Cheesecake Redux

September 24, 2014 § 8 Comments

CheesecakeRedux

Holy bat cheese it’s been almost 7 years since I posted the original cheesecake recipe. As much as I still love the original recipe, the height of the baked delight always seemed a bit “short.” Not necessarily flat but I thought a bit more height would make it even prettier. But in order to do this, I would either need to buy a new 8″ springform pan or continue to use my 9″ pan and increase the cheesecake mixture. Since I rather have more cheesecake to eat, I chose the latter. Like uh, duh, surprises anyone??

The reduxed recipe is similar to the original recipe but now it includes sour cream and lemon zest. With the addition of sour cream into the cheese mixture, this is more along the line of a NY style cheesecake, which the Mister loves. The lemon zest just makes any cheese baked goods that much yummier.

Since this is a much taller cake, I highly recommend using a water bath. But if you’re bold and don’t care risking the top of your cheesecake crack, then just bake it without it.

Now different people have different preference as to how “silky” they like their cheesecake. I like mine to have a bit of firmness but still have a slight silky texture. I don’t like really creamy or silky cheesecakes. Also NY style cheesecake really shouldn’t have any browning on top.

The amount of time depends on your oven, the size of pan you use and whether a water bath is used. Depending on you preference, I recommend start checking your cake around the 35-40 minute of baking for doneness. The correct timing is usually before you think it’s ready to come out of the oven. The center of the cheesecake is still a bit jiggly, like it’s not quite set. The cheesecake will continue to cook when its resting in the water bath after you pull it out of the oven.

NOTE: always be very careful when moving the pan when using a water bath. Don’t want to get any water into the cheesecake!

Once cooled, the top will be perfect with no cracks. If the top cracks, then reduce the baking time the next go around. I’m sure it’ll still be very good, just might be a bit firmer or tougher than you might like it. If it was me, I’d rather have it error on the silky side than overbaked side any day.

Also make sure the cream cheese and the eggs are at room temperature before making the filling. This will ensure the proper texture.

Ingredients for crust:
2 C graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted, plus a little more to butter the pan
pinch of salt

Ingredients for filling:
4 packages (8 oz ea.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 C sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.

Mix together graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Use a whisk to incorporate everything. Add melter butter and mix until well combined. butter the bottom and side of the springform pan. Press mixture onto bottom and up the side of a 9-inch springform pan. The crust should go up about an inch or so of the pan. I use a ramekin to get the bottom flat and a measuring cup to press it against the side of the pan.

Ready to bake! As a side note, you can actually skip the prebake part and it’ll be just fine. If you use an unbaked crust, put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to prevent crumbling when you pour the cheese mixture in. Bake for 8 minutes, set aside to cool.

Beat cream cheese on low speed until creamy and there are no more lumps. Add sugar gradually and beat well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. I always scrape the bowl after each egg to ensure that there’s no lumps of cheese stuck to the side of the bowl. Add vanilla and zest.

Before pouring the filling into the crust, prepare the outside of the pan by placing a large piece of aluminum foil underneath the pan. Then fold it up along the outside of the pan. Tuck or rip off excess foil.

Now pour the filling mixture into the center of the pan slowly. Then gently smooth the top of the filling so that it’s level. The filling should be higher than the crust on the side of the pan. I have so the crust is just below the top of the filling line (whew!). Okay, ready for baking!

To prepare the water bath, fill a large roasting pan with about 1 1/2″ of very hot water. The water line should come half way up the springform pan. I do this step on the middle oven rack since I don’t like to carry a full pan of hot water. Se the springform pan into the middle of the roasting pan. Carefully and gently slide the oven rack back into the oven.

Bake at 35o degrees for 45-50 minutes but check firmness starting around the 35-minute mark. Give the pan an ever so slight wiggle to see how much jiggle the cheesecake has.  (Get jiggy with it dances around in my head about now.) The jiggle should start about half way in from the side. If not, bake for another 10 minutes and check again.

