David Rocco’s Limoncello Tiramisu

David Rocco’s Limoncello Tiramisu

David Rocco's recipe for Limoncello Tiramisu

This is a recipe from David Rocco, VILLA MARIA’S LEMON TIRAMISU.  I still had some of the limoncello that I made a while ago so I decided to try this one.  The ingredients are simple, eggs, cream, sugar, lemon, limoncello, white chocolate and ladyfingers.

Ingredients for Limoncello Tiramisu

I did find that the ladyfingers I bought must have been too soft and next time I think I’ll let them dry out some as when I barely dipped them in the limoncello, they pretty much sucked it up like a sponge and ended up wetter than they should have been.  It still tasted good but was a little watery, I think next time I won’t dilute the limoncello either.

First you whip up the egg whites, sugar and lemon juice:

Whipped Egg Whites

Then you whip the cream, limoncello and zest and fold together with the egg whites.  The you dip the ladyfingers in the limoncello/water mixture and layer with the cream mixture.

Layer the ladyfingers and cream

Top with lemon zest and white chocolate.

Limoncello Tiramisu

Limoncello Tiramisu

White Chocolate Wedding Cake for a Small Wedding

White Chocolate Wedding Cake for a Small Wedding

White Chocolate Wedding Cake for Small Wedding

White Chocolate Wedding Cake

 Since moving to the Las Vegas area six years ago, we have had lots of visitors but until now, nobody we know came to get married.  This week a family member is getting married here so I’m quite exited as I don’t get to see them often.  I grew up in Michigan, but left after high school and other than a few visits haven’t been back, and of course I love weddings so I couldn’t resist making a cake.  It is a small group and they can’t really take it with them, so I made a small version of a white chocolate cake with a fudge filling using my favorite fool-proof recipes.  I usually make my cakes from scratch, but for wedding cakes, where I don’t want to take any chances, I use a combination recipe that uses a cake mix as a base.  It turns out perfect every time, no matter what size pans are used and it’s very moist, tastes great and is sturdy enough to make it to the event without breaking.  This type of cake not only looks and tastes great, but really doesn’t need a lot of special equipment or practice.  For some great tips and video for making wedding cakes go to Plan a Perfect Wedding and even though this is focused toward wedding cakes, it has some great basics for any cake.

I decided to go with white chocolate decorations because they can be made ahead of time, plus I just love white chocolate and what more perfect opportunity than a wedding cake.  To make the decorations, Wilton has a great site called the Pattern Locator where you can search, then print out all kinds of patterns.  You just put them under a piece of wax paper and using either a piping bag or as I did, a small squeeze bottle, you just follow the pattern.  As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of Ghirardelli Candy Making and Dipping Bar as it always melts, never seizes up and hardens back beautifully.  You can get it online, or this time of year Sam’s Club carries it for the holidays so I stock up around the end of the year.  Once the chocolate has hardened, when you’re ready to decorate, you peel it off the wax paper and place it on the cake. 

Chocolate decorating items

Follow the pattern

White Chocolate Decoration

White Chocolate decorations on waxed paper

 

The Cake:

I use this White Almond Wedding Cake recipe because it never fails, plus it has a handy calculator that let’s you figure out how much you need to make based on the number of servings.  

Bake the cake according to the directions.  I usually do it one day ahead then put it in the refrigerator overnight so it is good and cold when you start to ice.  I have a great slicer that I use to split the cakes.  It is inexpensive and works so much better than trying to cut them evenly.  You just set the level and pull it through the cake but if you don’t have one, just slice the cakes as evenly as you can.

Cake Slicer

Icing:

I use the icing from White Chocolate Berry Wedding Cake, the only change is I use Almond extract instead of vanilla to go with the Almond cake.  I have made this as a cake using the full recipe and it was really good.  The only problem I have with it is because of the fruit, it doesn’t last very long at all and the cake is a little more temperamental so I like to go with the cake recipe above unless I have extra time and can work on it right up until the last-minute.

I used my hot fudge sauce as a filling because I had some but you could use any filling you like. I almost used the honey caramel, but I didn’t have any made so the chocolate won.  I’ve used custard, mousse, jam, or just plain icing.

I put a layer of icing, topped by some of the hot fudge very slightly warmed so it would spread.  Especially on the second layer, make a dam from icing using a pastry bag with a large tip or a baggie with the corner cut off before you put the chocolate in because you don’t want it to seep out onto the outside of the bottom layer of the cake.  On the first layer I put icing, covered with chocolate, the second, only the chocolate with the “icing dam”.

Bottom Layer

Build an icing dam

Years ago I took a cake decorating class at my local cake decorating store and it was very helpful.  The best trick I learned for smoothing the icing is to use a little water.  Ice the cake as smooth as you can, then take the long spatula, dip it in a cup of water and gently go over the cake – you don’t need a lot of water but when the spatula starts to stick, clean off any icing and dip again in the water.  It will make a very smooth surface.

Bottom layer iced

Once the cake is iced smoothly, the “pearls” can be put around the bottom.  You can get them at any cake or craft store, even Wal-Mart or Target sometimes have them.  Then you carefully place the chocolate decorations you made earlier.  Don’t worry if some of the pieces break, they are small and might, just press them into the icing and it will still look fine. 

