Desserts

Happy Gudi Padwa

Spring time in India is time for new year celebrations. It’s amazing how almost each state has a different name and date to celebrate the occasion. And now that I am married to a Maharashtrian, I celebrate two of them at home. April 4th is Gudi Padwa – the Maharashtrian New Year. And in another 10 days I will be celebrating the Vishu, the New Year’s day according to the Malayalam Calender.

Since April 4th happens to be a weekday, it would have been almost impossible for me to make the special dinner / lunch on the 4th, so we decided to celebrate Gudi Padwa on the night of 3rd April, when it’s already 4th in India so technically the new year has already started!!!

So the menu was Puri with some homemade Shrikhand and some payasam / kheer. This post is dedicated to Shrikhand. It is really easy to make and takes about 10 minutes if you have all the ingredients at hand. And it so happens that Amit and I both LOVE SHRIKHAND, so I can guarantee you that we are going to have shrikhand at home very very often now. This serves about 3 persons. I do not have the exact meassurements but the approximate ones should work just fine. You can adjust the ingredients to suit you taste.

Sorry about the pictures, I am still unpacking (we moved to a new place this weekend) and therefore am still trying to locate the camera.

Ingredients:

  1. 21 ounces fat free greek yogurt (you could also use 2%, but you have to use greek yogurt to get the consistency)
  2. 4-6 tablespoons sour cream (more if required to get the desired sourness for your shrikhand)
  3. 4-6 tablespoons powdered sugar (again this can be adjusted to your liking depending on how sweet you like your shrikhand)
  4. a pinch of nutmeg
  5. 3/4 tsp – 1 1/4 tsp powdered cardamom
  6. a few strings of saffron dissolved in a tsp of just warm milk
  7. slivers of almond / pistachio for garnish

Directions:

  • Whisk the greek yogurt in a bowl till it is a smooth consistency (takes about a minute).
  • Now add 3 tablespoons of sour cream and continue whisking.
  • Next add 4 tablespoons of sugar and continue to whisk.
  • Add the saffron, nutmeg and 3/4 tsp cardamom and whisk till the mixture is throughly mixed.
  • Now comes the taste check, I added about 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tsp cardamom and 1 tbsp sour cream to get my desired taste.
  • Serve this chilled with a few slivers of almond or pistachio.

I served this with some puris and both Amit and I loved it. It tasted exactly like the shrikhand we used to get back home in India. Cheers to greek yogurt for making life so much easier and yummier… I did find quite a few recipes online for shrikhand with different variations. The ones that inspired me most are listed below:

http://www.aayisrecipes.com/2007/11/11/shrikhand/

http://chakali.blogspot.com/2009/04/instant-shrikhand-recipe.html

 

Happy Gudi Padwa to everyone… And for those who celebrate Ugadi or Cheti Chand, my wishes to you too. In case I missed out on naming any of the other festivals, here’s wishing you a very happy new year!!!

March Daring Bakers Challenge

I am so glad I joined the Daring Bakers. Each month I learn something new and exciting. The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Life has been really busy off late. We are moving to a new place in a couple of days so the packing has started. Amit and I are both giving our next exams in the PhD journey in April so we are both busy typing out our proposals for the exam. And to top it I have my part-time internship! So busy busy month. Have been a little slow on updating my blog due to all these events which tend to take a precedence over everything else. But the daring bakers and daring cooks challenge is something I promised myself, I won’t miss for anything so here I am typing away to complete the blog on time!

I loved this month’s challenge. It’s a very easy to make recipe and the only tricky part for me as usual was the yeast! My love hate relationship with yeast is slowly turning into a love love relationship! I like that because that means more home-baked breads… While I was thinking about what kind of filling to make, Amit suddenly expressed his desire to have some apple crumble. So I decided that I would make an Apple Walnut filling for the Coffee Cake. So here is the recipe for the Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake with Apple Walnut filling.  You can also make a savory version of this, which I will very soon. Maybe as my first bake at the new place!

I made one loaf of the coffee cake with half the measurements from the recipe given below and it serves 4-5 persons with a few second helpings.

Preparation time:

For the dough:

  • 10 – 15 minutes preparation of the dough
  • 8 – 10 minutes kneading
  • 45 – 60 minutes first rise
  • 10 – 15 minutes to prepare meringue, roll out, fill and shape dough
  • 45 – 60 minutes for second rising.