Click here to see what the jiggle looks like for a silky texture. Notice how the jiggle is fairly close to the edge of the pan? If you’re like me, I prefer it to have a bit more texture (less silky) so I take it out when the cheesecake jiggle is only about half way out from the center. Does that make sense?? If not, leave a comment and I’ll try to explain it better.

Once there is only jiggle in the middle to center portion of the cheesecake, carefully pull the entire roasting pan out of the oven. Leave the springform pan in the water bath for 30 more minutes.

Remove springform pan and cool on a rack, which helps prevent the crumb crust from getting soggy. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving. Add your favorite topping as you like it.

CheesecakeRedux2

Cheese Strudel Challenge

November 27, 2012 § 5 Comments

With the apple strudel challenge completed, it was time to tackle the next one, cheese strudel. Cheese strudel is my MIL’s favorite (apple is the Mister’s). The good thing about this challenge was that the hard part was already taken care of. Now just to figure out the cheese filling. Based on MIL’s recollection of her mother’s cheese strudel, it was basically cottage cheese, eggs, lemon zest and some sugar just to give a hint of sweetness. Quite frankly, the filling sounded a little bland to me and I felt something was missing. So I decided to come up with one of my own but still using cottage cheese. I’ve made Ina’s cheese danish before and enjoyed very much so I decided to take some elements from that. There were several sweet cheese strudel filling recipes out on the Internet, mostly calling for sour cream and farmers cheese (or dry curd). Those had some elements of  Gram’s recipe and gave me an idea as to how much cottage cheese to use for a single strudel.

Results? MIL said the filling was spot on. I thought it was pretty good although I much prefer a cheese danish and the apple strudel. I wasn’t sure if the filling was sweet enough at first but both the Mister and MIL said the cheese strudel is not suppose to be very sweet and that the sweetness was just right. Well alrighty then. Sorry no picture of a sliced piece since this went very fast. It got divided up pretty quickly (SIL was also into this whole strudel thing). What was surprising is that the cheese strudel kept very well in the fridge for 4 days (wrapped in foil). Like its apple counterpart, it heated well in the toaster oven. Nice and crispy outside, warm and delicious inside. This is one of those things where you really want to warm it up before serving. Guess what the MIL is getting for her birthday next month???

Hope everyone had a terrific Thanksgiving!

Sweet Cheese Strudel Filling

Enough for 1 strudel
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 lb cottage cheese (small curds)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2-3 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F on convection baking setting. If oven does not have convection, use same temperatures but will just need to bake a little longer and will need to rotate pan half way through baking.
  2. In a food processor (or using a hand mixer with a large bowl), blend everything together until smooth. Leave in the fridge until needed.
Filling strudel
  1. Along a long edge of stretched dough about 4 inches from the edge, dollop cheese filling.
  2. Fold dough edge over to cover filling. Fold the short side edges over to cover the ends. Lift the sheet slowly to gently roll the strudel.
  3. Grease a sheet pan with Crisco/butter mixture. If using parchment paper or silicone baking mat, grease the top of sheet/mat. Lift strudel into pan, making an “S” shape to fit. Generously brush the top and side of strudel with Crisco/butter mixture.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F. If using convection baking, bake for another 20 minutes. If using standard baking, bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the strudel is golden brown.
  5. Cool a bit before serving. Best served warm.
  6. Reheat in oven at 325 degrees F for about 12-15 minutes to crisp up dough and warm the cheese filling.

Apple Strudel Challenge

November 16, 2012 § 11 Comments

OMG it’s taken me forever to finish this post! But finally, here it is, the apple strudel challenge post.

Ever since I can remember, the Mister and his mother (MIL) talk longingly about grandmother Gram’s apple strudel. We don’t know the origin of Gram’s recipe but it’s very similar to German apple strudel, down to the bread crumbs. But the dough recipe is different it that it doesn’t contain any eggs. MIL has never made it before so the Mister decided to throw down a challenge to me to recreate Gram’s apple strudel. The challenge was actually given to me over a year ago but it took me this long to actually get the nerve up to accept it. One of my major hold back was that I didn’t have a whole lot to go on. I’ve searched the Internet and have found some good references, especially the one posted by Janet of The Taste Space with pictures and great directions. Janet was kind enough to share her Oma’s recipe, which was the closest to what I knew about Gram’s recipe. It all came together when the Mister brought home Gram’s old recipe book a few months ago. Well looky here, a recipe for strudel dough!

