An Unorthodox Tiramisu

tiramisu

a.k.a Operation Salvage

I couldn’t master the strength for a full-blown spring cleaning yet but I did review my pantry last weekend, checking for close to or a little over their best before date items. I found (among a few other things) a package of lady fingers. Hm.

The following boozy and indulgent treat was our farewell to cold season. Be prepared for a tear in the fabric of averageness though! This tiramisu turned out to be the best* I’ve ever made, (*not my words, before you think I’m trying to paint myself in glowing colors) so good actually that I crossed out all the other tiramisus from my recipe collection. I won’t be needing them.

Before we even begin: if you are a true-born Italian and/or a die-hard dogmatic, you’ll probably find the recipe featured in this post not strictly… appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, tradition is important to me but this time I tried to strike a balance between principle and pragmatism.

I’ll tell you in advance that compared to the classic, this version is lacking – horribile dictu! – both eggs and marsala.

One thing to know about my relationship to eggs: I couldn’t care less about the expiry date written on them. OK, I can feel that’s a bit strong so let me explain.

Eggs don’t automatically go bad after a certain time. Understand that the freshness of an egg does not singularly determine its edibility. I’m looking at you, water testers! While there is science behind the method (egg shells are porous – over time air makes its way in causing older eggs to be buoyant), but it’s just that: establishing that they are not that fresh any more. Please don’t toss them just yet, they are not necessarily bad!

If you’re not sure whether your eggs are ok to use – even when they’re not yet beyond the date indicated on the carton – you have to crack them open, preferably one by one in a separate bowl. Believe me when I say you’ll notice if an egg is spoiled due to funny colors and an even funnier smell. Nothing suspicious? Great, you may carry on.

That’s my rule of thumb when eggs are going to be properly cooked. To support my theory, here’s what my grandmother told me: Back in the day come fall, surplus eggs were put away in the granary for the winter when hens were laying less to none. Stored this way, they lasted as long as Easter, still fit for consuming (for making delicate sponge cakes even!).

Raw eggs are a completely different matter however as food poisoning is no joke. Not even a tiramisu is worth the gamble with  Salmonella and E. coli. Just imagine being responsible for the dessert that sent your guests down a road paved with diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, fever and abdominal cramps, even ending up hospitalized due to dehydration in more severe cases. I’d say that would be a textbook example of transferring yourself from likeable to loathsome.

tiramisu

Taking the above into consideration, I always use whipped cream as substitute for eggs when making tiramisu.

That said, the case with marsala is much less complex: I just don’t keep it at home. I have orahovac though, a dark, sweet, nutty-flavored liqueur made with green walnuts, popular throughout the Balkans. It’s the secret ingredient in some of  the most well-received desserts I make and goes with coffee like a dream. If you travel to this region, try to get your hands on it (or look for nocino in Italy, it’s basically the same thing).

What else goes with coffee so well? Irish cream (Happy Belated St. Patrick’s Day!). I also had an open bottle with just a few sips left, so in the mixture it went too. Not at all dominant, but adds yet more complexity to the flavor.

I have experienced a big revelation too. I was sure I’d messed up when I absent-mindedly poured the cream into the bowl already containing the mascarpone, without whipping it first. Well, as it turns out you can whip the two together beautifully so I’ll never bother with careful folding (and washing an extra bowl) again.

There you have a story of working with what I have.

Unorthodox Tiramisu

  • Time: 45 min + 3 h chilling
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A safer and savvy take on the classic Italian dessert. Serves 8.

