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No this is not a post about cows, their milk or their cream…at least not directly…it is a post about Tiramisu.  Specifically, The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge which 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.

Not the beauty I had envisioned!

Currently we are in the Lenten season and even though I am no longer a practicing RC, I think this is going to be a post of confessions.

Confession #1–  I was not overly fond of this version of Tiramisu, forgive me Aparna and Deeba…it is not that there was anything wrong with this one, other than the fact it is not the version that I often make.  In my version I do not combine the zabaglione, pastry cream and whipped cream but I alternate layers of lady fingers, zabs, lady fingers, pastry cream to the top, I then just put a small dollop of unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish and to help cut the richness of the entire dessert.

Confession #2– I had visions of grandeur as far as presentation, unfortunately that was all they were but visions.  I did not end up with the gorgeous savoiardi rimmed dessert I saw in my mind.

Confession #3– I thought that this was going to be a fun joint endeavor with Ray, you may know him as my partner in life but now he too is a partner in the DB.  So, I figured a joint effort and fun for all.  Apparently not!!  On baking day I overheard him say, “I am going to take you out”.  When I called him on this he then said, “that is NOT what I said.  I said, “I am going to BAKE you out!””  Rivals in the kitchen it shall be!!!!!!!  He isn’t exactly kitchen savvy but can hold his own and if I figure out how, I will give him props on his non-blogging post of his Tiramisu.

Confession #4– This is the part where I actually learned something I didn’t really know but it is also something that could cause me to become an ex DBer…… I did NOT make my own mascarpone!! May the powers that be hear my defense, please!!!!!  Apparently, there is a huge difference between Pasteurized and Ultra-Pasteurized dairy products.  Pasteurization is a lower temp longer time method which kills off the “bad critters” but leaves beneficial enzymes still intact.  Ultra- Pasteurization is a high temp quick time method which basically zaps everything in the milk, both good and bad.  Well, here in the States, Federal regulations make it a difficult task to find any dairy that is not Ultra-Pasteurized.  So, unless you are a dairy farmer or live damn close to one, finding only Pasteurized cream is almost impossible.  Off to Sunseri Bros. I went for my ready-made mascarpone.  I know I broke the rules but I confessed, so please, please, please Aparna, Deeba and the Powers that be forgive my indiscretion and let me remain a member of the fold!!!

Now that I have confessed and also sought absolution, let me tell you about the challenge.  Despite the fact that it was not my Tiramisu, it was a very good one at that.   I still prefer the separation of flavors as opposed to combining them.  The zabs and pastry cream recipes were pretty much on course with what I am used to.  The Savoiardi recipe is a little different from what I have used in the past but turned out stellar.  So much so that I think I may never buy a store-bought lady finger again.  If one actually breaks it down, especially in these times of tightened budgets, why purchase something pre-made when it can be done so easily and much more cheaply at home?

Final thoughts on the challenge would be to give it a go.  Aparna and Deeba came up with a great challenge which encompassed different techniques which when combined truly do come together in a heavenly fashion.  Thank You Ladies, Thank You Very Much!!!!

I will now leave you with an almost step by step pictorial on my making of the Savoiardi.  You can find the recipe for the Savoiardi/Lady Fingers and all other components here.

Starting the whites
Finished Whites- looks like a snowball, appropriate considering the weather we have h ad.

Incorporating the yolks into the whites- Love egg yolk gold!!!!!

2 steps later the fingers are piped- Not enough hands to photograph the folding in of the flour or the piping.

An attempt at creative flair, I dusted some cocoa stripes onto the fingers before baking.

Lady Fingers fresh out of the oven.

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.

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Toffee Brownies

At this moment in time I have about 6.5 lbs of chocolate covered toffee squares just hanging around the house….basically enough to last for the next 10 years, as Ray or myself aren’t prone to partake of toffee on its own.  Don’t get me wrong it is not that we don’t like it but, well, it is kind of like the old “tootsie pop” question of how many licks does it take to get to the center of one…no one really knows because sooner or later you have to bite into it.  Same with toffee and there is no way either of us are risking a trip to the dentist for that!  So in an effort to put a slight dent into this stockpile I whipped up a batch of my favorite from scratch brownies and added a healthy dose of crushed toffee…..no big write up on the hows, whys and whats, just a recipe, a picture or two and a big old brownie smile for you all.

This is the recipe my grandmother used and in truth I have searched for something different but never with the same result.  Also, I have seen this recipe everywhere on the internet so I call it…..

Granny’s
&
The World’s
Simple and Basic Scratch Brownies
  • 1 cup butter (melted)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2  cup cocoa
  • 2 cups  flour
  • pinch of salt
  • nuts,  chocolate chunks, caramel pieces or anything you would like

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream melted butter and sugar.
  3. Once the butter and sugar are light and fluffy  switch to a spoon for mixing.  Brownies can get tough if worked too much.
  4. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix just until smooth.
  5. Sift cocoa,  flour and salt together and add to creamed mixture.    Mix lightly until smooth and lumps are broken up.
  6. If you want to add extras, lightly fold in whatever you choose.
  7. Spread the batter into a 9×13 pan (Granny didn’t say to prep the pan but I always give it a coating of butter and cocoa powder) and bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Obviously, to the above recipe I added the toffee, I had about 1 1/4 cups of crushed toffee, which I divided and added 3/4 cup to the mix and then when they came out of the oven, I sprinkled the remainder over the top.   When I make these plain I use Scharffen Berger Cocoa but since I was adding the chocolate coated toffee I went with Hershey’s instead.

