Saturday, February 27, 2010

DB February 2009 - Heaven on a dessert plate

When I saw that the challenge for this month was tiramisu, I was actually disappointed. Tiramisu is the one dessert that I made so many time, I can make it with my eyes close. I even made a post about green tea-ramisu exactly a year ago. But as I read through the challenge, I found out that we have to make home made mascarpone cheese and the sponge fingers. Whoohooo.. this is surely taking the term "bake from scratch" to a whole new level. Now, this is a challenge!!

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.

I'm super pumped! February also means my best friend's birthday. She loooovveeess tiramisu. As a matter of fact, exactly a year ago I also made her a tiramisu. She works in Singapore now, but she's flying over for the weekend to celebrate her birthday with me and the rest of the girls.

I love the mascarpone cheese!! It took a bit of an effort to make it from scratch, but it is so worth it, and quite a bargain (I never realize how expensive cream cheese are in Indonesia). I'm a bit disappointed with the sponge fingers though. It is so tedious, and it didn't really produce enough sponge fingers for the cake and decoration. Plus, baking with a super small microwave oven means I can only make about 8 sponge fingers at a time, so baking them took forever. The humidity in Indonesia made the sponge fingers quickly looses it's crunchiness. I had to re-bake them before I use them for the decoration.

I had a little leftovers, so I decided to make a deconstructed version.

The following weekend, (I made this cake on Valentine's weekend) my dad ordered 40 mini cakes for his friend's engagement party. I got rave reviews, and an order of 20 more mini cakes followed right after. This time, I also made the green tea version.


(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder

For the zabaglione:
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 (or espresso/ coffee), 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:
Mix 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:
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.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar 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. 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, 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.


(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese

474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


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, 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.

(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,


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.
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.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Caramelized Apple & Salted Caramel Nanaimo Bars - DB January 2010

Who's been a bad daring baker?
Who's been a bad blogger?

I am *sigh*

And to make it worst, I've got just about a thousand excuses. I thought about sparing you guys by simply using the classic excuse of "life just get in the way", but, to be honest, I NEED TO VENT! So, lookout folks, this will be a long one! Don't worry, for those of you who come here for the Daring Baker challenge, just skip my rantings and look for the bold part of this post.

Believe me folks when I say this past 2 and a half months is not exactly the highlight of my life. Yes, I'm glad to be home and reunited again with my family. For once after more than 7 years, the Soehoed family household is complete again. And for every new thing, there's a lot of adjusting to do. And the problem over problem that are happening around my family didn't exactly make it easier.

The first big thing would be my grandma passing away the night I was suppose to fly to Jakarta which immediately followed by the rapid deterioration of my grandpa's health from the unbearable pain of losing the one thing that keeps him together all these years. If this would happen in my Mum's side of the family, there won't be so much drama. But my Dad's side of the family is something else. I don't even think 'dysfunctional' is a strong enough word to describe it. The 'drama' still lingers until this day, almost 100 days after my grandma's passing. I have mastered a state of ignorance when it comes to my Dad's family, but the thing that bothers me when this 'drama' is on, is how sensitive and stressed out it made my mum and dad. They become very edgy and like any volcano, can erupt with rage at anytime, without prior warning. Small stuff (or shall I say, my bad habit or mistakes) can turn into huge endless argument. Because like me, my parents can be a control freak (to be more politically correct, 'may have some control issues'), so when I don't do things or behave differently as they might have behave in the same situation, they will try to correct it. They are not that controlling, but for someone who's been independent for quite some time, it can be hard to handle sometimes.

Second of all, my emotional state. Put a dash of unemployment stress, add a pinch of culture shock, then a cup of homesick, mix it all together then you'll get stress and depression. Not the bad kind that I actually a threat to myself, just the kind where my mood is so foul, everything just becomes wrong and nothing can make me happy. If I sit all day, i'll get bored and would agitate my mom more. If I go out too much, I feel guilty for spending money when I don't have any income coming in. I've been in this state before, baking actually helped me back on my feet the last time. But I've packed a lot of weight lately which sweet treats won't exactly help brings back my happy mood. I don't exactly understand the concept of 'doing nothing'. This state only made worst by the time I spent in the hospital. yess.. I was admitted to the hospital for 6 days for being tested positive for dengue fever and typhoid. yup, I got the double whammy. M said it's Jakarta's way to welcome me back to the tropics. I live here for the first 17 years of my life and not even once I am even close to these two common tropical illness. On top of the 6 crappy days in the hospital, I still had to endure an extra 2 weeks of recovery time since my stamina was just so low and if I'm not careful, the virus might came back, hitting twice as hard. For you unfamiliar with these two illnesses, eventhough they are considered common, but without proper caution, they can be quite deadly. This is also why I miss last month's DB challenge. I've made the gingerbread house, a very ambitious one as well I might add. Due to my bestfriend's wedding commotion happening, I didn't finish decorating the house in time. When I had time to finish it, that's when I started to get high fevers which then leads to hospital time. By the time I came home from the hospital, my stained glass windows have already melted, and my terrace has broken, in short, I give up!

I still don't regret coming home. It's all a matter of self-adjustments so I can finally settle down. It's getting better and better everyday. I'm more used to living with my parents again, I'm starting to find things to do, projects to do while I sort out my career direction. and... i'm starting to bake again.

Aanndd.. here's the part where I stop my whining and get back to this month's DB challenge. This is the first time I ever heard about Nanaimo bars and my first time making graham crackers from scratch. I might say it is becoming one of my favourites. I didn't make it gluten-free though, it's not that easy to find gluten-free flour here. The nanaimo bars itself is also a treat and not at all hard to make.

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

For the flavours, I chose to add caramelized apple in the custard part and a thin layer of salted caramel in between the crust and the custard. these bars are quite rich, that's why I only made about a quarter of the recipe. Even that makes about 10 of 2cm x 5cm bars with a thickness of around 3 cm.

For Gluten-Free Graham Wafers
1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)
3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour
1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour
1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda
3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt
7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)
1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla Extract

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, 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 sweet rice 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 sweet rice 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 Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice 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 (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.

Nanaimo Bars

For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)

For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar

For Nanaimo Bars — Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) 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 colour. 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.