Genoise Sponge Strawberry Tiramisu Cups

Buon Giorno Friends!! I am soo excited about these little dessert cups.. I've been seeing jars filled with delectable goodies all over Pinterest since the first day I joined.  Just coming from two weeks of baking and graduation preps, I had a few ingredients leftover in my fridge that I wanted to use up. 

In my pantry I had these canning jars that I bought at the hardware store, intending to can plums.. but the jars unused were just waiting for me to wash the dust off and putt off no longer there use. So voila.. perfect timing and an even more so perfect strawberry and syrup infused dessert choice for these mini's.

"Strawberries from my garden".. 
These are Alpine strawberries. An intense flavored runner less berry that grows large and has much fruit. My healthy strawberries come to you with a little companion planting of marigolds.  I love marigolds for there many uses. They are perfect for warding off pests, but they also keep the flesh healthy. I'm not sure exactly why.. I wish I had studied more botany, but when I first started growing marigolds and calendula it was to make a skin soothing tincture. Marigolds contain natural salicylic acid, and help to heal bruised skin. I use to make the tincture and leave it in the refrigerator.. just for a few days at a time.. for a soothing tonic. Again, not a botanist or chemist here.. but I did work in the skincare industry for quite a few years. Many of our high priced items had salicylic acid in them for toning, healing blemishes and minimizing pore size. There ya go.. you should all be growing Marigolds or French Calendula Flowers! 

Back to my recipe.. :)

After all these years of blogging my family recipes, I realize I don't have an actual recipe for Tiramisu here at Dalla Mia Cucina. As I was perusing my own recipe posts, I noticed that I have a picture of a holiday dinner with all the yummy food items, including a dish of heavenly tiramisu, but no recipe. And even now this isn't a traditional Tiramisu, but many of the layer elements are here and can be used in your own tiramisu cake.. or any party cake where you want to impress your guests and family with a dessert that will leave them coming back for more. 

Here in this recipe I'm giving you what I think is the most important element of this classic Italian dessert.. the Génoise Sponge. Not just any sponge, a genoise sponge originating in the city of Genoa. Some call it a genoese sponge, no matter, it's all good and perfect! 

What makes this sponge unique is that it uses no leavening. The volume and airiness of this cake is derived from whipping air into it with beaters. This all takes place at the beginning stages, first warming your eggs and sugar over a warm water bath, beating it and making it light and frothy, then putting it on an electric beater stand and whipping it till the "ribbon" stage. Alternating with the addition of a soft wheat flour, in this case cake flour,  and melted butter. This crumb is firm and open and holds up wonderfully to sugar syrups and espresso. YUMM!! You can imagine where this is going.. right?? 

After I cut out my little cake shapes to fit inside the glass jars, I douse them with the marsala espresso syrup, then layer with the mascarpone cream, topped with macerated strawberries, adding another sponge layer, another dousing.. topped with chantilly cream and let soak up in the refrigerator for 3-5 hours.  When I took the lids off, I smoothed the cream and sprinkled a generous topping of grated chocolate. Good quality.. of your choice! This isn't traditional.. traditionally in a cake form I would use a good quality unsweetened cocoa powder. 

I hope you try this recipe.. I know you'll love it, especially the Genoise.. And if not this particular recipe.. definitely make dessert in these individual sized glass jars! 

...and the recipe!!

Bon Appetito!
Laurie V..

French Quarter Beignets
& Scalded Milk with Espresso and Cinnamon

I love creating recipes, I have to tell you.. I very rarely purchase cookbooks. I do have a grand selection of cooking magazines, but that is mainly because I love reading the articles and finding out "what's current" in the food industry for the season and year. And for the photo's.. I LOVE the photo's! But cookbooks.. I probably have 4-5 that are mainstay's. My regional Italian that I've had for close to 30 years, A French cookbook with beautiful egg, herb, cheese and local meat and fish dishes that are simple but infused with flavor, a Spanish Tapa cookbook, My English Tea cookbook and a wedding gift cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens Cooking that I love. It has classic cooking recipes that can be changed around so easily to suit my cooking style, and the foundational techniques were wonderful to hone my cooking skills as a young bridem 25 years ago.

But recently I came across a website of Cajun and New Orleans style cooking.  A new LOVE! I am so excited to try out these recipes and get my hands on a really good New Orleans Cuisine cookbook. If you happen to know of a really good one.. please let me know!! I remember as a young woman going to an evening New Orleans Jazz Concert at a restaurant in the heart of Anaheim, Cal. where I was first introduced to Blackened Catfish. I haven't had it since but it left such a remarkable mark in my memory banks. Blackened fish will definitely be one of the first Cajun recipes I make.

This recipe for French Quarter Beignets, pronounced  ben-YAYS comes from the web site, New Orleans Cuisine by Danno. Please, thumb through his many AMAZING recipes and take a look at his other web sites too. I know I will be returning many times!

These beignets were so light and delicious with my DMC style Cafe au Lait. Hot out of the frying pan straight into the powdered sugar and right onto a plate ready to eat and enjoy with a morning cup of coffee. For the coffee.. my kids love the way my mother in law makes hers. So when they are involved in our morning coffee time, they're treated to this sweet treat and drink just the way they like them. We scald the milk and then add it to a cup ready with a teaspoon of espresso powder and a teaspoon of turbinado sugar. Sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon on top. It's so creamy and yummy.. perfect to go with your hot beignets! 