Baking time: approximately 30 minutes

Ingredients:


For the yeast coffee cake dough:

  1. 4 cups (600 g / 1.5 lbs.) flour
  2. ¼ cup (55 g / 2 oz.) sugar
  3. ¾ teaspoon (5 g / ¼  oz.) salt
  4. 1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons /  7 g / less than an ounce) active dried yeast
  5. ¾ cup (180 ml / 6 fl. oz.) whole milk
  6. ¼ cup (60 ml / 2 fl. oz. water (doesn’t matter what temperature)
  7. ½ cup (135 g / 4.75 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
  8. 2 large eggs at room temperature

For the meringue:

  1. 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  2. ¼ teaspoon salt
  3. ½ teaspoon vanilla
  4. ½ cup (110 g / 4 oz.) sugar

For the Filling:

  1. 4 apples chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  2. 2/3 cup sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  4. 1/2 cup chopped walnut

Egg wash:

  1. 1 beaten egg
  2. Cocoa powder (optional)
  3. Confectioner’s sugar (powdered/icing sugar) for dusting cakes

Directions:

Prepare the dough:

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 ½ cups (230 g) of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
  • In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and butter and heat over medium heat until warm and the butter is just melted.
  • With an electric mixer on low-speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended. Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes.
  • Add the eggs and 1 cup (150 g) flour and beat for 2 more minutes.
  • Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the  1 ½ cups of flour remaining) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
  • Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

Prepare your filling:

  • Add the chopped apples to a saucepan and add the cinnamon and sugar to it and let it cook. This takes about 15-20 minutes depending on what kind of apples you use. Make sure that the apples are soft and mushy but is still in chunks. You do not want it to get too mushy.
  • Cool this to room temperature before using to fill the dough.
  • Chop the walnuts and set it aside.

Prepare the Meringue:

  • Once the dough has doubled, in a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low-speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque.
  • Add the vanilla then start adding the ½ cup sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cake:

  • Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Punch down the dough and divide in half.
  • On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 20 x 10-inch (about 51 x 25 ½ cm) rectangle.
  • Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.
  • Spread half the apple over the meringue and then sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the apple.
  • Now, roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down.
  • If you would like to make a round coffee cake Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal. I made a log shaped coffee cake this time.
  • Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the log or the outside edge of the round coffee cake at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals.
  • Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings.
  • Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with the egg wash.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
  • Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
  • Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling.
  • These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

This weekend coffee cake is what we had for breakfast and I must say I am loving it. It all gooey inside and the dough is both fluffy and crunchy. I loved this and am so ready to make a savory version of this very soon. I loved this recipe specially since it’s so versatile – just change the filling and you have a different version of the coffee cake! And once again cheers to all the daring bakers for all the awesome versions of the coffee cakes tried and tested over the month of March. I am sure there are many happy tummies out there, having enjoyed the yummy coffee cakes. And a special thanks to Jamie and Ria for the wonderful challenge this month.

February Daring Bakers Challenge

I have blogged about panna cotta in the past. In fact I have two panna cotta posts, the strawberry panna cotta and a milk chocolate panna cotta. But they have been healthier versions of the panna cotta but this blog is about the original panna cotta, the melt in your mouth kind, the kind you shut out all other senses for…

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

Both the recipes are absolutely easy to make even in large quantities and so delicious. I actually rate my recipes by the rate at which Amit finishes the dish. And this one actually was cleaned out in about 3-4 minutes. So now you can rate the dish yourself. Hope you enjoy the recipe and love it as much as I loved it.

I was supposed to post this recipe last weekend but due to my very hectic schedule now, I was able to make the cookies but not the panna cotta last weekend.

Giada’s Vanilla Panna Cotta

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
  2. 1 tablespoon (one packet) (15 ml) (7 gm) (¼ oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
  3. 3 cups (720 ml) whipping cream (30+% butterfat)
  4. 1/3 cup (80 ml) honey
  5. 1 tablespoon (15 ml) (15 gm) (½ oz) granulated sugar
  6. pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Pour the milk into a bowl or pot and sprinkle gelatin evenly and thinly over the milk (make sure the bowl/pot is cold by placing the bowl/pot in the refrigerator for a few minutes before you start making the Panna Cotta). Let stand for 5 minutes to soften the gelatin.
  • Pour the milk into the saucepan/pot and place over medium heat on the stove. Heat this mixture until it is hot, but not boiling, about five minutes. (I whisk it a few times at this stage).
  • Next, add the cream, honey, sugar, and pinch of salt. Making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, continue to heat and stir occasionally until the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, allow it to sit for a few minutes to cool slightly. Then pour into the glass or ramekin.
  • Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. Add garnishes and serve.

I added a layer of strawberry gelee over my vanilla panna cotta. The recipe for that follows.

