Another Daring Bakers Challenge which means another Bond story! I don't know how long I can keep up these Bond stories though but I do so enjoy my Bond! First though, the obligatory lines:
The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.
James Bond in Tiramisu Royale
Bond looked dashing in his Naval outfit. A sexy brunette hung off his right arm while his left hand caressed a glass full of martini - shaken not stirred. Veronique leaned in to nuzzle his ear and Bond turned his face to give her a passionate kiss when his pants started to vibrate. Veron raised her eyebrows as she felt the vibration.
"Oh James, I didn't know I had such an effect on you." she cooed.
Bond smiled softly as he pushed her away before digging deep into his pocket to pull out his latest phone that also doubled up as a gun. He read the text message and frowned as he did so. It was from M with just one word.
That could only mean trouble. With a frown on his face he turned to Veronique.
"Duty my dear." He stated, matter of factly. "I am, after all, Britain's finest."
Veronique sighed as she watched Bond walk away. She tugged at the top of her low cut dress and adjusted her bosoms to show more cleavage. If Bond didn't want to have his way with her, she would just have to find someone else who would...
M looked up as Bond entered her office, the frown on his face practically matching the one on hers.
"It's serious Bond. Two agents from RAW have been kidnapped..." M announced. "...Deeba and Aparna...The evidence at the site seems to point back to us Bond...and it appears you know this Deeba"
The last bit was a statement more than a question. Bond didn't answer nor show any outward emotion but his heart skipped a beat. He had no idea that Deeba had joined RAW - the Research and Analysis Wing of India, otherwise known as the Indian Spy Agency.
"They're being held captive, Bond, and they're demanding a Tiramisu as ransom." M explained.
James puffed out his chest, smiled and said rather proudly. "No issue there M, I've made my own Tiramisu many times before. In fact I've got two versions"
"That may be so Bond, but I think there IS an issue James." M went on. "You see, you need to make everything from scratch. MASCARPONE + SAVOIARDI BISCUITS + ZABAGLIONE = TIRAMISU! From scratch. Everything."
Bond was crestfallen. How on earth was he expected to make Mascarpone and Savoiardi biscuits on his own? Zabaglione, otherwise known as Sabayon, was not an issue. He had experience with that. Everything else though could be a problem.
"I considered not putting you on the case, Bond, due to your fondness for all things Indian...and the fact that YOU are being implicated in the kidnapping. But you are our best James." M said almost kindly. "Do what you have to Bond. Godspeed."
James left M's office with an even deeper frown on his face. He read the fax again and wondered if he would be able to save Deeba and Aparna. He also wondered why the rebels had chosen Tiramisu as the ransom. Strange. Very Strange indeed.
Bond spent the next few days with Leng Loi. Her beauty never failed to enamour him as did her intelligence. Her nubile body wasn't bad either. One of the best he had seen he had to admit to himself. Perhaps not Britain's finest, but perhaps China's finest. It made sense too as her name, Leng Loi, translated to Pretty Girl in Cantonese.
It was the weekend before the Lunar New Year and Bond always enjoyed the company of the gorgeous Leng Loi during this time. He had met her when she was on attachment to MI6 as an exchange spy from China. It hadn't taken Bond long to discover her and more than friendship had blossomed between them. Unfortunately though, this year he had to cut down on the time spent with the Chinese beauty and instead spend time on making the Tiramisu.
He had read and re-read the recipe and realised that it was indeed a rather cumbersome and complicated recipe. Far more complicated than his own version of the luscious Italian Dessert. He thought back to Francesca Sofia Giada Alessandra Valentina del Piero and how she had not only introduced him to Milano Biscuits but also to Tiramisu. She had explained that there was a legend to Tiramisu, literally translated as 'pick me up'. The legend has it that in Venice of old, there were a group of courtesans who worked in the brothel above a restaurant. Apparently, the ladies needed a "pick me up" to fortify themselves between amorous encounters. He believed the legend as the 'pick me up' had certainly worked with Francesca. She would tire herself out, proceed to have a bowl of Tiramisu and then tire herself out again and again before finally tiring him out...
Bond came back to the present and decided he would make the Mascarpone cheese first. James decided he was only going to make half the measure as not much cheese was required. He heated the cream by placing a stainless steel bowl in a pan of simmering water. He used his special thermometer gadget that Q had designed for him to record the temperature as he stirred the cream. It didn't seem to go up by very much although it was supposed to hit 190F. Then again, not much of the cream covered the thermometer - so that was probably the reason why. After a while, Bond got tired of measuring the temperature so he pulled the thermometer out and added in the lemon juice. The mixture thickened after a while and Bond happily poured it into a strainer lined with damp handkerchiefs as he didn't have any cheesecloth. One component down another 3 to go, or was it 4?
Bond consulted the recipe again. It looked like it was going to be a long night - everything needed to be refrigerated overnight as well. Damn this dessert! He would much rather be spending his time with Leng Loi.
