Saturday, February 27, 2010

Daring Baker's 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. (Recipe is located here)

OK, I  have to admit, I wasn't pleased to see that this was the challenge this month. I'm not a fan of Tiramisu--I know, sacrilege to those of you who adore it, but between the soggy cookies/cake and the overly alcohol flavor, I never liked it. Nevertheless, the point of Daring Bakers is to try something you otherwise wouldn't have -- and this was definately the case.

The most difficult part of this challenge was making the 4, count them 4, different components to the creme before mixing it together. It was interesting to make Mascarpone Cheese from scratch, but also making zabaglione, pastry cream, and whip cream to mix together was --- time consuming. It would seem that since 2 of the 4 items have to be cooked in what amounts to a double boiler, that perhaps they could have been combined.

I ended up using espresso for the flavoring -- instead of the marsala. And I used a Danish Pastry flavoring in place of the Rum Extract. I have to admit, it was pretty good -- better than any tiramisu I've ever had before, that's for sure. The recipe called for it to be assembled in an 8x8 pan, but I didn't think I had enough ladyfingers for 3 layers in an 8x8 pan, so I assembled mine in a bread pan.

Even after waiting overnight to taste it, the ladyfinger biscuits held enough texture to make interesting -- although if I were to make it again, I think adding toasted hazelnuts or chocolate nibs would really enhance the experience.

Will I make it again? Not sure, but perhaps for company with lots of notice -- then again, maybe I'll make the easy and delicous Carmel Walnut Banana Torte.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Carmel Walnut Banana Torte

A couple of weeks ago (on 2/7), we got a new Kitchen Aid mixer. Woo Hoo! Thank you to Allyson's Kitchen in Ashland. They had an awesome Professional series in the Azur color the kitchen is accented with. It was time to upgrade to a more powerful mixer and I've looked for the right one for some time, it was pure happenstance we found it. To top it off, we were lucky enough to sell our other Kitchen Aid easily and quickly thanks to Craigslist, so it was a very inexpensive upgrade.

One unexpected bonus of the new Kitchen Aid was the recipe book that came with it, and the unexpectedly delicious Banana Carmel Walnute Torte (recipe below). With the slightly disconcerting realization that my cake pans apparently didn't make the move (or at least can't be located after), enough pans of about the same size were cobbled together to make the utterly delicious three layer cake. It's super easy and about the best dessert that ever happened.

Thanks to Kitchen Aid, the new Azur mixer, and the wonderful recipe! This one will definately be made again...soon!

Carmel Walnut Banana Torte Recipe

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine or butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup softened margarine or butter
  • 1 cup ripe banana, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup low-fat milk or whole milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbs margarine or butter
  • 2 medium thinly sliced bananas
 Whipped Topping 
  • 1/2 cup cream, whipped (sweetening optional)
  1. Place brown sugar, margarine, and cream in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat just until margarine melts, stirring constantly.
  2. Pour over bottoms of three 8" or 9" round baking pans, & sprinkle with walnuts.
  1. Place sugar and margarine in mixer bowl and cream for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add banana and vanilla, mix thoroughly.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing about 15 seconds between each addition on low speed.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and mix for about 30 seconds on low speed.
  6. Add buttermilk and remaining flour mixture. Gradually increase spead to high and beat about 30-45 seconds.
  7. Spread batter evenly over nut mixture in pans.
  8. BAKE: 350°F for 25 - 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pans about 3 minutes. Remove from pans by inverting on to wire racks. (This is very important, if you don't let them cool long enough, the topping runs off the cake, too cool, and it stays in the pan).
  1. Combine sugar, flour and salt in medium saucepan.
  2. Gradually stir in milk.
  3. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Beat the egg in a separate bowl.
  5. Stir 4 to 5 tablespoons of hot mixture into beaten egg, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing between each addition.
  6. Pour egg mixture into saucepan with remaining hot mixture. Cook until mixture is thick & bubbly, stirring constantly.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and margarine. Cool slightly.
  8. Refrigerate 1 hour or more until cake is cool and ready to assemble.
  1. (Save nicest looking layer for the top). Place one cake layer, nut side up on serving plate.
  2. Spread with half of filling. Arrange about half of banana slices over filling.
  3. Top with second layer, nut side up. Spread with remaining filling and banana slices.
  4. Top with remaining cake layer, nut side up.
  5. Top with whipped cream just before serving.
  6. Store in refrigerator.
 Recipe Source: KitchenAid Stand Mixer Book