Strawberry Gelee

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) fruit (strawberries, raspberries, mango, blackberry, etc.)*Note:  Certain fruits interact with gelatin and stop it gelling like pineapple and kiwi etc.
  2. 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water
  3. 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  4. 1½ teaspoons (7½ ml) (3½ gm) (1/8 oz) unflavored powdered gelatin
  5. 1/4 cup triple sec

Directions:

  • Sprinkle gelatin over water.
  • Place the fruit and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved.
  • Next add the triple sec and let the mixture come to a boil.
  • Now mix the gelatin into the strawberry mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.
  • Let the gelee mixture simmer till the fruit has completely disintegrated.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool (close to room temp, again, if you’re planning on layering on pouring on top of your Panna Cotta, a hot mixture will also heat up your chilled Panna Cotta).

I added a few slices of strawberry over the chilled panna cotta before adding the gelee over it.

Nestle Florentine Cookies

Ingredients:

This recipe is from the cookbook “Nestle Classic Recipes”.

  1. 2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm) (5.3 oz) unsalted butter
  2. 2 cups (480 ml) (160 gm) (5 2/3 oz) quick oats
  3. 1 cup (240 ml) (230 gm) (8 oz) granulated sugar
  4. 2/3 cup (160 ml) (95 gm) (3⅓ oz) plain (all purpose) flour
  5. 1/4 cup (60 ml) dark corn syrup
  6. 1/4 cup (60 ml) whole milk
  7. 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
  8. pinch of salt
  9. 1½ cups (360 ml) (250 gm) (9 oz) dark or milk chocolate

Directions:

This recipe will make about 2 1/2 – 3 dozen sandwiched Florentine cookies. You can also choose not to sandwich yours, in which case, drizzle the tops with chocolate (over your wax paper).

  • Preheat oven to moderately hot 375°F (190°C) (gas mark 5).  Prepare your baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan, then remove from the heat.
  • To the melted butter add oats, sugar, flour, corn syrup, milk, vanilla, and salt. Mix well.Drop a tablespoon full, three inches (75 mm) apart, onto your prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of your tablespoon, or use a spatula.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 6-8 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Cool completely on the baking sheets.
  • While the cookies are cooling melt your chocolate until smooth either in the microwave (1 1/2 minutes), or stovetop (in a double boiler, or a bowl that fits atop a saucepan filled with a bit of water, being sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl).
  • Peel the cookies from the silpat or parchment and place face down on a wire rack set over a sheet of wax/parchment paper (to keep counters clean).
  • Spread a tablespoon of chocolate on the bottom/flat side of your cookie, sandwiching another (flat end) cookie atop the chocolate. I did not sandwich the cookies, I just added the chocolate over the cookie to form a hash pattern.

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I enjoyed making and eating them.

Caramelized Banana with Chocolate Orange Sauce

I have to mention this before I go ahead and continue with the post. The pictures do absolutely no justice to the dessert. The three flavors come together really well. And it’s a pretty guilt-free recipe. Just a few teaspoons of cream, and lots of fruits. So how did I come up with the recipe… Well a friend of ours gave us a huge bag full of hand picked oranges. There were so many of them, and I was starting to get worried that Amit is going to get a Vitamin C overdose. He was peeling one orange after another and polishing them off. And I had some leftover chocolate bars from the chocolate mousse I made last time. And well, the only way I ever eat bananas are if they are broiled and caramelized. So here’s the recipe for the amazingly delicious and heavenly Caramelized Banana with Chocolate Orange sauce. And you could make the sauce and use it for other desserts. I found the chocolate orange sauce recipe at a website. The link for the sauce recipe is given at the end of this post. I did make a couple of changes to make it less guilty.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate (chopped)
  2. 1/4 cup whipping cream
  3. 1/2 cup 2% milk
  4. Rind from half an orange
  5. 1 cup fresh orange juice
  6. 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 5 teaspoons granulated sugar
  8. 2 bananas (sliced lengthwise and cut into 4 pieces)
  9. 2 Tbsp brown sugar for each banana
  10. 1 tbsp triple sec for each banana
  11. 1 teaspoon butter for each banana

Directions:

For the Chocolate Orange Sauce

  • Put the chopped chocolate in a large enough bowl.
  • Pour the cream, milk and the orange rind in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and cover the saucepan with plastic wrap. And leave it aside for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the orange juice and sugar on a low flame till the quantity reduces to half the initial quantity. Once the orange juice is reduced to half a cup remove and set aside.
  • Once 30 minutes have passed, bring the milk, cream and orange rind to a simmer once again and add the reduced orange juice to it. Let the mixture simmer for a minute. (if you do not like the orange rind in the sauce, you can strain this mixture before adding it to the chocolate.)
  • Next add this mixture to the chocolate pieces and once the chocolate pieces melt, blend the mixture using a hand mixer.
  • This sauce can be stored for upto a month in the refrigerator.