Ingredients

200 g lady fingers

150 ml fresh coffee espresso

2 tbsp orahovac (or other liqueur of your choosing)

250 g mascarpone

600 ml whipping cream

50 ml Irish cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp sugar

unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

Directions

  1. Brew coffee, let cool to room temperature and mix with the liqueur in a shallow bowl.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whip irish cream, mascarpone, sugar and cold cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, set aside.
  3. Dip half the biscuits in the liquid for a few seconds each side (until soaked but not collapsing), arrange in a single layer to the bottom of a 20 cm / 8″ serving dish.
  4. Spread half the cream evenly over lady fingers.
  5. Dip remaining biscuits, arrange over layer of cream.
  6. Transfer remaining cream to a piping bag with a wide nozzle, decorate top layer of the dessert.
  7. Chill overnight, or at least 3 hours. Dust with cocoa powder before serving. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Do you have a system for tracking the expiry dates of products in your pantry? Also, are you taking the dates indicated seriously, or you open and check if they are still good before getting rid of them? Let me know!

Friday Finds

It’s here! Have you checked out IKEA’s new summer collection yet? I picked my favorites for you today. Absolutely love the textures and colors, can’t wait to get my hands on these beauties. Warmer days, we are ready for you!

SOMMAR 2017 basket, handmade from seagrass:

ikea sommar 2017 basket

SOMMAR 2017 bedspread, woven from a natural cotton fabric:

ikea sommar 2017 bedspread

SOMMAR 2017 beverage dispenser for all the cold drinks ahead:

ikea sommar 2017 beverage dispenser

SOMMAR 2017 picnic blanket, practical and machine washable:

ikea sommar 2017 picnic blanket

SOMMAR 2017 side plate, with a lively light-grey glaze:

ikea sommar 2017 plate

Happy Weekend!

Fruzsi

All images © IKEA

On Decluttering, Hygge and Happiness

cup with hearts

It may sound strange, but I feel like the new year has just begun. To me, it’s not NYE that really marks the end of last year and the start of a new one: I wake up on January 1st and tend to be quite melancholic. Everything looks and feels the same as it did the day before, it’s still winter and it would be for at least a good two months longer.

(Not that I have anything particular against winter; every season could and should be enjoyed no matter which climate zone the place you call home happens to be in.)

But only around this time of the year do I actually start feeling resurrection: when the sun begins to set a little later, its rays are slowly gaining back their strength, birds are singing again and nature is awakening. Everything is fresh and new, a carte blanche.

I hope I’m making some sense here! 🙂

Spring has finally begun showing her lovely face to us here in Central Europe and on this much-anticipated occasion, I’ve decided no recipes today. Here’s what I have in store for you instead: elements of happiness. Oh, yeah!

I’m sure you guys are familiar with the international bestsellers The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo and The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking. These books are definitely the talk of the town these days.

I think we’ll all agree I’ve picked some pretty hot topics to discuss in today’s post as those catchphrases in the title are #trending like crazy for some time now. Everyone’s sharing an opinion on these two subjects, so I had to see for myself what the buzz was all about.

I’ll be frank with you, I did feel the need for regular wardrobe purges before I was advised to do so and I’m beginning to think I should’ve been born in Denmark, as I was always naturally drawn towards things with a high hygge-factor (is there anyone not obsessed with cinnamon buns and throw blankets anyway?).

Finding nothing really groundbreaking in either one of these books, I still enjoyed reading and will probably refer back to them multiple times. Like anything else in life, you have to pick and choose the elements that work for you and your situation.

Admittedly though, my longing for a fireplace reached all-new levels and I also have a newfound sense of minimalism concerning my whole life, not just the underwear drawer.

Because even if you already know/do/have experienced some (or most) things listed in these volumes, it’s nice to put a name to a feeling that’s hard to describe (that would be hygge) and to have a system handy for keeping your spaces tidy (the KonMari Method).

As an introvert, the idea of a well-organized home, coziness and slow living is very appealing to me anyway. But could saying goodbye to pilling sweaters and lighting a bunch of candles really be the key to happiness (in the including but not limited to sense)? I kinda think so!

Let me elaborate.

As Benjamin Franklin put it: ‘Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life’.

