Tiramisu

Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts and I have tried making it quite a few times in the past and have always been unsuccessful. I think it was partly because I hadn’t honed in on my baking skills and whenever I would go to buy ladyfingers I could never find them. In case you were wondering, ladyfingers are an egg-based biscuit roughly shaped like a large finger. Well, this time I had the ladyfingers on hand after coming across them at the supermarket on sale and buying them in anticipation of making this dessert. I was determined to master this favorite dessert of time and not to toot my horn, but, I think it’s one of the best desserts I have ever made.

Before assembling the tiramisu I had some prep work to do. I began by whisking egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan until they were well blended. I then added in whole milk and cooked the mixture over medium heat until it began to boil. After removing it from the heat I let the mixture cool slightly and then covered and refrigerated it for an hour. After removing it from the refrigerator I blended in mascarpone cheese until it was smooth. In another bowl I beat whipped cream and vanilla extract until stiff peaks formed. And in a third bowl I combined room temperature coffee with Kahlua.

IMG_9425

Using an 8 x 11 inch dish I made the first layer of the tiramisu and then topped it with another. After arranging ladyfingers that I soaked in the coffee and Kahlua mixture I topped it with the mascarpone mixture…

IMG_9426

Then the whipped cream mixture…

IMG_9427

And finally dusted the top with unsweetened cocoa powder. I then covered it and refrigerated it overnight.

IMG_9428

And then the next day it was time to enjoy it and enjoy it I did! It was incredibly light and the ladyfingers while crisp beforehand absorbed the coffee/Kahlua perfectly as well as the mascarpone mixture that was directly spread on top of them. I have finally mastered one of my favorite desserts and will definitely be making it again sooner rather than later.

IMG_9445

 

Tiramisu

Ingredients:

6 egg yolks

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup whole milk

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound mascarpone cheese

1 cup strong brewed coffee, at room temperature

1/4 cup Kahlua

2 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies (24 cookies)

unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well combined. Whisk in the milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to boil. Boil for one minute then remove from the heat and cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for one hour. For best results transfer to a Tupperware with a tight fitted lid.

In a medium bowl combine the heavy cream and vanilla extract and beat until stiff peaks form.

After one hour remove the egg mixture from the refrigerator and beat in the mascarpone until the mixture is smooth.

In a small bowl, one large enough to lay the ladyfingers in, combine the coffee and Kahlua. Dip the ladyfingers in the mixture for a few seconds and then arrange them in an 8 x 11 inch dish. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the ladyfingers and then half of the whipped cream over that. Repeat the layers with the remaining lady fingers, mascarpone mixture and whipped cream. Dust the top of the cocoa powder then cover with a sheet of parchment paper and then aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

 

Recipe slightly modified from Allrecipes

Cocoa Snickerdoodles

If you have seen this month’s issue of Food Network Magazine you know they are getting their readers ready for the Holidays with a slew of cookie recipes. While they all sound amazing one of them stood out from the rest for me… Cocoa Snickerdoodles. What is there not to love about a cookie made with cocoa and then rolled in cinnamon sugar?

IMG_6144

I began by whisking together the dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and cream of tartar (which I just recently learned is the key ingredient that makes a Snickerdoodle and Sugar Cookie different. The addition of the cream of tartar prevents the cookie from having the crunch of a Sugar Cookie and instead a soft and cakey inside.)

IMG_6084

Next I beat room temperature butter along with granulated and light brown sugar until it was light and fluffy.

IMG_6085

I then added in an egg and vanilla extract.

IMG_6086

And finally I beat in the flour mixture until the two mixtures were just combined.

IMG_6087

Before placing the cookies on the baking sheet I rolled them in a mixture of sanding sugar and cinnamon.

IMG_6089

Since I knew these cookies would spread while baking I was sure to give them ample space on a parchment lined baking sheet prior to baking them in a 375 F oven for 9 minutes; rotating the pan after the first 5 minutes.

IMG_6093

My first batch right out of the oven… I let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

IMG_6099

Once cooled I couldn’t wait to try one… Here’s a close-up of the soft cakey texture I mentioned.