For the Caramelized Banana

  • Preheat the oven on the broiler setting to 500 F.
  • Melt the butter and mix the triple sec with it (amounts depending on the number of bananas you want to use).
  • Spread the mixture on both sides of the banana.
  • Now place the bananas on a baking dish and sprinkle some of the brown sugar on the top side.
  • Now place the baking dish in the oven and broil the bananas.
  • After about 5 minutes or when the bananas have caramelized on one side, turn the bananas over and sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar on the other side.
  • Again let this side brown in the broiler for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the banana slices from under the broiler and place it on a plate.
  • Next pour the chocolate orange sauce over the bananas and serve warm.

We loved this dessert. The orange flavor lightened the chocolate sauce.The small amount of cream makes it a less guilty version of the original recipe. The bananas, orange and chocolate flavors come together very well in this melt in your mouth dessert. It is also a very quick and easy to put together recipe and requires no exotic ingredients. But this is an awesome and very exotic tasting recipe. We loved it and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

And here’s the link to the recipe for chocolate orange sauce http://www.recchiuti.com/recipe_detail.html?recipe=11.

Chocolate Mousse & Raspberry Cream Entremet

The number of hits on my blog crossed the 1500 mark today… I must thank all my readers for that. And because you have been so encouraging, I decided to write up the entremet recipe up sooner than I would have otherwise. It seems apt that I write up a dessert recipe to celebrate the occasion. So as an extension to this month’s daring bakers challenge, here are the recipes to create the layers in the entremet; the chocolate mousse and the raspberry cream.

I was looking for a Julia Child Chocolate Mousse recipe and since I do not have the cookbook, I had to resort to searching for an adaptation of it on someone’s blog. I have listed the link at the end of this blog. David Lebovitz had the perfect recipe put together with some awesome pictures which gave me the impetus to try out his adaptation of the Julia Child Chocolate Mousse recipe. The end result had both the decadent taste and perfect texture. Both the chocolate mousse and the raspberry cream come together very well. The flavors are a perfect pairing. This recipe makes about 6-8 servings.

Ingredients for Chocolate Mousse:

  1. 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (broken into big chunks)
  2. 6 ounces unsalted butter (softened)
  3. 1/4 cup brewed coffee
  4. 4 large eggs, separated
  5. 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  6. 2 tablespoons dark rum
  7. 1 tablespoon water
  8. pinch of salt
  9. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  10. large bowl of ice water

Directions:

  • Use a double boiler. Fill the saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. In the other bowl set on top of it, melt the chocolate and butter. Once this is melted add the brewed coffee. Once the mixture is a smooth paste, remove the melted chocolate, butter and coffee from the double boiler.
  • Set another bowl above the boiling water and whisk the egg yolks with 2/3 cup sugar, rum and water until the mixture is thick. (I used a handheld mixer for this)
  • Remove the mixture from the double boiler and put it inside a bigger bowl of ice water. Now continue beating the mixture till it is cool and thick.
  • Then add the chocolate, coffee, butter mixture to the whisked eggs yolks.
  • Beat the egg whites and the pinch of salt in a clean bowl. Whip until the eggs are firm and holds peaks.
  • Add the tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites and continue beating the mixture till it forms shiny peaks. (Make sure it is not too firm)
  • Now add the vanilla extract and mix it completely.
  • Fold in the egg whites (1/3rd of it at a time into the chocolate mixture). Do not overmix, just make sure that the egg whites are completely incorporated.
  • Place the chocolate mousse in the refrigerator till the mousse has firmed.

Ingredients for Raspberry Cream:

  1. 6 oz fresh raspberries
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1 cup heavy cream
  5. 1.5 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Directions:

  • Add the raspberries, sugar and water to a saucepan on a medium flame.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil then let it simmer till the mixture reduces to 2/3 of the initial amount.
  • In the meanwhile dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup of the raspberry mixture. Once the gelatin has dissolved completely, transfer the 1/4 cup back to the raspberry mixture.
  • Set the raspberry sauce aside.
  • In the meanwhile whip the cream till it forms firm peaks.
  • Fold the cream into the raspberry sauce till is completely incorporated.
  • Let the raspberry cream set in the refrigerator for about 4-6 hours or till firm.

Directions for assembling the dessert:

  • Once the Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry cream set, you can start serving the dessert into bowls or inside the biscuit joconde imprime.
  • I used layers of the joconde imprime, ground chocolate graham crackers, chocolate mousse, ground chocolate wafers & raspberry cream. I topped it off with some whipped cream and raspberries.
  • Chill this for an hour or two before serving.

This is definitely a high calorie dessert but you are allowed to indulge once in a while. The link for the chocolate mousse recipe ishttp://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/05/perfect-chocola/. This can be made a day in advance and ready to serve for a party. You can thereby save yourself some time on the day of the party. I assure you that you will love this recipe. Raspberries and chocolate flavors come together very well along with the graham crackers and the chocolate wafers.

And cheers to all my blog readers, thank you for all the encouragement and I hope to be able to get you to continue visiting my blog in the future too.

Biscuit Joconde Imprime / Entrement

I saw the challenge, as usual, a month back but the whole process looked overwhelming to me. So I thought of sitting out this one. But then I realized that the reason I had joined the forum was to be able to challenge myself. So I decided that I have to atleast try it once. After all last month the challenge helped me overcome my fear of making bread at home in the oven. I am sure most of you are wondering what the name actually means, and what it is. Well hopefully by the end of the blog, you will have a pretty clear idea of what it is. I loved the whole process and the end process not only looks pretty but also tastes delicious. I now know how to serve those pretty looking desserts all thanks to the daring baker’s host Astheroshe.

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

Joconde imprime /entremets. A joconde imprime (French Baking term) is a decorative design baked into a light sponge cake providing an elegant finish to desserts/torts/entremets/ formed in ring molds. A joconde batter is used because it bakes into a moist, flexible cake. The cake batter may be tinted or marbleized for a further decorative effect.

This Joconde/spongecake requires attentive baking so that it remains flexible to easily conform to the molds. If under baked it will stick to the baking mat. It over baked it will dry out and crack. Once cooled, the sponge may be cut into strips to line any shape ring mold.

Entremets (French baking term)- an ornate dessert with many different layers of cake and pastry creams in a mold, usually served cold. Think Trifle in a mold vs. a glass bowl.

My final dessert had layers of chocolate graham crackers, chocolate mousse, chocolate wafers and raspberry cream. The
combination of all these layers along with the Joconde Sponge was simply heavenly! The recipe for the Biscuit Joconde Imprime /Entremet is below. I will post the recipe for the chocolate mousse and raspberry cream in another post later. Hope you do try making this sometime, it’s worth the effort because all those you serve this dessert will be singing your praises for a long time to come…

Equipment Required:

  • Silpat ( I bought mine at Bed Bath and Beyond)
  • ½ baking sheets or a 13” x 18” jelly roll sheet (rimmed baking sheet)
  • Mixer (optional)
  • Bowls
  • Knives (I used a pizza cutter)
  • Offset spatula
  • Regular spatula
  • Rulers
  • Spring form pan
  • Biscuit cutter (or ring mold, or cut PVC pipe, or whatever else you can think of to use as a mold for individual desserts) – I bought my mold (PVC pipe joints) at Lowe’s or a dollar.
  • Torte/entremets mold/Springform pan/ Trifle dish (for larger desserts)
  • Cling wrap
  • Parchment paper
  • Gel, paste or liquid food coloring (optional)
Joconde Sponge

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Ingredients:

  1. ¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
  2. ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2⅔ oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
  3. ¼ cup/ 60 ml/ 1 oz/ 25g cake flour *See note below
  4. 3 large eggs – about 5⅓ oz/ 150g
  5. 3 large egg whites – about 3 oz/ 90g
  6. 2½ teaspoons/ 12½ ml/ ⅓ oz/ 10g white granulated sugar or superfine (caster) sugar
  7. 2 tablespoons/ 30 ml/ 1oz / 30g unsalted butter, melted

*Note: How to make cake flour: http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/09/how-to-make-cake-flour/

Directions:

  • In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate cleanbowl to use later.
  • Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
  • On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
  • Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
  • Fold in melted butter. Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste

YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan

Ingredients

  1. 14 tablespoons/ 210ml/ 7oz/ 200g unsalted butter, softened
  2. 1½ cups plus1½ tablespoons/ 385ml/ 7oz/ 200gConfectioners’ (icing) sugar
  3. 7 large egg whites – about 7 oz / 200g
  4. 1¾ cup/ 420ml/ 7¾ oz/ 220g cake flour
  5. Food coloring gel, paste or liquid

Directions:

  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
  • Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
  • Fold in sifted flour.
  • Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.

COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.

Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:

  • Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
  • Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.

  • Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
  • Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of theDécor paste.
  • Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
  • Cool. Do not leave too long ( after about 5 minutes), or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
  • Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)

Preparing the MOLD for entremets:

  • Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
  • A biscuit cutter/ cookie cutter- using cling wrap pulled tightly as the base and the cling covering the outside of the mold, placed on a parchment lined very flat baking sheet. Line the inside with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping.
  • Or as I did use PVC pipe joints. Cling wrap and parchment line, as outlined above.
  • Glass Trifle bowl. You will not have a free standing dessert, but you will have a nice pattern to see your joconde for this layered dessert.

Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:

Video: MUST WATCH THIS. This is a very good demo of the joconde and filling the entremets: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca4eLDok-4Q

  • Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
  • Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
  • Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)
  • Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
  • The mold is done, and ready to fill.

*Note: If not ready to use. Lay cake kept whole or already cut into strips, on a flat surface, wrap in parchment and several layers of cling wrap and freeze.

Entremet- Filling Options:

  • I filled the mold with a layer of chocolate graham crackers, chocolate mousse, chocolate graham crackers, raspberry cream and topped it off with chocolate wafers. And some raspberry and whipped cream for a topping. Those recipes coming up soon.

If you have ever wanted to make those pretty looking desserts, this is your chance. This is a very detailed recipe by Astheroshe. And this is one way of being sure of succeeding. Oh and you will love the end result. I made the paste with a lighter colored cocoa powder, I have to make sure I use a darker color to the paste next time around. Other than that I was very happy with the end result. Cheers to the Daring Kitchen and all the daring bakers!! Looking forward to the February challenge…

Basundi (Sweetened spiced Milk)

One of Amit’s favorite sweet dishes, after gulab jamun of course, is basundi. And though it’s a very easy to make dish, I have never made it at home. So after yesterday’s resolution to blog atleast once a week, I realized that I can do better than that if I decide to set aside Sundays for my cooking adventures. 🙂 So today I am going to make a few dishes which I will also write-up today, hopefully. And will then post it onto my blog gradually over the week. Not only will I have recipes to post over the week but it also means that I will have food to stock up my refrigerator with and eat over the whole week. Hopefully most of the recipes will freeze well. So the first of the recipes for this week is Basundi.

This recipes takes quite some time to prepare so it’s a perfect sunday dessert. Though you don’t have to stand in front it all the time, you need to keep checking on it every 5 minutes. Since you are trying to reduce the quantity of milk, you need to make sure that you have a very thick bottomed saucepan. I actually place a skillet and place a pan on top of it. This ensures that the milk never sticks to the bottom. This serves about 2-3 persons. It took about 1-1.5 hours to prepare it from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  1. 4 cups 2% milk
  2. 1/3 cup powdered sugar (add a little at a time and adjust to taste)
  3. 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  4. 1 pinch saffron (dissolved in 2 tablespoons of warm milk)
  5. 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
  6. almond, pistachio slivers for garnish

Directions:

  • Place the milk in the saucepan (as described above) and set the flame to low. Let the milk reduce in quantity to half the initial amount.
  • In the meanwhile, dissolve some saffron in a couple of tablespoons of warm milk.
  • Once the milk has reduced to half the amount, add the sugar and whipping cream and let it simmer for another 15 minutes. You should add the sugar in smaller quantities and taste the milk before adding more just to make sure that the sweetness is to your liking.
  • Now add the cardamom, saffron (dissolved in milk) and remove from heat.
  • The basundi is now ready to serve.

I know this is a very calorie rich dessert. Someday I will try to make a less guilty version of it. But this time I just felt like having the familiar tasting Basundi. So no alterations to suit healthy eating habits. This is a very easy to make recipe and takes almost no effort if you manage to find a suitable saucepan which will prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Also remember to keep the flame on low all the time. This is very important firstly to ensure that the milk does not burn. Secondly to get the right flavor. Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

A Berry Trifle Shooter

What’s Christmas without an awesome dessert. This year instead of making the usual cake, I decided I wanted to make something a little different. So since a cake is a must, the berries make christmas merrier and the white fluffy cream to make my christmas a white christmas (no other way to make it a white christmas in Phoenix), I decided on making a layered dessert. So the three main ingredients of this dessert are vanilla cream, pound cake and a raspberry / blueberry compote.

