February 2010

February 2010 – Daring Bakers’ Challenge

And boy was it a challenge!








(All made from scratch!!)

I’m always giving my oldest a hard time because he is such a procrastinator. I have no idea where or how he picked up this awful habit.

Yet I see myself here this late Saturday night, having just completed my Daring Bakers’ challenge only a few hours left in the day before I need to get this post up.

I started this little project of mine Thursday night, by making the Mascarpone. Yesterday night I made the Savoiardi and the Zabaglione. And today I made the rest of the components and put it all together including this post.

Excuses… oh yeah, I have plenty of those. As does he. 😉

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.

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

from Baking Obsession

I can’t even begin to describe how yummy the Mascarpone turned out. This is one recipe you MUST try!

500 ml whipping (36%) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferable organic cream

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.

Ladyfingers/ Savoiardi Biscuits

(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.

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.


(Recipe source: Carminantonio’s Tiramisu

from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )

This recipe makes 6 servings


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

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.

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

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.

Whipped Cream

1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)

1/4 cup/55gms sugar

1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract

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.

Assemble the tiramisù

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

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.

Working 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.

Daring Bakers'

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Coconut Zabaglione
Well the LA Stir It 28 event went without a hitch!

It was so much fun I wanted to share a virtual version of it with you.

In case you missed my pre-event tweets, I promised I would bring Nanaimo Bars, and Insanely Chocolaty Cookies. But, I felt like that wasn’t enough so I added a surprise dessert.

Back in November I made a Coconut Zabaglione for Greg’s birthday AKA Sup of SippitySup, the gracious host of this event but he never got to taste it. So I figured this would be the perfect opportunity for me to share it with him.

I ended up making a quadruple batch of Insanely Chocolaty Cookies and used walnuts instead of pecans, I also made a quadruple batch of Nanaimo Bars and two quarts of Coconut Zabaglione.

Let me tell you, I’ve never gone through so much chocolate, eggs and butter so quickly in my life! Just between you and me, I loved it!

Cars parked as far as the eye can see

I snuck out to take this shot as the event was in full swing.
The street was lined with cars as far as the eye could see.

More behind the scenes actionFoodies working hard behind the scenesFoodies busy prepping
All volunteers were divided into three teams and each team worked a one hour shift and enjoyed the party the other two hours. Which worked out beautifully, because it prevented crowding in the kitchen and it allowed everyone to enjoy the party as well.

Mini Cupcakes by Duo Dishes
Mini Cupcakes by Duo Dishes

Lovely Spread in the Dining room
This lovely spread was provided by Gisele of Small Pleasures Catering

Assorted treats throughout Sup's house 
SippitySup - Spicy Nuts
Our host SippitySup made these Spicy Nuts they were so yummy, if you love rosemary you must try them!

Guests in line at the Grey Goose sponsored bar 
Grey Goose and LA brand attaché Christophe Namer partnered with Natalie Bovis-Nelsen of The Liquid Muse to create signature vodka cocktails, including “Hearts for Haiti”–Grey Goose L’orange, homemade syrup made with Martini & Rossi Vermouth, fresh grapefruit juice and Martini & Rossi prosecco.

Other signature cocktails offered were the “Grey Goose Classic Martini”, the “Pear Vodka Sour”, and my personal favorite the “Crisp Celery Delight”.

Guests having a good time
Everyone is chatting up a storm 
255Barrie Lynn ~ The Cheese Impresario
Barrie Lynn The Cheese Impresario shared with us a lovely assortment of artisanal cheeses, nuts and dried fruit.

Glad the rain didn't show up!
Loved Sup's house 
To sum things up, the event was a huge success. I truly enjoyed working with all the volunteers, what a terrific group of people!

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Italian Pretzel Cookies

February 20, 2010

in Cookies,Recipes

Is there such a thing?

Before leaving for my trip to NYC a colleague of mine somewhat described them to me as a sweet semi-crisp, semi-chewy cookie in the shape of a pretzel with chocolate on the bottom.

Once in NYC, since my hotel was relatively close (within walking distance) to Little Italy I had the opportunity to visit a couple of Italian Bakeries and Coffee Shops and sample their wonderful cookies and pastries.

At Ferrara’s I sampled a trio of miniatures which included cannoli (a crispy mini tube filled with ricotta cream & chocolate chip), sfogliatella (a clam shaped flaky pastry filled with ricotta, farina and fruit) & cheminee (a chocolate chimney filled with chocolate & vanilla mousse & a berry) accompanied by a nice hot americano (coffee that is) Everything was excellent!

On my way out I asked if they had Italian Pretzel Cookies they said they didn’t know what they were, and sold me chocolate covered pretzels instead. They looked so good, I just couldn’t resist.

At Caffé Roma my most memorable bite would have to be of their pignoli cookies, they were absolutly amazing, I enjoyed them with a little espresso.

I asked if they had Italian Pretzel Cookies and just got a strange look and a nod indicating they did not.

That evening I decided to do a little research OK, well I Googled. I tried to find the Italian Name for these mystery cookies. The closest I could come up with was Taralli/Tarrallucci.