White Chocolate Wedding Cake for Small Wedding

Cran-Blueberry Sauce for the Holidays

Cran-Blueberry Sauce for the Holidays

Cran-Blueberry Sauce

Unlike most, I’m not really a big fan of cranberry sauce with my turkey, actually it seems very unappealing but put some on a biscuit and it is a whole different story.  Making your own cranberry sauce is actually kind of fun, they pop just like corn once you start heating them, it only takes a few minutes, tastes much better than the stuff in a can and you can choose your own variations.  This time I made it with blueberries, but I’ve done it with apple, orange, lime and pecans before and all of them were great.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

16 ounces of cranberries (fresh or frozen)

8 ounces blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 lemon zested and juiced

1/2 cup sugar (this is a little tart, add 3/4 cup if you want it sweet)

2 cinnamon sticks

Procedure:

Cranberries

Put the cranberries in a sauce pan

Blueberries

Add the blueberries

Lemon

Add the lemon juice and zest

Add the sugar and cinnamon

Cook over meduim heat until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens – about 15-20 minutes.  That’s it you’re done!

Another Birthday, Another Chocolate Cake

Another Birthday, Another Chocolate Cake

 

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache

As I’ve already mentioned, the family is a determined chocolate cake bunch and they never want any other type.  This is more of a mild chocolate, still flavorful, but not a deep dark cake.  When you add the chocolate ganache, glaze and a little shaved chocolate it is the perfect mix, really chocolaty but not too sweet and looks really impressive without a lot of work.  This makes a great birthday cake for adults, especially those who really don’t want the actual number of candles anymore!

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

1/2 cup butter

1 2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 t vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 cup cocoa

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 cup buttermilk

4-8 T liqueur of your choice – optional (I used Framboise, a raspberry flavored one)

Grease and lightly flour (or use non-stick spray) three round 9″ cake pans (or 2 10″ pans).  Cream the butter, gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla.  Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt and add to creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Divide into the pans and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool on a wire rack.  You have the option of using the layers as they are for a 2 or 3 layer cake or splitting them and making 4 or 6 layers.  After the layers are sliced (if you are going to do that) poke many small holes in the cakes with a toothpick and carefully drizzle the liqueur over each layer using enough to moisten but not drown the cake.

Icing/ganache

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups good quality chocolate chopped into small pieces

Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl (I use my mixing bowl so I don’t have to wash an extra one).  Heat the cream in the microwave until it just starts to bubble, pour it over the chocolate and mix until smooth.  Pour 1/4 of the mixture into a small microwave safe bowl and set aside.  Place the mixing bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens to a pudding like consistency, around 1 hour.  It can stay there overnight but then you will have to let it warm a little to soften before finishing.  When the chocolate is thickened, using the whisk attachment, whip the chocolate/cream mixture until it is light and fluffy.  Before icing the cake, place wax paper strips around the edges to catch any icing or glaze that drips.  Fill and ice the cake with the whipped chocolate ganache.  Using the remaining ganache mixture, put it in the microwave for a few seconds until it is pourable, then pour it over the cake, spreading carefully with a spatula to smooth it over the top towards the sides.  It doesn’t matter if it completely covers the cake.  Sprinkle the top with chocolate shavings made with a vegetable peeler and a chocolate bar.  Refrigerate until about 20 minutes before serving, carefully remove the wax paper strips using a knife to cut the glaze around the bottom of the cake first, and garnish with the fruit if you choose. 

To serve place a swirl of chocolate sauce on the plate and garnish with some raspberries or other fruit – and of course ice cream for a birthday.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing and Glaze

Chicken in Saffron Cream Sauce with Saffron Couscous (one pan – 30 minutes)

Chicken in Saffron Cream Sauce with Saffron Couscous (one pan – 30 minutes)

Chicken with Saffron Cream Sauce and Saffron Couscous

This is a great recipe for a quick, one pan (and a bowl) meal.  So long ago that I had forgotten about it, I bought a small package of saffron and the other day someone mentioned making saffron rice.  I realized that I really should use it before it got any older so I checked out a bunch of recipes on-line, took the parts I liked from each taking into consideration what ingredients I had and ended up with a quick and really great dinner.  There are not that many ingredients, one pan and a bowl and hardly any cleanup.  I used only two chicken breasts because that’s all I needed, but it would be even better if you had four to give extra flavor to the broth.  There was plenty of couscous and sauce for four servings.  As you can see, I like sauce and really poured it on and there was still some left. 

Ingredients for Chicken with Saffron Cream Sauce and Saffron Couscous

Ingredients:

salt and pepper

3 Tbs olive oil

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 small onion chopped finely

3 cloves of garlic minced

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups couscous

1/4 cup fresh basil chopped

2 pinches saffron

Procedure:

Chicken browning

In a heavy skillet, add the olive oil over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer.  While it is heating, dry the chicken breasts with paper towels and salt and pepper them.  When the oil is ready brown the chicken breasts well – don’t cook through, just brown the outside.  Remove from the pan and set aside. 

Onions and Garlic Browning

Add the onions to the pan and cook until they are well browned, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Chicken cooking in broth

Return the chicken breasts to the pan, add the broth and saffron and simmer about 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees turning them over after about 5 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, place the couscous in a medium-sized serving bowl.

When the chicken is fully cooked, remove it to a clean plate and tent with foil to keep warm. 

Take 2 cups of the broth (along with some of the onions, garlic and saffron) from the pan and pour it over the couscous, covering the bowl securely with foil.  Let sit for a couple of minutes, fluff with a fork and it will be done.

Add the cream to the remaining broth and simmer gently until reduced.  Just before serving, add the fresh basil and place either in a serving dish (gravy boat type) or plate the chicken and couscous and cover with the sauce.  The saffron gives it a really bright color and nice added flavor.

Chicken with Saffron Cream Sauce and Saffron Couscous