Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Passover Questions

Hello Friends:  Firstly, I just wanted to say that if you have a question that is unrelated to the current post, or if you want a direct answer back, please click on the CONTACT ME button on the left side of the blog.  This way you'll be sure to get your question answered in a timely manner.

Someone wanted to know what the cake with the white frosting on the cover of my original Passover Dessert cookbook is, and what the rolled cake on the back is.  That cake on the front is Chocolate Noisette Layer Cake on page 117.  In the new CD-rom version I'm using Richwhip or whipped cream nstead of Meringue, making it much easier to make.  The rolled cake is the Chocolate Butter Pecan Roll, on page 114.   Happy Passover to all!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Passover Tiramisu

Download now for $5.00, or to see the ingredients and instructions, read on.

Typically, tiramisu is a layered dessert, combining soaked cake with a cheesy, custardy filling. It’s usually made in a large pan and then cut into serving pieces, but it can also be served in shot glasses, custard cups or champagne flutes, as you see in the picture above.  The spongecake batter is easily adapted for Passover, but it can be challenging for the beginner chef, because the eggs need to be separated and the egg whites whipped to firm, but not dry, peaks.  For this Passover, I'll be giving you the directions for both sheetpan and ladyfinger method, but as we get close to Passover, I'm going to try making it with packaged chocolate chip mandel bread.  I think it should work, because the dried ladyfingers taste a lot like the packaged cookies, but I won't be sure until I make it.  I'll report back after Passover, so you'll know if it will be good for next year.    The filling is also easy to adapt for Passover, by using cream cheese and butter in place of the mascarpone, and coffee instead of the brandy or Marsala that is used in traditional tiramisu.  If you can find kosher for Passover coffee or chocolate liqueur (Sabra?), or Passover brandy, that would also be delicious in this recipe.  I was unable to find either where I live, so I'll have to stick with either pure coffee, or I might add a little cocoa to it to give it a more mocha flavor.  The other experiment that I will do this year will be to see how the recipe needs changing if whipped cream cheese is used.  Some of you will only be able to find that kind of cream cheese for Passover.  Again, this recipe will use regular brick cream cheese, but you'll know for next year.  I was so thrilled to see REAL vanilla extract in the Passover section this year!  Passover is all about being flexible, because it's hard to know from year to year what one will be able to find that is kosher for Passover (maybe you lucky New Yorkers or Chicagoans have it easier!).  After Passover, I'll post a recipe for regular tiramisu.

Passover Tiramisu
Serves 12-15

matzo cake meal
potato starch

 large eggs, room temperature and separated  (DO NOT USE PASTEURIZED EGGS)
sugar + 1/3 cup, divided
 Passover vanilla extract or Passover vanilla sugar (purchased or homemade)

pasteurized or regular egg yolks (see below for variation)

brewed coffee, or kosher for Passover coffee or chocolate liqueur, brandy or Marsala

 cream cheese, room temperature (preferably brick, but whipped works too)
unsalted butter, room temperature

whipping cream

Soaking Syrup
warm brewed coffee
sugar (or less, to taste)
Passover Marsala, liqueur or brandy, optional (if not using this, decrease the amount of sugar)

grated Passover semisweet chocolate, cocoa, or a combination of the two

For the spongecake:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. with racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (if you have a convection oven set the temperature to 375 degrees F.).  Decide ahead of time if you are going to eyeball the shape and pipe the ladyfingers, in which case you want to line two cookie sheets with parchment.  If you have trouble visualizing size, draw the size of the ladyfinger on the curled side of a piece of parchment. 3-1/2-inches long by 1-1/4 inches wide is a good size (to simplify, make the width the same width as your ruler so you don’t actually have to measure).

Turn the parchment over, so that when you start piping you will not be piping onto the side you have drawn on. Set the parchment on greased baking sheets (the grease keeps the parchment anchored so it doesn't go flying when you move the sheet).  Another alternative is to spoon the batter into two jelly roll pans and then spread it into a sheet.  For this method you'll want to spray a dab of oil onto the bottom of two jelly roll pans and then cut parchment to fit the pans.