MIL wasn’t sure if the actual dough recipe in the book was her mom’s or something she had written down from some publication but it was a start. MIL and I discussed the dough some more and the filling. I decided to use Janet’s recipe for the filling but decided to go off Gram’s recipe. This would be test strudel #1. Oh yeah, better make some notes. Here’s my book and my chicken scratch, hehe. Does anyone else do this when testing a recipe??

Anyway, the very first dough was only a half recipe since I only wanted one test strudel to get a baseline. I decided to add vinegar to the dough since quite a few strudel dough recipes add it and I figure the tenderizing effect of vinegar to crust would help here. Based on the results, I think it was a good addition, certainly didn’t hurt. The other modification I did was the fat. MIL said Gram only used Crisco. Her MIL always used butter and she said it wasn’t nearly as good or flaky as her mom’s (nothing is better than our mom’s version, right?). I wanted the dough to have a buttery flavor so I went with butter for the dough but took a page out of my pie crust recipe with half and half on the butter and Crisco as the wash for the dough. That also proved to be a good decision. I’ll clarify later in the post.

Most recipes called for mixing and kneading (and pounding) by hand. I decided to use the food processor to get the dough going. Hey, it works for pie crust, why not strudel? I have a very old 7-cup processor, worked just fine for one strudel dough but for the full recipe, I’d have to divide the ingredients in half. So do what you need to do if you’re going the food processor route.

Put flour, salt and sugar in the processor, pulse to mix everything. Then with the processor on, slowly add the liquid (1/2 stick melted butter and enough water to make 1 cup of liquid). Run until the dough comes together into a ball. Now comes the muscle work. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface. I used a knead for 10 then pound with rolling pin for 10 method. I didn’t want to knead for 20 minutes and since whacking the crap out of a flour dough will help develop the gluten, I used both to speed it up. I probably could of just whacked the shit out the dough for 10 minutes but the dogs get scared with all that pounding. I also like the process of kneading dough so why not? I’ve made the dough a few times now and found that alternating between the two (knead 10x/pound 10x) ) for about 15 minutes produces the easiest to stretch dough. Once I got all my aggression out on the dough, it was time to let it rest.

Put some oil (vegetable) in a bowl and then put the dough in, roll it around to get the oil all over, cover and let rest in a warm area for at least 2 hours. Speaking of warm, the warmer the room the better it will be for stretching dough. While the dough is resting, start prepping the work area for stretching. I decided to use the kitchen island for the test since it was taller than the dining table.

I used a large clean sheet (no fabric softener or sheet!). Used pins to hold the sides together. I chose a patterned sheet to help gauge as to how thin the dough is. Ideally I should be able to read a newspaper through it.

Side bar: on my second strudel test, I decided to use the dining table. Pretty much the same set up. The dogs thought maybe we were playing castle or something. The good thing about the table is that it’s smaller than the island and the dough can actually overhang over the sides. Problem is that it’s lower and I had to slouch down while stretching, which was very hard on the back. Think I’ll stick with island even though it was a little harder to get around the dough. I also don’t have to drape down towels on the carpet.

Now that the staging area is set, time to work on the filling.

The apple filling consisted of three different kind of apples (Granny Smith, Jonagold and McIntosh), bread crumbs (1/2 C), sugar (3/4 C), cinnamon (1 tablespoon). Peel and cube the apples, about 1/2″ cubes. Mix everything together in a bowl. Let sit until needed. There will be lots of juice released, which is good all that liquid will make the strudel a bit gummy.

Right before getting ready to stretch the dough, I melted an equal portion of Crisco and butter in a small sauce pan. Since this was going to give the dough its flakiness, I thought the combo of fat would be good. As I said, it works for pie crust.