In my mind, his words translate to appreciating the now, savoring the moment and being grateful for simple pleasures as key factors in the pursuit of overall wellbeing. And you can only do so when you have order and predictability in your life.

So here we are at my bottom line: it’s important to dream big, have focus and work towards your goals, wether it’s having more time, money or whatever it is you think would make you a happier person.

But the content you feel in those silent moments when you are snuggled up cozy in your favorite spot at an orderly, functional home with a good book and a steaming cup of hot chocolate is what real happiness looks like on an everyday basis.

It’s in the small things. Remind yourself of that!

Love,

Fruzsi

Have you read these cult books, or are you familiar with their concept? How do you feel about them? Are you planning to incorporate some aspects to your lives on any level? I’d love to know!

 *Disclaimer: Reviews or any other refernce made to publications on My Chest of Wonders represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship, commissions or gifts.*

“Cup with hearts inside” photo by valeria_aksakova / Freepik

Friday Finds

I figure if a girl wants to be a legend, she should go ahead and be one.

– Martha Jane Canary

A little belated, but wishing you Happy International Women’s Day !

Spring feelings (Photo: Sara Medina Lind, styling: Jenny Martinsson of Hemtrender):

spring feelings

Gentle and kind:

no one has ever become poor by giving

Sleek and white (Photo: Tina Fussell via 100 Layer Cake-let):

white peonies

In the windowsill (Snowdrops photo: Suvi Kesalainen):

snowdrops

Wrapped up (by Caroline of Burkatron):

wrapped bouquet

Happy Weekend!

Fruzsi

Dutch Baby, the New Star of Our Weekends

dutch baby in skillet

I might be a little late to the bandwagon with this one as one Manca’s Cafe of Seattle already owned the trademark for the Dutch Baby in 1942 and it is said to actually derive from German pancakes, so you probably won’t find anything revolutionary below.

Still, this hybrid of a beauty (hello, crepes, pancakes and popovers!) is new to our breakfast routine. First, because when we say pancakes in Hungary what we mean is the thin, French crêpe filled with apricot jam or sweet cottage cheese. And also because pancakes are considered dessert or eaten as second course after a hearty soup.

I took my chances despite all the rules – going against tradition and making dessert for breakfast. I’m telling you, Dutch Babies are on demand ever since! And as my country is becoming more acquainted with brunching, I’m sure we will soon see them popping up (literally!) everywhere.

I don’t think pancakes need much explaining to anyone. All versions of this pastry are prepared from eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt, leavened or unleavened. And while I like and regularly make most of the variations, dutch babies are particularly awesome because it’s not necessary to prepare several pieces from the batter: one skillet, one pouring, and you’re set.

BTW, skillets. I bought a cast iron skillet and not used it for years. Nowadays, it’s out constantly. I found the idea of seasoning too much of a hassle first, but once I got the hang of it, this lasting piece become one of the trustiest items in my kitchen (read this short how-to if you need some clarifying on the subject).

dutch baby slice

Anyway. Here’s a few Dutch Baby tricks I’ve learnt:

Don’t start with preheating your oven. Make the batter, and then switch the heat on. In the cca. 15 minutes the temperature reaches ‘hot’, the flour will have time to start absorbing the liquid. The result is a softer, tender texture and crunchy edges.

To help your pancake puff up nice and high, use a smaller skillet (like a 9″ or 10″). Although any oven-safe pan (even a pie dish!) will do, cast iron is best without a doubt. Using a hot pan also helps increase the puff, so warm the skillet along with the oven.

This one is from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings: using your blender to make the batter. A few pulses and the ingredients are mixed smoothly with no lumps, much better than me and my whisk would ever be able to. The washing-up is the same, so you decide!

Dutch Babies can be pretty versatile too. Enrich the batter with caramelised fruits like apples or pears (when adding fruits, remember to arrange them over the bottom of the pan first, pouring the batter over top: this way the add-ons won’t weigh your Baby down). Cocoa powder and spices also work wonders. Think cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.

