Monday, August 26, 2019

Classic Tiramisu

My book club has its first meeting of the season tonight, and for our first book of the season we read The Delight of Being Ordinary by Roland Merullo, a fictionalized imagining of the Pope and Dalai Lama on a road trip through Italy. In addition to a lot of pop philosophy and anti-fascist sentiments, there are a lot of scenes with food, including tiramisu.

“We finished our pasta, and decided to order coffee and a bowl of tiramisu. Why not? We’d been up most of the night. We were on vacation. At that point my lovely wife was kind enough to bring up the story – commonly heard in Italy – that tiramisu (in Italian the word means 'pick me up') originated in the bordellos, where the working women needed a dose of espresso and a measure of liqueur in order to make it through the long nights. Rosa went into some detail. Neither the Pope nor the Dalai Lama could think of anything to say in response.”
Quite the story! Whether or not it is true, I feel there are many different opinions about what makes a traditional tiramisu. I was surprised to find that everyone agrees that egg yolks are involved. Some argue whipped egg whites should also be included but I used a recipe that used cream instead. I also used instant espresso, which I'm sure I'll regret, it probably is weak. This recipe also only said rum or cognac but all I had was amaretto - in the research I did, amaretto should be one of the most accepted, so that's what I used.

Tiramisu is hard to capture - this is right after assembly through the container. We will eat it after it sits over 24 hours.
Classic Tiramisu
(as labeled by the New York Times) 


For the cream:

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar, divided
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup/227 grams mascarpone (8 ounces)

For the assembly:

  • 1 ¾ cups good espresso or very strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons rum or cognac
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • About 24 ladyfingers (from one 7-ounce/200-gram package)
  • 1 to 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, for shaving (optional)


  1. Using an electric mixer in a medium bowl, whip together egg yolks and 1/4 cup/50 grams sugar until very pale yellow and about tripled in volume. A slight ribbon should fall from the beaters (or whisk attachment) when lifted from the bowl. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, wiping out the medium bowl used to whip the yolks and set aside.
  2. In the medium bowl, whip cream and remaining 1/4 cup/50 grams sugar until it creates soft-medium peaks. Add mascarpone and continue to whip until it creates a soft, spreadable mixture with medium peaks. Gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the sweetened egg yolks until combined.
  3. Combine espresso and rum in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  4. Using a sifter, dust the bottom of a 2-quart baking dish (an 8x8-inch dish, or a 9-inch round cake pan would also work here) with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.
  5. Working one at a time, quickly dip each ladyfinger into the espresso mixture -- they are quite porous and will fall apart if left in the liquid too long -- and place them rounded side up at the bottom of the baking dish. Repeat, using half the ladyfingers, until you’ve got an even layer, breaking the ladyfingers in half as needed to fill in any obvious gaps (a little space in between is O.K.). Spread half the mascarpone mixture onto the ladyfingers in one even layer. Repeat with remaining espresso-dipped ladyfingers and mascarpone mixture.
  6. Dust top layer with remaining tablespoon of cocoa powder. Top with shaved or finely grated chocolate, if desired.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours (if you can wait 24 hours, all the better) before slicing or scooping to serve.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Coconut Bars from Keto Sweet Tooth Cookbook

My husband and I try to eat pretty low-sugar, low-carb. Another version of that diet is the Keto diet, and while we are not strict Keto practitioners, recipes from that realm are often aligned with how we eat. So when I saw Keto Sweet Tooth Cookbook in NetGalley, I requested a copy to look at. I found a lot of recipes I thought I could make, although a few had ingredients I would have to buy for a few of them. I went for one where I had everything on hand.

When you eat consistently in this lower-sugar way, you don't need as much sweet to taste sweet. So to an outsider, the use of ingredients like straight unsweetened chocolate may seem strange, but it makes sense to the people in it. This recipe is lightly sweetened but is mostly high-fat ingredients. They will be shown plain but we are probably going to melt some of our Stevia-sweetened chocolate chips to drizzle on the top.

Coconut Bars

Makes: 6
Serving Size: 1

2 cups (100g/3.5 oz) unsweetened desiccated coconut
1/2 cup (115g/4 oz) salted butter, melted*
1/4 cup (40g/1.2 oz) granular erythritol*
  1. In a large bowl, combine the coconut, butter, and erythritol. Stir well.
  2. Line a 8.5x5 inch (22x13 cm) loaf pan with parchment paper. Transfer the mixture to the pan and use a spoon to press it down flat. Transfer to the freezer to set for 1 hour.
  3. Cut into 6 equal-sized bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Tip: I find using a small bread loaf pan works best for these bars. You can use the confectioners erythritol if you don't have a granular erythritol.

* Notes from JennyBakes: I usually only keep unsalted butter on hand, so I looked it up and found a recommended 1/4 tsp per 1/2 cup butter, and went with it. I had powdered Swerve on hand so that's what I used.

