May 9, 2011 Leave a comment
Well then. Sometime toward the end of last year, I decided that 2011 would be the year of adventure. I am not a risk taker by nature, but I decided–somewhere between surviving a partial bike ride down the side of volcano and one too many cocktails–that I needed to do a bit more with life, because, well, this is the only chance I get at it. I’d read a book that was really terrible, but had one really good line in it about finding ways to say yes instead of reasons to say no. That resonated with me, because–being an essentially risk averse person (read: lawyer)–before the word “maybe” is out of my mouth, my mind has come up with 73 scenarios as to why something may not be a great idea. It’s pretty hard to jump on the adventure bandwagon when your go-to response is no, right?
All this to say that I decided that I needed to change into more of a yes! that sounds fun!! person and so far this year, I’m doing a stellar job if I do say so myself (one good thing about being Type A is that when you set your mind to something, you’re always aiming for that gold star…). The upside is that since January, I’ve been to Morocco, NYC, Los Angeles, Monterey, Cozumel and just got back from Ireland last night (hello, jet lag!). Yeah, I don’t recognize myself either. The downside is that I was home for only one full week in April, much of which was spent looking for a fabulous fascinator, which dramatically cuts down on the cooking going on chez moi.
I did manage, though, to whip up a wee dessert a couple of weekends ago, which I’m going to suggest you tuck away for those moments when time is not on your side but you need something decadent and impressive. I’ve wanted to make tiramisu since I took that culinary boot camp last fall and I vaguely remembered from the class that it was one of those things that could be put together quickly and left to its own devices before serving. That, and I had half a container of mascarpone left from my polenta adventure. Always helps when you have a main ingredient on hand. The one thing I did not have was the lady fingers and while my mind was swirling with visions of rum and cokes (I’d just gotten back from Cozumel) and rolling fields of heather (I had just bought my ticket to Ireland), I couldn’t for the life of me think where in all of the city of Chicago I could find them. I also didn’t have enough time to go here, there and everywhere looking for them, so I decided that I’d substitute another cookie. Lucky for me, I was standing in Trader Joe’s when I made that decision and decided to snag some ginger crisps and call it a day.
Unlike my other experiments, this one actually worked! Shocking, I know. It couldn’t have been easier to put together (the recipe called for instant espresso, but I just used really strong coffee) and the crisps worked well after I decided to add several layers. I loved the spice that the ginger added to the recipe, and truth be told, I liked my version better than the traditional because I find that lady fingers can get a bit soggy and heavy, whereas the ginger crisps soaked up the mascarpone filling without becoming mushy.
I’ve promised myself that I’m home for a good stretch now, and I’m looking forward to being back in the kitchen whipping up fun items, taking pictures and posting. What can I make for you?
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons brewed espresso (I used very strong coffee)
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
- 12 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
- gingerbread crisps
Combine water and 3 tablespoons of sugar in small saucepan and bring to a boil to melt sugar (I did this in a measuring cup in the microwave). Remove from heat and add espresso.
Put mascarpone, sugar and vanilla in large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth (I misread this and added the syrup (above). Really didn’t make a difference, but I suppose one should follow the directions?). Add heavy whipping cream and beat until mixture is thick and fluffy.
Break ginger crisps in half and add about 3 layers in the bottom of each ramekin. Add a couple of tablespoons of espresso syrup. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over top. Continue with second layer of ginger crisps, syrup and mascarpone mixture. Chill for 1 hour (you can also do a day ahead).