IMG_6153

And while these cookies were delicious once cooled they were even better the next day once the cinnamon sugar mixture had more time to seep into them. The only bad thing about this recipe… It only yields 18 cookies!

 

Cocoa Snickerdoodles

Makes 18 cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup white sanding sugar

1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 2 more minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla; reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

2. Combine the sanding sugar and cinnamon in a small shallow bowl. Form heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into balls with damp hands; toss in the cinnamon sugar to coat. Arrange about 3 inches apart on 2 baking sheets.

3. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the cookies are set around the edge, 9 to 11 minutes. Let cool 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

A Slow Cooker Hit And Half Miss

The cold days of winter call for warm and hearty soups (or stews) to help keep you feeling warm and toasty to beat the winter chill. In a recent issue of Rachael Ray Magazine I came across one such soup that had the added bonus of being made in a slow cooker. A kitchen item I do enjoy using but don’t use often enough.

This stew – a Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew  – was a cinch to make and was ready in about four hours. I began by adding white beans, chopped onions, carrots & celery, garlic, bay leaves and chicken broth to my slow cooker and cooking it on high heat for three and a half hours. I then added sausage meatballs and let them cook in the soup for about twenty-five minutes. Finally, I added in the spinach for the final ten minutes.

IMG_2405

Final verdict… The stew was delicious. I’ll definitely be it making again. But, I think next time I’ll cook the meatballs a little before adding them to the soup.

IMG_2430

Since I had my slow cooker out from obscurity I figured I would finally try making a dessert in it – a Triple Chocolate Brownie recipe I came across from Martha Stewart.

To begin I whisked together my dry ingredients: flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.

IMG_2441

To get started on my wet ingredients I melted butter and bittersweet chocolate together.

IMG_2442

After giving it a few good stirs I added in sugar and eggs.

IMG_2443

I then folded it into the dry mixture along with walnuts and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

IMG_2444 IMG_2445

I then poured it into my slow cooker, which I sprayed with cooking spray and lined the bottom of with parchment paper.

IMG_2447

 

I cooked it on low for four hours, the final half hour uncovered.

IMG_2448

After letting it cool in the insert for two hours I flipped out the brownies to sadly discover that the edges were quite burnt and definitely not edible.

IMG_2449 IMG_2452

All was not lost though… After some clever cutting I was left with six, albeit irregularly shaped, brownies that were quite tasty and definitely not lacking in chocolate flavor.

IMG_2455

Baking in a slow cooker… definitely not my first choice for delicious desserts, but, I wouldn’t rule out trying it again, just not brownies though!

Sausage, Bean & Spinach Stew

Ingredients

1 pound dried large white beans, such as great northern, rinsed and picked through

8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

8 sprigs fresh thyme*

1 bay leaf**

Parmesan rind (optional)*

1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage, casings removed, shaped into 1/2-inch meatballs

1 bunch spinach, trimmed

Juice of 1/2 lemon*

Crusty bread, for serving

Directions

In a large slow cooker, stir together the beans, chicken broth, onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaf and Parmesan rind, if using. Cover and cook on high heat until the beans are nearly tender, about 3 1/2 hours.

Place the sausage meatballs on top of the beans. Cover; cook until the meatballs are no longer pink in the center, about 25 minutes.

Discard the thyme sprigs, bay leaf and Parmesan rind. Stir in the spinach, then cover and let stand until the spinach wilts, 10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice; season. Serve with crusty bread.

*I omitted these ingredients when I made my soup

**I added in two bay leaves as opposed to just one

Slow-Cooker Triple Chocolate Brownies

Ingredients

Nonstick cooking spray

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup walnut halves, coarsely chopped

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)

Directions

Lightly coat a 5-quart slow-cooker insert with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper and lightly coat with spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until chocolate is melted. Add sugar; stir to combine. Stir in eggs. Add flour mixture, walnuts, and chocolate chips and stir just until moistened (do not overmix). Transfer to slow cooker and smooth top.

Cover and cook on low, 3 1/2 hours. Uncover and cook 30 minutes. Remove insert from slow cooker and run a knife around edge to loosen brownies. Let cool completely in insert on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Turn out onto a work surface and cut into 14 brownies.