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>I have a few favorite pick me ups. My new one is in Miranda Baker. Not only does she love to bake, she loves chocolate, is a fabulous writer with a gift to enspell her readers to the point of ectasy and is a hoot to follow on Twitter. She has a new book out called “SoloPlay“. I’ll be posting a review over at Chocolate & Spice blog on Tuesday – with a chance to win a copy of her story. Trust me – you want a copy of this! But you’ll have to be a follower of the blog over there…so why not head on over now, become a follower 🙂

Now to Miranda ….

It’s safe to say I don’t have a food fetish. Like my heroine Destiny, there are some pleasures I don’t like to combine. I’ll take my chocolate straight, thank you very much. I can’t imagine writing a food and sex scene (although I’ve read some very good ones) however food usually makes its way into my writing.

I love a man who can cook – literally. My husband and I met in culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America, and he does most of the cooking at our house. Actually, he’d say he does all of the cooking, but I make breakfast five days a week and pack the school lunches, so I want my props too. Food is so much a part of my life that at first I didn’t realize I was making it a part of my characters’ lives too. In my first erotic romance novella Bottoms Up, the hero cooks dinner for his heroine and then serves her chocolate cheesecake in the bathtub. In SoloPlay, the next book in the Come Again series, the hero arrives with take-out from the Italian restaurant on the corner, including tiramisu for dessert.

I was introduced to tiramisu (“pick me up” in Italian) at Amerigo, a restaurant in Nashville, TN across the street from Vanderbilt University where I did my undergrad. I don’t know if the restaurant is still there but that tiramisu will live forever in my memory. Rich, creamy mascarpone mousse layered with espresso-soaked ladyfingers. Bittersweet perfection, made even more magnificent by two sauces – vanilla crème anglaise and espresso fudge. Ahh… pick me up, indeed.

I’ve also had excellent tiramisu at The Olive Garden. It’s a chain, sure, but they do it right. In fact, it’s their tiramisu that inspired my recipe. I had to do something; it was getting expensive to buy a whole one for my birthday every year!

Technically, the only chocolate in tiramisu is the cocoa powder on top, but it satisfies my chocolate craving just the same. I hope it will satisfy yours, too. Mangia!

Miranda Baker’s Favorite Tiramisu (OMG – I so want to make this!!!! Better yet – Miranda, will you come to my house and make it for me? Pretty please?)

(13X9 Pan)
3 Egg Yolks
¼ Cup Whole Milk
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 Pound Mascarpone Cheese
1 Pound Cream Cheese, room temperature
½ teaspoon Vanilla
2 Cups Heavy Cream combined with 6 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar, then whipped to soft peaks.
Ladyfingers – the soft cake-like kind. They can usually be found in the grocery store bakery.
1 Cup Cold Espresso or strong coffee
Cocoa Powder, for sifting

1. Make a double boiler: Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of hot water, and bring the water to a simmer. In a medium-size metal bowl, whisk the egg yolks and milk together, then add the sugar. Place the bowl on top of the simmering water in the saucepan and whisk until the sugar dissolves, the mixture begins to thicken and turn light yellow, and the temperature reaches 160 degrees. This pasteurizes the eggs to make them safe to eat. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.

2. Use an electric mixer to cream the cream cheese until no chunks remain. Scrape the bowl frequently. Add the mascarpone and vanilla and continue to cream the mixture.

3. Combine cooled egg yolk mixture with the cheeses. Do this slowly, a little liquid at a time to prevent lumping.

4. Fold in the whipped cream.

5. Pour espresso mixture onto a dinner plate. One by one (or sheet by sheet) dip the bottom of each ladyfinger into the espresso mixture. The top half should remain dry. Arrange the soaked ladyfingers side by side in the 13 X 9 pan.

6. Spoon half the cheese mixture over the ladyfingers and spread it evenly.

7. Make another layer of espresso-soaked ladyfingers, and cover them with the remaining cheese mixture. Smooth the top.

8. Dust with a generous layer of cocoa powder.

9. Cover and chill for several hours. Serve to people who deserve it. 

About Miranda Baker

It makes me chuckle to think about all the romantic short stories I wrote in my rather too literary creative writing classes in college. If only one of my professors had steered me toward popular fiction! On the other hand, if I had discovered my calling back then, I wouldn’t have gone to culinary school, I wouldn’t have met my husband, we wouldn’t have had three children and I wouldn’t have turned to erotic romance to get my mojo back during all this hair-raising kid raising.

Visit http://www.mirandabaker.com if you’d like to talk about romance, writing or recipes. Warning: most of my recipes are aphrodisiacs!

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