Tuesday, May 5, 2009

{TWD} Single Serve Tiramisu in a Jar (and 7 other ways to enjoy mascarpone filling)


You can (and probably should) read this post as a cautionary tale of the evils of electronic social networking. Because of the words of a few people that I've never even met I ended up making a single serving of this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe. Yep, in my kitchen, based on a virtual dare, I turned Dorie Greenspan's lavish Tiramisu layer cake into a dessert so small it fit into a jelly jar.

Tiramisu has had an unusually long run in the spotlight, gaining notoriety from the 1993 film Sleepless in Seattle. A sweet little movie propelled an obscure dessert into the limelight where, in a display of inordinate staying power, it has remained for over 15 years.

I am personally ambivalent about tiramisu. This is a little odd, given that coffee is my favorite flavor of ice cream. In theory tiramisu should be a perfect dessert for my coffee-fanatic, chocolate-allergic husband, but he really dislikes it. "Sometimes a dessert tries to do too much," is his assessment. Because this is the first recipe for May, we only had a week's notice of what we would be baking, and my search for a likely recipient was coming up dry. My husband and I weren't going to eat an entire layer cake with flavors that neither one of us really cares about.

I made the mistake of saying to a couple of my bloggy buddies, "I'm thinking one tiramisu cupcake" It was a joke, but they turned it into a challenge. Next thing I know, "It's on!" with the encouraging footnote, "I think if anyone can figure out the math to turn that ginormous cake into a single cupcake, you can."

People who know me in person would probably find it pretty funny that I have this blog reputation as being very math-oriented and precise; in real life I'm much more verbal and visual than mathematical. I scale and measure my baking, because, well baking is precise. Check out Amanda's very recent interview with Dorie Greenspan, our baking guru, on this score. I also do the recipe scaling because I usually like the challenge.

Well, now I had quite the challenge on my hands and I had to use lots of my math abilities to scale this recipe for a big cake down to a single serving size. Luckily for all of you I won't go into details, just the overall approach that I took to this challenge - and of course the results! You'll thank me for sparing you; at the end of the afternoon's baking my digital scale, my calculator, and my brain were smoking.

The cake batter before the dry ingredients + buttermilk. This was so fluffy and good I could have eaten it all with a spoon and been happy.
n.o.e.'s notes:

- I initially planned to make one cupcake, but then my head was turned by Dorie Greenspan's blog entry about food served in canning jars, so I made a deconstructed cupcake in a jar.

- The recipe is an assemblage of several elements, each prepared separately. I made varying percentages of the different elements, aiming to use approximately 1/8 recipe of everything in my single serve dessert

- I baked 1/3 recipe of the yellow cake, figuring I'd freeze the leftover cake for other purposes (have you seen my freezers? They are a real treasure troves! More about that later.) The cake recipe was easy to scale, although I had to eyeball the leavening amounts ( 1/3 of 1/8 tsp baking soda, 2/3 tsp of baking powder) since these amounts were too small to register accurately on my digital scale.

- For the cake I used 2 small vintage loaf pans that are a really unusual size. Two of them were equivalent to 1/3 of the area of the two pans Dorie specified.


- The cakes baked "until done" - translation: I forgot to set timer, and went by smell and broomstraw cake tester.

- I reserved one of the cake rectangles and cut the other to make the layers for my little cake in a jar. Although I have cookie cutters in nearly every shape/theme imaginable, I managed not to have a circular cutter the right size, so I used a peanut butter jar lid. Luckily the cake layers got covered with filling/frosting, so it didn't really matter how bad the cut was. Or that the top of the cake stuck to the inside of the jar lid. Note to self: buy set of biscuit cutters. I kept the cake scraps. Waste not, want not.

- I didn't want to buy mascarpone when I'd need just 1 0z for my cakelet. I had a block of cream cheese that needed to be used, and I followed a few links suggested by Lindsey of Cafe Johnsonia (thanks!) and came up with this site which gives a bunch of recipes for mascarpone substitutes that could be whipped up - specifically to use in tiramisu. Many recipes call for wait times of 24+ hours, but I'm all about the instant gratification, so I went for a variation I call "Three Creams" - which is a combination of cream cheese, butter, and (what else?) cream itself.


