my fair ladyfingers.

So I have to say, I’m getting pretty good at making ladyfingers. Having never made them before this year, I really never gave them much of second thought. In fact, all I knew of these spongy finger-shaped biscuits was that my dad really liked them. I remember them being around the house growing up, because they were one of the few dessert-type items my sweet-toothless dad would consume (see My Dad Hates Cake). It was only once I started going to school that I learned how these fingers o’ ladies were actually made, and of their many uses in classical desserts.

this is not one of them.

So this week, in my class, we made mini desserts (Small Indulgences, people!), one of which was an individual sized tiramisu, complete with ladyfingers.

luck be a lady.

The other was made with a Joconde, which is an almond sponge cake baked in a thin sheet and cut to size, and filled with Bavarian Cream. The end result looked like this:

mango and bavarian cream, baby.

Now, of course I can only get better – that’s why I’m in school – but I have to say that these are in no uncertain terms the best dessert “plates” I’ve done thus far in my baking life. Like Eliza Doolittle, I started off as a layman – a commoner with no plating skills. It was tough at first – I got frustrated decorating plate after plate, only to wipe them clean and start anew time and time again. I too, set a few things on fire as Eliza did, during this tumultuous practice. I was about to throw in the towel on more than one occasion, assuming I’d never make a beautiful plate that looked good enough to eat.

Then one day, the rain in Spain fell mainly on the plain – or plate. Now, I’m not claiming to suddenly be a Picasso of dessert plating, I still have a long way to go. But I did it. I made restaurant caliber dessert art. Of course, I’m not out of the water yet. There is still much practice to be had before I can spend the day at the races without the fear of telling Dover to move his bloomin’ ass. But it will happen. You really can do anything you set your mind to, whether it’s becoming a high-class broad, or plating a high-class dessert.

wouldn't it be lovely?

tiramisu goes to the opera….cake.

My Classical Cakes class has come to a close, and I’m sad – this was my favorite class that I’ve taken. There’s a reason these cakes are classics. I’ve never tasted cakes so good in my life. This is what it’s all about people – these are the cakes that gave cake it’s good name to begin with. Not that dry, simple stuff we call cake today. This kind of cake couldn’t ever come out of a box. It takes time, attention, and some major organization. But the results are hella worth it.

Anyway, for our last cake of the class, we had to create our very own classical cake, using what we’ve learned. Well, my partner (who happens to be the best partner ever) and I decided to do a chocolate coffee kahlua cake with mascarpone mousse. It was part tiramisu, part opera cake.



opera cake


tiramisu goes to the opera cake.


In case you’re interested in recreating our nouveau classical cake pictured above, it’s a layer of chocolate genoise (soaked in kahlua coffee syrup), next a layer of coffee buttercream, followed by a thin layer of chocolate ganache, next a layer of ladyfingers (soaked with kahlua coffee syrup), a layer of mascarpone mousse, another layer of chocolate ganache, another layer of soaked ladyfingers, and finally topped off with another layer of mascaropone mousse. The whole thing is then coated with a chocolate glaze and garnished as desired (we used chocolate curls, modeling chocolate flowers, and fresh raspberries).

We got an A.


Indiana Jones and the Tiramisu.

I had a dream that my teacher was dressed up like Indiana Jones, and was making me take everything out of his kitchen cupboards. I’m not really sure what this means – he doesn’t look or dress anything like Indiana Jones in real life, and it’s not like I just watched one of the movies or something. And other than being in the kitchen, none of this had anything to do with pastries at all.

whip that...meringue?

Needless to say, when I saw him in class tonight, I couldn’t help but giggle. But that quickly passed when we launched into baking cakes, one of them being Tiramisu.

I had never made Tiramisu before, nor have I ever considered making it, even though I enjoy eating it very much. It just sounded complicated and challenging. And honestly, it kind of is. But that didn’t stop Dr. Jones from finding the Ark, so by golly, it was not going to stop me from making it!

raiders of the lost pastry.

We created this classic dessert over the course of two nights – baking the lady fingers on the first night, and making the mousse and assembling the cake on the second. I have to say, this was a fun cake to make, and probably the best tiramisu I’ve ever had – and I’ve had many. Chalk it up to excellent teamwork and coffee syrup.  

the last crusade.

I think we found the holy grail, Indy.