Cooking is my stress reliever. While I have many hobbies, what gives me the most satisfaction is cooking. Sometimes I do find food preparation to be a chore; however, this is usually when I am expected to do it. While an artist uses brushes, paint and a canvas to create their masterpiece, I use ingredients, knives, and pans to create my work of art.
People relax in different ways such as reading, yoga, and exercise; I unwind by chopping, sautéing, and tasting (especially wine). Cooking helps me escape the demands of my life by immersing me in the sounds and smells of the kitchen which I find comforting. I do benefit psychologically during the actual food preparation; however, the delight I experience when people enjoy my culinary creations is beyond description. If you do not have an outlet, I highly recommend one---it surely is cheaper than therapy.
In my post on January 2, 2013, I shared with you the menu I made for New Year’s Eve. I so enjoyed cooking this special meal for the special people in my life. Here it is again:
- Bruschetta and a vegetarian Mexican dip
- Salad with roasted golden and red beets
- Braciole stuffed with spinach, pine nuts, prosciutto, Pecorino Romano cheese, provolone cheese, fresh garlic and basil braised in homemade marinara sauce (recipe in post)
- Spaghetti Squash with homemade marinara sauce
- Roasted butternut squash risotto
- Flourless Chocolate Cake with a vanilla bean creme anglaise and raspberry sauce
- Chocolate Covered Strawberries
- Fresh berries
Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts and today I wanted to share my recipe. My mouth is watering thinking about the silky smooth creamy pudding covering the ladyfingers dipped in a coffee and Kahlua mixture and all topped with chocolate shavings and cocoa. One bite and you will experience heaven in your mouth.
After experimenting over the years, I came up with a version that reminds me of my wonderful trip to Italy. Since I am gluten-free, I have made this recipe with gluten-free Schar ladyfingers and it tastes just as scrumptious.
6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
2 (12 ounce) packages of ladyfingers---about 24 or Schar gluten-free ladyfingers
1/3 cup of Kahlua or Rum
1½ cups of brewed espresso coffee or very strong coffee
1 teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ounce square of semi-sweet chocolate
Use a double boiler, but, if you do not own one then put some water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Place a mixing bowl, larger than the sauce pan, onto the sauce pan making sure it does not touch the water.
Combine the egg yolks and sugar in the top of the double boiler (or make shift double boiler). Stir constantly over the simmering water for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whip the yolks until thick and lemon colored. Now add the mascarpone cheese and beat until creamy. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks are formed. Gently fold the cream into the egg mixture and set aside.
In a shallow dish, mix the coffee and rum. Take a ladyfinger and quickly dip into the coffee mixture and line the bottom and sides of your serving dish. If using the gluten-free ladyfingers, you need to dunk them longer in the coffee mixture to soften them. Spoon half of the cream filling over the lady fingers and spread evenly making sure to cover the cookies. Repeat the process. Depending on the size of your pan depends on the number of layers. Always end with the cream filling on top, then sprinkle with the cocoa. Using a vegetable peeler, make chocolate curls by scraping the side of the chocolate square and place on top for garnish.
Refrigerate for at least six hours but overnight is the best. You should finish the dessert within two to three days otherwise the cookies become soggy. I hope you enjoy this as much as my friends and family have over the years. As the Italians say-- buon appetito!
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