Monday, October 25, 2010

Chocolate Orange Hazelnut Biscotti

I am so excited this week as my sister and niece have come over for a holiday. She has already given me a list of things she wants me to make and I have a head start on her. On Friday I made these fantastic biscotti which I found on Joy of Baking. After making the Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti, I knew that these would be great too because I love hazelnuts (Is there a nut I don't love?). And sure enough they are fantastic. I had to hide a few in the cupboard so that we don't finish all of them in a day!

I made one change to the original recipe and that was to use a dark chocolate with orange flavoring. I used a Lindt Intense Orange Bar in the biscotti and the citrus pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate. The chocolate bar is pulsed with the brown sugar into a powder so you will not get any chunks of chocolate but a complete flavor all over. If you cannot find a flavored bar I recommend adding a tablespoon of orange zest to the recipe. The final biscotti is not sweet and so I added a drizzle of melted white and milk chocolate which somehow completed the overall flavor of it.

Recipe Source - Adapted from Joy of Baking

Ingredients - Makes approx 30 Biscotti

1 Cup (150 Grams) Hazelnuts
4 Ounces (120 Grams) Orange Flavoured Dark Chocolate* (Coarsely Chopped)
1 Cup (210 Grams) Tightly Packed Light Brown sugar
1 3/4 Cups (230 Grams) All-purpose Flour
1/3 Cup (30 Grams) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Tbsp (4 grams) Instant Espresso Powder
1Tsp (5 grams) Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

* - If you cannot find flavored chocolate use regular dark chocolate (60 - 70%) and add 2 Tbsp Fresh Orange Zest. Pulse with the sugar and chocolate.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). To toast the hazelnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and the skins begin to blister and peel. Remove from oven and place the nuts in a clean dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts 'steam' for 5 minutes and then briskly rub the towel (with nuts inside) to remove the skins from the nuts. Cool and then chop coarsely.
2. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degree F (150 degrees C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, place the coarsely chopped chocolate and brown sugar and process until the chocolate is very fine.
4. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt.
5. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and vanilla extract until combined (about 30 seconds). Add the chocolate/sugar mixture and the flour mixture and beat until a stiff dough forms (I didn't get a stiff dough and my mixture was very sticky), adding the hazelnuts about half way through mixing.
6. With floured hands (Use a lot of flour on your hands to avoid it sticking to your hands) divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface roll each half of dough into a log about 10 inches (25 cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet (I directly rolled mine on the baking sheet to avoid any mess while transferring), spacing about 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart. Bake until almost firm to the touch, about 35 - 40 minutes (logs will spread during baking). Remove from the oven, place on wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes.
7. Using a long spatula transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife cut the dough into slices 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick on the diagonal. Arrange the slices cut-side down on a wire rack for the oven. Bake 15 - 20 minutes until crisp and dry. (If you want a softer biscotti, reduce the baking time). Remove from oven and let cool before drizzling with chocolate.

To make the White and Milk Chocolate Drizzles, Melt the chocolates separately in the microwave in 15 second intervals or on a double boiler. Place in a piping bag and decorate the completely cooled biscotti.

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tangy BBQ Chicken Pizza

Pizza!!! Aah, the universal food that is so popular among all age groups. I mean who doesn't love pizza right? What? There are some people who don't like it?Hmm, maybe they need to eat a good home made pizza with all the deliciousness piled high. It had been so long since I had made pizza at home, that when I saw this recipe at the Low Fat Chick website I decided to try it out for this months Taste and Create.

The sauce is a lovely combination of sweet and tangy and comes together so easily. Usually while making pizza sauce there is so much stirring that I often resort to the bottled stuff to save time. But this time I just had to mix the stuff and let it simmer. Yum Yum! For the toppings I added a few more things than the original recipe like tomatoes and capsicum (green bell peppers) for a little tandoori feel. For the base I used the ready pizza base that is available in the freezer section of the grocery. You can use your own home made dough, I have given the Pioneer Woman's recipe below which I have made before and is great.

Recipe Source - Slightly Adapted from The Low Fat Chick


2 (6 Inch) Pizza Base
For The Sauce
1/2 Cup Grape Vinegar
1/4 Cup And 2 Tbsp Ketchup
2 1/2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Garlic Clove (Pressed or Finely Minced)
1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Black Pepper
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
For The Toppings - Quantities As Per Personal Preference
Cooked Shredded Chicken
Red Onion (Thinly Sliced)
Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded)
Diced Tomatoes
Diced Capsicum
Finely Chopped Coriander Leaves

1. Combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan. Stir till all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to slightly cool.
2. Preheat oven to 180 Degree C (350 Degree F).
3. Place the pizza base on a baking sheet covered with foil.
4. Spread the sauce on the dough. Layer with cheese, chicken, tomatoes, capsicum, onion and little more cheese. Sprinkle some coriander and place in the oven.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the crust is crisp and the cheese is melted on top.
6. Cut into slices and serve immediately.