Put the butter/Crisco on the lowest heat setting on the stove and keep warm until needed.

After a nice long rest from all the beating, the dough should be supple and smooth. It should be very elastic when pulled on. See how the dough stretches?

Dust the sheet with flour and put the dough in the center of the table. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle, as far as it will roll out. Once it’s rolled out, grab the edge with fingers and start to pull gently. This takes a bit to get going but it will. I think this was probably the toughest part for me the first go-around. I think a video of this would be helpful, maybe one day I’ll get around to it.

Time to stretch! Sorry there aren’t any action shots here since I couldn’t stretch and take pictures at the same time. I used my fingers with palms up and worked hand over hand to stretch the dough out from the center. It helps to have one hand in the center while the other one gently (gently!) stretches out from the center. You can see in this photo that you can start to see the pattern from the sheet through the dough.

I was able to get it to stretch fairly thin, about tissue paper thin. The edges will be thick but that gets cut off and you end up with this. MIL said this is usually fried in oil then dusted with cinnamon and sugar. I didn’t do it but will try it in a future strudel.

Once the dough is stretched, grab the warm melted Crisco/butter mix and liberally drizzle it all over the dough. I used a silicone brush and gently brushed out the butter, taking care not to tear the dough.

Now for filling. I added the filling along a long edge about 3 inches from the edge. But first, I sprinkled bread crumbs, about 3-4 inches wide. Then the apple filling on top. I then folded over the edge to cover the filling.

Time to roll! I undid all the clips, grabbed the sheet by the ends and gently lifted so that the strudel starts to roll. I trimmed the sides a bit since there were so much dough. I trimmed it to about 2″ overhang and then folded that into cover the sides (keeps the filling in). Pull the sheet towards you so that the strudel doesn’t go flying off the other other end of the table! I tried to keep the bulk of the strudel in the center of the table.

Rolling, rolling, rolling. Keep that strudel rolling!  Once you get to the end, roll the strudel seam-side down. Have your sheet pan handy here. Also make sure it’s brushed with the Crisco/butter mix. I used parchment paper and then brushed the top.

Carefully lift the strudel into the pan. Bend it so that it fits in the pan.

Now again liberally, and I mean liberally, brush the top with the melted butter mixture. All shiny.

Now here’s where you’ll need to decide what you would like to do. Gram always made the strudels up to this point and then refrigerated until the next day before baking. The first test I did, I did not do this. It turned out good but it wasn’t as flaky as I had expected. The second ones I made, I did let it sit overnight and what a difference it made in the flakiness of the dough. Granted I thought the dough was better the second time but I think leaving it in the fridge was the key to the flakiness. The melted Crisco and butter had time to re-solidify, similar to a pie crust that’s been rolled and then refrigerated before baking. The solidified fat creates air pockets and flakiness!

As far as baking temp and time, what worked best was using the convection baking setting, preheat at 425 degrees F. Bake for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Oops, forgot to take a photo before we started to cut up the strudel. That’s powdered sugar on top cuz that’s the way Gram did it! Yum yum yum!

Here is the second test apple strudel I made a week later. I also made a cheese strudel the same day but I’ll save that post for another day since this is a rather long post already.

For those eagle eyes, I used a silicone baking sheet the second time. I didn’t notice a difference on the bottom of the strudel so your choice.

So what was the verdict you ask? The Mister said it was exactly the way he remembered it. MIL said the dough was spot on although. The dough needed a few more layers so that led to an increase in dough ingredients in the final recipe. Verdict on the second one? I got a gold star from MIL since it was right on the money and now we can all enjoy Gram’s apple strudel.

So how would I rate this whole process? In all honesty, I didn’t think it was as daunting as it all had seemed. Sure I had to learn some new techniques but really once I got down to it, learning curve wasn’t that steep. I got pretty good at stretching the dough by the second time that I was even able to get it thinner than the first one. Certainly a bit more work than making pie but both MIL and the Mister would much rather have apple strudel than apple pie. I think I might actually prefer the strudel over pie too. Certainly addictive.

