Sunday, 1 December 2013

Tiramisu, Pizza East & Mini Apple Crumbles

Last Saturday I made tiramisu, which I haven't done in a long time (over a year!). I had forgotten what
a fun and easy dessert it is to make. Now I have electric egg beaters (moving up in the world) it is even easier; much less arm-work. I always marvel at how strong our grandmother's arms must have been from all that baking without our modern kitchen gadgets. I embellished the traditional recipe a little by adding an extra dusting of cocoa powder between layers, and also using amaretto instead of brandy. I let the tiramisu rest overnight, and served at a friend's place for Sunday lunch pudding, following the best chicken roast ever made (which I didn't make, by the way - this was a friend who has the gift of chicken roast, among others). I do think there is much room for improvement in my tiramisu however, especially after the tiramisu I tried the following evening.

Monday movie night, and after many recommendations from colleagues, we decided to try the pizza at Pizza East in Shoreditch. Good pizza + trendy warehouse-style restaurant + Shoreditch = popularity. We were forewarned about this, so arrived promptly at 6pm to secure our seat at the bar (6pm on a Monday, and we couldn't even get a proper table...). The seats at the bar were great though, as you can watch the prosciutto slicing machine in action, and admire the cheeses, plus the bar staff are very attentive.

The pizza was good. I mean, this is London, not Naples, so my expectation is slightly lower. By London standards, excellent pizza. And reasonably priced wine by the carafe, tick. Following pizza, we procured a dessert menu, and ordered tiramisu, £6.

This was the best tiramisu in a while (beats mine..). It was very dark, with loads of espresso - the sponge was soaked to death. There was more coffee than cream, so this one is not for the faint hearted, but perfect Shoreditch party food to keep you up to the small hours. It certainly kept us awake through the movie. I think my mascarpone mix is better, but the extra-strength coffee was a winner for me here. I'm going to try this in mine next time.





Tiramisu leftovers

Following on from my tiramisu making... Mascarpone always comes in 250g or 500g size pottles, which means if you're making tiramisu, you end up with 100g leftover. Don't panic. Mascarpone tastes good with pretty much anything, including any kind of fruit - such as apples, which also needed to be used up in my house.

For my birthday this year, some friends gave me a set of Le Creuset mini casserole dishes, which I thought might make perfect mini apple crumble dishes.

So, I peeled and sliced two apples (one per person/mini casserole dish), and in a bowl, added 1/8 teaspoon mixed spice and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, which I rubbed into the apple slices. I then packed the apple slices into each dish.

To make the crumble topping, I used 1/3 cup ground almond, 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar (not packed) and 1 tablespoon cubed butter (add other nuts if you have them, such as walnuts). Mix the ground almond and sugar together, then rub in the butter, like you would making pastry, until you have a sticky mess.

Divide the mix between the two dishes and pack in. Bake at 180c for 20 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid for a further 15 minutes. If you don't have Le Creuset mini casserole dishes with lids, just use ramekins and tin foil.

While the crumble was baking, I dealt with the mascarpone. I also had a whole bottle of amaretto from my tiramisu-making, so thought it might go nicely with the mascarpone and the apples. So I whisked 1 1/2 tablespoons of amaretto into the 100g of mascarpone until it was well mixed and soft. You could use anything in place of the amaretto - brandy, rum, cointreau, frangelico - whatever you have in your liquor cabinet. Or just vanilla essence if you want to go alcohol-free (though I wouldn't add 1 1/2 tablespoons - probably half a teaspoon should do it!). Mine separated slightly in the time between making it and using it, but I just gave it another quick whisk and it was fine.

Once your crumbles are good and baked, let them cool for a few minutes, then top with your amaretto mascarpone and serve.

Mini apple crumble with amaretto mascarpone

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