Smell My Olive Pits

A blog dedicated to my love affair with all things food

Tiramisu March 20, 2009

Filed under: Dessert — smop @ 8:15 pm

Tiramisu possibly rates as one of my favourite desserts, though one that can only be eaten occasionally and in small amounts.  The best one I’ve tasted so far, in my opinion of course, is one at Starbucks in Hong Kong.  Funny that.  Even Greco here doesn’t do it as well.  I’ve been having on and off cravings for tiramisu over the past couple of months, and I don’t know why I’ve never actually tried to make it myself to cure those cravings — preferring to just hold it out until it went away.

Last week was when the tiramisu desire hit, and hit hard.  I set about looking up recipes (probably well over a dozen), I compared them, I read about the difference between using Marsala and Kahlua (which is none – the former is cheaper), how much espresso is good, watched videos of it being made, then settled on one that had gotten some pretty good reviews.  I bought all the stuff – sponge fingers, eggs, mascarpone, cocoa powder, cream and marsala and did everything to the dot.  There was no instant gratification from it as I had to wait the next morning.  When I took off the foil on my dish, it was evident that I’d failed miserably.  For some reason, my mascarpone mixture didn’t hold up and the next morning I ended up with a mascarpone, cream and egg yolk slurry with partially saturated lady fingers floating in it.  It looked pretty gross.

I still had half a packet of sponge fingers left, so I went out to get more mascarpone and decided to try again, and with a different recipe.  (Usually when I’m cooking, if one recipe doesn’t work out right, I try something else — I’m a bit impatient with trying to go through it again and figuring out what went wrong.)  And this time …



The sponge fingers were adequately saturated with the coffee, the mascarpone mixture held up, it had just the right amount of sweet to coffee and best of all, it satisifed my cravings.  Have included the recipe below (credits to Lisa) – it’s not the ‘traditional’ recipe per se (which I will attempt next time with this recipe), but what the heck!  It tasted good!

(I don’t know how many serves this recipe yields, but it managed to fit quite nicely in a 1.5L lunch box.)


  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 250g mascarpone cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold strong black coffee (I brewed mine in a plunger)
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua / Marsala.
  • Italian sponge fingers – around 9-12
  • Sifted cocoa powder and grated bittersweet chocolate to decorate.


  1. Brew coffee.
  2. In a bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until the yolks turn more pale and the mixture is fluffy (aim for it to double in size, and it will).  Mix in the mascarpone and beat until evenly combined (2-3 minutes).
  3. In a separate bowl (and also after cleaning your beaters), beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold in the egg whites into the mascarpone mixture
  4. Spread a spoonful of the mixture in the bottom of a serving dish / bowl evenly.
  5. Mix together the coffee and Kahlua/Marsala in a shallow dish. Dip one sponge fingers into the mixture, turn it quickly so that it’s saturated but does not disintegrate.  Place on top of the mascarpone mexure in the bowl.  Add additional sponge fingers this way placing side by side.
  6. (Optional) Sift cocoa powder on top of sponge finger layer
  7. Spoon in abount 1/2 of the remaining mixture on top of the sponge fingers and spread it out evenly.  Make another layer with sponge fingers, and then another with mascarpone (it doesn’t really matter how many layers you make as long as you finish up with mascarpone.
  8. Level surface and sift the cocoa powder on top.
  9. Cover with foil and chill overnight.
  10. Sift more cooca powder and sprinkle grated chocolate on top before serving the next day.

The things I would probably change for next time is – use thinner sponge fingers (found mine were a bit too thick) and go stronger on the coffee.
Might try infusing some coffee into the mascarpone mixture too…


Banana pecan muffins March 5, 2009

Filed under: Banana,Muffins,Nuts — smop @ 7:52 am

Sometime back in 2nd year uni, I developed a love for banana bread.  I used to consider things like carrot cake, banana bread, pumpkin bread, zucchini muffins a bit strange — I was so used to the usual chocolate chip / vanilla cupcakes.  But through a chance stumble at one of the campus centre shops, I was hooked onto it.  The ones that they sold were moist, full of banana flavour and light – essentially the perfect after uni snack.  Without an oven, the only way I could get my hands onto them was the store bought kind.  It was $2.20 that I was willing to part with.  Then when I got an oven, Cyclone Larry hit Queensland’s north coast and banana prices went shooting up the roof – paying $12 / kg for bananas didn’t seem to sink in that well.  When it finally came back down to $3 / kg, I went about searching for the banana bread recipe.

And I have found it.  The recipe from Simply Recipes I’ve made it again and again, without fail.  It creates a banana bread that’s just the right texture, and is full of banana flavour without using too many bananas.  There’s hardly any sugar, and it’s so versatile that you can add other things — nuts, coconut, chocolate chips, more fruit to it.  It’s really just perfect.

This time I made them into cupcakes, added some pecans to it and popped a pecan on top for decoration.

banana pecan muffin.jpg

Banana Pecan Muffins
Makes 12


  • 3 or 4 ripe bananas (skins brown and banana feels mushy), smashed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pecans (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Mix butter with mushed bananas in large bowl.  Mix in sugar, egg and vanilla.
  3. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in.
  4. Add the flour and pecans (if using).  Mix.
  5. Pour mixture into greased muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (until cooked with skewer test).
  6. Cool on rack, remove from pan and serve with honey and ricotta or butter.

If you want to make it into a loaf, just put it in a greased loaf pan and bake for 40-50 minutes (in my pan, it takes about 40) – cool on a rack and serve.  To freeze, slice it up and wrap individually in baking paper then cling wrap.  Defrost in fridge.

Try eating banana bread it with ricotto and honey.  It is the bomb.