- I used the whole block of cream cheese (actually had to scale this recipe bigger!), which I creamed with 5 T of butter and 5 T of whipping cream. This ended up making about 12 oz of creamy faux-mascarpone goodness. You did follow my logic there, right? I didn't want to buy 8 oz. of mascarpone, so I made my own and then I had 12 oz. And I only needed 1 oz... Well at least my cream cheese was put to good use!

- Faced with this abundance of mascarpone, I weighed out 8 oz to use for a full recipe of Dorie's filling/frosting.

- I used some pretty tiny amounts to make 1/6 recipe for the espresso extract and syrup. It was easier to scale 1/6th than 1/8th recipe, and I just left a bit unused in the bowl when I assembled the little cake.

- Assembly was quick and fun. The circles fit into the jar without breaking, and cake + filling pretty much filled the jar. The best part? I could just screw the lid on the jar to pop it in the fridge.

the verdict:

This cake was a spot-on evocation of tiramisu. The cake part is lovely, and a perfect stand-in for ladyfingers. But the absolute star of the show is the mascarpone filling! Soooo good!

And what did I do with the other 7/8 of the filling, you ask? Faced with a big bowl of the cream, I figured I should make some other single-serving desserts! 7 of them, to be exact. Using elements already in my fridge or freezer, here's what I made:

1. The second rectangle of the ladyfinger cake, halved then layered with mascarpone filling and blackberries. Sweet and simple. This was my husband's dessert on day 1, and he loved it.

2. Scraps of ladyfinger cake (left from cutting the circles), soaked with citrus simple syrup (left from making candied mixed peel for my Easter Dove Bread) and layered trifle-style with mascarpone filling and chopped mixed peel, topped with mixed peel and crystallized ginger - for a ginger-citrus effect. This was my dessert on day 2

3. Cubes of gingerbread (in the freezer, left from my gingerbread experiments), layered with mascarpone filling, topped with chopped crystallized ginger. This was my husband's dessert on day 2.


4. Scraps of ladyfinger cake (from cutting the circles), drizzled with berry sauce (in the fridge, leftover from some Saturday morning yogurt parfaits, made with same recipe as this post), layered trifle-style with mascarpone filling, and topped with blackberries. This was my husband's dessert on day 3.


5. Pound cake (from freezer) topped with mascarpone cream and berry sauce. My dessert on day 3.


6. Tiny devil's food cake (in the freezer, left from the White Out Cake), topped with mascarpone cream. Um, lunch?

7. Mascarpone cream all by itself. I make no excuses -this was the best way to enjoy the filling!

I love how making a single serving of tiramisu cake could lead to desserts for three nights and a few snacks, too. You better believe that the rest of that mascarpone will be turned into more of this delicious filling! See how much trouble a person can get into as a result of social networking?

54 comments:

Leslie said...

I wouldn't call that trouble, I'd call it inspiration! I wish I had freezer space for a fraction of the treasures you're hiding away. Really love where you took this one, completely unexpected and fresh.

Mermaid Sweets said...

I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this post! You are incredible. I love that you took this challenge to task and ended up with so many desserts. You are just AWESOME.

Cristine said...

Amazing! You are wonderwoman!!!

Marthe said...

Oh my, I love all your desserts... I still have some mascarpone left in my fridge, now I know what to do with it!!

Audrey said...

I loved Sleepless in Seattle, but I can't remember the tiramisu in it! I think that if I had managed to make any less of this delicious dessert I would have sat down on the floor and sobbed. I love your jelly jar presentation...and I loved ALL the components, but as you and others said last week, together they were sublime. (And by the way, I think making your own mascarpone trumps making your own brioche...so you'll just have to bring this to that coffee get-together! Deal?)

Natashya said...

You are brilliant! Remind me to bring all my math questions to you.
I love all your little dishes too.

Jill said...

Your multiple mascarpone masterpieces all look great! And you deserved those desserts after all the math. I don't remember much, if any, math in home ec class, but I think merging the two subjects would make math a lot more fun.