Ingredients:

Raspberry / Blueberry Compote layer

  1. 1 cup Raspberry (6 oz)
  2. 1 cup Blueberry (6 oz)
  3. 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  4. 1/2 cup triple sec liqueur
  5. 1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
  6. 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  7. 2 tbsp cornstarch
  8. 1/4 cup water

Vanilla cream layer

  1. 1 cup whipping cream
  2. 4 tsp sugar
  3. 1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake layer

  1. 1 cup crushed Pound cake
  2. 1/2 cup orange juice (with pulp)

Directions

  • Wash the berries and add it to a saucepan.
  • Add the powdered sugar to the berries and stir gently till the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Now add the liqueur, orange zest and lemon extract to the berries and bring to a boil.
  • In the meanwhile dissolve the cornstarch in the water and set aside.
  • Once the berries have come to a boil, add the cornstarch and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and cool it in the refrigerator.
  • Add the sugar and vanilla extract to the cream and whip the cream till it forms peaks.
  • For the layers first put a cake layer with a couple of teaspoons of orange juice.
  • Then add a layer of cream.
  • Then add a layer of the berry compote.
  • Then repeat with a layer of cake, cream, cake and compote.

You get about 6-8 servings depending on the size of the glass. You can play around with the layers depending on which of the three layers you like more or less. I loved the texture of the three layers coming together and I hope you do too. And here’s to a verry berry merry christmas!!!


Baked Gulab Jamuns

This is to continue the post on my Dassera dinner. Since Gulab Jamuns are Amit’s favorite sweet dish, I decided to make some for dessert. Since I decided a little too late, I did not have enough time to make it from scratch. I decided to buy one of the packets from the Indian grocery store. I was sitting and talking to Amit about what I was planning to make for dinner, and when he heard gulab jamun his eyes lit up but then he had this suggestion. He wondered out loud if there was anyway to make desserts a little less unhealthy. Now to convert gulab jamuns to a healthier version, I would have to not fry them. The only other way to cook them would be to bake them. So that’s what I did. The recipe below is for making gulab jamuns without frying them (though not from scratch – next time around will make it from scratch).

Ingredients:

  1. 1 packet Gulab Jamun packet
  2. 2 cups water
  3. 7 – 8 tablespoons sugar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  5. few strands saffron (optional)

Directions:

  • Knead the dough as instructed on the packet.
  • Instead of make small round balls from the dough make about 4-6 patties (like cutlets) about 1.5 inches in diameter.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 deg F.
  • Grease a baking dish and place the patties on the dish with enough room between the patties.
  • Place the baking dish in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes.
  • Turnover the patties when they are golden brown on the bottom side of the patties.
  • When the other side is also golden brown take the patties out of the oven and set aside.
  • In the meanwhile heat the water and bring to a boil.
  • Add the sugar, cardamom and saffron and let it simmer.
  • Let the mixture till boil till the sugar syrup is a thickens. You should end up with around 1.5 cups of syrup.
  • Place each patty in separate serving bowls and pour the sugar syrup over each patty.
  • Leave the patties soaked in the syrup for atleast 20 minutes before soaking.
  • Also tastes awesome cold.

I wasn’t too sure about how this would turn out, but believe me, the baked gulab jamuns taste awesome, and this comes from Amit who loves them. He is the best judge of gulab jamuns. Try them out, I am sure you will love them. And without the frying, you get all the taste without the oil!!! Hope you like them.

Apple Crumble

Apples have never been my favorite fruit. So I usually just make end up making apple juice. The other day, I wasn’t too keen on drinking apple juice but definitely did not want to let the apples go bad. So when I found the various apple crunch, crumble recipes, I decided to try it, one because it’s pretty easy to make and looked delicious. There are tons of recipes online and I had no idea which one to choose, so I just came up with one as a combination of the many recipes I read. This recipe requires a prep time of about 15-20 minutes and a baking time of around 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

  1. 3 Apples (I used three different kinds)
  2. 1/2 lemon (juiced)
  3. 3 tablespoons sugar
  4. 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon ( I do not like too much of a cinnamon flavor, if you do like a stronger cinnamon flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon more)
  6. 3 tablespoons butter (cold)
  7. 4 tablespoons Brown Sugar
  8. Vanilla Ice Cream

Directions:

  • Core and dice the apples into small chunks. (I leave the skin on but if you choose to, you could skin the apple)
  • Cover the apples with 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar.
  • Cook the apples on medium heat in a saucepan for about 10 minutes.
  • Mix the lemon juice with the apples and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
  • Mix the all purpose flour, cinnamon, remaining sugar and butter (cut into pieces).
  • Mix this together by hand till it resembles coarse crumbles.
  • Transfer the apples into a 8 inch by 3 inch rectangular baking dish.
  • Add the coarse crumbles over the top of the layer of apples.
  • Add the brown sugar on top and bake for about 30 minutes – 40 minutes (till the apples are cooked throughly).
  • Serve this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This recipe serves 4 – 5 persons. The warm apple crumble and ice cream make a perfect pair. This apple crumble recipe is one of the easiest desserts that I have ever made. There are a few more apples left over from the previous batch of apples I bought. Thinking of trying out another apple desert recipe with it in the coming week.