Recipe for Homemade Pizza Base (Source - The Pioneer Woman)


1 Tsp Instant Or Active Dry Yeast
1 1/2 Cup Warm Water
4 Cups All-purpose Flour
1 Tsp Salt
1/3 Cups Olive Oil

1. Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.
2. In a mixer, combine flour and salt. With the mixer running on low speed (with paddle attachment), drizzle in olive oil until combined with flour. Next, pour in yeast/water mixture and mix until just combined.
3. Coat a separate mixing bowl with a light drizzle of olive oil, and form the dough into a ball. Toss to coat dough in olive oil, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until you need it.
4. To use, lighlty flour a baking sheet or pizza stone and place dough in the middle. Strecth the dough to the corners and top as desired (Dough will be slightly sticky).

***It’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.
***Makes 2 big crusts.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicken 65

Another weekend has gone by and its a brand new week at work. Friday was very hectic for me as we had guests at home and I was cooking non stop all day! I served this chicken for dinner along with mutton curry and chicken kheema with some pulav and rotis. My mutton curry didn't turn out so good but this chicken was good as always. It is a very easy recipe which I learnt from Latifs aunt. My mom used to make this a lot a few years back but somehow she 'forgot' how to make it. How can you forget a recipe??? Anyways, when I ate it again in Dubai I remembered the same taste and learnt the recipe to make at home. The ingredient quantities given below are a rough estimate. You can increase or decrease the quantities to your personal tastes.

Recipe - Serves 6


1 Kg Chicken - Small Pieces, Bone - In
1 Cup Onion (Diced In 1 Inch Pieces)
1 Cup Capsicum (Diced In 1 Inch Pieces)
3 Tbsp Butter, Divided (Salted Or Unsalted)
4 Green Chillies (Slit Vertically Halfway Through)
8-9 Curry Leaves

For the Marinade
2 Cups Thick Yogurt (Strain If Yogurt Has Too Much Water)
2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1 Tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 Cup Tomato Ketchup
Red Food Colouring (Optional)
Salt To Taste

1. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a big bowl. Taste and adjust the seasonings as required. This is supposed to be a little sweet and sour. Place the chicken pieces in the marinade and keep in the fridge for an hour. After an hour, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and keep aside. Reserve the marinade.
2. Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onions and capsicum till translucent. Do not soften as we want them crunchy. Remove from pan and keep aside.
3. In another pot, melt the remaining two tablespoon butter over medium heat and add the curry leaves and green chillies.
4. Add the chicken marinade reserved earlier and let it cook till it changes colour. Place all the chicken pieces in the pot, stir well and lower the flame. Cover and cook till chicken is no longer pink. If gravy is required add some water and cook for five more minutes.
5. Add the sauteed onions and capsicum just before serving and garnish with coriander leaves.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oatmeal Buttermilk Wheat Bread

We eat a lot of bread at home and by we I mean Latif (hehe). Actually that's what sustains him from morning till evening when I am at work if there are no leftovers for lunch. So it was only natural that I try my hand at baking a loaf of bread. We mostly eat wholemeal bread (I even managed to convert a white bread lover to this - yes it is Latif only) and so I wanted to try a wholemeal bread itself. There are many many recipes out there but most of them call for bread flour and I didn't want to buy a bag before experimenting with something at home.

This recipe is from Annie's Eats and is very simple and easy. It calls for rolled oats which I had never seen before (Thank you instant oats for keeping me ignorant) and so I had to search for it and found it in the organic section of the store. I halved the recipe because I only had a 8 inch loaf pan (brand new, mind you) and the original recipe yielded one very large loaf. Even with half of the recipe I got a good sized loaf perfect for the two of us. Because of central air condtioning at home it was tough to find a humid spot for the yeast to rise. I heated my oven a little and placed the bowl there. It took me 3 hours for the first rise and one hour for the second.The bread is great with a very soft center. I slightly over baked mine not knowing when to remove it exactly. Now that I have baked my first loaf I will surely try different types of bread like rolls (garlic knots anyone?) Also, how great are those bread machines which give you ready bread at the touch of a button. Would love to get one as a gift (hint hint)!

Recipe Source - Given as is from Annie's Eats, with my notes in red.