For the spongecake batter:
In a small bowl, sift together the matzo cake meal and potato starch.  Set aside.

Place the egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed, adding ½ cup of sugar gradually. If you like sweeter cake,  beat in another 1/4 cup of sugar (3/4 cup total).  When all of the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high, and beat until the egg yolks are thick, fluffy and pale in color, about 5 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, if using. Sift the flour mixture into the egg yolks, but do not mix together.

Transfer the eggs whites to a large, clean, grease-free mixing bowl. Using clean, grease-free beaters, beat the eggs whites until very foamy throughout.

Gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar, and beat the whites just until they form stiff peaks. Do not overbeat or they will be hard to blend into the batter.

STIR 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten the texture. Fold in the remaining egg whites.

Spoon the batter into a pastry bag with a ¾-inch round tip. Using the template you have drawn on the parchment paper, pipe ladyfingers leaving ½-inch between each ladyfinger (your batter will be lighter and fluffier than what is pictured here, which are actually eclairs - shown just so you can see the angle of the pastry bag).

Below, is actually the dough you will be using.  I've piped these by eye (you can see they aren't all exactly the same length), and the fatter ones are the ones I spooned on.

An alternative method is to spoon the batter into two prepared jelly-roll pans

and then spread the batter as evenly as possible, without deflating it too much.  It's okay if the batter is a bit lumpy and uneven - much better than deflating it.

Place the pans in the oven, and bake 5 minutes. Switch the pans so the bottom one is now on the top, and bake another 5 minutes until the ladyfingers or cakes are golden brown (you won't need to switch sheets if using a convection oven) and springy to the touch.

Remove the sheets from the oven.  For the ladyfingers, slide the parchment paper onto cooling racks. Remove the ladyfingers from the parchment paper before they cool completely.  For the cakes, let them cool in the pan and then cut around the edges and slide the cakes onto a cutting board.  When cool, cut the cakes into fingers. Because it's too hard to get the cake perfectly spread in the pan, some pieces will be thinner than others.  You have about 10 more than you ned, so you may discard any that are overly thin or thick.

If using the ladyfingers within a day or two, reheat the oven to 400 degrees (350 if you have lots of very thin fingers), place the ladyfingers on a cookie sheet, flat side up, and place them back in the oven.  Turn the oven off, and let them toast for about an hour, checking after 30 minutes to make sure they aren't too brown.  They should be toasted and firm. Set aside to cool. For longer storage, freeze the untoasted ladyfingers for up to 3 months. Defrost before using them, and then toast them as above.

For the filling:
For pasteurized eggs, place them (in the shell) into a bowl of hot water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes. Crack the eggs, save or discard the whites and transfer the yolks to a large mixer bowl. Beat for a minute to blend, and then beat in the sugar. Continue to beat until the eggs are pale and thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the coffee. 

If using regular eggs, whisk in the sugar and the coffee, and then beat them on medium speed, over boiling water. for 3 minutes.  Keep the beater moving to prevent the egg from overcooking. Increase the beater speed to high and beat for 4 more minutes.  Remove the bowl from the heat and continue to beat for 7 minutes to cool the eggs down.

To continue, beat the cream cheese with butter until well mixed.  Stir in 1 cup of the egg mixture and then fold in the remainder (if using the whipped cream cheese you might need to use less of the egg mixture.  You don't want it to be too soupy, but it will thicken back up after you add in the whipped cream).

Place the whipping cream in a small bowl.  Beat on high speed until the mixture forms firm peaks. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

For the syrup:
Combine the warm coffee, sugar and alcohol, if using,  in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. 


To assemble the tiramisu, dip one ladyfinger at a time into the syrup, turning it in the syrup for about 10 seconds, just until it softens, but isn’t soft throughout. Place each, flat side up, in an 9x12-inch decorative pan, until the whole bottom is covered.

