Tiramisu

Tiramisu has always been one of those elusive desserts. A dessert that I could enjoy from afar but whose perceived difficulty kept me from attempting to make it myself. Thanks to a close Italian friend, for the past three years I have been graced with homemade tiramisu at least once a year. She visited me this past weekend and was sweet enough to share her secret recipe with me! We had a blast making it together and an even better time devouring our creation. To my surprise, tiramisu was actually extremely easy and quick to make. The entire cake was done in less than 30 minutes (minus overnight refrigeration). Try out my friend’s family recipe below and amaze your friends and family with your dessert prowess. But whatever you do, don’t let anyone know how quick and easy it really is to make! 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 24 savoiardi (lady fingers)
  • 1 lb 1 oz package of mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 c strong expresso, cooled
  • 1/2 c bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Note: this can also be done by hand with a fork, but an electric mixer or an egg beater will *greatly* speed up the process. Be careful not to overbeat!
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  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer or whisk beat egg yolks and sugar together until they become pale and creamy.
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  5. Fold in mascarpone cheese into the egg yolk and sugar mixture.
  6. Next, fold in egg whites.
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  8. In a baking dish deep and long enough to hold two layers of savoiardi (I used a 12 inch diameter glass pie dish), spread about 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture evenly along the bottom.
  9. Place the cooled expresso in a shallow bowl. One by one, quickly roll (no more than 5 seconds) each savoiardi in the coffee so that they soak up some of the expresso. Place the soaked savoiardi on top of the mascarpone layer, breaking in half if necessary to fit. Do this for 12 of the savoiardi.
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  11. Spread another 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture over the savoiardi layer. Arrange another layer of soaked savoiardi and top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
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  13. Refrigerate overnight.
  14. Garnish top with bittersweet chocolate and enjoy. Buon appetito!
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    *Note* Due to the use of raw eggs, tiramisu should always be refrigerated and consumed within 4 days.

** Raw Egg Warning **
I suggest caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs due to the slight risk of salmonella or other food-borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

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Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake is probably my all-time favorite type of cake. I stumbled upon this AllRecipes.com recipe over 3 years ago and I’ve been working with it ever since. I’ve made this cake at least once a year, but this was the first time I actually tried to make the full 3 layer version. And it turned out beautiful! I must say, this cake is definitely a half-day ordeal. Many of the ingredients must be cooled before the entire cake can be assembled, but trust me, this decadent desert is well worth the wait. Check out my adapted, tried and true recipe below!

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Ingredients (makes 3 layer cake)

Cake Layers

  • 2 1/8 c all-purpose flour
  • 
2 c white sugar
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Cherry Filling and Topping

  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans pitted sour/tart cherries
  • 
1 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Whipped Frosting

  • 2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 
2 Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
    2. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans and cover bottoms with waxed or parchment paper.
    3. In large bowl, combine flour, 2 c sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
    4. Add eggs, milk, oil, and 1 Tbsp vanilla extract. Beat until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pans.
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    6. Bake for 35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.
    7. Cool layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen edges, and remove to racks to cool completely.
    8. While cake layers are cooling, drain cherries, reserving 1/2 c juice. Combine cherries, reserved juice, 1 c sugar, and cornstarch in 2 quart saucepan.
    9. Cook over low heat until thickened (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 tsp vanilla extract. Cool completely before using.
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    11. After cake layers have cooled, with a long serrated knife, cut each layer horizontally in half. Tear one split layer into crumbs and set aside. Gently brush loose crumbs off top and side of each cake layer with pasty brush or hands.
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    13. Combine whipping cream, confectioners’ sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla extract in a chilled medium bowl.  Beat with an electric mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. (Stiff peaks means peaks that hold their shape when you pull out the beater. First you will start to see soft peaks, peaks that fall down under their own weight. You’re almost there! Keep beating on high speed for about 20-30 more seconds and you will have stiff peaks! Be careful not to over beat because then you’ll find yourself halfway to butter…)
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    15. Set aside 1 1/2 c whipped cream frosting for decorating the cake.
    16. Now comes the fun part: building the cake! To assemble, place one cake layer on cake plate or platter. Evenly spread 1 c of whipped cream frosting over the layer. Cover with 3/4 c cherry topping. Top with the second cake layer and again repeat layers of whipped cream frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer.
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    18. Frost side of cake with whipped cream frosting. Pat reserved crumbs onto frosting on side of cake.
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    20. Spoon reserved 1 1/2 c frosting into pastry bag fitted with star decorator tip. Pipe around top and bottom edges of cake.
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    22. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake.
    23. Devour in sinful pleasure! 🙂