I’ll add the recipe, just in case you lived under a rock like I did don’t happen to have one. This batch serves the two of you. If you have more mouths to feed, offer slices along with other breakfast favorites. Recipe can be scaled up.

Dutch Baby Pancake

  • Time: 5 min prep + 20 min baking
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A spectacular skillet pancake guaranteed to wow.

Ingredients

4 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole milk

pinch of salt

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. Measure ingredients except butter into your blender and pulse to mix well, about 2×10 sec.
  2. While batter is resting, preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F, along with the skillet.
  3. Carefully take skillet out and toss in butter, swirl to cover sides as well (watch out for sputters)
  4. Pour batter in skillet, transfer to hot oven immediately.
  5. Bake until puffed up and golden, about 15-20 min. Serve hot.

Do you make Dutch Babies often? What do you prefer eating them with? Melted butter? Drizzled with honey? Maple syrup? Jam? Fresh fruits? Or simply dusted with powdered sugar?

I just love squatting in front of the oven to watch as it puffs.

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

And so by degrees the winter wore away… and the chill, bitter, windy, early spring came round.

– Anthony Trollope

Spring neutrals (photo by Tjaša via Flickr):

spring neutrals

Wise words:

beau taplin quote

Spring in the kitchen (photo by Vibeke of Vibeke Design):

farmhouse kitchen

Never not candles (via Pinterest):

candles and mercury glass

Spring upgrades (Affogato al Caffè by Lisa of Very Eatalian):

affogato

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

Billet-Doux to Summers Past: Clafoutis

sour cherry clafoutis

Recently weather has been playing make-believe with us. I was searching for a word to best describe this time of the year, but all I came up with was uncertainty. End of February is a non-season, don’t you think? Had our fair share of cold, days are getting longer, but spring is not quite here yet either. We’ll just have to endure some more.

It’s also the toughest time of year in the kitchen when you cook produce oriented (which I try to do, within reason). I wanted to whip up dessert, but not something overly decadent. I was dreaming of light, fruity stuff. But what kind of fruit, really? Apples and pears are all from storage and I’m so tired of citrus and bananas by now.

I finally got inspired when we went out to dinner to Pavillon de Paris in celebration of Husband’s name day (also known in some circles as Valentine’s Day 🙂 ). Started off with Escargots de Bourgogne followed by duck and quail, and finishing with a perfect Crème brûlée for him, and Clafoutis with forest fruits for her.

Their clafoutis was a little unorthodox, served not in slices but in a ramekin and I absolutely loved it! Instead of the classic custardy pancake batter, the texture was a lot fluffier, soufflé-like. I think I felt a hint of almond in there too, which was also a wonderful touch.

Decision made, clafoutis it is. Sure, any fresh, local fruit is months away but I have access to the next best thing: frozen fruits. It’s about time we started cleaning out mom’s freezer anyway to make space for this year’s harvest (let’s just hope this isn’t wishful thinking).

You should know my parents maintain a mini model farm of a garden in their backyard with an amazing array of fruits and vegetables and what we don’t eat fresh gets conserved. They have a big capacity chest freezer literally overflowing with home-grown produce.

So we’re set. Or are we? I’ve read through dozens of recipes in search for this airy light take on the traditional French dessert, one that will hopefully puff up nicely and stay that way instead of collapsing in the middle as it cools, but came up empty-handed. I’m sure it’s out there somewhere, I just didn’t happen to stumble upon it.

Eventually, I made an educated guess: the truth must lie in the intersection of pancakes and sponge cakes. I used some milk as per pancakes, and separated the eggs, as per sponges. Further on, I’ve decided to stick to the roots with sour cherries, although clafoutis works well with just about any fruit.

sour cherry clafoutis

The authentic way would have been using whole cherries. This is said to add more flavour but to be honest, I find having to deal with pits in your mouth a severe blow to the level of enjoyment. But, do as you like. Also note that frozen fruit should be thawed and drained beforehand.