Hope everyone has begun thinking about Thanksgiving, just around the corner!

Apple Strudel

Ingredients
  • Strudel Dough (for 1 strudel)
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • Water, enough to make 1 C liquid when added to the melted butter
  • 3/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Apple Filling (for 1 strudel)
  • 5 cups (~2 lb) apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/4 C fine bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • Crisco/Butter Wash
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp Crisco
Instructions
  1. In a food processor using the metal blade, add dry ingredients and pulse several times to blend. Add vinegar to butter-water mixture and stir to combine. While the food processor is running, slowly add liquid. Run until dough forms a ball.
  2. On lightly floured surface, knead dough 10 times then beat dough with a rolling pin for 10 times. Alternate between kneading and pounding for 15 minutes. Dough will become bumpy (bubbly) on the surface and soft.
  3. Rest dough in a well-oiled bowl, making sure to turn cover entire dough with oil. Let rest in a warm area for at least 2 hours.
  4. Dough will be supple and smooth at the end of rest period. Dough should stretch easily when slightly pulled.
  5. While dough is resting, prep work area and prepare filling.
  6. About 30 minutes towards the end of rest, mix all apple filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  7. In a small saucepan on low heat, melt 3 tablespoons each of unsalted butter and Crisco together. Keep warm until needed.
  8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F on convection baking setting. If oven does not have convection, use same temperatures but will just need to bake a little longer and will need to rotate pan half way through baking.
  9. Cover work table with a clean tablecloth or bed sheet. Lightly dust sheet with flour. Put dough in the center of the table. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough as long and narrow as possible. Brush the top of dough with melted Crisco/butter mixture.
  10. Using tips of fingers, gently stretch dough from the center and out. Go around the dough stretching until it becomes tissue thin. Cut or tear away the thicker edges around the stretched dough.
  11. Drizzle and brush the top of the stretched dough with melted Crisco/butter mixture, taking care not to tear the dough.
  12. Along a long edge of stretched dough 4 inches from the edge, sprinkle bread crumbs about 3-4 inches wide.
  13. Drain excess liquid from apple filling. Spread filling on top of bread crumbs.
  14. Fold dough edge over to cover filling. Fold the short side edges over to cover the ends. Lift the sheet slowly to gently roll the strudel.
  15. Grease a sheet pan with Crisco/butter mixture. If using parchment paper or silicone baking mat, grease the top of sheet/mat. Lift strudel into pan, making an “S” shape to fit. Generously brush the top and side of strudel with Crisco/butter mixture.
  16. Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F. If using convection baking, bake for another 20 minutes. If using standard baking, bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the strudel is golden brown.
  17. Cool a bit before serving. Best served warm.
  18. Reheat in oven at 325 degrees F for about 7-9 minutes to crisp up dough.

Tiramisu with Homemade Lady Fingers

September 14, 2012 § 5 Comments

I have a couple of recipes for tiramisu but none for lady fingers. I remember reading about homemade ladyfingers a couple of years ago on Delicious Days and how “easy” it  was to make. At least that’s what my memory told me. So I got crackin’! Eggs, that is.

The tiramisu uses raw egg yolks, fair warning. I use farm fresh eggs when using them raw and have never had any problems. But I know there are people who are concerned about using raw eggs so I’ll go over on how to pasteurize the outside of eggs. Salmonella is usually found on the outside shell of the egg so pasteurizing the outside would kill off any yuckies. Pasteurizing is easy with a kitchen thermometer. Put room temperature eggs in a pot, fill with cold water, set it over medium heat to start, stick on the thermometer. Make sure none of the shells of the raw eggs are cracked, btw. As the temperature reaches about 130 degrees F, turn the heat down. Target water temp is between 140-145 degrees F.  Apparently it’s okay for the temp to go up as high as 150 but I try not to go over 145 since egg whites have a tendency to turn whitish after that. Low heat on my stove is where I need it to keep it at 140’ish. I like starting at medium heat since it heats up a bit faster. Just keep an eye out on the temp gauge. Once the water reaches 140, keep the eggs in the water for 4 minutes. This will be enough time to kill off bacteria but not enough to cook the egg. If a bit of white turns a bit white, it should be fine to use. Oh yeah, I only pasteurized enough eggs for the mascarpone filling.