French Quarter Beignet Recipe

1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Water (110 degrees F)
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Beaten Egg
1/2 Cup Evaporated Milk
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 Cups A.P. Flour
1/8 Cup Shortening
Vegetable Oil for Frying
Powdered Sugar in a shaker or sifter

Combine the Yeast, Water, and Sugar in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (You could also make this in a food processor, or the old fashioned way, by hand). Let this sit until frothy, about 5 minutes, then add the Salt, Egg, and Evaporated Milk. Mix on low speed, then add half of the flour until it starts to come together, then add the shortening. When the shortening is incorporated start adding the remaining flour, a little at a time until most of it is incorporated. At this time I always turn the dough onto a floured bench to finish by hand, just like when I make bread; it's a touch thing. Knead the dough adding just enough flour as necessary to make a non-sticky, smooth dough. Place the dough into a large oiled bowl, loosely cover and let rise (I made mine last night and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator).

After the dough has doubled in bulk, punch it down and turn it onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1/2" thick. With a very sharp knife working at a diagonal to the rectangle, cut into 2" wide strips. Now cut into diamond shapes by making diagonal cuts in the opposite direction. Place the Beignets on a floured baking sheet to let rise about 40 minutes in a warm place (I place them in a barely warm oven).

When the Beignets have risen, heat 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large saucepan to 350-360 degrees. Place 2-3 Beignets into the hot oil at a time, being careful not to smash or deflate them. When they are golden brown, flip them over until golden brown on the other side (They go pretty quickly so start checking them right after they go into the oil). Remove to paper towel lined plates to drain. Serve hot topped with plenty of powdered sugar (because the dough doesn't contain much sugar, you will want a lot!). Best served with Cafe au Lait. Enjoy!

Makes about 2 dozen.

I cut my dough into rectangles.. but as you read the recipe you will see he cuts his into diamond shapes. I think that must look so pretty and I'm going to try that next time.

I fried mine in my cast iron skillet. It worked out wonderfully! Make sure the heat is hot enough so that the dough starts cooking and turning golden pretty quickly. You also want to make sure you continue turning them over. Have a wire basket type spoon ready to remove them and put them on a double paper lined plate.

So golden and beautiful!! 

The powdering stage was the funniest stage for me the day I made these. It happened to be a beautiful breezy day and I had the window open enjoying the wind coming in. I mean, it was REALLY blowing to the point were the flame under the pan was fluttering all over the place. Don't ask me why.. but I had the tray of beignets right out of the pan near an open window.. dusting them with the powdered sugar. Definitely a site I, as well as my kitchen was. I read another recipe that instructs you too have a paper bag filled with powdered sugar and then to toss the hot beignets into the bag. That would have been the ideal route to take! So much quicker and cleaner!

Shepherd's Cottage Pie

This amazingly tasty dish has been making an appearance throughout Europe for hundreds of years. Mutton, lamb, beef and even fish, can easily find it's way into this British pie. I was first introduced to an English Shepherds pie early in my college days while on a short one month missions trip abroad. Previously in my home, we made this with a pastry crust, but recently an English girlfriend of mine told me that they make theirs without a crust all together! So easy to prepare and still just as satisfying! 

This recipe is pretty much allergy friendly and has ingredients that can easily be adapted to fit your dietary needs. Hope you enjoy!!

6 cups Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows)
2 cups Brown Sauce (recipe follows)
2 lbs. Ground Lamb or Beef
½ Onion
Salt and pepper
Butter or margarine
3 cups Dubliner Cheese Grated, I use Kerrygold Dubliner Cheese (*Please see note at the bottom)
3 Carrots cleaned and cut into small squares and cooked till tender.
1 Cup Peas (frozen not canned) cooked
6 Crimini Mushrooms cleaned and sliced

Mashed Potatoes
2-3 pounds russet potatos
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
3/4 to 1 cup raw milk or *Rice milk 
Salt and white pepper to taste

Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. In a large heavy saucepan simmer potatoes in salted water to cover by 1 inch 10 minutes, or until tender, and drain in a colander. In pan or bowl combine potatoes, butter or margarine, and 3/4-cup milk. With a potato masher or blender mash potatoes until just smooth, adding more milk and butter if necessary to make a creamy but not pasty potato. *Over cooking and blending your potatoes will make them too starchy. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Brown Sauce
3 shallots or scallions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
10-½ -ounces beef broth, canned is fine
1 Tb. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce (this is gluten free)
1 Tsp. Fresh Tarragon leaves finely chopped
½ Tsp. thyme
Salt, pepper
Gluten Free Beurre Manie (recipe follows)

Sauté chopped shallots or scallions in butter. Gradually add wortsheshire and beef broth. Let it come to a boil and add the seasonings. Cook down for a few minutes. Add Beurre manié to thicken to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes and strain. Set aside.

Ground Lamb or Beef
Finely chop ½ an onion. Sauté in 2 Tbsp. butter. Add ground meat and cook. Drain liquids. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Mix prepared vegetables together.

Beurre Manié
1oz Butter
3/4oz Cornflour
1 Blend the cornflour and butter together in a small dish.
2 Add the Beurre Manié in very small lumps to the sauce that you wish to thicken, a few at a time.
3 A good way to stop the sauce going lumpy is to add a few lumps on the tip of a knife, scraped down the side of the pan.  This melts slowly, ensuring no lumps.
4 Stir into the hot liquid until completely blended.
5 Return pan to the heat and slowly bring to the boil, stirring all the time until the sauce is thickened.

In a lasagna or sheet cake pan, start with mashed potatoes layer your ingredients, always adding cheese and sauce after each layer. Repeat process until you end with mashed potatoes on top. Potatoes can be piped on for a decorative finish but it is not necessary. Bake Shepherds Pie in a pre-heated 375° oven for 20 minutes. If potatoes start to brown too quickly loosely cover with foil.

This recipe can also be found on my allergy friendly blog,  A Favored Life.  

*Cheese can be omitted for those with a dairy intolerance, or substitute your favorite dairy free cheese.

** Any milk ingredient in this recipe can be substituted with rice, coconut or almond milk to fit your dietary need.