11/2 Cups Rolled Oats, Divided
1 Cup Boiling Water
1/4 Cup Room Temperature Water
2 Tbsp + 1 Tsp Agave Nectar (Or Honey), Divided - I Used Honey
2 Tsp Instant Yeast
11/2 Cups Buttermilk, At Room Temperature - I used the Milk And Vinegar Substitute
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tsp Salt

1. Set aside ¼ cup of the rolled oats. Place the remaining oats in a medium bowl. Cover with the boiling water, mix well, and let sit uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the soaked oats, room temperature water, 2 tablespoons of agave, yeast, buttermilk, olive oil, 2 cups of each flour, and salt. Mix briefly on low speed until ingredients are combined. Mix in the remaining ½ cup of each flour. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for about 10 minutes. The dough will be wet, cling to the hook, and have a satiny finish.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, flattening it with your hands to release the excess air bubbles. Form the dough into a 12 x 6-inch rectangle and position it so the long side is facing you. Fold the two shorter ends onto the top so that they meet in the middle. Starting with the closest end, roll the dough away from you tightly into a log. Pinch the seam closed. (Do this well, I closed mine and it still opened up leaving a gaping slit on the top). Transfer the loaf to an oiled loaf pan, pressing it so that it reaches all the corners.
5. Mix the remaining agave nectar with ½ a teaspoon of very hot water. Brush over the top of the loaf, and
sprinkle with the reserved oats. Let rise for about 30 minutes, just until the loaf rises over the top of the pan.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 Degrees F  F. Bake the loaf for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.

P.S - My sister, niece and parents are planning to come to Dubai pretty soon and I can't wait to try out so many new recipes as they are complete foodies like me! Lot's more baking for me!

Happy Eating!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My First Decorated Cake - Hello T-Rex!

It is one my life long dreams to throw a theme party for a child. I long to plan a princess party for a cute little girl or a pirate party for a naughty little boy. Not having kids of my own I often ask my relatives if they want to celebrate the birthdays of their kiddos. Sadly for me, no one wants to do that and I am left with even more longing. Well, maybe I'll just throw one for Latif and pretend he is a little boy (which he is in many ways!)

One of the things that I would love to do is theme cakes. It only takes a beautiful design to bring that look of pure delight on a child's face. I still remember the look of joy on a colleagues 6 year old daughter when she saw her barbie cake. I wanted to do something similar for my nephew on his birthday just because I knew I would not get this chance again. So I just took it on myself to bake him a cake and have some fun of our own.

The Little Birthday Boy
I came across the oh-so-easy tutorials on BettyCrocker for fun birthday cakes and found the dino design. They have wonderful designs with videos showing exactly what needs to be done. Moreover, they even provide the template for the designs so there is no guessing or free hand cutting. Just print and cut according to the directions and decorate as shown. Voila!

Getting ready to cut the cake
A quick trip to the supermarket and I had all my stuff ready. Cadbury has these cute chocolate buttons in milk and white chocolate which can be used for animal eyes and ears. I also found lovely rock candy that looks just like stones! For the background I printed a jungle theme picture from the internet and stuck it on cardboard. In order to prevent it from spoiling due to the icing I wrapped a layer of cling wrap to it.  For my cake I used the Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake which held well to the shaping but the frosting was very difficult for me. The cake is so moist that the sticky frosting was pulling the cake to it instead of sticking to it. This was even after I had chilled the cakes. Next time I will use home made butter cream and not the supermarket stuff that tastes like ---, umm nothing!

Say Cheese!

I guess with a little imagination and creativity one can make any type of cake. I would love to do a barbie cake next. Any birthday girl requests?

Things you will need

Two 9 inch round cake layers - Any flavour- I used Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake
Two tubs Ready made Vanilla Frosting Or home made butter cream frosting - I used Betty Crocker Vanilla
Hershey's Kisses
Cadbury Buttons or similar flat candies
Chocolate Chips
Food Colour for the dinosaur (You can use any colour for the dinosaur)
Plain Craft paper/tray/cake board for background (12X16) inch
Sweetened Shredded Coconut (Optional)
Stone Candy (Optional)
Dinosaur Template (Link given below)

1. Bake your cakes and cool completely. Place in the fridge for an hour to chill. Once chilled, remove and trim the tops of the cakes to level them. Place the templates onto the cakes and cut out the shapes using a serrated knife. Keep the knife perpendicular and cut in a straight motion. Arrange the pieces as shown in the diagram on a tray or large piece of cardboard.
2. Tint the vanilla frosting with the desired colour for dinosaur (yellow, green or orange) and crumb coat the cakes. Place in fridge for half an hour to firm up the frosting. Remove and frost completely using an offset spatula. If the frosting sticks too much to the spatula dip in hot water and wipe with a clean cloth before proceeding.
3. Once the dinosaur is completely frosted, unwrap the hersheys kisses and place all along the dinosaur back. Decorate the body using different candies as desired. Pipe the mouth with a little vanilla frosting.
4. If you do not have a background, try using shredded coconut as grass. Colour the shredded coconut using green food colour. Pipe a litlle vanilla frosting on the bottom edge of the paper or tray and stick the rock candies in a row. Sprinkle the coconut in a layer above the candies to look like grass.