I followed Nicky’s recipes for the ladyfingers and tiramisu. She swore that is “the” tiramisu recipe and after making it, I’d have to agree. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was what size dish to layer my tiramisu. Nicky used a glass so I was guessing the first go-around. I chose a square 9×9 inch dish. Turned out to be the perfect size. The ladyfingers recipe gave me just enough for two layers.

Speaking of mascarpone, I’ve made this a couple of times, one using regular and another using espresso-flavored mascarpone. Why? Espresso-flavored was the only thing Sprouts had and I just didn’t feel like driving to another market. It wasn’t very strong in coffee flavor but definitely was there. I don’t really like alcohol flavored tiramisu or ones that make me feel like I’m eating a cup of espresso (aka, too heavy on the coffee flavor). But the flavored mascarpone didn’t overpower the filling and we enjoyed it so much that I added a tablespoon of the very very strong coffee (Italian brew) that I used for the “regular” flavored filling. In comparison, it tasted almost the same. Oh yeah, I should mention that if you’re tempted to use the espresso-flavored mascarpone, you’ll end up paying almost double.

So now let’s talk about the ladyfingers.

If you’ve made meringue or beaten egg whites to stiff peaks, this will be easy peasy. The only problem I had was beating the egg yolks in my Kitchenaid stand mixer since much of the egg yolks hung out at the very bottom just slightly out of reach of the beater. I had to manually lift the bowl to get the yolks closer (I have an up-down model, btw). Second go-around I used my Bosch mixer, which did a much better job. For egg whites, I typically prefer to use my hand mixer since I feel I have better control and the whites whips up better.

For piping the fingers, I used a disposable pastry bag but you can always use a plastic zip bag since you won’t need a tip for this. I snipped the end of the bag to about an inch wide, maybe just a bit less. I piped out about 3-inches in length since I thought it would give me 3 columns of lady fingers. But just because they say it’s a 9×9 inch pan does not mean the inside of the pan is exactly 9×9, and I completely forgot that the lady fingers expand when baked. Oops. But no problem since I had a few thinner and shorter ones which worked great in filling in the gaps.

Here they are, resting, cooling, waiting for their soak in a coffee-bath. I’ve baked these on parchment and on silicone baking pad and I prefer the latter. I also found that it was easier to remove them after letting them cool for a few minute on the baking sheet. They have a tendency to stick a bit on the bottom but for the most part, they should come off fairly easily with an off-set spatula. Aren’t those little sandwiches cute?

Here’s the assembled product.

Alright Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!

I cut these so it served 9. And if you’re counting, that means one of us (ME!) had an extra serving. If you’re thinking that this takes a lot of time, well, it’s about the same amount of time as it takes me to make a batch of red velvet cupcakes. Might even be a little less. So don’t be shy, give it a try. (ooo, I made it rhyme!)  Have a beautiful weekend!

Adapted from Delicious Days

Ladyfingers

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs, separate yolks from whites
  • 90 g white sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 60 g all-purpose flour
  • ~2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 390 °F (200°C). Line two baking trays with parchment paper or silicone pads.

Beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar (45 g) until creamy and pale (~4 minutes on medium to high speed with a KitcheAid). Mix in the vanilla extract and combine well.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining sugar (45 g) by the tablespoons and continue to beat until the egg whites look glossy and form stiff peaks.

Sieve the flour into the bowl containing the creamy egg yolks and fold it in with a rubber spatula. The egg mixture with the flour will be a bit stiff.

Carefully fold in the whipped egg whites, making sure not to over-mix the batter. I add about 1/4 of the egg white to the egg yolk mixture to start, mixing it in so the batter was easier to work with. Then I added the remaining egg white in 2 additions.

