I did it -I joined the Daring Bakers community.  My very first challenge is everyone's favorite afternoon pick-me-up. Tiramisu!  I love tiramisu so much.  This is the second time I've made it this year.

I'll admit that one part of the challenge was not something I understood very well upon first blush.  Specifically when I read the words "...make your own mascarpone cheese..." 
Luckily, making the cheese was very easy.  And henceforth I will probably always make my own mascarpone cheese.  It takes less time than you'd think and cuts the expense of pre-packaged mascarpone nearly in half!  I'm all for that!

The February 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

It all started with a little pack of Sesame Snaps.  I picked them up from the international market last weekend, and once at home I nibbled on them as I prepared lunch.  They were ever so subtly sweet, and packed with nutty sesame flavor.  I was instantly smitten.  The next step was obvious, I had to figure out how to make my own.  

Before I continue with the candy recipe, I'd like to digress for only a moment...yes, that's a macaron you see.  I have made them yet again.  But with good reason.  I recently picked up the "I love macarons" paperback and I want to share a picture from the book that may be helpful for macaron making.

But first, the candy.

Today has been a feel good day.  It's still chilly outside, but the sun has been bright and lighting corners of my world that I nearly forgot existed.  I feel downright productive.

I've been wanting to make these little cakes since December, when they were first posted on Tartelette. I always find myself daydreaming about the sweet things on her site, but I've never tried any of her recipes.  While browsing produce last week I found a basket of small d'Anjou pears that would be ideal for her fallen pear souffles.

In mid 2009, my oldest and very dear friend told me she was having "one of those years".  You know the kind. Your car starts making a noise, you find out you will be having surgery, the person installing the insulation in your attic falls through the ceiling and into your bedroom... that kind of a year. Unfortunately, it seems the same turbulence has spilled over into 2010.  She's certainly aware that matters could be worse, but still, it just seems she's due for some better luck. I figure she's at least due some delicious cookies!

I wanted to make something fun and personal, yet artful and representative of good fortune.  Ann is a talented artist with an extensive background in print making.  Early in our friendship, we both were intrigued by the beauty of Mehndi design.  We even had a Mehndi/henna decorating party of our own.

Panna Cotta.  What can I say that hasn't already been said?  It's easy, takes only a few minutes to make and can be fancied up or made casual.  Pair it with a sauce and you've got something extra special.

I love this version made with coconut milk.  It reminds me of sunny days. Although I love snow and cozy sweaters, I find myself fatigued by this frigid weather. It's flurrying outside- again.  It makes me yearn for a warm evening when I can go barefoot and sit on my front porch rocker.  Maybe with a cool and creamy treat just like this.

About a month ago I received an email from a California based green-tea company.  In the letter I was very kindly asked if I would share my Matcha Biscotti recipe and photos for their monthly newsletter.  Of course I said "heck yeah!" with Napoleonic (Dynamite) enthusiasm.  First of all, I was just so happy to be asked (you'd be surprised at those who take without giving credit). Secondly, after reading the newsletter, I was so inspired by the other recipes I saw!

One sweet and eye-pleasing treat that has been on my baking radar is Blue Velvet cake. I've been seeing beautiful versions online, and I recently spotted Blue Velvet cupcakes at my favorite local bakery.  I love the idea of a striking blue cake, but many recipes yield a misleading result. Some cakes are teal, or more turquoise than blue. Upon viewing my first completed batch, I thought "green around the gills" -which is an idiom I use when someone looks ill.  I was seeing sickly greenish-blue cupcakes. I had followed the recipe's exact specifications...and although it was blue-ish, it was not the blue that I had expected.
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