PALM HARBOR — The future of cooking is in good shape if the winners of the recent Palm Harbor Citrus Festival Bake-Off are any indication.
Best in show winner? Caroline Hamric, 11, of Palm Harbor, who wowed judges (of which I was one) with her Citrus Tiramisu Pie.
Victor in the tough cake category? Giana Gagliardotto, 10, also of Palm Harbor, with her unbelievably moist Triple Citrus Cake.
In addition to Hamric and Gagliardotto, there were two other young competitors. Annalise Galbraith, 11, of Palm Harbor placed second in the cookie category with her Miraculous Grapefruit Cookies and Matthew Snyder, 10, of Dunedin entered a glazed lemon cake.
Chef Eric Webber of Peggy O'Neill's Irish Pub in Palm Harbor and chef John Lewis of Dunedin also judged, and we were all impressed with the quality of entries. Of course, Hamric's clever tiramisu pie swept us off our feet and sent us back for seconds. That's saying a lot when the table of goodies stretched more than 20 feet. As they say, it's a tough job.
I would consider the tiramisu dish for dessert on Easter or another special occasion, though you'll need to suspend your notion of what a pie is. It is more like a ladyfinger-lined trifle. Caroline substituted the traditional coffee flavoring with orange juice. And the chocolate is courtesy of Nutella, the delicious hazelnut spread.
Next time, she says, she'll toast the almonds she folded into the filling. We noted that in the accompanying recipe and think it would add even more flavor. Loosely translated, "tiramisu" means "pick me up," and this dessert, even without the coffee, will definitely lift the spirits.
Giana's Triple Citrus Cake would look beautiful on the table for a special brunch. She garnished the glazed cake with citrus slices and curls of zest. The citrus flavor comes from Yoplait Whips key lime pie yogurt, lemon zest (three lemons!) and orange juice. Giana used grape seed oil in the batter, but vegetable oil would be an adequate substitute.
It was wonderful to see so many young cooks sharing their efforts. I look forward to duplicating their winning desserts.
Janet K. Keeler can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8586.
Caroline's Orange Tiramisu Pie
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 ¼ cups orange juice, divided use
2 (3-ounce) packages ladyfingers
1 (13-ounce) jar of hazelnut-chocolate spread, such as Nutella (or substitute 6 ounces melted semisweet chocolate)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
½ cup chopped almonds (toast for more flavor)
1 (12-ounce) container Cool Whip, divided use
Orange food coloring, optional
1 (11-ounce) can of mandarin orange segments for garnish
In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon orange extract into 1 1/4 cups orange juice. Brush mixture onto the flat sides of the ladyfingers, reserving 1/4 cup of juice for later use.
Stand half of the ladyfingers around the edge of a 9-inch springform pan with the rounded sides facing out. Line the bottom of the pan with remaining ladyfingers.
Heat the hazelnut-chocolate spread for about 15 seconds on high in a microwave. Spread over ladyfingers lining the bottom of the pan. Chill. (As an alternative, you can melt 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate in a small pan over low heat. Pour over ladyfingers and chill until firm.)
With an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese until creamy. Add the ¼ cup of reserved orange juice mixture and beat until just mixed. Stir in chopped almonds.
Fold in all but 1 cup of Cool Whip. (If you want the filling to be orange, add 1 to 2 drops of orange food coloring to the Cool Whip.)
Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture into the pan. Top with remaining Cool Whip.
Blot mandarin orange segments with paper towels. Garnish top of dessert with orange segments and a few almonds.
Chill in pan overnight for a better look when sliced. Carefully remove springform pan and serve.
Serves 8 to 10.
Source: Caroline Hamric, Palm Harbor
Giana's Triple Citrus Cake
For the cake:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces Yoplait Whips key lime pie yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup grape seed oil
Zest of 3 lemons, divided use
For the glaze:
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar
Citrus slices for garnish, optional
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil and zest of 2 lemons until combined. Fold in flour mixture with a spatula until incorporated.
Coat a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan with floured baking spray and pour in batter.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cake to cool at least an hour.
When cake is cool, remove from loaf pan and place on a serving plate.
For glaze: Mix powdered sugar with orange juice and half of remaining zest until smooth. Use a spatula to drizzle the glaze over the cake. Garnish with remaining zest and citrus slices, if desired.
Source: Giana Gagliardotto, Palm Harbor