Tiramisu

It’s almost Valentine’s Day again, and for those who prefer having a cozy dinner with their loved one at home than experiencing the nightmare of dining out on Valentine’s Day, there’s nothing better to finish a lovely home cooked meal than a serving of the Italian classic, Tiramisu. It’s rich and creamy, but light and refreshing, the liquor might get you a little tipsy, but the espresso will pick you right up, that’s why tiramisù means  “cheer me up” or “lift me up”.

For a dessert this delicious, most are afraid the recipe would be too hard, and if you look around on the internet or a lot of the cookbooks, many recipes want you to make a double boiler to cook egg yolks or make the filling using the same technic as a mouse. Yes, using these technics does make the texture a little bit better, but it just seems too unnecessarily complicated. So, here is an easier and more traditional way to make this beloved desert! It takes about 15 min and makes about 2 servings, you can use a stemless wine glass or a rock glass which fits about 1 serving.

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(*Most recipe uses Marsala wine, which is kinda hard to find and makes the dish a little too sweet. This recipe uses limoncello, which is a southern Italian lemon liqueur, but you can use any liqueur you like, dark rum, Madeira, port, brandy, or Irish cream.)

You’ll Need:

  • 2 shots espresso
  • 30 ml or 2 tbsp limoncello
  • 10-15 dried ladyfinger cookies (cut in half if making cups)
  • 2 large fresh eggs
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
  • 170 g or 6 oz mascarpone cheese
  • cocoa powder and shaved chocolate for garnish

How to make this:

  1. Take all the ingredients out of the fridge and place them on your kitchen counter so that they reach room temperature, this will make the whipping much easier.
  2. Once everything reaches room temperature, separate the egg white and yolk, then mix the yolk with the mascarpone cheese, limoncello, and half of the sugar in a large bowl until they turn into a smooth cream, you can also zest half of a lemon to add some extra lemon flavors (a citrus flavor breaks the fat and makes the cream much lighter)

    Whip until it forms a smooth peak

  3. In another large bowl, whip the egg white & the rest of the sugar until they form a stiff peak, if the egg white is at room temperature, this will only take about 3 min of whipping.
  4. Gently fold the half of the whipped meringue into the cheese mixture with a silicone spatula, after they are incorporated, fold in the other half. (DO NOT whisk because that will destroy all the lovely little air bubbles, thus making the Tiramisu too dense & heavy)
  5. Quickly soak the ladyfingers in the coffee, then place a layer on the bottom of the glass, then a layer of cream and another layer of soaked coffee ladyfingers. Repeat until the glass is filled, then let it sit in a fridge for at least 30 min
  6. Dust the top with cocoa powder, then sprinkle with some shaved chocolate and enjoy!

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Choux à la crème

Choux à la crème, which is the fancy way to say puff pastry in french, is very much self-explanatory, “Choux” is a pastry made with only butter, flour, egg and water with no rising agent, it uses its high moisture content to create steam during cooking to puff the pastry, and we all know what “crème” is. This makes about 8 puffs or choux

You’ll Nedd:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs

How to make this:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add butter, sugar, salt and 1 cup water and bring it to a boil while quickly and gently fold in the flour with a spoon or silicone spatula, mix for about 2-3 min
  2. Let the mixture chill in a separate bowl, then add the 4 eggs, one at a time while stirring the mixture to incorporate egg
  3. Add the mixture to a pastry bag and pipe 2-inch wide circles onto a silicone mat or parchment paper, smooth the pointed peaks with a wet finger. Then bake it in a 190C or 375F oven until puffs rise and are golden brown, which takes about 30 mins.
  4. Let the puff chill completely before piping, you can add pastry cream to a pastry bag and insert the tip into the bottom of the pastry, or cut it in half like I did and pipe on the cream

Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel)

Among all the pastries out there, strudel is one of the hardest things to make, it’s not that you need a special machine or some crazy talent, but the patient to slowly stretch a high gluten soft dough into an ultra-thin, semi-translucent membrane, thus this dough requires a very specific type of flour and a lot of stretching practices, and this is why we are not doing it the traditional way. Instead, we are using puff pastry, which is much easier to make or find, the logic behind this is that when you are rolling the strudel on the thin membrane dough, you are brushing on layers of butter so that when you bake it, each layer stays separate and flaky, which is the exact same thing that the puff pastry does, layers and layers of heavenly flakiness! This recipe makes about 2 small strudels or 1 large strudel

You’ll need:

  • 2 sheets of puff pastry (about 8-inch*8inch or 20cm*20cm for a small one, 1/5 inch or 0.5 cm thick)
  • 2 Granny Smith apple (try to use this apple because most other tends to become mushy after baking while this stays tender)
  • 3.5oz or 100g sugar
  • 1oz or 30g chopped almonds
  • 1oz or 30g raisins
  • 1oz or 30g flour
  • 1tsp or 5ml rum
  • 1tsp or 5ml vanilla extract
  • zest of half of a lemon
  • 1 egg

How to make this:

