Tiramisu

Tiramisu Close Up

The hardest part of tiramisu for me is parting with so much money for the mascarpone. It’s costs a fortune! Years ago, I found a little hack by Gemma over @biggerbolderbaking that allows me to make a fake mascarpone that saves a LOT of money so here we go. Get your big girl panties on, ladies, and let’s get assembling!

The base is comprised of however many lady fingers you can manage to fit into each layer times two or three layers, breaking fingers in half if you have to. (Depending on the pan I use, I can make up to three layers using a bread loaf pan, or two layers using a 9″x9″ square pan.) It’s not an exact science, so if you run out of the coffee/liquor mix, just make a bit more until all of the fingers get a quick soak.

Tiramisu

20-30 lady fingers

1 C room temp coffee brew

1 tbsp Amaretto (optional – I sometimes sub it out for 2 tsp hot chocolate powder whisked in)

Note: The filling is a two step process that will get folding into each other to make the ‘fascarponey’.

STEP ONE:

1C 35% Cream

1/3 C Sugar (white or superfine icing)
1 tsp Vanilla (this is the time to bust open the expensive stuff)

Whisk this on medium speed for about 5-8 mins, until the cream starts to thicken up. Then bump it to full speed for another 2-3 mins to incorporate a lot of air allowing the cream to fluff up.

Scrape the whipped cream into another mixing bowl. Set aside while assembling the second cream mixture in the mixer.

STEP TWO:

6oz/168g Cream Cheese, room temp (cut it into small cubes to speed up the temp change)

2 Tbsp Sour Cream (if you’re not using full fat, why are you even making this dessert?!)

3 Tbsp 35% Cream

Using a paddle attachment, cream this mixture to a smooth consistency. Drop on heaping spoonful of this mixture into the whipped cream bowl, and fold it in so the whipped cream thins out a bit. Add the rest and mix to incorporate both only.

Start the layering assembly at this point.

Drop each lady finger into a shallow dish with the coffee mixture and quickly roll it over a full rotation. Immediately place each soaked finger into the loaf pan or the glass dish. When one layer of lady fingers is assembled, top it with either one half or a third of the fascarponey mixture. Smooth it out. Optional: dust the cream layer with coco powder or hot chocolate powder. I do this sometimes, but often I forget to do it. Oh, well.

Continue with more of the same two layers until you reach the top of the pan with fascarponey. Top that with either coco or hot chocolate powder. Cover and let the dish set itself up in the fridge.

To be honest, you only need ten mins for the lady finger to soften up from all of the moister you rolled them around in and even more moisture from the creams, but the longer it sits chilling, the better it ends up tasting if you ask me. So, yeah – quick dessert for sure when you need something nice at a moment’s notice. Even slapped together quickly can produce a lovely to eat tiramisu.

I’ve never tasted a shitty tiramisu using this recipe (or anywhere else if I’m being honest). This dish is fool proof. If you find a way to screw it up, I need to be the first person you tell. And I will need a full explanation of just how you did it. Deal?

Auntie Stacey’s Gingerbread-Espresso Snowflakes

Ginger-Espresso Christmas Cookies

Ginger-Espresso Snowflakes

I used this gingerbread cookie recipe as the base of my cookies, and then tweaked the overall flavouring by adding 2 tbsp of fine ground coffee beans for texture. You can see the flecks the grinds create in the final baked cookie form, and you can feel the grinds as you chew them. This flavour addition lends a lovely sophisticated update on the old, somewhat tired gingerbread theme.

The other changes I made were shape (mine are gingerbread snowflakes, not gingerbread men) and icing colour (I used blue icing for a smashing pop of colour against the dark cookie base). I love this look.

Picture courtesy of Glorious Treat's blog - gingerbread cookies

Inspirational picture courtesy of Glorious Treat’s blog – gingerbread cookies

I mean, LOOK at how fabulous this colour combination is. I won’t lie, Glory’s iced cookie version utterly seduced me. When I saw that, no other colour compared!

Gingerbread-Espresso Snowflakes:
1/2 C Unsalted Butter, room temp
3/4 C Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg, room temp
1/3 C Fancy Molasses
2 /2 C All Purpose Flour (unbleached is fine)
2 tea Ground Ginger
1 1/2 tea Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tea Salt
1/2 tea Baking Soda
1 tbsp Instant Espresso Powder
1 1/2 tbsp Coffee Grinds, Fine (not used – yuck!)

In your mixer, blend the butter and sugar together till it’s pale in colour and fluffy in texture (about 5 mins).

In a medium size mixing bowl, add the flour, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Whisk well to combine all of these ingredients. Set near the running mixer.

On the mixer’s slowest speed, add the egg and the molasses. Blend that in a bit before adding in your dry ingredient mixture slowly one cup at a time. When the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the dough finally, add the espresso powder and coffee grinds. Quickly run the mixer enough to blend them through out the dough batch before turning the dough out of the bowl to portion it out into four balls for chilling.

I used a pair of thick chopsticks that are about 3/8″ in diameter to flank each ball of dough between two sheets of wax paper as I rolled it out flat into a circle or square. I then placed all four flattened out dough balls on a tray and let them rest in my refrigerator or about 1 hour before cutting them up into shapes.

After an hour, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees (I have a convection oven so I have to set mine at 375 because the oven drops the temperature down by 25 degrees automatically), and poured a bit of flour into a bowl to dip my cookie cutter into between cuts.

