This pink challenge in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a toughie. For the most part, it is screaming to be a dessert course, but the peppercorns, oh those pink peppercorns, what do you do with them? If you didn’t know, pink peppercorns aren’t really peppercorns. They are actually more floral, like rose hips, so this should be possible. A quick google for dessert peppercorn recipes reveals that people have used these little pellets as toppings with chocolate and even in ice cream. So I’m up for the challenge.
Somehow, the lemonade and the creamy yogurt reminded me of tiramisu. Stick with me here… it kind of makes sense. Tiramisu means “pick-me-up” in Italian, because of lots of caffeine inside. This yummy dessert is made with ladyfingers soaked in coffee and liquor, layered with creamy mascarpone cheese filling, and topped with chocolate shavings. A pink play on this (“pink-me-up”) seemed really feasible: Soak the ladyfingers in the citrusy liquids, layer with the yogurt, and top with the peppercorn powder. If you are a tiramisu fan, like the husband, you’re probably wrinkling your nose up at the thought, but it was worth a try.
I could not find pink peppercorns at any local supermarkets (sigh), and I did not want to be peter piper and pick the pink peppercorns out of a peppercorn blend grinder… I was a little afraid that the black and white pepper somehow messed with the flavor of the pink. Penzey’s to the rescue! I had to wait a few days, but the pink peppercorns showed up in time to do the challenge. They were of course the same as the peppercorns in the pepper blend… probably didn’t need the Penzey’s order, but I was out of some other spices anyway, so it worked out in the end.
Now, I’m not at all a fan of flowers in my food. I know they are edible, and I know some people enjoy it, but the peppercorns smelled and tasted a little like you might expect roses to taste after they had been sitting in a vase for two weeks. I decided to candy some of the peppercorns to sweeten them up. Instead of the standard tiramisu chocolate shavings on top, I mixed up some coconut and lemon rind with a little bit of ground pink pepper. I sprinkled a few of the candied peppercorns on top, and decorated the plate with the peppered sugar from the pink peppertini recipe.
The verdict? Just as in the peppertini, I was successful in minimizing the flowery flavor but still keeping it present. The cake looked great and definitely was a structural copycat of tiramisu. The ladyfingers held up with the absorbed juices and tasted good, and the coconut with lemon was yummy on top. They grapefruit and strawberry cream flavors aren’t the best pair, but wasn’t too bad. If I had my choice, it might have been better with a lemony cream instead of strawberry.
The husband said eating the cake was like biting into the old gum “Freshen Up” – where the filling squirts out when you chew. I guess he was not expecting the ladyfingers to hold so much juice. It’s certainly not tiramisu, which is the husband’s fave, but it’s a fun play on it. Overall, the presentation was a success, and the components each tasted good. Together it was kind of an interesting dish… something very different.
- 1 cup strawberry yogurt
- 1 cup whipped cream
- 24 ladyfingers
- juice from 1/2 pink grapefruit
- 1/2 cup pink lemonade
- 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
- 2 Tbsp grated lemon peel
- 1 tsp pink peppercorns (ground)
- 20 pink peppercorns
- 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 1 Tbsp water