Last week, I took myself on a field trip to visit Eataly in NYC. For those of you who have still not heard, Eataly is a big Italian marketplace- lots of food, lots to taste. I’ve been trying to get to this place since the day it opened but it’s been difficult finding a decent time slot. I finally made it happen! My overall impression: overwhelmed and a little disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong, the overwhelmed feeling was in a good way. It was exciting to walk in and see so many different stations: gelato, coffee, pasta, cheese, breads, meats, fish, chocolate, coffee etc. Oh and the produce all looked so scrumptious! If you want to seriously shop food though, I think you need to walk in with a plan on what you will be cooking. Otherwise, you will find yourself wanting to put all kinds of random things in your shopping basket. So why was it a little disappointing you ask? I think I was hoping to find something new that I had never seen before (dessert related), either to eat or inspire me. However, I did not see much that was new. The dessert counter, although tempting and delicious, did not look that different from what you see at Whole Foods.
On the plus side, I did leave with ingredients for a delicious dinner meal that night: Fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes for a Caprese salad. A fresh loaf of olive bread and fresh spinach ravioli for dinner. For dessert, I was REALLY tempted to pick up the rather large and expensive chocolate chip pannetone that was displayed everywhere. Instead, I grabbed some mascarpone cheese thinking I’d make some tiramisu with it. I had S bring home some nice red wine to go with the meal. Dinner was absolutely delicious but I never got around to making dessert that night. And so, two days later I decided to get on it.
Now, since S does not really like coffee desserts, I decided to change it up a bit. (It was the least I could do since he did such a fabulous job picking out a bottle of red wine and came home with not one bottle but 5 extras to replenish the wine cabinet! First, I added some walnuts to the biscuit batter. Instead of espresso, I made the mascarpone cinnamon flavored. S does not really care for dark bitter chocolate either so I dusted with sweet ground chocolate instead of unsweetened cocoa powder. At the last minute, I also decided to skip out on soaking the cake with rum or any other type of booze. So you see, this is not really Tiramisu at all. It is however, a delicious cake with warm flavors perfect for the winter season….walnuts, cinnamon and chocolate. Can you taste it?
Recipe (makes about 4-6 servings)
For the Walnut biscuit:
75 g walnut flour (finely ground walnuts)
20 g cake flour
70 g sugar, divided
67 g egg white
15 g butter, melted
Prepare a 16×12 inch sheet pan by buttering and covering it with parchment paper. Combine the walnut flour, cake flour, and 20 g sugar in an electric mixer on slow speed. Add the whole eggs one at a time and mix until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, prepare a meringue by whipping the egg whites until foamy and then slowly adding the remaining 50 g of sugar. Whip until you have stiff peaks. Fold the meringue into the first egg batter gently so as not to deflate it. Fold in the melted butter. Spread the batter into the pan carefully. You do not want to handle it so much that it deflates. Bake at 350°F for about 5-10 minutes or until it looks golden and springs back to touch. Remove it from the sheet pan by lifting it out with the parchment. (It’s a thin cake, so it’s best to let it cool out of the pan and then peel off the parchment.)
For the cinnamon mascarpone:
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Beat all the ingredients in an electric mixer until combined and creamy. Be careful not to over whip!
unsweetened cocoa powder or ground chocolate powder
small fine mesh strainer
Cut the biscuit into six piece (about 5×6 inches each.) Spread 1/6 of the mascarpone filling over the first layer and then dust with cocoa through the strainer. Cover it with the next layer of cake and repeat. Place the entire cake in the freezer for at least an hour or overnight. This will let the cake firm up enough to cut nice even pieces without ruining the layers. I trim off the sides first to eliminate the uneven parts and then cut even pieces to serve. Decorate as you like. I used a snowflake stencil and dusted over it with powdered sugar. Allow the cake to come to room temperature before serving.