There are some very good store bought brownie mixes out there but with a recipe this simple and results this great all I can ask is, “Why?”.

Oh, there is still about 6 lbs of toffee left!!!  More brownies,  I guess.

So Mother Nature is at it once again!

hahahahaha...Mother Nature making another funny!

I could complain about this…  Alright, none of us have time to listen to me moan and groan about the excessive snow, so here I give you a quick, easy and oh so comforting dinner for a blustery night.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with a steamy bowl of soup!

No recipes needed on this one, it is basically a choose your own poison kind of meal.  This evening for us the Soup du Jour was Ham and Bean.  Ray has gotten into baking bread so the base for our sandwiches was courtesy of him.  The cheeses were Cheddar and Emmental  and on mine I had to have a slathering of good old Heinz yellow mustard.

That folks is it, sometimes simple and to the point is the best thing

Taken in the dark and with not an ounce of styling...so sue me!!!!

Feb.6, 2010 was an anniversary (you don’t need to know which!) of my 29th birthday (I will never turn 30…EVER!!) and also the day most of the east coast got blanketed in a very thick layer of snow.  As the clock struck midnight and the day rolled in, I had just set the sleep timer on the TV and was settling in for the night.  About 35 mins later I awoke with a start to no television, hmmmm, I know I set it for 90 minutes….what’s up now???  I made my way into the hallway and tried the light switch….nothing.  I then made my way to the spare bedroom and looked out the window, not a light on on the street!!  I looked further down and saw a few neighbors out shoveling their walk, defeated, I figured I might as well join them, best to get a jump on the snow!!! I was back in bed by 2am.

Fast forward 16 hours…the snow had stopped but not before dumping 22″ (official count but my backyard says 28″), we had shoveled for hours, the sun was again setting and dinner was calling.  The only thing was the electric had still not come back on..the house temp was reading about 54 (it bottomed out at 43 before the power returned) so I had 2 stockpots of water boiling to get some steam heat going.  What to do about dinner though?  I had some sweet italian sausage thawing in the fridge, which wasn’t going to make it to its intended use, so I figured sausage, home fries and eggs.  I threw a couple potatoes in one of the stockpots to par cook and got out the sausage, well the truth be told, I had no desire to pull out different pans to bring this meal together so it was improvise….Frittata!!!!  As some of you may know, Ray is a VERY picky eater and when I say “frittata” he says “eww”, however I was cold, tired, sore and truthfully not in the mood to please his pickiness…my anthem became “frittata or starve”.  I sliced the sausage and by the time it was done the potatoes were perfectly done to fry as homefries.  Now I can’t imagine I am saying this but it was such a welcome task to peel those right out of the pot potatoes barehanded……HEAT and lots of it!!!  I pulled the sausage from the pan and gave the potatoes a rough dice and threw them in till they were nicely browned and crispy, back in went the sausage.   I whipped up 6 eggs with a bit of water and salt and threw that in as well.  Damn!!!!!  I have an electronic igniter which can not be bypassed to light the broiler…ok then, a flipped frittata.   Oh Hell no!!!  I was too tired, sore and shaky from the cold to attempt a manual flip by candle light…now what?  I grabbed a lid and partially covered the pan, turned the flame down low and prayed for a done and non burnt frittata.  After some time dinner was served and quite edible.  We finished the night off with a few rounds of Yahtzee by candle light, then shivered the night away under many, many blankets.

8am this morn we awake, again, no power!!!!  Grand!  Immediately I dressed to go check on the elderly couple next door, I knock and Rose opens the door, in she beckons me…”you are gonna let out the heat” she says.  I walk in and the house is quite toasty….yea they were doing the big no no that so many old school folk do….they had the gas burners lit the night through!!!  After scolding them a bit and knowing that I wasn’t going to change their ways, I exited, Rose followed me out onto the porch and we continued to chat, 5 minutes later Nino pops his head out the door and told us the power had returned!  Hot damn!!!  Anyone that had been outside immediately went back in to enjoy the chance to join the 21st century again!!  After a bit of time, it became apparent that no plow was in sight, so one by one the neighborhood came together and we dug our way out.  By 3 in the afternoon we were again cold, tired and hungry.  In we went for a late lunch…we had power and we had leftover frittata so in the microwave it went.  We sat down to share the last bit of this cooked in the dark meal and finally Ray looks at me and says, ” ya know, this is pretty good”.  It was in that moment  I learned that after living life like the folks in “Little House on the Prairie” for over 36 hours….Ray ain’t so picky afterall!!!!!