A mom's journal of the sweet things in her life...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Milk Chocolate & Bailey's Tiramisu

Please do not be deterred by the photos. This dessert was a hit. It turned out even better than I'd hoped and and I had high expectations. The picture was taken the day after I served it - I just couldn't pull out my camera and start shooting pictures in the midst of all the birthday chaos and dessert serving that was going on at the time. I made this for the adults at my son's 4th birthday party because I was pretty sure that, while the guests would have politely choked down a piece of Spiderman cake with copious amounts of icing and food coloring along with the kids, it wouldn't go over as well as this did.

I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens and adapted it to my liking. I'm not a tiramisu enthusiast by a long shot. Often times, I find it soggy and over-powered with too much liqueur and espresso. This recipe piqued my interest because not only was it chocolate, but instead of using lady fingers, you bake a chocolate sponge cake.  I changed the liqueur from a coffee-flavored one to Bailey's, and reduced the amount of espresso in the recipe because, like I said, I don't do soggy. The best part is that you can make it ahead of time (anywhere from 6 to 24 hours), put in in your fridge and focus on all the other stuff one must do when hosting a party. This will also save you if you're bringing dessert to someone's house - make it the day before and rest assured that every one will love it. Even the non-tiramisu lovers. And note that, unlike an authentic Tiramisu, this one does not contain raw eggs, so no need to worry about anyone with health issues.

Milk Chocolate & Bailey's Tiramisu
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens|Ultimate Italian edition|2011)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15 x 10 x 1 inch baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper and the sides of pan; tapping out excess. Set aside. In small bowl, stir flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on high speed about 4 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually add sugar, beating on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture; beat on low to medium speed until just combined. IN a small saucepan, combine milk and butter. Heat and stir until butter melts. Add to batter along with vanilla, beating until combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Immediately loosen sides of cake from pan and turn cake onto clean kitchen towel sprinkled with cocoa powder. Carefully remove paper; discard. Cool completely. Cake can be wrapped well in plastic and frozen at this point.

2 Tbsp. brewed strong espresso, divided
2 Tbsp. Bailey's
3 ounces of milk chocolate, chopped
1- 8 ounce carton mascarpone cheese
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. Bailey's or freshly brewed strong espresso
grated chocolate for sprinkling on top (optional)

Place chopped milk chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered on 50% power about 1 minute, or until chocolate in melted and smooth, stirring every 15 seconds. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl beat the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (tips curl). Beat in 2 Tbsp. of Bailey's liqueur and cooled melted chocolate until just combined. Set aside.

Cut cooled cake in half cross-wise. Line a 2 quart baking dish with one of the cake halves. (I used a glass 8 inch square pyrex dish). Drizzle 1 Tbsp. each of espresso and Bailey's over the cake. (I used a pastry brush for more even distribution). Allow to soak in. Spoon half of the filling over the cake, spreading evenly. Top with the remaining cake half, cutting to fit as necessary. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of espresso and Bailey's. Top with remaining filling; spreading evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours. If desired, garnish with grated milk chocolate before serving.  Yields: 12 servings. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

S'mores Cookie Squares

If the words: 'ooey', 'gooey', 'sticky' and 'messy' scare you off when used to describe a dessert, then these bars are not for you. These S'mores Cookie Squares are very sweet and rich, a small piece goes a long way. 

Versions of these are all over the internet these days, particularly over the summer months. They've always appealed to me, but what held me back from trying them was the idea of having to spread cookie batter over top of a marshmallow layer. They sounded like too much trouble. But yesterday, we were going to my sister's for what will likely be the summer's last BBQ, and I decided it was time to tackle this. What dessert is more appropriate for a summer BBQ than S'mores? And while assembling, I figured out a great way to get that second layer of cookie dough over top of the marshmallow layer without squishing it. See pictures below.

The verdict? These were really good. The empty plate at the end of the night is always the best indicator of a dessert's success. So, yes, these definitely get filed under the "make again" category. 

Recipe for S'mores Cookie Sqaures
(adapted from: Let's Dish who adapted it from Paula Deen)

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 sheets of graham crackers)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 100 gram Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars (family size)
1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch baking pan. In a small bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, and beat until combined. Press half of the dough evenly in the pan.  

Now this is where I deviated from the instructions. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over top of your base layer of cookie dough.
Press the second half of the cookie dough over top of the parchment paper and base layer of dough, until it evenly covers the paper. You'll now have two layers of dough, separated by one piece of parchment. Peel the first layer off by pulling at the parchment paper.
Set the top layer of cookie dough aside.
Spread marshmallow cream over the dough that's pressed into the pan. I sprayed an off-set metal spatula with cooking spray to prevent it from sticking and to make it easier to spread.
Lay the chocolate bars on top of the marshmallow creme, breaking apart as needed to create an even layer of chocolate. 
Carefully peel your second layer from the parchment paper and lay that on top.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and slightly puffed.
Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting into squares. I made mine earlier in the day and so before serving, I let them warm up in the oven (which was turned off but still warm from earlier) and left the door ajar. This allowed the squares to return to their previous state of softened chocolate, gooey marshmallows with a warm cookie crust. Delicious!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Nectarine BBQ Sauce

You know when you make a regular week-night meal and you have really no great expectations other than to feed your family and just get one more meal finished? And then you're pleasantly surprised by how delicious the meal is and your entire family agrees? It's like a gift from the gods. 
My nectarines were ripening away on my counter and I was looking for something to make for dinner. Then I remembered seeing Gwyneth's recipe in Bon Appetie  for Peach BBQ sauce. Nectarines...peaches....really, what's the dif? I don't mean that literally - I do know the difference, but as far as cooking a BBQ sauce, I figured the nectarines would be a good fill-in. I was right! This sauce was delicious - and I'm not usually a fan of BBQ sauce. 
As for the rest of the preparation, I just threw together a random dry rub for the pork tenderloin by looking through my spices. Luckily I always jot down my 'random' concoctions, just in case I want to make it again. We'll definitely be having this meal again - it was loved by all four of us - and I can't tell you how rare that it is.  

Recipe for Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Nectarine BBQ Sauce
1 large pork tenderloin, trimmed and silver skin removed
Dry Rub:
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
Nectarine (or peach) BBQ sauce, recipe below
Clean your tenderloin. Mix all the ingredients for the dry rub. Season the tenderloin by rubbing all of the dry rub into the meat. Allow to sit for 15 - 20 minutes at room temperature. Preheat your BBQ to medium heat. Cook the tenderloin on the BBQ, turning often. Coat it with the BBQ sauce a few times in the last 5 minutes of cooking, allowing the sauce to cook onto the meat. Once the juices run clear and the meat is cooked, allow to rest 10 minutes before cutting.
Nectarine BBQ Sauce
(adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow via Bon Appetit)
1 cup chopped fresh nectarine, peeled (or peaches)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo sauce
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
Put all ingredients in a small sauce pan and simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly thickened. Allow to cool slightly. Pour into blender or food processor and process until smooth.
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