Fill the batter into a piping bag, snip off the end and pipe the batter into ladyfinger shapes, 3-4 inches long, leaving enough space between them (about an inch) as they expand during baking. Generously dust with confectioners’ sugar. Bake at middle level until they just start to reach a slight golden color, around 12-14 minutes. Rotate pan half way through. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes in the pan.

Carefully pull the parchment paper from the baking tray and remove the ladyfingers from the parchment paper. An off-set spatula works well here. They keep in an airtight container (divided by parchment or waxed paper) for a couple of days, but are best consumed freshly baked.

Tiramisu

Ingredients:

  • 5 (large) egg yolks
  • 130 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp hot water
  • 16 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 15-20 lady/sponge fingers
  • 8- 10 oz (or about a cup) cold coffee/espresso
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Put the egg yolks, sugar and hot water in a bowl of electric mixer and beat well for at least 5 minutes. The mixture should change its color from yellow to very light yellow, almost white and its texture should be both creamy, yet quite stiff. Add the mascarpone and beat again until the mixture has a consistent look. Mix in 1-2 tablespoon of cold coffee (or 1 tablespoon espresso) if you like more of a coffee flavor, but it’s purely optional.

Fill a form or glass with some of the mixture, just enough to cover the bottom. Pour the cold coffee in a flat bowl and soak the ladyfingers for some seconds, then arrange them on the mascarpone-egg mixture. For juicy ladyfingers, soak for a little longer but be careful not to soak too long or else the lady fingers will start to fall apart. I just roll the lady fingers once on each side. It does soak up the coffee pretty fast. Add another layer of the mixture, again soaked ladyfingers, end with a layer of the mascarpone-egg mixture and dust with lots of unsweetened cocoa powder. Chill for at least four hours.

Note: Nicky recommends not keeping chilled leftovers for longer than 24 hours, just a precaution because of the uncooked eggs. I’ve kept the first batch for 2 days with no problem but you make the call.

Persimmon Cinnamon Ginger Tea

August 13, 2012 § 6 Comments

Some of you might have had this drink without even knowing it. It’s sometimes served at the end of the meal at Korean restaurants. Buga serves it, at least the last time I was there which has been a while. I recall Jeong Won Korean BBQ had some in a drink fountain dispenser but it’s been even longer since I’ve visited. I’ve had some very strong and spicy versions, some really sweet versions but my favorites are somewhere in between. I’ve tried several recipes in the past month and finally got to a ratio or ginger to sugar that I liked. I cut down the amount of ginger a lot! I also decreased the sugar but of course you can add more or less sugar to your taste.

It’s been great having this in the fridge with the hot weather lately. A glass with some ice and a small piece of persimmon sure hits the spot. If you’re into the yin-yang food thing, here’s the breakdown for the drink: sugar, cinnamon, ginger and pine nuts are yang (warm), persimmon and water are yin (cool). I am no expert by any means but I think this drink is somewhat balanced. If you want more yin, you could substitute the sugar for honey (yin) but just know it’ll taste a bit different.

On a side note, I had a difficult time getting an appetizing shot of the drink. The color of the tea in the glasses I had just didn’t turn out well. So here’s the best shot I got with the persimmons soaking in the delicious tea. No pine nuts since I only add that when I serve it in a glass.

Adapted from Maangchi

Yield: 4 -5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 dried persimmons
  • 4-5 cinnamon sticks, rinsed
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices
  •  3/4 cup of sugar
  • Pine nuts for garnishing
  • 8 cups of water

Directions:

Put ginger and cinnamon sticks in a pot that will hold 8 cups of water. Add water to the pot. Boil for 15 minutes over high heat with the lid on. If it boils over, take off the lid.

Lower the heat to medium and boil for another 20-25 minutes.

Add 1 cup of sugar. Stir and cool it down. Strain cinnamon sticks and sliced ginger in a colander and discard.

Remove the stems from the dried persimmons and wash thoroughly under cold running water.

Pour the tea it into a large glass jar or glass bowl. Add the persimmons. Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Serve cold with ice cubes. Each serving should have one persimmon in it with a few pine nuts sprinkled on top. It will keep in the fridge for about 1 week; best used within one week.

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