I made as many snowflake cookies as I could fit on my baking pans with at least 1″ around each cookie and when the oven was ready, I baked two pans at one go on the middle rack for 8 minutes. I continued cutting out more snowflakes to line my next two pans as the first batch baked up and cooled down. I continued to repeat this until all four balls of dough were baked up into cookies.

I left the cookies to cool completely for about two hours and then started my decorating process. You can use whatever icing you like, but I happen to have been pressed for time so I cheated by melting some baking chocolate waffers in a small Ziplock baggy in my microwave (about three 30 second times for a handful of waffers). As the chocolate started to harden while decorating the cookies, I would melt it some more in the microwave at 15 second intervals.

NOTE: This is a great cookie dough to make up to 1 to 3 months in advance of your Christmas bake-a-thon. Wrap the dough up as a disk in plastic film, and then again in tin foil, before storing it in the freezer. It shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes sitting on the counter for the dough to come up to temperature so you can work with it when you’re ready to get your Christmas bake on.

 

Don’t forget your children in cars!

baby-in-a-car-seatPUBLIC SERVICE POST

This is an extreme topic that needs to be discussed because every year we hear about at least one, if not up to a few dozen cases, where a parent who doesn’t normally have their baby in the car as they go to work and needed to be dropped out at a daycare ends up forgetting that child in the backseat as, typically, the temperatures soar. You can imagine what the outcome is. It’s all so sad.

Here is a fantastic thread discussion from Coffee With Julie with some some suggestions for parents tasked with driving with their babies in their car. BTW, if you think this only happens to parents on sweltering hot days, you’re sadly mistaken. It happens all the time – we just don’t hear about it unless the cops and blistering heat is involved, or the child dies.

Read this post, and I ask that you all pass it along to other parents. This is so very important. As a non-mom, I take this seriously enough to talk to all of you about this situation. And if we’re all discussing it enough, we’re bound to find a way to help prevent it from continuing to happen as commutes to work to get more and more distracting, and we try to multitask on the ride in to get a jump on the day’s workload using our smart phones, or as we drift away in a daydream as we drive in autopilot mode and the child is sound asleep. Out of sight, out of mind.

I hate to stat it that way, but I have forgotten valuable stuff in cars and on city buses as I tune the world out, deep in thought, and barely realise I’m about to miss my stop so I jump up and take off, never giving much thought to what I had in my hands, or didn’t, until it was way too late. I once left my full coffee travel mug on the counter at the convenience store beside my old apartment building on the way to work one morning, and hilariously and fortunately, it was sitting exactly where I left it when I ran into the store at 10:30 pm in a panic when that realisation hit me after a long and busy day. The clerk didn’t bother to move it for other customers. He knew I’d come back, but not when. (He was such a kind soul. I really miss not seeing him every day since we moved away.)

Homemade Hotdog Buns

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It’s Canada Day, and that means hotdogs and hamburgers made on the grill in a backyard or in a park by some water close enough to the fireworks hours later. It’s how we do it north of the 49th, kids. And we like it this way!

What we don’t like – or, what I should say I don’t like – is finding out our hotdog buns are moldy on a day when the stores are closed for a national holiday. It bums me out. But, because I discovered this problem very last night, I had lots of time today to make buns from scratch. Yes, I make bread, too. I make it ALL, baby.

{evil laughter}

I don’t have a stock bun recipe so I was planning to scour the innerweebs when Joy The Baker, bless her generous heart, decided this was the weekend she was going to post about her homemade hotdog buns. It was meant to be. 🙂

HotDogBuns-8

From this…

HotDogBuns-10

To this.

I halved the ingredient amounts to make a smaller batch than her recipe yields, but if you’re having a crowd over, Joy’s recipe will give you 18 regular 4″-5″ buns per batch. There’s still time to make a whole mess of these buns if you need more than that. They’re fast, straightforward and easy to make. I assure you. If you’ve ever kneaded dough before, you’ll be fine with this recipe. Pay attention to your type of yeast (I learned the hard way a month ago) and how to use it, and you should be fine.

HotDogBuns-2

 

I made half the batch with poppy seeds, fresh cracked pepper and big grains of salt, and the other half only got the coarse salt. I liked the salted one, and my husband loved the all dressed up one. I took care to make these buns a full 7″ so the overgrown Costco sausages the boy loves so much would be evenly matched up bite for bite. He complains a lot about rinky-dink store bought buns not being long enough. So, needless to say, he was happy with these buns in ever respect.

Try these buns. You’ll love them. And they took me less than an hour – start to finish.

OK, we’re off to hit a movie if we can, so enjoy your holiday, everyone.

Happy 146th birthday, Canada!

‘For Two’ Recipe Blog

ButteredPecanSconesforsite

[ Click picture to embiggen ]

I keep meaning to tell Ellen and Wendy about a blog that serves up recipes for two single servings. The blog is called Dessert For Two, and it’s run by the lovely and friendly Christina. She goes by @DessertForTwo on Twitter so if you ever have a question, that’s probably the best place to grab her attention.

I love this blog. Often I will want to cook or bake something out of the blue but I don’t want a million bits of leftover kicking around going stale after we’ve satiated our hankerings. This site fits the bill because Christina has probably already taken the time to figure out the reduced ingredient increments for whatever we want to make into a micro batch.

For example, today I was thinking I would make some scones for breakfast tomorrow, and not just any scones, but bacon infused scones. I went to her site, searched “scone” and a few recipes came up. I really like this one for Buttered Pecan Scones. Yummy. (See her picture above for what they look like.) All I have to do is follow one and sub out the flavour ingredients for the bacon, and I’ll be off to the races.

I will post my results tomorrow if they turn out as well as I think they will. Stay tuned.