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    I made this cake for my brother’s birthday, so I went ahead and did a bit of improvisation and attempted frosting some lettering on the cherry topping. As luck would have it, the words held up great! 😀

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Oreo Cookies

Oreos are my favorite type of cookies (not counting the classic chocolate chip, of course). I discovered this homemade Oreo recipe about 4 years ago and it’s been one of my most requested deserts ever since! In times of extremely stress, instead of studying, I often find myself in the kitchen cooking up a storm. One winter finals season, I made nearly 100 of these delicious delicacies as stress relief presents for friends. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t procrastinating when I made Oreo cookies today. What better way to celebrate the winter solstice than with some of these babies! Over the years I’ve made a few adaptations to the recipe and have finally settled on something I’m happy with. This recipe uses vanilla extract for the frosting, but I have tried it with peppermint extract for an even more festive treat. Add in a cup of milk and you’ve got yourself a fixing for some blissful tastebuds.
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Ingredients (makes ~18 cookie sandwiches)

Chocolate Wafers

  • 1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
  • 
1/2 c unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c and 2 Tbsp room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg

Filling

  • 1/4 c room-temperature, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 vegetable shortening
  • 2 c sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (or whatever flavored filling you’re feeling like)

Directions

  1. Preheat to oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
  3. Beat in the butter and egg. Continue mixing until dough becomes a solid mass.
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  5. Place rounded tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Slightly flatten the dough.
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  7. Bake for 9 minutes. Set on a rack to cool.
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  9. To make the cream filling, mix the butter and shortening at low speed.
  10. Gradually beat in the sugar and extract. Mix on high speed for about 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
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  12. Using a knife, spread the cream evenly on one chocolate wafer. Place another cookie, equal in size, on top of the cream. Continue this process until all the cookies have been paired. (Sometimes you get luckily and there will be a lone chocolate wafer with no pair which means you get an extra treat!)
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  14. Pour a glass of milk and enjoy!

Chocolate Coconut Cream Cake

My first experiment in the ways of coconut cakes. Made it for my father’s birthday and the whole family kept begging for more! Turned out soft, moist, and with the right amount of sweetness to make it a great pairing for any cup of tea. Adapted from an AllRecipes.com chocolate coconut cake recipe.
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Ingredients

Cake

  • 3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c white sugar
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 egg whites
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 2 tsps coconut extract

Filling

  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 c heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c sweetened flaked coconut

Frosting

  • 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 c sweetened flaked coconut
  • 3-4 drops food coloring

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Butter the sides of two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with 9-inch parchment paper.
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  4. Beat unsalted butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
  6. Whisk egg whites, milk, and coconut extract in a separate bowl.
  7. Thoroughly mix about 1/3 of the flour mixture into the creamed butter and sugar; stir in half the egg white-milk mixture. Repeat twice more, ending with final 1/3 of flour mixture; stir to make a smooth batter.
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  9. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and smooth tops with a spatula.
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  11. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
  12. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 5 minutes before turning out onto racks to cool completely.
  13. Peel parchment paper from cakes.
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  15. Stir sweetened condensed milk, 1/4 cup heavy cream, and vanilla extract together in a bowl; stir in 3/4 cup flaked coconut. Refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  16. Bring 1/2 cup heavy cream to a simmer over low heat; gradually stir in chocolate until thoroughly melted and the mixture is thick and smooth. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
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  18. Place a cake layer onto a serving platter; top with the condensed milk-coconut mixture. Place second cake layer over the coconut filling. Spread warm chocolate mixture evenly over top and sides of cake with a thin spatula.
  19. Toss 1 cup flaked coconut in a bowl with food coloring until coconut is evenly colored; sprinkle coconut over chocolate topping to serve.
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