Saturday, February 27, 2010

Raspberry Amaretto Tiramisu Daring Bakers February 2010 Challenge

Collage for 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.

From the moment I read the recipe, I thought of my mom and her love of Tiramisu. I don’t LOVE coffee, and when I do drink it I have to have 90% flavored creamer and 10% coffee. My husband and parents tease me all the time! I knew that I needed to modify this recipe to make it something that I had a strong desire to make, not something that was just a challenge to make. So, I decided that with my love of raspberry and amaretto, I was going to do a fruity liquor tiramisu instead of the standard coffee recipe. I made my tiramisu in a Trifle dish and froze it for when we have company! With the extra cream mixture I spooned it on plates and topped it with lady fingers and raspberry/amaretto sauce…don’t worry mom, the kids had “Virgin” Tiramisu! The husband, kids and neighbor gave it the thumbs up. I don’t know that I would ever go through all the time and effort to recreate this recipe again, but it was fun and I learned a lot. I never thought that I could make cheese at home…it saved me like 10 bucks too!

Mascarpone Cheese – Vera’s Recipe (Baking Obsession) for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese.
Savoiardi/ Ladyfinger Biscuits – Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home
Tiramisu – Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )

DSC00292 edit 
2 cups brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (Optional, again I didn’t use this with my Raspberry version, but you still could)

For the zabaglione:DSC00121
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 (Amaretto), 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: DSC00123Mix 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:DSC00130
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.

(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz mascarpone cheese
2 cups heavy whipping cream (36 % Fat)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Method: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,DSC00125
I used a Stainless Steel bowl in order for the heat to conduct better!
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.

LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS DSC00148 (Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small ladyfingers.
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

Method: 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.DSC00136
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.DSC00146
To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice—I used a Trifle dish!

Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar (OR Raspberry/Amaretto Sauce)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. I used my kitchen aid with whisk to completely smooth the mixtures! 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 (Amaretto/Raspberry Sauce), 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. DSC00239DSC00235 DSC00236 DSC00242 DSC00246 DSC00261DSC00258

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Italian Crock-Pot Chicken

DSC00041 This recipe is one that my kids ask for almost all the time.  I cannot believe how much they like it and they jump for joy when they see it cooking when they arrive home from school.  This is a must try recipe that is so easy!

Italian Crock-Pot Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 envelope Good Seasoning Italian Salad Dressing Mix
1  (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can Chicken Broth

Place chicken in the bottom of crock pot.  Put the remaining ingredients in a glass bowl using only 3/4 of the can of chicken broth. Place bowl in the microwave for about 3 minutes on high and then whisk ingredients until creamy and free of cream cheese chunks.  You might need to microwave again for a few more minutes in order to completely melt the cheese.  Pour mixture over chicken and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  During the last hour of cooking, shred the chicken into small pieces.  Serve over rice or noodles accompanied by broccoli!  ENJOY! DSC06966 DSC06964DSC00042   
Can you believe that my kids actually eat broccoli willingly?


Monday, February 15, 2010

Emeril's Molten Chocolate Cakes


Emeril's Molten Chocolate Cakes is the name of this recipe, but I think that it should be called, A Little Heaven On Earth with a gooey center!  This recipe was pretty easy and surly impressive for the one the that you are making it for!  I believe that the recipe can be made ahead of time and then baked, but I will have to check on that one!

Molten Chocolate Cakes
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 4 servings

1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter, plus 1/4 pound (1 stick)
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease and flour 4
(6-ounce) ramekins or baking dishes with the 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter and 1 teaspoon of flour in each,
tapping out the excess flour. Set on a baking sheet.

In a double boiler, or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the remaining 1/4 pound of butter with the chocolate, cream, and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, vanilla, and salt until thick ribbons form, about 3
minutes. Sift 2 tablespoons flour into the egg mixture and fold together. Fold the chocolate into the egg
mixture. Divide among the prepared dishes and bake until the sides of the cake are set and the tops are puffed
but still soft, about 12 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the ramekins for 2 minutes, then unmold onto dessert plates.
Serve with vanilla ice cream!!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Makes 12
3 Pkgs. Crescent Rolls
4 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Stalks Chopped Celery (Small Pieces)
1/2  Onion, Chopped
1/2  Bag FROZEN Peas (Don't Cook)
2 (8ounce) Cream Cheese (Room Temp.)
Salt & Pepper

1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1/2 Can Milk

Boil chicken breast for 30 minutes & cool, cut or shred. Mix celery, onion, cream cheese and peas together with chicken. Set aside.
Unroll Crescent Rolls.
Leave them in a rectangular shape, don't rip to make a triangle.  Then press the 2 seams together, roll out thin with a rolling pin.DSC00023
Place a glob of the filling in the center of the square crescent roll
Fold opposite sides together and pinch seams together.
Brush tops with butter and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes on a cookie sheet until brown. Ladle 3-4 spoonfuls of soup mixture over top and CHOW DOWN!!!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Crock Pot Beef Burritos!

