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Apr 27, 2008 12:54 PM

Help me come up with my birthday dessert

Not to be a complete control freak, but I just can't risk one of my friends showing up with a store-deli-bought cake for my birthday, so I volunteered to make my own birthday dessert.

I'm not trying to be ungracious, but the one who had said she would bring dessert has a fondness for FoodLion cakes with that "cool whip" icing. Dear Lord. I asked her to do an appetizer instead. Anyway.

But, I do love to make desserts and would like to try something new and creative this year for the ol' bday... it doesn't have to be a cake/cupcake recipe, so pretty much anything else goes Probably do not want to do a pie, though. Ohh- and I am not too big on a lot of fruit in my desserts, eiether.

There will probably be about 10 at dinner and it is in a couple of weeks.

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  1. I have received many compliments on this recipe for Frangelica/Orange Tiramisu. And, how about also making a banana ice cream that is simple, delicious and you don't need a an ice cream machine?

    (A) TIRAMISU with Frangelico and Orange
    from Cook’s Illustrated - published: November 1, 2007
    Serves 10 to 12

    2-1/2 cups strong black coffee , room temperature
    1-1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
    6 tablespoons Frangelico
    5 tablespoons whiskey (I used brandy)
    6 large egg yolks

    2/3 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon table salt

    1-1/2 pounds mascarpone cheese
    1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
    3/4 cup heavy cream (cold)
    14 ounces ladyfingers (42 to 60, depending on size)
    3-1/2 tablespoons cocoa , preferably Dutch-processed

    1/4 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate , grated (optional)


    1. Stir coffee, espresso, 3 tablespoons Frangelico, and 3 tablespoons rum in wide bowl or baking dish until espresso dissolves; set aside.
    2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined.
    Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice.
    Add remaining 3 tablespoons Frangelico and remaining 2 tablespoons rum and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl.
    Add mascarpone and orange zest and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds, scraping down bowl once or twice. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.
    3. In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.
    4. Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.
    5. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Place 2 tablespoons cocoa in fine-mesh strainer and dust cocoa over mascarpone.
    6. Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and dust with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa. Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Sprinkle with grated chocolate, if using; cut into pieces and serve chilled.
    STEP BY STEP: Dip, Don't Submerge

    Other tips:
    (1) Amaretto, an almond-flavored liqueur, can be substituted for the Frangelico. Brandy and even whiskey can stand in for the dark rum.
    (2) Do not allow the mascarpone to warm to room temperature before using it; it has a tendency to break if allowed to do so. Be certain to use hard, not soft ladyfingers (see related Ask Cook's information on shopping for ladyfingers).
    (3) Increasing the amount of liqueur does not change the results except in taste.

    I used Brandy and increased the amount of Frangelico, so maybe it was a touch sweeter than with whiskey and less liqueur.

    (says it serves 6, but it is very rich - so . . . . )

    4 ripe bananas, peeled, mashed (really ripe is best, even some brown spots)
    1-14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
    3/4 cup whipping cream

    Combine bananas and condensed milk in large bowl. Whisk in cream. Pour banana mixture into 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Cover and freeze until softly set, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Transfer to large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat ice cream just until fluffy. Return to same glass dish. Cover and freeze until firm, about 6 hours. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.)

    Serves 6.
    Bon Appétit
    June 1998

    1. What about an *authentic* Red Velvet Cake? Or a flourless chocolate cake? White chocolate cheesecake? Individual chocolate lava cakes? I'm just naming things I'm familiar with...anything hitting a nerve? don't want lion cake?

      1. Chocolate mousse? Surprisingly easy to make, elegant, and pretty in dessert glasses/cups.

        1. Tres Leches.

          Buy it if you have a panaderia in your town.

          If not, take a stab at making it.

          Individual bread puddings if you have enough ramekins. Caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, or a simple sauce of pureed strawberries and sugar, for sauce choices.

          Creme brulee also if you have enough vessels.

          1. Wonderful ideas! Thank you everyone... love them all. - Will save the other ideas for my other friends'/family's birthdays!

            I think I will do the Frangelica/Orange Tiramisu -- that combines sooo many flavors that I love, and it will be fun to try something very creative!

            2 Replies
              1. re: Tehama

                Happy Birthday !
                Just a note: I would suggest placing the ladyfingers in vertically along the outer edges that are visible if you want to flip it out of the dish. Visually more pleasing. And, I would make it a day or two ahead to chill well. Also, there are "soft" ladyfingers available at Trader Joe's and "hard" lady fingers available in grocery stores or specialty shops. Both are just fine to use.