Recently, most of the United States, and the world over, fell backwards one hour in time due to the observance of Daylight Savings. The idea for it was first offered up by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, but it wasn’t until London builder, William Willett, caught the attention of Parliament in 1907 that it was taken seriously. In his pamphlet, "The Waste of Daylight", he wrote, "Everyone appreciates the long, light evenings. Everyone laments their shortage as Autumn approaches; and everyone has given utterance to regret that the clear, bright light of an early morning during Spring and Summer months is so seldom seen or used." In 1975, the Department of Transportation did a study on energy usage on summer lighting usage vs. winter usage indicating less electricity was used for lighting during long lit summer days, while more was used in winter due to longer darkness. While this study makes me say, “Thank you Captain Obvious”, it kept the Daylight Savings process running strong, exceptions being Arizona (except for the Navajo, who do observe daylight saving time on tribal lands), Hawaii, the overseas territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands.
I don’t know about most people, but I know several, including my husband and myself, where this travel backwards, or forwards, into time does not do a body good. Waking up at 7am, opening the curtains to have sunlight glaring into the eyes definitely shocks me into full consciousness! Then there are the pets who normally would still be sleeping while I happily have my first cup of coffee in peace and quiet. Oh no, the second they see the first glimmer of light it’s, “Mommy, mommy, mommy; feed us; it’s been forever since we last ate.” Remember, animals cannot tell time via a clock on the wall. Then there is night which happens to show up around 5:30pm, just in time for dinner; yet the darkness only makes me want to put on pajamas and dive into bed. Oh, in about a month I’ll be used to this new routine, but for now I find it hard to rely on artificial light when sunlight is much more stimulating.
Ah, well speaking of coffee, and with the holiday season always requiring luscious desserts after over indulgent feasts, I’d like to share a recipe for Tiramisu. Tiramisu (Italian meaning “pick up me”) is a coffee flavored custard dessert; a layered dessert which could be compared to an English Trifle, made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, dusted with cocoa. Ladyfingers are crisp cookies, sometimes called biscuits, similar in form to Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies. They are made from a sponge cake batter, but more flour is added to make the batter firm enough to hold its shape after being piped onto cookie sheets for baking. While they can be found in most supermarkets, an excellent recipe for baking them at home comes directly from one of the best sources of baking know-how, "The Joy of Baking".
Mascarpone originated in the area between Lodi and Abbiategrasso, Italy, southwest of Milan, probably in the late 16th or early 17th century. It is a fresh, very rich cow’s milk cheese; double or triple cream (60% to 75% milk fat). Its texture resembles a sticky pudding and it is the color of cream. While it is widely used in desserts, such as the Italian dessert called Tiramisu; it can be used in a variety of recipes. In Italy, a favorite preparation is savory, mixing the cheese with anchovies, mustard and spices as a spread for breads. By itself, it can be served as an enhancement for fruits, coffee or cocoa; or added to such Italian dishes like lasagna, stuffed shells or manicotti. While it can be purchased in stores or online, it can also be pricey. However, there is a way to make a suitable substitute.
Substitute for Mascarpone Cheese
Combine 16 oz. softened cream cheese, ½ cup heavy whipping cream and 5 Tbsp. sour cream; mix thoroughly until smooth and creamy.
Now to put these two ingredients together and make a dessert which makes all right with the world, even Daylight Savings blues.
3 large eggs, separate yolks and whites
½ cup sugar plus ½ tsp
1 cup espresso coffee, cooled
2 Tbsp. cognac or brandy
16 oz. mascarpone cheese (or substitute from above recipe)
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
60 lady fingers, toasted
In a large mixing bowl, combine egg yolks, 1 Tbsp. espresso, ½ cup sugar and liquor. Use mixer to beat ingredients together for 2 minutes; add cheese and beat until mixture is smooth.
In another bowl, combine egg whites with ½ tsp. sugar; beat on high with mixer until egg whites can hold a peak. Gently fold the egg whites into the cheese mixture.
Pour remaining espresso into a rimmed dish; lightly dip the lady fingers into the espresso, making sure to coat both sides. On the bottom of a 2 quart round dessert bowl, place 15 of the lady fingers (rounded side down), put another 15 (rounded side outward) around the sides of the bowl. Begin layering by spreading 1/3 of the cheese mixture on top of the lady fingers on bottom of the bowl, 15 lady fingers (rounded side upward), 1/3 of mixture, final 15 of lady fingers (rounded side upward), final 1/3 of cheese mixture. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the final cheese layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Makes 8-10 servings.