A friend of mine told me that you can make an awesome burrito using a roast that is made in the crock pot using just water and taco seasoning mix. I was skeptical and didn’t try it for about a year. After being in a non-cooking funk, I decided I wanted to try making burritos.DSC00576 I dug out the crock pot and threw a roast in with water and a package of Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix.
DSC00578 I cooked it on low all day and about an hour before I wanted to prepare my actual burritos, I shredded the meat and let it cook in the sauce.
DSC00584 I took a burrito shell and spread refried beans down the center of the shell. DSC00589 I then prepared a package of Knorr Spanish Rice Mix and spread that over the refried beans.
DSC00590 Added the shredded beef over the rice. DSC00591 Put some shredded cheese over the whole mess!
DSC00595 And then rolled them up and place them into a 9X13 baking pan. I found that they stick together, so NOW I wrap each one in foil and then place them into the 9X13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-45 minutes or until done!!!
DSC00597 With the extra sauce mixture in the bottom of the Crock Pot, I drizzle it over the burritos just before we eat! If I want a lot of sauce, I just double the water and add two packages of the taco mix!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nanaimo Bars-January 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge!

DSC06937 The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and
Lauren chose these Canadian favorite bars in honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics!

Although the challenge was suppose to be gluten-free, I didn’t want to go to the extra expense of all the non-gluten flours that I probably wouldn’t use again, so I made my Graham Wafers with Whole Wheat Flour or Graham Flour as many would expect to use.
DSC06681 I whipped out the food processor and zapped all the ingredients for the graham wafers together. I split the dough into 2 balls and refrigerated the dough overnight. The next day I rolled out the dough onto a Sil-pat and then transferred the Sil-Pat to the baking sheet. The dough was VERY sticky and even stuck to my new silicone rolling pin. DSC06684
I trimmed the wafer dough with my quilting rotary trimmer and cut them into cracker size pieces. DSC06691
I then punctured the dough with a fork to prevent it from puffing up in the oven. Off to the refrigerator they went again and then to the oven they went for what was suppose to be 25 minutes. YEAH, suppose to be 25 minutes because one of my little helpers used the microwave and turned off the timer while they were heating up a slice of pizza. So, I suddenly smelled something burning and remembered, OH MY the GRAHAM WAFERS!!! TOO late, Lori! So, now all of my hard work and time was GONE! I didn’t remake the wafers, I just used the store bought ones to complete the rest of the challenge. DSC06916
For the Nanaimo Bars it was too easy to assemble these. I was glad since I had already been through the trouble of making the Graham Wafers that I couldn’t even end up using! For the first layer I just added the butter, sugar, cocoa to a double boiler that I melted together and then beat in an egg. I added this mixture to graham wafer crumbs, almonds that were finely chopped and some coconut.DSC06907
The second layer was simple also. It consisted of butter, heavy cream, custard powder (which I had thanks to my British neighbor, Caroline!) and then some confectionary sugar all mixed together.
I smoothed this over the crust layer and then prepared the top chocolate layer.DSC06915
The top layer was just melted chocolate and butter. I poured over the 2 layers and smoothed out.DSC06922

Notes for Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars:
• The graham wafer dough is very sticky. Make sure you are flouring well, or the dough will be difficult to remove from the surface you roll it out on. Also be sure to keep it cold. You do not want the butter to melt.
• In the Nanaimo Bars, it is very important that the chocolate be cool but still a liquid, otherwise the custard layer will melt, and it will mix with the chocolate, being difficult to spread. Allow the chocolate mixture to come to room temperature but not solidify before spreading the top layer on.

Preparation time:
• Graham Wafers: 30 to 45 minutes total active prep, 2 ½ hours to overnight and 45 minutes inactive prep.
• Nanaimo Bars: 30 minutes.

Graham Wafers Recipe:
2 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp of all-purpose wheat flour
1 cup Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup Honey, mild-flavored such as clover
5 tablespoons Whole Milk
2 tablespoons Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.
2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.
4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.
7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.
8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.
9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large zip lock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars Recipe:

Bottom Layer:
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

Middle Layer:
1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups Icing Sugar

Top Layer:
4 ounces Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

Additional Information:
These bars freeze very well, so don’t be afraid to pop some into the freezer. The graham wafers may be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.