Sour Cherry Clafoutis

  • Time: 20 min prep + 30 min baking
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The rustic, French country dessert with a twist in texture.

Ingredients

400 g sour cherries pitted or whole, fresh or frozen

3 eggs, separated

50 g + 3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp kirsch or meggy pálinka (strong, clear fruit brandy, optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

50 g almond flour

50 g all-purpose flour

60 ml (1/4 cup) whole milk

powdered sugar, for dusting

butter, for greasing the pan

Directions

  1. If using frozen fruit, thaw and drain.
  2. Grease a 32 cm / 13” pie plate generously with butter, preheat oven to 180°C / 356°F.
  3. In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Adding a tbsp of sugar at a time, continue whisking until stiff and shiny. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining 50 g sugar until pale.
  5. Add vanilla, alcohol (if using) and milk. Mix well.
  6. Add almond flour and all-purpose flour, mixing just until incorporated.
  7. Carefully fold in egg whites and pour batter into pan. Arrange cherries on top.
  8. Bake for 30-35 min until set and golden. Transfer to a rack to cool, serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar.

slice of cherry clafoutis

How do you deal with winter blues?

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I’ve visited, and used services offered by business establishments mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such entities represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Friday Finds

Late February days; and now, at last, might you have thought that winter’s woe was past; so fair the sky was and so soft the air.

William Morris

Today seeking shades of blue.

Grape hyacinth in blue (via Vibeke Design):

grape hyacinths and cherry blossom

Motivation in blue:

pema chodron quote

Paris in blue (photo by Joachim Robert via Flickr):

twilight Paris

Duvet in blue (via Pottery Barn):

Pottery Barn bed

Beverage in blue (Blueberry Mint Fizz by MKR via Waiting on Martha):

blueberry mint fizz

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

A Year of Blogging

grateful

Dear All,

It’s my first blogoversary! Is this even real? Feels like hitting publish for the first time was just yesterday. Wow. At an important milestone such as this one, a little reminiscing and a lot of looking ahead is in order.

A year and 100 posts ago I started this journey and if I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure I’d even make it this far. Yet here I am, not having missed a single post from my schedule, feeling motivated, inspired and ready to grow more than ever.

Regardless that my numbers are far from what you’d call monumental, I still feel like I have accomplished something. This wasn’t about going viral for me, and therefore I am grateful for every click more than you’ll know.

Looking back at it now, all of this started out as a hobby but has since blossomed into a real passion. My Chest of Wonders become such a wonderful outlet! As far as I remember I always loved writing, but blogging is so much more than that.

A lot of effort goes into it and therefore I appreciate every like, share and comment. Your support is everything. You are the reason I keep doing this. I feel humbled when anyone takes time out of their day to check out the things I put out there, even more so if you’re among those who enjoy it enough to follow me.

Can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us! So, thanks again to all of you who have stuck with me and welcome if you’re stopping by for the first time!

Love,

Fruzsi

P.S. Here’s to that special someone who has had the biggest hand in making this blog a reality. I referred to you as the Fiance when I started, and now I am fortunate to call you my Husband. You’ve been here for me since day one and continue to encourage me every day. Thank you for being my Nr.1 fan! I love you always!

‘Grateful’design by Cocorrina

Friday Finds

Keep your faith in beautiful things;
in the sun when it is hidden,
in the Spring when it is gone.

–  Roy R. Gibson

A little spring on your windowsill (Grape Hyacith via Vibeke Design):

white grape hycinth

Everyday magic:

savor the small things

Longing for blue (Dolomites, Italy photo by Blurino):

dolomites italy

Nailhead trim and subtle hues (photo by Danielle of Silver Pennies):

couch and pillow

The art of pie (Maple Apple Pie by Janice of Kitchen Heals Soul):

apple maple pie

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi