Bella Cucina!

I made a promise to myself a few weeks ago that I'd kick some of my eating habits to the curb so I'd be assured of fitting into my slinky cocktail dresses during the holiday season. Pfffft! Yeah. That lasted all of about two days. And who could fault me for gorging indulging in all the delicious food from this weekend?

Good Eats! Charlotte hosted a chili cook-off on Sunday and on Saturday, yet another Italian themed food event in conjunction with the Italian Social Club. My entry for the Italian contest was this fabulous looking White Chocolate Tiramisu Trifle with Spiced Pears from the December 2007 edition of Bon Appetit magazine. The photo alone was enough to make me wonder why I'd waited so long to try the recipe and with more booze than Grandma's rum balls at Christmas, it was a sure-fire winner in my book. I was up against some stiff competition and in the end, a traditional tiramisu took the much deserved first place award.

I made a few minor adjustments to the original recipe as posted below. I totally forgot the fresh ginger in the poaching liquid even though it was laying right beside the stove but I don't think anyone noticed. I used ground cinnamon and ground cardamom because I'd already spent the equivalent of my house payment on the other ingredients, so I used what I had on hand.

Congratulations to the winners from both contests and if you'll excuse me, I need to go let the seams out of my cocktail dress.

White Chocolate Tiramisu with Spiced Pears
Bon Appetit, December 2007

Spiced Pears:
1 750-ml bottle dry white wine
2 cups pear juice or pear nectar
1 1/4 cups sugar
12 whole green cardamom pods, crushed in resealable plastic bag with mallet
4 1-inch-diameter rounds peeled fresh ginger (each about 1/8 inch thick)
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
5 large firm but ripe Anjou pears (3 to 31/4 pounds), peeled

White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse:
7 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped
1/3 cup poire Williams (clear pear brandy)
1/4 cup water
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 8- to 8.8-ounce container mascarpone cheese*
1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

Trifle Assembly:
3 3-ounce packages soft ladyfingers,** separated
2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
White chocolate curls
1 tablespoon powdered sugar


For spiced pears:
Combine first 6 ingredients in large saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add pears and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until pears are just tender when pierced with knife, about 35 minutes. Transfer liquid with pears to large bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to plate. Boil poaching liquid in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat until slightly thickened and reduced to generous 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain into 2-cup measuring cup; discard spices in strainer. Cool. Cover and chill pears and pear syrup until cold.

For mousse:
Combine white chocolate, pear brandy, and 1/4 cup water in top of double boiler set over simmering water. Stir until smooth (mixture will be very liquidy). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; discard bean. Transfer white chocolate mixture to large bowl; gradually add mascarpone, whisking until mixture is smooth. Cool mascarpone mixture until barely lukewarm.

Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture in 4 additions. Cover and chill white chocolate mousse until set, about 3 hours. DO AHEAD: Pears and mousse can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

For trifle assembly:
Cut pears lengthwise in half and remove cores and stems; cut halves lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

Arrange ladyfingers, rounded sides down, in single layer in bottom of 12-cup trifle dish (about 8 inches in diameter and 5 inches deep), covering bottom completely (using about 15 ladyfingers). Drizzle 5 tablespoons pear syrup evenly over ladyfingers. Using small offset spatula, spread 1/3 of white chocolate mousse over ladyfingers, making layer slightly thicker around outer edges of dish to allow mousse to be more visible (center of mousse layer will be thin). Starting at outer edges of dish, place pear slices in single layer with curved edges against sides of dish atop mousse, covering completely. Repeat layering of ladyfingers, syrup, mousse, and pears 2 more times. Cover with fourth layer of ladyfingers (some ladyfingers and pear slices may be left over). Drizzle ladyfingers evenly with 5 tablespoons syrup. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate trifle and remaining pear syrup separately.

Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups whipping cream in large bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 cup pear syrup and beat until stiff peaks form. Working in batches, transfer cream to large pastry bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe rosettes all over top of trifle, mounding slightly in center. Sprinkle with crystallized ginger. Garnish with chocolate curls. DO AHEAD: Can be made 6 hours ahead. Keep refrigerated.

Sift powdered sugar over trifle just before serving.

* Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese; sold at many supermarkets and at Italian markets.

** Available in the bakery or bread section of some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores.

TEST-KITCHEN TIP:
To make chocolate curls, place one 3 1/2-ounce bar of high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina) on a plate and microwave on high at 5-second intervals just until slightly softened, but not hot or beginning to melt. Using vegetable peeler and starting at one long edge of the chocolate bar, shave white chocolate into curls. If the shaved chocolate breaks into small shards, it's not soft enough, so place in microwave again for a few seconds. If the chocolate becomes too soft, let it stand at room temperature or chill briefly until it firms up a bit.

1 comments:

Terri said...

Last year you gave us the Cranberry Chocolate Tart and I thought it couldn't get any better than that. Now this! OMG, I cannot wait to make this!

 

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