Monday, December 19, 2011

Eggnog Tiramisu and Sunday in Pictures

Eggnog Tiramisu loves you.

I made this for you.  Okay, so I really made it for our family Christmas gathering on my mom's side, but I totally thought of you while making it.  And the best part- it's so simple to make, yet totally elegant!  Eggnog and Tiramisu become their best selves when the two become one.  But more on that later.  Here's how yesterday looked:
Family coziness
We obviously know how to tear into some delicious appetizers.  Mmm.  Shrimp.
Ian made his signature mashed potatoes with goat cheese and rosemary, which were stunning.  Watch him work.

Dad was the star of the show with his succulent (ew! I can't believe I just used that word) standing rib roast grilled masterfully on his Weber Kettle Grill.

Juicy Vittles

Fire pit for keeping roasty toasty while sipping a hot toddy.
Today's hot toddy of choice was spiced cider with black spiced rum.  Speaking of rum, you're gonna need some to make this killer dessert.

Eggnog Tiramisu
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups organic whole milk
3 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter

Espresso Soak
1/2 cup black spiced rum (The Kraken is what I used.  My favorite!)
3 Tbsp espresso powder
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar

1 package almond cookies, crushed
1 handful Slivered or chopped almonds (optional)
1 whole angel food cake (you could sub out lady fingers if you so desire)

Whipped Cream
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup frangelico (hazelnut liquor)
1 tsp vanilla

This looks like a lot of ingredients, but it's actually really simple and all about layering.  Promise.  Let's start by making pudding from scratch.  This is one of the first things I really remember making by myself and being proud of.  I was thirteen-ish?  My mom had this checkered Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook (your mom probably has one too) and it made pudding from scratch pretty simple business.  If you leave the nutmeg out of this eggnog custard, BAM!  You have vanilla pudding.  Don't buy Jello.  I love you too much to let that happen to you ever again.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine milk and sugar over medium heat.  In a separate small container, stir in a little milk from the pan into the cornstarch until there are no lumps.  Pour it all back in the pan.  Stir frequently until the milk is "scalded."  This means there will be little bubbles all around the edges where the milk touches the pan, and it will smell cooked.  In the meantime, crack and lightly beat your eggs in a bowl.  Keep at the ready. When your milk is scalded, remove the pan from the heat.  Add a few tablespoons of the hot milk mixture in a slow and steady stream into your eggs.  Beat continuously while doing this.  We're just bringing the eggs up to temperature so they don't curdle when we put them in the milk.  After you've incorporated a little of the milk into the eggs, slowly pour a steady stream of the egg mixture into the pan with the milk, mixing continuously to avoid curdling.  This is called tempering your eggs.  No biggie.
Cook for two to three minutes more over medium heat while stirring.  When the mixture has thickened into a loose pudding consistency, remove from the heat.  Stir in vanilla and butter until melted it.  Glossy, no?  Grate in your nutmeg and stir.  Set aside.  Try not to eat the whole batch.  But definitely eat some!  You could stop here and have a comforting and delicious dessert to eat alone, or serve company in some fancy glasses with a ginger snap on the side.
Eggnog Custard

Make your espresso soak first.  Combine water, rum (or liquor of your choice), sugar, and espresso powder in a container that is easy to pour stuff out of.  Whisk until sugar dissolves.  In the serving bowl you'll be using to present your lovely dish (I used a large clear bowl so folks could see my luscious layers), line the bottom of the dish with some chunks of angel food cake.  We're talking a layer maybe an inch thick of cake on the bottom.  Drizzle half your espresso soak over the cake so it soaks it up.  It's okay if it's not even steven.  Those juices will sink in and redistribute.  Spread half your eggnog custard over the now very brown cake layer.  Sprinkle 1/3 of your crushed cookies over custard layer.  Repeat: cake, espresso soak, custard, cookies.  Time to make the whipped cream.  (Most fun step?)
Whipped Cream Topping
In a cold, clean bowl, use a hand mixer or stand mixer to whip the whole pint of whipping cream into soft peaks.  Add your liquor, vanilla, and sugar.  Whip to stiff peaks.  I like to use my immersion blender with the whisk attachment for making whipped cream.  It literally takes seconds and makes me stand in wonder like a five year old how it magically makes whipped cream happen so fast.  Taste to make sure it's sweet enough for your liking, but don't make it too terribly sweet.  That's part of the elegance of this dessert, is the perfect amount of sweetness complimenting each layer.  Spread the whole lot of it over your layered creation.  Top with the remaining 1/3 of your crushed cookies, and with your handful of crushed or slivered almonds if you choose to use them.  Let this sit overnight or at least for several hours while the flavors marry and the custard soaks and sets the dessert.  Scoop or slice and serve.
Once more, just to tempt you to make this baby

About this dessert
I have to take a minute to tell you I am super proud of this one.  I was inspired by a vegan recipe for Pumpkin Tiramisu and thought the seasonal flavor twist was brilliant.  But I wasn't all about combining chocolate with pumpkin for some reason.  When I thought about eggnog and espresso playing off one another with crunchy almonds, I had to make it and find out if this crazy combo would work.  I can't wait to make it again.  Whether you make the custard or go all the way with the Tiramisu, I hope you'll let me know how it turns out.  Merry Christmas in your mouth.

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