Hope you enjoy this recipe.

Strawberry Panna Cotta

Well I started the blog cos I relax by cooking / baking. Since the past few days have been a little stressful, cooking and trying out new recipes is the way I chose to relax. So I ended up making the Strawberry Panna Cotta tonight. Well it’s definitely the less sinful version than the chocolate one I made before and Amit & I both love the strawberries and cream combination…

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup Vanilla Yogurt. (I used Lucerne light yogurt)
  2. 1 cup Whipping Cream
  3. 1/2 cup powdered Sugar
  4. 200 grams Strawberries (about 12-15)
  5. 1 teaspoon Gelatin
  6. 1/4 cup milk
  7. Strawberries for garnish
  8. Blueberries for garnish

Directions:

  • Heat the milk in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. You want to bring the milk to room temperature.
  • Sprinkle the gelatin on the milk and set it aside.
  • Whip the yogurt to a smooth consistency.
  • Add the sugar to the curd and whip it to a smooth consistency.
  • Hull and cut the strawberries into quarters.
  • Blend the strawberries with the curd and sugar mixture to a smooth consistency.
  • Heat the whipping cream over a medium heat till it starts to boil.
  • Remove from flame and add the milk and gelatin to it. Stir till the gelatin has dissolved completely.
  • Add this to the strawberry and curd mixture and blend.
  • Pour this into 6 desserts bowls and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Before serving garnish with some chopped strawberries and blueberries.

This entire recipe took approximately 30 mins to complete including prep time (+ setting time). This recipe has also been adapted from the ‘Passionateaboutbaking’ blog. The original recipe can be accessed at http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/2009/03/strawberry-yogurt-panna-cotta.html. The changes I made to the recipe was using a normal blender versus an immersion blender and I used vanilla curd instead of hung curd.

Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta

A few weeks back I accompanied a friend while she went on her wedding dress shopping. It was an exhausting evening for her what with all the dresses she got in and out of. So we decided to get some dinner before we headed back home. And we landed up at Macaroni Grill. The side of bread and the entrees we ordered there were awesome. We then debated on whether or not to order a dessert and then we ended up ordering one each. I ordered the Panna Cotta with fresh Berries and it was definitely one of the BEST DESSERTS I have ever eaten at a restaurant.

Ever since I have been thinking of and contemplating making Panna Cotta at home. Then a couple of weeks back when I went to the store to pick up the ingredients for the Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup with fresh basil, I picked up the ingredients to make some Panna Cotta at home.

I think this would be an appropriate place to mention a blog I really love. I have made a few of the dishes following the recipes on the blog and they turned out to be amazingly good. The blog is http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/ and I have adapted my panna cotta recipe from there.

The ingredients listed below serves 6-8 persons.

Ingredients:

  1. 3 cups whipping cream
  2. 3 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  3. 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Nestle hot chocolate powder)
  5. 200-250 grams milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Measure 3/4 cup of the whipping cream. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cream and set aside.
  • Mix the sugar and cocoa powder in a sauce pan and add the 2 1/4 cups of whipping cream.
  • Heat the mixture over medium heat to a simmer.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the chocolate chips and stir to dissolve the chips.
  • Heat the saucepan on a low flame to dissolve the chocolate to a smooth consistency.
  • Add the softened gelatin and cream mixture to the saucepan and make sure the heat is on low as you do not want to heat the mixture to a simmer.
  • Once the gelatin has completely dissolved remove the saucepan from the heat. Use a fine strainer and strain the mixture into a big bowl.
  • Transfer the Panna Cotta into smaller individual serving bowls.
  • Leave the Panna Cotta in the refrigerator for 3 hours or till it sets. (I left it in the refrigerator overnight)

The entire recipe from prep to refrigerating takes about 15-20 minutes. This wasn’t like the Panna Cotta I ate at Macaroni Grill but it was absolutely delicious. But I must warn you this is not for the health conscious foodie. This is one of those sins you allow yourself to indulge in once in a long long while.

The original recipe can be found at http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/2008/04/dark-chocolate-panna-cotta-its-all-about-the-kidz-in-us.html. I adapted it based on some of  the ingredients I already had at home. I replaced the dark chocolate with milk chocolate and instead of using authentic cocoa powder, I used the hot chocolate powder.

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