Mary said...

This is the. Best. Post. Ever. Seriously. I loved it...you combined the dessert in a jar with single serving and made me laugh all at the same time..hee..hee...

Peggy said...

Wow Nancy. I am in awe of all your miniature desserts! The DH and I couldn't eat that much in a month of sundays though. I would have to freeze some of it. The problem with that is we forget it is in the freezer until a year later and then it is no good!!! Thanks for stopping by this morning. Your comments always give me a lift! This was a great post for you!!

Amanda said...

OMG that is amazing that you not only scaled this so far down but that you made so many other desserts from it! Thanks for linking to my interview, Dorie was SUCH a pleasure to talk to! :)

Teanna said...

WOW one filling 8 ways!? So I'm totally jealous of all of the goodness that was going on with that mascarpone filling! You are an inspiration!

dharmagirl said...

i am in awe.

this is marvelous.

and the parade of desserts, so mini, and so delicious, and the end of your post...i'd be happy with dessert at your house any night:)

vibi said...

WOW! Great single serving ideas! How creative! ...and the one in the jar is soooo cool, so rustic and country looking!

I'm glad I did I half size though, for if you say it was that good (mine is still in the fridge macerating for more flavour) and you are like me a coffee flavoured freak ...ice cream, yogourt, etc.) I might just have enough to satisfy my coffee crave! lol

Oh! ...and about that spoon on the last shot, do you think there is any chance I could be written down on your will for it??? LOL LOL LOL

Wow.

myfamousrecipe said...

I'm completely in awe of everything going on here. The math skills. The dazzling variations on mascarpone filling. The brilliant reinvention of leftovers. You didn't let a single crumb go to waste and the results are sublime. Great job!

MacDuff said...

Oh snap, you did it! I read the Ps and Qs and wondered what was going to happen with that. LOVE the blackberries with this!

Mary Ann said...

Nancy- thank you for your kind words today. It means alot.
I am in absolute awe today with what you did with this recipe! I love the cute little tiramisu in a jar and the 7 others ways to eat the filling are so great!
You really went above and beyond today!

Megan said...

Wow - you over-achiever ~ making the rest of us look bad! But I love it, and all the variations you came up with. Now THAT'S talent!

Kayte said...

OMW you met the challenge and then some! I think you win this week. The little canning jar cake is so cute and clever, and every single one of those other variations of using up that lovely mascarpone cream looks wonderful. I especially love the ones with fruit and the cake! Okay...back to the store, back to the kitchen, back to stealing all these ideas from you! Great job.

Pollyanna said...

Oh I LOVE what you came up with! Your creativity is amazing.

Kara said...

Add me to the list of people in awe. Seriously creative stuff there. I'm now thinking about how it would be possible to serve this in little trifle dishes (see, another reason that I now HAVE to go buy the trifle dishes that I saw at the Williams Sonoma outlet).

Erin said...

Amazing post! You are really inspiring me to put more thought into my recipes.

Oh, and I too loved the cake batter. I thought for a minute about foregoing the tiramisu and finishing the batter with a spoon : )

Pamela said...

Amazing. You truly are AMAZING!! This post takes the cake! LOL! :o) I couldn't help it!

bakingwiththeboys said...

Eight desserts. Really? I am in awe. Truly. What a great post and if I ever need to turn one ounce of mscarpone into 12 ounces homemade, I know where to go. Ha ha.

The Blonde Duck said...

That looks delicious!

charli said...

I love the idea of serving the cake in a jar! How clever!

pinkstripes said...

Wow! So many things to comment on. First of all, I love the tiramisu in a jar. Wonderful.

I love that you reused everything with the mascarpone filling (it was super delicious). I need to clean out my freezer...you've inspired me.

chocolatechic said...

You are brilliant!

Juliana said...

Love all your ideas to enjoy mascarpone...great pictures!

Tracey said...

Fabulous! Really, really fabulous! The tiramisu looks great in the jar and I love that you made all kinds of additional desserts with the leftover filling.

Jules Someone said...

Oh. My. Goodness. I want to come to your house. Those variations are fabulous! I am very impressed.

Cathy said...

Wow, you totally rocked the challenge Nancy, and then some! I can't even begin to soak it all in (get it? Soak in?) in just one read- through on blackberry - you better believe I will be revisiting this post when I am in front of real computer with paper, pencil and calculator. Every last one of your desserts looks simply amazing, and the homemade mascarpone sounds incredible. What a fabulous post!

Pam said...

Seriously amazing post. You are so unbelievably talented. And I love, love that spoon!

Jennifer said...

WOW! You are SO creative...that always inspires me.

And, I want the spoon sitting atop the mascarpone cream. Pretty please?

Reeni♥ said...

Your family is so lucky! Such scrumptious treats you have squirreled away. I would be raiding your freezer every night. You did an impresive job here! I love the tiramisu in a jar!

Katrina said...

OMG, awesome! Love the cake in a jar. LOVE your mascarpone and LOVE ALL you scrumptious desserts. What a great post. (I wouldn't be able to do that simple fraction math. Funny, I'm a baker, and I HATE fractions! Great job and way to take a challenge!)

PheMom said...

Yum! I really wanted to use the mascarpone, but I knew the kiddo wouldn't touch it. I can't wait to use it for something soon though! Your Tiramisu looks lovely!

Karen said...

What a great way to use up all of the leftovers! This was super cute! Glad it turned out so well!

margot said...

I think this may be the most awesome TWD post I've ever seen. I am amazed at how many pieces of leftover desserts you had in your kitchen to concoct into these lovely new ones.

Sara said...

That is so pretty in the jar, what a fabulous idea. I can't believe all those desserts that you made! You save everything - I wish I had the freezer space to do that too!

dorie said...

Absolutely, positively fabulous, fabulous -- actually fabulous eight times! The cake was wonderful in the canning jar and I'm awestruck by its seven other incarnations. What a treat to see your post and pictures.

Michele said...

How creative to use the jar for serving! Lovely!

karen said...

very interesting! i really need to get your scaling skills, i can't stand scaling a recipe by any more than 1/2 but my pants just keep getting smaller so i need to do something drastic! :) love the jar, the pans, the post itself... great job!!

Steph said...

I enjoyed reading that Nancy. You are so creative. Mascarpone filling on its own..yum!

Jamie said...

Wow! I love all of those little mascarpone desserts. Wonderful! My son makes the world's best Tiramisu (that should all be accentuated in capital letters) - I have it posted on my blog. I love your changes and I love the single serving in the jelly jar.

Madam Chow said...

I also made a mini . . . and made more filling than I needed to make. Yum.

Eliana said...

OK - I'm not a fan of tiramisu but I LOVE all of your other uses for marscapone cream. I want to put together every single one of those desserts like right now (does that mean there is something wrong with me).

AmyRuth said...

Nancy, you didn't let us down. Once again you waved your mathematical genius and creative wand to wow us beyond the mascarpone abyss. You give recycling a whole new meaning. :-) Awesome job
clap clap clap

natalia said...

Ciao Nancy ,seeing all the seven possibilities was fun !! I don't think the mascaspone and zabaione would be less healty we have the yolks but no heavy cream ! I would like to try the cake the other way but the other tuesdays are on my back !!

Cafe Johnsonia said...

I love it. ALL of it!

Fit Chick said...

Nancy, I think you are amazing and out of control, LOL. Wonderful ways to use the mascarpone.

Stacey said...

Oh that tiramisu in a jar is WAY too cute! I LOVE it for a baby shower or wedding shower dessert! How creative! I love your blog!

TeaLady said...

Nancy!!! A 7 in one dessert. How clever. Genius I call it. Cute tiramisu. Love the post.

Please don't ever quit!!!!

Di said...

I can't believe it took me this long to get to your TWD post this week... That's hilarious. =) And amazing. The more I've read, the more I realize that I really need to at least make the cake and filling parts at some point. At least me kitchen is getting back to normal...

Engineer Baker said...

How absolutely hilarious! I love all the uses of the mascarpone filling - it really was wonderful all on its own, wasn't it?