  1. Peel and quarter the apple, then cut then into 1/10inch or 1/2cm slices, this allows them to cook quickly at the same time maintain it’s texture, mix in the sugar, raisins rum, vanilla extract, and the zest of half of a lemon, toss until everything is well mixed. Cover and let the mixture sit for about 15 min, then add in the flour to remove the excess moisture
  2. Then light roll the puff pastry until its area roughly doubles, then sprinkle on some chopped almond, place the filling mixture on top, sprinkle with another layer of almond. Fold in each end, then roll it into a roll, make sure the seam is on the bottom of the roll. You can also do different designs, like this one here:ezgif-1-ce57f4c530.gif
  3. Brush on a layer of beat egg, then place it in a pre-heated 400F or 200C degree oven for about 30 min, brush with a layer of egg every 10 min or so
  4. Dust with some powdered sugar, serve with a good scoop of whipped cream

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(The final product if you decided to spend some extra time & braid it)

Japanese-Style Pancake

Even though I always prefer waffles than pancakes, however, if there’s one type of pancake that I will always get whenever it is available, it’s the Japanese-Style pancake. It’s thick, fluffy, light, and jiggly, and super fun to eat & make. This recipe makes about 4 pancakes

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You’ll need:

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup pancake mix
  • 4 egg whites

How to make this:

  1. Mix together the egg yolks, milk, and pancake mix until it turns smooth
  2. In another bowl, beat the egg whites until it has a stiff peak, add the sugar while you are whisking
  3. Carefully fold the egg whites into the pancake batter
  4. Grease a 3.5-inch metal ring mold and set them in the middle of a pan over the low heat, fill the molds about 1/2 of the way full, then cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, then flip it over, Cover and cook for another 5 minutes
  5. Serve it with butter, syrup, and berries

Chocolate Macarons

When you see these little almond cookies and how overpriced they are, you would think that they must be hard to make, but to be honest, they are not! And here’s how:

You’ll need: 100 g powdered sugar; 50 g super fine almond flour; 25 g cocoa powder; 2 egg’s whites; 65 g granulated sugar

How to make this:

  1. Mix the powdered sugar, almond flour, and cocoa powder, then sift them at least twice, you want them to be as fine as possible
  2. Whip the egg white into a meringue, add 1/4 of sugar for every 1 min of whipping, let the egg to reach room temp for easier whippingmeringue.gif
  3. Fold the powder mix into the meringue, careful, try not to push out the airwhip.gif
  4. Add the mixture into a piping bag, then pipe them into small circles over parchment paper or silicon sheet, then bake them in a 175C or 350F for 12 minPhoto Feb 24, 11 46 57 PM.jpg
  5. Let the cookies cool, the decorate any way you want, I use a basic vanilla pastry cream.

Crème Brûlée

This is just the perfect dessert, silky & tender egg custard with a crunchy sugar shell. I am just going to stop talking and let’s make this. This recipe makes about 6 serving.

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You’ll need:

  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean( or 3 tbsp vanilla extract)
  • 8 tbsp sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp sugar (for serving)

How to make this:

  1. Halved the vanilla bean lengthwise, then scrape the seed, mix them with the heavy cream, they heat them in a saucepan on medium-low until it simmers
  2. Wisk together the egg yolks with the sugar, then slowly pour in the cream while whisking, 1/4 cup at a time, this is to prevent the cream from cooking the egg yolk
  3. Fill six 6 oz ramekins, the low & wide ones are better, then place them on a baking tray with some hot water, bake at 160C or 320F for 35 min
  4. Let them chill completely (about 2 hours), sprinkle with some sugar, then you can: 1. broil it in an oven or broiler for 3 min; or 2. Brûlée it with a torch, the tip of the flame should be about 2 inches away so the top won’t burn

New York-Style Cheesecake

So we did a couple brunch recipes for Valentine’s day, so I was thinking, why not also do a couple deserts? So here is a smooth, light and creamy classic New York-style cheesecake that can cheer anyone’s day! This makes an 8-inch cheesecake, which is a lot, but if you use a 6-inch springform pan, which is perfect for 2, just cut the amount in half.

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You’ll need: 2 cups ground graham crackers; 8 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 lb cream cheese; 3 eggs; 1 cup sugar; 2 cups sour cream; 1 tsp vanilla extract

How to make this:

  1. Mix the butter and ground graham crackers until they have a similar texture to wet sand, then pour them into a 8-inch springform pan, then press it down until they are packed, chill in a fridge so the crust hardens
  2. In a large bowl, cream the room temp cream cheese until they turn smooth, then add in the egg, sugar, sour cream and vanilla extract, mix evenly, try not to whisk in too much air to prevent the surface from cracking, you can also chill it in a fridge for 30 min to get rid of all air
  3. Pour the filling into the crust, wrap the bottom with aluminum foils, place it on a baking tray and pour in some hot water in the tray, cover the cheesecake with an aluminum foil teepee, then bake it in a 160C or 325F degree oven for an hour
  4. Turn off the oven, open the oven door and leave the cheesecake inside for at least 45 min, then let it rest till they reach room temp, then chill them in the fridge overnight. The reason for doing this is that when there’s a drastic temperature change, the surface contracts but the bottom doesn’t, so it creates a crack