A few days later, I stopped by Rocco’s Pastry and picked up a couple of their chocolate and traditional amaretti cookies, they were very yummy.

I took a chance and asked if they happened to have any Italian Pretzel Cookies? They said no… I asked if they had Taralli/Tarrallucci the closest cookie they had was a lemon flavored cookie with a lemon glaze.

I’m not even sure if there is such a thing as an Italian Pretzel Cookie, in any case I decided to make up my own version.

I took a Taralli Dolci dough and dipped it in chocolate.

Fatto! Vi do… Josie’s Italian Pretzel Cookies.


Taralli Dolci or Italian Pretzel Cookies?
adapted from
FoodNetwork.com by Nick Malgieri

Makes 46 cookies

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract

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Have you heard about the the Stir It 28 event making its way across the country? Or perhapps seen the #stirit28 hashtag on Twitter?

Well I’m delighted to be a part of this nationwide effort to raise money for Haiti Relief. This special event will take place in four major cities: Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and New York.

If you haven’t purchased your ticket yet, no worries you still have time!

You can purchase your ticket at http://flanboyanteats.com or http://cococooks.blogspot.com. Click the link that says “Purchase Tickets For STIR IT 28 Culinary Event-Feb. 21st”. Be sure to indicate you are buying a ticket for the LOS ANGELES event. Email chrystal@duodishes.com once you have purchased, and you will receive the address.

Los Angeles Stir It 28 Soirée Details

Free valet offered by Logistic Parking (http://www.logisticparking.com) for the first 50 cars, so arrive early!

Los Angeles: Sippity Sup’s house in the Hollywood Hills Contact GREG for the address. 4-7 pm. $30 in advance; $35 at the door
*Complimentary Valet will be available for first 50 attendees!

For more information, please review the official press release here. Or, look up the Twitter hashtag #stirit28 !

If you are still undecided whether you should attend or not. Perhaps the following will help:

We have an amazing line-up of bloggers, caterers and home cooks who will prepare an extensive list of appetizers and desserts.

Gisele Perez of Small Pleasures Catering was recently listed in KTLA’s Top 5 Best Caterers of 2009. She will create an interactive bruschetta bar with various spreads and toppings such as herbed goat cheese and caramelized onions and figs. She will also have a dessert bar featuring six different sweets, including white chocolate lemon curd swirl cheesecake and profiteroles with chocolate fondue.

Barrie Lynn Krich, The Cheese Impresario, will have a cheese table set up where you can ask her questions about cheese pairings while you grab bites from her artisanal cheese plates.

The long list of bloggers who have offered to create special hors d’oeuvres and desserts include:

Chrystal & Amir Duo Dishes
Austin, Austio’s Catering
Michael, Southbay Foodies
Diana, Diana Takes a Bite
Cathy, Gastronomy Blog
Andrea, L.A. Easy Meals
Esi, Dishing Up Delights
Greg, Sippity Sup
Patti, Worth the Whisk
Erika, In Erika’s Kitchen
Cynthia, Furey and the Feast
Krissy & Daniel, The Food Addicts
Jennifer, Domestic Divas
Nastassia, Let Me Eat Cake
Nancy Goodman, Food Art LA
Anisha, Food Is My Nish
H.C., L.A. and O.C. Foodventures
Mary, The Food Librarian
Craig, Hipcooks
Jenn, Bread + Butter
and of course yours truly Daydreamer Desserts.

Not only will you have to opportunity to sample some great dishes prepared by the above mentioned food bloggers. Grey Goose and LA brand attaché Christophe Namer have partnered with Natalie Bovis-Nelsen of The Liquid Muse to create signature vodka cocktails, including “Hearts for Haiti” Grey Goose L’orange, homemade syrup made with Martini & Rossi Vermouth, fresh grapefruit juice and Martini & Rossi prosecco. Natalie will also present specialty sangrias featuring Sutter Home and Fre Alcohol-Removed wine, in addition to her Sparkling Pomegranate Snowflake from Preggatinis ™: Mixology for the Mom-To-Be.

Several fun raffle items are available to win with the purchase of a $1 raffle ticket at the door.

The offerings include The Liquid Muse’s Preggatinis gift basket (featuring the book, two signature cocktail glasses and a shaker and muddler in a reusable white wicker basket), an iHerb.com gift pack, cookbooks from Abel & Cole and Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, and a gift certificate to OpenSky.

So, purchase your ticket(s) today at Flanboyant Eats or Coco Cooks! Click the Stir It 28 logo image that says “Purchase Tickets For STIR IT 28 Culinary Event-Feb. 21st”.

If you would like to attend Stir It 28 in one of the other three cities here are the locations that will be hosting this event:

Atlanta: Space Atlanta – Eat Drink Enjoy
1310 White Street, Atlanta, GA 30310. 4-7 pm. DJ Rev Lee spins music and special surprise guest appearance by local performer that will electrify you! Complimentary wine by Montaluce Winery. Cash bar. $30 in advance; $40 at the door.

Chicago: Three Peas Art Lounge
75 E. 16th Street (Between Michigan and Wabash)
Chicago, IL 60616. 4-7 pm. $30 in advance; $35 at the door.
*cash bar & delicious cupcakes for sale

New York: NYU Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health
35 W. 4th Street, 10th floor, NY, NY, 10012. 4-7 pm
Advanced ticket sales only: $20 for students and $30 for adults/faculty & staff.
Students must pay via the PayPal General Online Donation button on Flanboyant Eats and Coco Cooks and indicate “NYU student ticket” in notes. Must show student ID at the door.
*Street parking and parking garages within walking distance

Be sure to indicate the specific city you are buying a ticket for in the seller’s notes, and you’ll be all set.

Help me spread the word, and see you Sunday!

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This past Tuesday, 15 very fortunate Foodbuzz bloggers myself included, rolled up our sleeves for a very worthy cause.

Electrolux and Foodbuzz invited us to help decorate 5 beautiful cakes in an effort to help raise awareness and support for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

With the help of Buddy Valastro and Kelly Ripa we were armed with everything we needed to know to decorate all five of the beautiful Cake Off cakes.

The designs were chosen by Buddy himself, he purposely chose simple designs that most of us could easily and realistically replicate at home.

Buddy taught us how to do simple piping, roll out fondant, and how to make piped roses.

Well here it is everybody! The Mod Squad cake! What do you think? Doesn’t it look fantastic? You know this is the cake you want to vote for.

Here’s a close-up of our cake… make sure you get a good look! :)

Buddy wasn’t the only one keeping us on track, we also got great tips and help from Frankie and Remy, both sweethearts.

I figured you might want to try this at home too, so here is all you need to make your own “Mod Squad” cake!

Let’s start off with a yummy cake recipe.

Calor’s Bakery Cream Cheese Pound Cake

2 1/3 cups cake flour
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy.

Sift the flour.

Beat in the sugar, flour and vanilla on low speed. You want the mixture to be just mixed through and to have a dry and crumbly appearance.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each egg is added.
Pour batter into the Bundt pan. Place pan in the middle of the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove from oven. Allow cake to cool in pan for about 15 minutes. Invert onto cake rack and continue to allow cake to cool.

To keep the cake moist and help the fondant adhere we gotta have frosting!

Calor’s Bakery Simple Buttercream Frosting

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup water
3 eggs
1 pinch salt
1 pound butter

Put sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan over high heat.

Meanwhile, beat eggs and salt until fluffy.

When all fo the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is boiling, pour over beating eggs.

Cut butter into cubes.

When the eggs-suger bowl is lukewarm to the touch, slowly add butter while continuing to beat until fluffy and smooth.

Now to finish it off and give it a million dollar look we cover the cake with fondant.

You can purchase fondant at your local craft or cake supply store.

First knead and soften the fondant.

Using a rolling pin, roll out to approximately 1/8″ thickness (use a little cornstarch to prevent it from sticking to your work surface).

Drape fondant over pre-frosted cake and and adhear to top and sides.

Using a pizza wheel, trim the icing along the base layer of the cake.

My teammates Sabrina from Rhodeygirl Tests, Tina from Carrots ‘N’ Cake and myself worked hard to decorate this beautiful cake.

But all work and no play is no fun! I looked around for a flour sack or two, but there were none to be found. So I made do with a piece of fondant. Yeah, it doesn’t quite have the same effect.

Decorating the Cake

To decorate our “Mod Squad” themed cake we used purple fondant to cover out cakes.

After the cakes were covered in fondant, we rolled out yellow, green, pink, and chocolate fondant for the flowers.

Using scalloped fondant cutters we cut out various sizes of each of the rolled colored fondant. Then we layered the cut pieces in alternating colors and finished them with a chocolate fondant dot.

Once we were ready to begin placing the flowers and mod dots we used a steamer to steam the area where we would be place each flower.

You can find these and a few other “Cake Boss” tips by visiting Kelly Confidential.

Buddy and Frankie were so easy going and sweet.

Buddy signed pretty much anything we would put in front of him. He was kind enough to sign my “Cake Boss” T-Shirt.

Don’t forget to vote for the Mod Squad cake!! GO TEAM Mod Squad!

Oh and can I say one last thing? I want one of these… they are so cool! Know what it is? It’s a super cool induction oven, it’s so amazing you can melt chocolate without using a double broiler! How sweet is that?

Buddy literally put a pot with chocolate right on the cooktop let it sit there for about 5 minutes while he was doing a demo then went back and picked it up… the chocolate had melted perfectly! The oven has “Luxury-Glide” oven racks which means no spilled cheesecakes when trying to slide back the rack in place.

I may not be able to afford one, but I know of a sneaky one of us can win one. If you log on to Kelly Confidential and send a virtual cake to a friend or loved you will automatically be entered for a chance to win one and Electrolux will donate $1 each day for every virtual cake you send, in addition to the $1 donated for every vote you make in the Cake Off.

My participation in Kelly’s Cake Off for a Cause was sponsored by Electrolux and Foodbuzz who provided me with travel arrangements to and accommodations in New York to participate.

Official Sweepstakes Rules are available on Kelly Confidential.

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