Seasons Greetings to all!
It was snowing here during last weekend it is a pleasure to see the stunning snow laden streets, trees, and the roofs of houses blanketed with snow. Temperature has been hitting minus degrees recently and yesterday it even reached minus 6 degrees!!! This is the perfect weather for having a bowl of soup and just snuggling under the soft blanket the whole day doing nothing. It’s all Christmassy everywhere, the snow, the gifts and the whole of the town center and malls are always fully packed!! The shops and stores are elegant and colourful with all the Christmas items on sales like the x’mas decor, trees, huge stockings, gift items etc etc. And it’s even livelier in the north than in the south where I used to live before.
Last weekend we had a potluck party at our friend’s place and it was so much of fun. There were four families altogether and four kids. All of them were to cook and bring something for the potluck and we had an elaborate three course meal. There were 2 starters i.e. chilli prawns and Chilli Paneer from my side, 3 main course – Chicken Biriyani, Roasted fish Masala, Roasted chicken with vegetables, paalappam, vellappam and chicken curry. For the dessert it was Tiramisu, one of the tastiest desserts ever, well, I prepared it and I should say everyone just LOVED it and some even went for a second and third helping!!!!It was a superhit....Not only the dessert but all others tasted so YUM!!
About the sponge fingers...it is another story. I din’t actually think of baking it. I bought all other ingredients for Tiramisu and couldn’t find sponge fingers. Thought I would buy them later and it din’t work either. So I thought it was easy baking it rather than shopping around with my little naughty one. It’s a hurdle shopping around with a toddler who wants to run around and wants all stuffs that comes on their way. So I sat down and searched for some recipes on net. Followed a recipe I got from http://www.recipezaar.com/. The recipe was good, but the instructions that I followed there gave me a result that was so difficult to pipe and when I baked them they turned out so flat for a sponge finger. But it tasted like sponge finger nonetheless. I then set again to make sponge fingers again using the same recipe but instructions from http://www.joyofbaking.com/. It was easy to pipe and tasted awesome. Well, it doesn’t look like the commercially produced sponge fingers you get from the stores, but tasted EXACTLY the same. You would need two double the recipe mentioned here if you are planning to make my Tiramisu. Else you can halve the quantity mentioned in the Tiramisu and stick to the same amount of ingredients for the sponge fingers.
I used the home-made savioardi in the Tiramisu and it tasted just like the one we get from stores. So if you can’t get hold of these savioardi from stores, try piping out some. It doesn’t take much time and is easy. If you are preparing Tiramisu, make this a day or two ahead, so it takes less time to assemble the following day. I have garnished Tiramisu using melted chocolate drawings and some white chocolate and dark chocolate curls. For making the chocolate curls, first, place any large, clean metallic plate or baking tray in a warm oven for about 10 minutes until the tray is warm. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a bowl. Place the bowl over another pan containing simmering water. And melt chocolate till glossy smooth. Pour the melted chocolate on the plate or metallic tray and spread it in a thin layer using a WARM non serrated knife. To make the knife warm, just wash it in hot water. Spreading the warm chocolate will be easier when you use a warm knife. Place the tray in the fridge. When it starts setting (at this point, if you press gently using a finger, it should make a depression), hold both the handle and tip of the knife and gently scrape/shave the chocolate, holding the knife in a slanting position to the sheet. It will form curls. If the chocolate is set until hard, it will break up when you try to scrape and will be hard to shape curls....
Savioardi (Lady Fingers)
½ cup (80 gm) plain flour
½ tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs, separated
3 Tbsp + 3 Tbsp (a total of 80 gm) white caster sugar
Extra caster sugar to sprinkle.
1. Using an electric beater, beat egg yolks with 3 tbsp of sugar at high speed until pale yellow and thick, for around 5 minutes.
2. Pour in vanilla and beat again until incorporated.
3. In a squeaky clean bowl (make sure it is grease free and is free of any moisture), add the egg whites. Whip until frothy and continue whipping until it holds peak. Add 3 Tbs of sugar little by little ( a table spoon each) and beat well until think and glossy and stiff. At this point, if you invert the bowl completely, the mixture should stay intact in the bowl without pouring down.
4. Sift the flour on the batter and DO NOT FOLD IN.
5. Add the egg whites in three stages folding carefully to the flour and egg yolk mixture just until incorporated and take care not to over mix.
6. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Fill the mixture in a plastic bag, piping bag or Ziploc bag with ½ inch (1.25 cm) wide hole. If using a Ziploc bag, measure and cut out the hole using scissors. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Hold the bag at 45 degrees and pipe out the mixture into 3 inch long sponge fingers leaving a space of 1 inch/2.54cm between each piping. After piping out all the cookies, add the powdered sugar in a wire strainer and lightly sift over the sponges. Bake it until just firm and barely golden for about 10-14 minutes depending on the oven temperature (I baked until golden for 14 minutes). Let it cool for sometime, remove and place on a wire rack for further cooling.
Notes: Do not attempt to remove as soon as it comes out of oven because it will be soft. Take it out of the baking paper as soon as it has cooled a bit. Store in airtight containers and use within 2-3 days or store in freezer if using later on. To freeze, place in a plastic bag between layers of wax or parchment paper and freeze up to 2 weeks.