With food prices going up everyday, the price of a meal out is going up as well (more incentive to cook at home). While eating out, the least one can expect is the food to taste good, right?! Cooking at home has made me super-picky about eating out (dare I say I am evolving into a culinary snob). I’ve never considered myself someone with a refined palate, but lately I have noticed that food in your everyday restaurant has a lot of salt. But there is a reason behind the high salt content of restaurant food – it drives consumers to buy more beverages. Yes folks, it’s a conspiracy. I’d given up soda about six months ago, but after a slice of pizza or a sandwich from Subway, I can’t wait to chug a 12 ounce can of Coke (classic, please). Sigh.
Lately though, in a step towards social responsibility (and nudged by legislation) some restaurants have been including calorie counts next to entrees on menus. I was at a Starbucks in Hayward last week, and I was surprised to see that a caramel latte was a whopping 330 calories. That was small potatoes compared to anything on Macaroni Grill’s menu – nothing less than 700-800 calories. Now normally, I don’t count calories but it’s hard to ignore the numbers when they are staring back at you. So the food experiments at home continue: to create gourmet dishes with wholesome/fresh ingredients and limited preservatives. I intend to have my cake, and eat it too (in moderation).
One of my favorite desserts is tiramisu – the queen of all cakes. Surprisingly, this light and spongy cake is quite easy to make and tastes heavenly with a cup of tea. I found this great recipe on http://www.showmethecurry.com. I found the instructions quite easy and the final product tasted divine. I modified the recipe by adding two or three tablespoons of dark rum to the coffee mixture and by using mascarpone cheese instead of cream cheese. I also put chocolate shavings as well as the cocoa powder on the top layer, for a decadent touch. The ladyfingers were a little difficult to find, but they can be found at Whole Foods or Draeger’s.
Cream Cheese – 8oz box at room temp
Sugar – 6 Tbsp (divided)
Whipped Cream – 3/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream plus 1 Tbsp Sugar whipped to 1 1/2 cups (1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip may be used as an instant alternative)
Egg Yolks – 3
Strong Coffee – 1 cup (or as needed) mixed with 2 Tbsp Rum (optional)
Lady Fingers – 1 package (Alternative: 1/2 box white cake mix, see below)
Cocoa Powder & Powdered Sugar – for garnishing
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix softened Cream Cheese with 3 Tbsp of sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
2. In a separate bowl, mix 3 egg yolks with remaining 3 Tbsp of sugar and whisk continuously in a double boiler until eggs are cooked (approx 1-2 minutes). The color of the yolks will turn a lemon yellow when done.
3. Immediately mix the egg mixture into the cream cheese mixture and stir well.
4. Add 2-3 Tbsp of the coffee into the mixture and mix well.
5. Whip Heavy Whipping Cream and 1 Tbsp Sugar in a bowl over ice until fluffy. Fold Whipped Cream into cream cheese/egg mixture until well incorporated.
6. Dip each Lady Finger into the coffee (for 1-2 seconds on each side) and place into square or rectangle tray until the bottom is completely covered.
7. Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese filling evenly on top of the fingers.
8. Lightly dust cocoa powder over the filling. Tea strainer works great!
9. Repeat with another layer of coffee dipped fingers.
10. Top with remaining filling.
11. Sprinkle cocoa powder over the top to form a coating.
11. Chill overnight to set.
12. Garnish with a light dusting of powdered sugar.
Alternative Method Using Boxed White Cake Mix:
1. Bake cake per package directions. Only 1/2 box is necessary for this recipe.
2. After cake has cooled, flip baking pan over on a flat dish or work surface.
3. Using a long bread knife, cut the cake in half horizontally, creating two thin layers of cake.
4. Carefully place the top layer back into the baking pan.
5. Using a pastry brush, dab coffee onto the cake. More coffee may be required to soak the cake.
6. Spread 1/2 of the cream cheese filling onto the cake and dust with cocoa powder.
7. Carefully place the second layer of cake on top of the filling.
8. Dab more coffee onto the cake.
9. Spread remaining filling evenly and dust with cocoa creating an even layer.
10. Cover and chill overnight.