Spoon on half of the filling. Dip the remaining ladyfingers, as above, placing them on top of the filling. Spoon on the remaining filling. Cover the pan with foil. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, sprinkle the top with grated chocolate, cocoa or a combination (adding in some ground coffee might be nice, too). The Tiramisu will be firm enough to cut into pieces, although the first piece will be hard to remove. Use a small square spatula to get the pieces out of the pan.

If you want to make the tiramisu in a glass cup, you'll want to either pipe rounds, or use the jelly-roll method and cut out rounds from the single sheet. 

Remember that if the glass flares out, the rounds need to be graduated from small on the bottom, to larger at the top.  Adding grated chocolate between the layers, as well as on top, looks really pretty when you can see the dessert through the glass.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Key Lime Pie

Key lime pie is one of those quirky desserts that people either love or hate. The color is always a topic of lively conversation because it’s naturally an off-yellow color, but is often colored green from added food coloring. True Key limes are generally expensive, time consuming to prepare (you need about 48 for this recipe – 12 times the cost of regular limes). They’re also not readily available. Fortunately, regular limes make fine pie and are preferable to bottled Key lime juice.
If you’d like a tarter pie, add more zest. I recently made 5 key lime pies, and I was surprised at the difference in tartness among them. The only ingredient that changed was the amount of zest, which I didn’t measure, but only eyeballed. If you really, really, care, the best way to come out with a pie that tastes the same time after time, is to weigh the amount of zest you add. Even measuring it in a tablespoon will be variable, because zest can get packed down.

You can also change the texture of the pie depending on how you handle the ingredients.  I like a firmer pie, so I beat the ingredients on a lower speed and for less time.  The directions for a fluffier variation follow, as does the recipe for a lower fat version.

Makes 10 servings

Graham Cracker Crust
5 ounces of graham crackers (about 10-12 crackers or 1-1/2 cups crushed graham crackers)
3 - 4 tablespoons sugar, to taste
5 - 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Lime Filling
3 large egg yolks + 1 egg white or an additional yolk
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Green food coloring, optional

3/4 cup whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks with powdered sugar to taste (1-3 tablespoons is common -1/4 teaspoon of vanilla is optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the center of the oven. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate.

For the crust:
Grind the cookies and sugar in a food processor until finely ground, or place the cookies in a large plastic bag and roll over them with a rolling pin. Place the cookie crumbs in a bowl and stir in the sugar, if it isn’t already mixed in. Add  5 tablespoons butter to the crumbs, stirring with a fork to moisten them. Add more butter, as necessary to just hold the crumbs together when pressed with your fingers (the exact amount will depend on the cookies used and how you grind them).\

Pour the crumbs into the pie plate. Press the crumbs into the pie plate, forming the sides by pressing up with the back of the hand and then thinning and packing it down with the thumb and forefinger.  This will also tell you how thick the crust is, and will allow you to even it out.  To finish, press down very firmly on the bottom crust, either with th back of your fist or a flat-bottomed glass.

Bake the graham cracker crust for about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

In a medium mixer bowl, place the yolks, egg white and zest. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until well blended. On medium-low, beat in the condensed milk.  Beat in the lime juice a little at a time (it will start to thicken as you add the juice). If you are unhappy with the color, add a tiny drop of green food coloring.

Pour the lime filling into the crust. Bake until the center is set, 15- 20 minutes. Let the pie cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Garnish the pie with the whipped cream, either spreading it over the entire pie, piping it into a design, or spooning cream onto each serving.

To make a richer, creamier pie, follow the above directions, but beat the egg yolks (no white) until fluffy (2-3 minutes), beat in the condensed milk for 3-4 minutes and then beat in the lime juice, a little at a time,  on low. Bake at 325 degrees F. until set.

To make lower fat key lime pie, use non-fat sweetened condensed milk and only ¼ cup of whipped cream, piped thinly over the pie.