I found quite a few recipes in this cookbook that I would try:
  • Vanilla Cake with Fresh Berries
  • Lemon Coconut Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
  • Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding
  • Raspberry Souffle
  • Chocolate-Covered Cheesecake Fat Bombs
  • Chocolate Espresso Truffles
Thanks to the publisher for granting me access to a copy through NetGalley; it came out July 9, 2019.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Blackberry Flognarde from Everyday Dorie

Dorie Greenspan writes the best cookbooks - go ahead and fight me, I know I'm right. So I ran into Everyday Dorie in the New Books section of the library where I work and brought it home with me.

In the dessert section, I came across the flognarde which turns out to be clafoutis for any fruit but cherries. I had very good blackberries in season and decided to use them in this recipe. The official recipe in the cookbook is for plums, but then she gives variations for berries, apples, and the original cherry. I have made the changes in the recipe below that are specific to berries, although I only used blackberries. Please read the notes afterward to find out how I made a few ingredient replacements to make it a bit lower carb, since that matters at our house (I figure with a baked pancake like cake, it's easy to adapt in these ways without losing a lot of the recipe integrity.)

Berry Flognarde

It's best to use blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries for flognarde. Figure on 1 pint berries. You want them to loosely fill the pie plate. While you can use brandy or cognac, berries are ovely with kirsch (a flora cherry liqueur), grand marnier, or (in lesser quantities, say 1 tbsp) a nut liqueur like amaretto or frangelico.

1 pint berries
1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour*
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon or a few scrapings of fresh ginger
pinch of fine sea salt
4 tbsp (2 oz; 57 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar*
3 large eggs
2 tbsp Kirsch, Grand Marnier or 1 Tbsp Amaretto or Frangelico
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
about 1/4 cup (25 grams) sliced almonds, for topping (optional)
confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 F. Choose a 9-inch pie plate, a porcelain quiche pan, or another oven proof pan (preferably not metal) with the capacity of 1 quart. Butter the pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Toss the berries into the pie plate and jiggle them around until you get an even layer.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spice, and salt.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar. When the mixture is homogeneous, beat in the eggs one at a time, followed by the liqueur and vanilla. Whisk in the dry ingredients. The mixture will be thick, so get it as well blended as you can without beating it, and then start stirring in the milk, which will thin the batter considerably. You'll have a pourable batter that might have a few lumps - ignore them. Pour the batter over the berries and scatter over the almonds, if using.

Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the flognarde is puffed all the way to the center, feels firm to the touch, and is golden and cracked across the surface; the juice from the berries might be bubbling - so much the better. A skewer inserted into the center will come out clean. Transfer the flognarde, on the baking sheet, to a rack and let cool to room temperature.

Dust the flognarde with confectioner's sugar, if you'd like, slice and serve.

Storing: Some people think you must eat the flognarde at room temperature the day it's made. I (Dorie) love it like that, but I also think it's nice straight from the refrigerator the next day. If you've got leftovers, cover and chill them, and see what you think.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I replaced the flour with almond flour and the sugar with coconut sugar, which is why my flognarde is a bit darker in color. It still worked! 

I used Amaretto with the blackberries. Also, because I had Amaretto.

In my household we use the Viking pronunciation of flognarde which can probably be typed as FLOGNARD!!!! RAH!!

Monday, August 05, 2019

Peanut Butter Cookies from Dessert Cooking for Two

It can be difficult to bake for just two people. If you make a cake, it feels like you have obligated yourself to each eat half that cake! I was poking around the cookbook section of NetGalley and encountered Dessert Cooking for Two: 115 Perfectly Portioned Sweets for Every Occasion by Robin Donovan, so I requested it for review. I'm not sure why the author decided to call it "dessert cooking" rather than baking but what you'll find inside are baked goods galore. I went with a simple recipe - peanut butter cookies. The recipe makes just six small cookies, enough for each person to have three, unless one of those people dumps three of them on the floor while taking their picture. (If said cookies in said picture appear cracked or otherwise damaged, this may have occurred and should not be connected to a flaw in the recipe but rather the baker.)

This recipe is a good one to have on hand because it is made of items usually found in your pantry, can be easily adapted to be lower sugar (see my notes at the end,) and comes together and bakes quickly.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
(from Dessert Cooking for Two)

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/3 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda

  1. Preheat the oven and prepare the baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the ingredients. In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter and sugar until creamy and well combined. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and baking soda and stir until smooth.
  3. Form the cookies. Form the dough into six even balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space in between each ball. Using the tines of a fork, press the balls and create the classic crisscross pattern.
  4. Bake the cookies. Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are set. Let the cookies cool on the sheet. 
 Notes from JennyBakes: 

 In the interest of baking something my husband would actually eat, I decided to finally experiment with the Swerve sugar substitute I had bought at Fresh Market. I bought the powdered sugar kind, and just decided it would do well enough. I used the same amount but I think my dough was a little more dry than the recipe would have been otherwise.

Ten minutes was at least 1 minute too long, but this might also relate to my Swerve experiment.

Other recipes I marked to try in this cookbook:

  • Whipped Lemon Ricotta Mousse
  • Frozen Raspberry Hot Chocolate
  • (those super cute)Ice Cream Sandwiches
Thanks to the publisher for approving my request to look through this cookbook ahead of time. It comes out August 13, 2019.