Sunday, January 6, 2013

12 Days of Christmas: 9th Day, Ladyfingers and Tiramisu

There's not many obvious choices for nine ladies dancing besides ladyfingers.  And granted, I made ladyfingers for the 9th Day of Christmas last year.  But this year I threw in tiramisu as well, to change things up.

You can naturally use store-bought ladyfingers to make a tiramisu, but then you'd miss out on the unique experience of making ladyfingers, which involves turning a pan upside down while unbaked ladyfingers cling carefully onto it.  And, somehow, they don't fall off!

The ladyfingers recipe, being from Julia Child herself, is naturally flawless.  The tiramisu recipe, however, while delicious, had some issues.  Mainly that after a night in the refrigerator, it more resembled tirami-soup (coinage credit goes to Dustin, one of the guys I work with) than tiramisu.  However, the next day, it had somehow thickened up more.  So something in the expresso cream mixture is off, I feel.  Maybe more mascarpone?  Maybe less espresso?

Either way, it still tastes very good.  I think I'm going to have another piece as soon as I post this, actually...

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing...

(makes 15-20 ladyfingers)
from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

1 tbs softened butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar in a sieve or shaker
1/2 c.  plus 1 tbs sugar, divided
3 eggs, divided
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 c. flour, in a sifter

Preheat oven to 300F.

Butter two baking sheets.  Do not use parchment paper.  Dust with flour, then knock off the excess.

In a large mixing bowl, gradually beat the sugar into the egg yolks.  Add the vanilla and continue beating for several minutes until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and forms the ribbon.  The ribbon is what happens when eggs yolks become thick enough that, when lifted, they fall back into the bowl forming a slowly dissolving ribbon.  Set aside.


Beat the egg whites and salt together in a separate, clean bowl until soft peaks are formed.  Sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed (whites will stand up stiffly and not fold over on themselves).

Scoop 1/4 of the egg whites over the top of the egg yolks mixture.  Sift on 1/4 of the flour.  With a rubber spatula, carefully and delicately fold the egg whites in until partially blended.  Do not completely mix in.  The mixture needs to stay light and puffy.

Add 1/3 of the remaining egg whites and 1/3 of the remaining flour.  Fold.  Repeat with half of the remaining whites and remaining flour.  Repeat with the last of the whites and the flour, folding until partially blended.  Do not over-mix or the batter will deflate.

Scoop batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" tube opening.  Squeeze even lines onto the prepared baking sheets, making finger shapes 4" long and 1" wide.  Space them 1" apart.

Dust with a 1/16" layer of powdered sugar.  

To dislodge some of the extra sugar, turn the baking sheet upside down and gently tap the back of it.  The ladyfingers will not fall off unless you are too rough.

Bake in the middle and upper third levels of the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until the ladyfingers are a very pale brown underneath the sugar coating.  They should be slightly crusty outside but still tender on the inside.

As soon as they are done, remove from the baking sheets with a spatula and cool on racks.

(serves 4-6)
adapted from Food Network

3 egg yolks, room temperature
1/8 c. sugar
1/4 c. rum, divided
3/4 c. espresso, divided
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
about 14 ladyfingers
Cocoa powder, to serve

Whisk the egg yolks on high speed in a mixer until very thick and light yellow.  Lower speed and add half of the rum, half of the espresso, and the mascarpone cheese.  Mix until smooth.

Combine the remaining rum and espresso in a shallow bowl.  Using half the ladyfingers, dip one side of each ladyfinger in the espresso-rum mixture and use to line the bottom of an 8"x8" dish.  Pour half the espresso cream mixture over the top.  Dip one side of each of the remaining ladyfingers in the espresso-rum mixture and create a second layer in the dish.  Pour the rest of the espresso cream on top.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

... eight maids a-milking... swans a-swimming...

...six geese a-laying...

...four colly birds...

...three French hens...

...two turtledoves...

...and a partridge in a pear tree.

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