Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Tiramisu

Would you like to die happy? No, I'm not saying anytime soon - just at some point in the distant future? Yes? Well then I HIGHLY suggest you make this dessert and stick a spoon in it then insert said spoon into your mouth, repeatedly, at some point in the future... this was absolutely amazing. So decadant, creamy, smooth and rich with coffee and a hint of marsala wine. This is another fabulous Pioneer Woman recipe. Are any of her recipes other than fantastic? I had a revelation last week that if I wanted to continue testing out new recipes on my husband and son, maybe I should stick to her site and then I would never go wrong and everyone would be happy!! :) I think it's a sound plan. Hubby was certainly VERY happy with this dessert and didn't even complain about the hours it took me away from him once he had his first bite. It is a very time consuming dessert. I made the ladyfingers on Saturday afternoon and then started this around 11:00am on Sunday and that was the right amount of time for it to be ready to enjoy after dinner Sunday evening. We had it again the next night and it was still wonderful - PW says to eat within 36 hours or it starts breaking down and turning soupy. That's why I only made half of the original recipe (full recipe is included below for a 9x13 dish) and it worked perfectly for our family of three for two nights worth of yumminess!

Started with a 4-oz cup of strong coffee, vanilla, sugar, mascarpone, Marsala wine, heavy cream, eggs, ladyfingers and cocoa powder.

This is the old and ancient double boiler that resides in my basement. This is the FIRST time I've brought it up, into the light, to be put to good use!

And when I looked down in the bottom portion there was a dead cricket... BLECH!! Yes, I washed it good before using, and yes I was very glad the nastiness was in the bottom portion where only water would sit and no food would touch - I think bleach might have had to be involved otherwise - as it was good hot soapy water seemed to do a pretty good job!

This is kind of sticky, but it's fun too! Especially when you can get the whites off and still have a perfectly intact yolk to add to your bowl - kind of like peeling an apple all the way around without breaking the peel!

Ended with 3 beautiful little egg yolks (I halved the original recipe - I posted the whole recipe below - the egg yolks was the ONLY thing I couldn't halve exactly, but using 3 with half of everything else worked out perfectly!)

In went the sugar with the little egg yolks.

This is where I whisked the CRUD out of this mixture and made a LOT of noise with my wire whisk in my metal pan!! I felt like I was banging on the drums or something!! It was sort of therapeutic! :)

Well mixed, and ready for the next step! It's about to get hot little mixture of sugar and egg yolks... be prepared!

But don't worry, to make your journey into the heat a little more bearable, we will send you on your way with this lovely Marsala wine. It will make everything much more comfortable, you'll see!

Getting ready to do some more noise making!

Slowly adding in the Marsala and stirring constantly.

This step said it should take about 5 minutes, but I think I had the heat up too high and it only took about 2! I pulled it off the heat when it started bubbling and whisked HARD and hoped I hadn't ruined it! (Don't worry! I didn't!) :)

That went into the refrigerator for 45 minutes and I started prepping the next steps.


The heavy cream and sugar went together...

Gotta love the Kitchen Aid doing all the work for you! Turned that sugar and heavy cream into something oh so lovely...

I stirred the mascarpone cheese a few times and let it set on the counter to soften up to make it easier to mix in.

The whipped cream looked soft and fluffy and ready to go! I let that set for awhile while the egg mixture finished chilling.

I went ahead and put the first layer of homemade ladyfingers in the dish while I was waiting. This layer then subsequently sat around bored for awhile since there was still quite a while to go until the cheese mixture would be chilled and ready to join the party.

In went the mascarpone with the whipped cream and folded together gently.


Yummy light cheesy mixture all combined and ready for the next step!

The Marsala, vanilla and coffee were combined and set aside.

Here's the refrigerated egg mixture, nice and set and creamy!


In went the chilled egg mixture from earlier, very gently combined  with the whipped cream and mascarpone mixture, I folded that in and tried to avoid any actual "stirring" motions.

It came together in a pale yellow creaminess that looked beautiful and very, very tempting... just a little taste, won't hurt, right?! No? Ok, I'll be patient... sigh. This went back into the fridge for some more chill time.


When the creamy, cheesy, yummy mixture in the fridge was close to being ready - I started prepping the layers. I started a little stingily with the coffee mixture, the recipe said 1/2-1 TBS per cookie and I was in the 1/2 TBS range for the first layer and ended up with PLENTY for the final layer, but I poured some extra down around the edges so it would soak into the bottom layer more too - so it all worked out I think! :)



Layer number one, complete! Let's do that again!


Cookies soaked with some coffee/marsala mixture...

Followed by 1/3 of the cream, dusted with some cocoa powder and repeat once more!


The last layer of coffee/marsala soaked ladyfingers... this is looking GOOD!

More fabulous cream to top off the last of the ladyfinger layers!


I loved the cocoa powder dusting! Such a pretty and elegant touch!

Mmmm... I just wanted to run my finger through that cream and "just try it out"! However I resisted and put it back in the fridge for the ingredients to have their few hours to "meld" and become even more wonderful.


Yes, this was as creamy and smooth and luscious as it looks, even the 3rd night after I made it (what little bit that was left)! This was a wonderful dessert, definitely worthy of a special occassion!

Recipe from the Pioneer Woman.