Bond suddenly remembered he had to make the Savoiardi. He figured he would make them into three large circles as his Tiramisu was going to be round. The instructions said he was to use the handmixer for the eggwhites and James briefly contemplated using his special K Mixer from Q. Leng Loi distracted him at that point though, appearing in a white gauze like sheer dress that didn't hide very much of her beautiful figure.
"James Darling, it IS Chinese New Year and you DID promise to delight me. This is the only time we get to spend with each other you know."
Bond almost threw his instructions away. Here was Leng Loi in all her glory! He thought about the two RAW Agents, then looked again at the Chinese Beauty. What was that about a bird in hand being better than two in the bush?? Leng Loi was his bird in the hand while the RAW Agents were the two birds in the bush. Ah, decisions, decisions.
He had to make this dessert though and try and save Deeba and Aparna, the two RAW agents. He could never live with himself if he didn't try - especially for Deeba's sake. He remembered the times spent in Delhi Airport with her.
He kissed Leng Loi softly, explaining that he would be upstairs as soon as he made the sponge fingers.
"I'll be waiting James" Leng Loi cooed. Bond watched her shapely behind wiggle seductively at him as he left the kitchen. He felt as if the kitchen suddenly became hotter - or was it just him.
Bond whisked the egg whites and then folded in they yolks and the flour. He spread out the mixture onto parchment paper and in his rush to go up to Leng Loi, he forgot to dust the batter with icing sugar. He only realised his mistake once he put the batter in to bake. 15 minutes later and all he had was sunken sponge cake. He was not pleased nor was he impressed. Bond figured he could just disguise his failure as, after all, he was going to soak the sponge in espresso.
He ran upstairs to find Leng Loi lying in bed waiting for him. He eyed her greedily but somehow he was distracted. He climbed into bed and snuggled up next to the Chinese Beauty. Somehow, something didn't feel right and he could only think of the soft, sunken sponge rather than her sensous figure. He excused himself hurriedly, earning a scowl and an admonishment from the lovely Leng Loi. It was a good thing he didn't understand Chinese as he was sure that what she said was peppered with obscenities.
James skulked back downstairs and checked on the sponge. It was rubbery and he knew that he would have to make it again. This time, he decided to use the cleverly designed mixer by Q. This machine whipped up the egg whites magically and the whites were far, far stiffer than his hand held variant.
"Should have trusted my instincts", Bond thought to himself as he piped circles out. This time, he remembered to dust icing sugar on the piped batter and 15 minutes later, he had pretty awesome sponge fingers - err, sponge Circles.
James considered going upstairs to have his way with Leng Loi but he could still hear her ranting and raving. Hell truly hath no fury like a woman scorned - especially one that was scorned for Sponge Fingers - made to save ANOTHER woman. Make that Two other women. Ah, the tribulations of being a famous Secret Agent, not to mention a fantastic lover...
With nothing else to do, Bond made the pastry cream and the Zabaglione. Two items that he had plenty of experience with and they both came together rather easily.
He then left it to cool and then placed the items in the refrigerator before sneaking away to sleep in the guest room. Sleep came with great difficulty though. His thoughts were filled with Deeba and Aparna and he hoped they were both safe. He also kept thinking about assembling the Tiramisu the next day. The reason for the Tiramisu ransom was also nagging at him. Finally, he dozed off...
The next morning, Bond woke early to finish off the Tiramisu. He whipped the cream and then made two cups of coffee as his espresso machine had been destroyed by stray gunfire after an attack on his domicile one night. He then combined the cheese, pastry cream, zabaglione and whipped cream together. James lined a round pan with cling film and them placed one layer of sponge inside. He soaked the sponge and layered the cream on for three layers. He then covered the entire pan with cling film and let it chill in the refrigerator.
There was some leftover coffee mixture left and Bond added some milk to it for a lovely Caffeine fix. Never let coffee, especially one laced with rum, go to waste.
As he was enjoying his coffee, Leng Loi appeared, looking more stunning than ever.
"James, I'm sorry I was so upset last night. I had no idea that two RAW Agents had been captured." She said softly, holding the fax that James thought he had hidden. "I've worked with Deeba and Aparna before on a mission in Tibet. I wish you had told me..."
James detected a tear in her eye and he held his arms open for her. She walked in and sobbed quietly into his shoulder.
"James, you know what will make me feel better?" She asked softly.
"We've got the whole afternoon babe, I can definitely make you feel better." James said, rather arrogantly.
"I'd like that James, but that's not what I meant." She replied as she looked him straight in the eye. "I want to come with you tonight when we deliver the dessert. I need to help my two friends out too. There's something not quite right about this whole thing"
After a passionate morning, afternoon and evening, James wathed as Leng Loi got ready. She wore a black catsuit with several hidden layers that enabled her to hide guns, knives and all sorts of armaments. The best part about the cat suit though was the lacy bits and how sexy it made her look.
As they drove to the delivery point, Bond's face was dark and his lips were pressed thinly together. Leng Loi had helped him piece together the puzzle but he didn't like where the road seemed to end. He hoped that some mistake had been made.
