Tiramisu & Thanksgiving Hockey
November 28, 2011 § 5 Comments
I hope everyone had as wonderful of a holiday as I did. Family, food, and fun abounded. Despite my body’s betrayal of me by developing laryngitis on Wednesday night, I managed to concoct a delicious tiramisu and help Mom put together her cranberry trifle. Enjoy the pictures (taken on my cell, sorry for the quality, although I don’t think it’s that bad) and please don’t lick your monitor.
Important Fact to Note: The tiramisu was being built while the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins were playing. I didn’t take pictures of every single step because I am a lazy bum and also I was distracted by several humans and their egregious behavior, including Pat (drinking my cooking brandy on the rocks) and Mom (wailing over her too-sticky pumpkin pie crusts) and Cathy (playing Taylor Swift NON-STOP in the other room) and the Penguins game on the radio (losing 5-1 at one point).
Step 1 (In Which I Ask A Really Stupid Question): I mix sugar and eggs together. The recipe says to beat them on low for a few minutes and then switch to high. I have the handheld mixer at 1. I ask my mother, does the speed go higher? She points out to me that the clearly-marked numbers go all the way up to 7. I realize I have no idea why I asked that question. This bodes poorly.
Step 2 (In Which I Redeem Myself): I use a spatula to fold the flour into the sugar and eggs. Fold, it’s one of those recipe words that used to frighten me. Stir, I understand. Mix is easy. Blend, a little ambiguous, but okay. But fold? Folding is what I do to laundry and paper airplanes. Not a dessert. Yet I gird up my loins and plunge in with the spatula. I discover, thanks to Mom, that folding is pretty darn simple. Lift up the spatula, flip it over, repeat. I can fold!
Step 3 (In Which I, Sadly, Do Not Trust My Instincts): I spray the round cake pans and also line them with wax paper. This seems redundant to me, but what do I know? I shrug and carry on pouring the batter in. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t dismissed my feeling. The cakes stuck to the wax paper pretty badly, even though I sprayed it like the recipe said to do. I had to peel little bits of wax paper off the bottom of the one cake. Not fun. I don’t think I’d use it again. I think I’d just trust to PAM and my ability to flip a cake out of a pan without wax paper.
Step 4 (In Which The Alcohol Is Uncorked): While the cakes bake (only for 8 minutes!), I stir together the syrup! It is composed of sugar, strong coffee, and brandy. This was the smallest brandy bottle I could find at the liquor store! I don’t recognize this label. I don’t know if it’s very good brandy, but it’s a darn large bottle for only $9.99. I wonder.
Step 5 (In Which I Realize The Cakes May Be Burning a Bit): The recipe called for a cup of espresso but I just had my mother brew me a cup of extra strong instant coffee instead. We didn’t have any espresso and I didn’t see any single servings at the grocery store. This sugary syrup looks innocent… until you get close and smell a whiff of the brandy. Potent! Also, the cakes. The cakes are done! AAAH THE CAKES ARE DONE FOR SURE.
Step 6 (In Which A Whiff of Brandy Pervades My Kitchen): While the syrup cools and after the cakes are popped out of their pans and onto wire racks, I make the mascarpone cheese/whipped cream filling. Here you can observe (I sound like a guidebook) the soft peaks forming in the heavy cream after much beating. (Side Note but of Much Importance: at this point in the evening, we turned on the WBS Penguins game.)
Step 7 (In Which Meet Cream And Cheese): Now the cream gets folded into the mascarpone cheese (which was mixed with a few other things that I now forget). I folded this beautifully, if I may boast a bit. In between Steps 6 & 7, the Penguins grew frustrated by the lack of tiramisu in their lives and allowed 4 goals in 15 minutes of play. I did not allow my anger to disrupt my smooth folding technique.
Step 8 (In Which The Chocolate Bar Teams Up With The Penguins): There is no picture of me grating the chocolate bar for the chocolate shavings. This was the worst part of the whole process. I didn’t freeze the chocolate bar, so wherever I held it, it melted around my fingers as I grated. The pieces would snap off, so that I had to grate about 15 little half-inch-sized, semi-melted pieces of chocolate, rather than just holding the six-inch bar from the top and grating merrily all the way down, the way I had envisioned. It was messy and irritating and I scraped my finger more than once. Meanwhile, the hockey game raged on, a series of unfortunate events and stunned moments of disbelief.
Step 9 (In Which I Recover My Sunny Disposition): I believe right about now was when the Penguins started scoring, and the game turned from a blowout to a “we actually might have a chance at a comeback” situation. Therefore, smiles returned to the kitchen as I began to compile the first layer. I smoothed the brandy syrup onto the cake with a pastry brush, paused to cheer for a goal, then layered the creamy cheese on top.
Step 10 (In Which My Photography Skills/Sanity Completely Desert Me): Here you can see the second layer of cheese and the top coating of grated chocolate. I don’t know why I thought this was an acceptable photo. Let’s count all the ways my photo is terrible. First of all, you can’t even see the layers of the tiramisu. Secondly, there’s a weird little section, bottom left, where it looks lopsided! Third, what a terrible angle!! (Or is that the same as the first reason?) All I can say is, at this point, I had sampled some cooking brandy and also was drinking Riunite while listening to my hockey team lose a game 7-5 despite outshooting their opponent 54-18. Thus, this inexplicably bad photo of my surprisingly good tiramisu:
See all that grated chocolate? You better be admiring that darn grated chocolate.
Step 11 (In Which My Dessert Suffers Through Comparison to Other Foods): The tiramisu looks a little lopsided. I underestimated the amount of filling to spread on the bottom layer. That’s all right. It tastes downright fantastic. Here, it sits on the countertop after chilling all night long. It merely needs a dusting of cocoa powder. Danny compares it to a hamburger. I kick his shins. My co-worker says it resembles a giant oatmeal & cream cookie. I sink to the floor in despair. Pete and Gen cackle hysterically. The world is against me.
Step 12 (In Which Redemption Tastes Sweet Like Brandy): I dust the top with cocoa powder and confectioners sugar. We set it on the dessert table and in a few hours, we devour every crumb. The cakes are soaked with coffee syrup, the cheese creamy and light. The grated chocolate adds the perfect hint of sweetness. It is a dessert triumphant.
Part Two: The Tale Of The Cranberry Trifle is coming up soon.