Ingredients

5 whole Egg Yolks
¼ cups Plus 4 Tablespoons Sugar, Divided
¾ cups Marsala Wine, Divided
1 cup Whipping (heavy) Cream
1 pound Mascarpone Cheese, Softened (Room Temperature)
1-½ cup Brewed Espresso Or VERY Strong Coffee
1 Tablespoon Vanilla
1 package (7 Oz.) Savoiardi Or Ladyfingers
Cocoa Powder, For Dusting

Preparation Instructions
Note: Cook time is actually chill time in the refrigerator.

In a saucepan, bring some water to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Find a mixing bowl that will fit over the top of the pan, but not sink all the way in. (A poor man’s double boiler!)

Put 5 egg yolks into the mixing bowl. Add ¼ cup sugar and whisk until pale yellow in color. Place the mixing bowl on the saucepan with the simmering water. Add 1/2 cup Marsala wine gradually, whisking constantly as you do. Cook over the simmering water, scraping the sides and bottom occasionally for 5 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, or until cool.

Place mascarpone cheese in a bowl and stir until smooth. In a mixing bowl, combine whipping cream and remaining 4 tablespoons sugar. Whip until soft peaks form. To the bowl of whipped cream, add the softened mascarpone cheese and the chilled zabaglione (the egg yolk mixture). Fold mixture gently. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Measure 1 ½ cups brewed espresso or VERY strong coffee. Add remaining ¼ cup Marsala and 1 tablespoon vanilla. Arrange the savoiardi or ladyfingers in a single layer in a 9 x 13 pan. Spoon 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of the coffee mixture over each ladyfinger (keep it under 1 tablespoon per cookie and you’ll be fine). Plop 1/3 of the cold cream/mascarpone/zabaglione mixture on top and spread it into a layer. Sprinkle a thin layer of cocoa powder. Repeat the process two more times.

Cover and refrigerate for a few hours before serving. This allows for more moisture to soften the cookies and the whole mixture to meld together. To serve, spoon out helpings onto individual plates.

Note: tiramisu does not last beyond 24 to 36 hours, as everything eventually starts to break down and become soupy.

Prep Time: 1 Hour

Cook Time: 4 Hours
Difficulty: Intermediate
Servings: 8

Friday, April 29, 2011

Nachos Supreme!

This is a family favorite that my husband requests fairly frequently. It's a very simple recipe that calls for ingredients I pretty much always have on hand, and it's fast too! A good weeknight "go-to" when the mood for nachos strikes! And you can pretend, like me, that it's not THAT bad for you by giving it a liberal dosing of shredded lettuce and diced tomato - then you can say to yourself you're REALLY just eating salad!! That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. We all really enjoy this version of nachos, the queso just gives it a little "something" extra - a little creaminess to help pull everything together and compliment the salty, crunchy, gooey cheesiness.

I start with ground beef, Tostitos queso, Doritos, tortilla chips, onion, pepper, mushrooms, cheese and taco seasoning!

I dice up the onion and pepper (I get awesome multi-color packs of pepper's at Sam's - I love to the colors the different peppers add to a meal!)

Those go in the non-stick skillet over medium to medium-high heat for about 15 minutes while everything else is prepared!

When the meat mixture is close to being done, I add in a can of mushrooms (since we're mushroom fans, and pepper and onion fans if you haven't guessed by now)! :)

Meanwhile I shredded some cheese (which I usually keep many bags of shredded cheddar in the deep freezer but apparently I have let my supply lapse - oh well, a little manual labor is good for you, especially when you're about to eat a bunch of yummy chips smothered in cheese... mmm....)!!

 I went for about 2 1/2 cups of cheese, but it was fairly packed down - so probably at least 3.

The taco seasoning and water were added to the meat and veggie mixture and that was allowed to simmer while I prepped the bottom layer for the nachos.

 Half of my Doritos and tortilla chips went in and were dotted with about 2 TBS worth of queso.

Next came half of the meat mixture.

Followed by a liberal sprinkling of cheddar!

Tuck those layers in with another helping of yummy chips!

 And repeat with more queso...

 more meat...

 and more cheese!

Cover that up loosely with foil (if you don't want the cheese to stick at all, spray a little non-stick spray on the bottom of the foil, but I usually just leave the foil very loose and it won't stick much at all except for a few pieces, which you can then pull off the foil and pop in your mouth - because you don't want to waste food!) :D

While that was baking, I diced up some lettuce and tomatoes for my nachos - yes, I feel a little better about eating nachos when there are some fresh veggies included, but also I just like the way it tastes with them!

After about 15 minutes in the oven, this ooey gooey crunchiness emerges! Yumm!



 Doctored up with a little lettuce and tomato goodness - add a dollop of sour cream and/or salsa and chow down!

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, any color, diced
1 4-oz can mushrooms, drained (optional)
2 TBS taco seasoning
1/4 cup water
6 oz tortilla chips
4 oz nacho cheese chips
2-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 TBS queso

Optional Toppings:
sour cream
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes
salsa

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Add diced onion and bell pepper to the ground beef in a skillet over medium high heat, cook about 15 minutes until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender; drain off grease if necessary. Add canned mushrooms (if using), taco seasoning and water and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.

When the meat is ready, add a layer of half of the tortilla and half of the nacho cheese chips to the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Dot with approximately 2 TBS of queso cheese sauce. Top this with half the cooked meat and vegetable mixture and then sprinkle on about 1 cup of cheese. Add the last layer of chips, queso, meat and veggie mixture and then top with 1-2 cups of cheese depending on preference.

Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is completely melted. If you like your cheese a little bubbly and browned, you can broil for a minute or two at this point (just keep a close eye on it and don't allow it to burn). Serve with preferred toppings and enjoy!