Treachery, treason, deception, betrayal. It was enough to make anyone angry. What more Bond?
Bond and Leng Loi arrived at the 4 storey warehouse - the appointed exchange drop. Bond rolled out of the car unseen while Leng Loi drove up just before the entrance and and stopped.
Bond climbed the fire escape behind the building and quietly entered the top floor from the rooftop. He snuck into the unguarded control room and placed his gun against the head of the figure that stood watching his Aston Martin parked outside.
"The Tiramisu gave it away." Bond said with hardly a whisper. "You always had a passion for Tiramisu and you always wanted to see me fail with that dessert. Why? Why did you do this and put Britain at risk?"
Veronique turned to look at Bond. Her eyes dark and smoldering.
"You must know by now that I'm a Double Agent Bond. Well, triple or maybe quadruple." Veron said softly. "But it was you Bond. I couldn't handle all the women you kept having your way with. It was always you Bond! Take me with you James and lets start a life together. Alone."
Veronique pulled her dress down, exposing a diamond studded Bra that she had received as payment for one of her double agent jobs. Bond swallowed hard as he stared at her bosom. Bond stared at her shapely form and seriously considered running off with her. He had to admit that he was tired of the agency, tired of his work and tired of his meagre salary. The diamonds on the Bra itself would be enough to set them up for life.
Veron seemed to sense Bond's indecision. She unclasped her Bra and tossed it to Bond. She smiled wantonly at him, enticing him with her naked breasts. Bond composed himself and realised where his loyalties lay. He pulled the trigger - not once but twice. As Veron's lifeless figure fell to the ground, Bond walked out of the room, the diamond bra slung over his shoulder. Treason against Queen and Country was simply unforgiveable.
He worked his way down to the warehouse, shooting a guard and acquiring a sub-machine gun on the way. With guns blazing, Bond shot everyone that walked into his path. Leng Loi on hearing the gunfire, opened the large loading bay doors of the warehouse and stepped inside. Deeba and Aparna were tied up in the middle of the floor.
Working quickly, Leng Loi untied the two RAW Agents and made for the exit just as Bond appeared, his face bloodied and covered in sweat. His sub-machine gun clicked signifying his cartridge was empty. He pulled out two small guns hidden in the folds of his shirt and started blasting away at the enemy behind him. As more rebels appeared, Leng Loi and Bond fired at will, watching bodies drop like a deck of cards.
As he walked out with the three lovely women at his side, he threw the diamond encrusted bra back into the warehouse before thrwoing a timed grenade back into the building.
Two minutes later, as the helicopter appeared to whisk the two RAW agents to safety, Bond watched with satisfaction as the rebel headquarters blew up, destroying all evidence that it had even existed in the first place and destroying all the evil that it contained.
Vengeance had a name and it was Bond. James Bond.
Leng Loi sidled up to Bond. She had a hint of a tear in her eyes and a soft, sad, smile on her ruby lips
"I'm sorry about Veron, James. I do know how you felt about her." She said softly before her voice turned urgent. "But that's in the past James. There's still another day left. Let's not waste it thinking about rebels, alright?"
Bond picked her up in his arms and carried her off to his car that with one press of a button, turned into an auto-piloted helicopter - with a bed in it of course. Bond still had the Tiramisu with him. With how they were going to spend their time, he was sure both of them would need plenty of the dessert as a 'pick me up'...
Whew! This was a rather cumbersome challenge but one that I am glad I did. Who would have EVER thought that I could make my own Mascarpone?!! Or even my own Sponge Fingers! The mascarpone turned out really well although the recipe didnt produce the amount that it was supposed to. I still had enough though so that wasn't a problem.
The tiramisu was tasty but I have to say that I prefer my own version. I've got two versions, one with Zabaglione and one without and I think both versions taste better than this one. I use cream cheese and cream, rather than mascarpone and it produces a more cheesy texture that I prefer. The Lovely Wife and the kids, whilst enjoying this tiramisu, professed to liking mine better as well. My versions are also far easier than this one so I think I'll be sticking to my tried and tested!
To be fair though, I do lace my version with far more alcohol and I also made a mistake of not making the coffee mixture strong enough for this Tiramisu. 2 cups of Espresso are far stronger than two cups of coffee...my mistake.
Nonetheless, a Superb challenge and one that I really enjoyed completing - even though it meant that my Chinese New Year holiday was spent in the kitchen!! Great Fun though and I was really pleased to have made Mascarpone as well as Sponge Fingers.
See below for the Loooooong recipe and please enjoy all the other Tiramisu's on the blogospere today, courtesy of the Daring Bakers!
(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )
This recipe makes 6 servings
For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup/175ml whole milk
For the whipped cream:
1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup/55gms sugar
1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract
To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup/110gms sugar
1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powder
For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.
For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.
To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.
Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.
(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz/ 340gm of mascarpone cheese
474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.
LADYFINGERS/ SAVOIARDI BISCUITS
(Source: Recipe from Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.
3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,
Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.