Click here to download the template for the dinosaur - Betty

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake

I just wanted to share this fun design I made. It is actually supposed to be a train engine with little bogies trailing behind but to me it looked more like a truck so that's what I am calling it :) Anyways, I baked the Hershey's cake for my nephews birthday (coming soon) and I had some leftover cake to use. I was really jobless so I just cut it up and decorated it with whatever I could find in my kitchen. that is why it is not covered properly in frosting. I just had some chocolate ganache with me which I used for the top. With the right frosting and candies this can be made to look much better.

Say Hello To My Driver!!
Talking about the taste of the cake. When I ate it plain I liked it but did not love it. It was missing that chocolate taste which I love in my desserts. Perhaps it is meant to be had with the frosting and not on its own. With the ganache it tasted really good as did the cupcake pops which were also made from this cake. The best thing about this recipe is that you need only one bowl and a whisk to make it. Everything goes directly in the bowl and you just have to mix it till you get a smooth batter. Did someone say easy clean up?

Ingredients - 10 to 12 servings.

2 Cups Sugar
1-3/4 Cups All-purpose Flour
3/4 Cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 Tsp Baking Powder 
1-1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Boiling Water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.
2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.
3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.
CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.


1/2 Cup (1 Stick) Butter or Margarine
2/3 Cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/3 Cup Milk
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Happy Eating!! 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cupcake Pops!

What are cupcake pops you ask? If you live in the blog world then you have surely heard of Bakerella. The creator of all things cute and tiny. Cake pops are nothing but cake and frosting mixed together, rolled into little balls and coated in chocolate. The result is a delicious fudgy mini treat. So, after seeing them on endless blogs I finally gave in and made these cute little buggers. I am working on a birthday cake for my nephew and had a lot of cake left after cutting the design out. I immediately thought of making these as the thought of making one big cake and crumbling the entire thing just did not go down well with me. The Hershey's cake was perfect for this as I got wonderful crumbs in the food processor. I added a dollop of the Betty Crocker vanilla frosting and I had the perfect consistency to make the balls.

A quick chill in the fridge and these were ready to shape. I couldn't find candy melts anywhere here, so I made some ganache with semi-sweet chocolate chips and dipped the bottom part in it (The ganache will not harden like the chocolate so these need to be kept in the fridge if it becomes too soft). For the top I used white chocolate thinned with vegetable oil and tinted with gel paste colours. The pops were finished with sprinkles and a mini m & m.

I packed them using small cellophane bags, tied a ribbon and 'planted' them in a small pot filled with rice. Ta da! A cute treat ready to wow everyone.

For a complete tutorial on how to make these check these links

The cupcake pops creator - Bakerella
Video on

I am submitting these pops to Virtual Party - Chocolatey Dreams (An event hosted by From My Home Kitchen)

Happy Eating!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cowboy Cookies

Baking cookies is a guessing game for me. I have tried a lot of times but somehow I always end up over baking them because I never know when is the right time to pull them out of the oven. Instructions like 'Remove when edges are set and center still looks soft' is my worst nightmare coz I never seem to know when that happens. So it was no surprise to me that I over baked the first batch of these cookies. Luckily, they were so huge that only 6 of them could fit on the tray. They turned out super crispy and I couldn't even make out what they were supposed to taste like!  (I put them in the freezer to make a layer dessert or Ice Cream sandwiches some other time!) Thus, with great care I put in the next batch and sat like a hawk eying it s prey. Luckily for me the next two batches came out perfect. 

Don't go by my plain looks, I taste awesome!

I didn't make them jumbo sized as in the recipe so  I got a lot of cookies out of the dough. I divided the recipe by three because the original yield was 36 massive biscuits!! Who wants that kind of temptation lying around? Especially since these cookies contain coconut, walnuts, chocolate chips and oats! All my favorite stuff in one cookie? Win - win!

Recipe Source - Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Laura Bush

Ingredients - Makes 12 Large cookies (Scaled Recipe Below)

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
A Pinch of Salt
½ Cup (1 Stick/100 Gms) Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
½ Cups Granulated Sugar
½ Cups Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Large Egg
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
2/3 Cup Sweetened, Flaked Coconut
2/3 Cup Chopped Pecans (I Used Walnuts)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or line with a silicone baking mat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy, scraping the bowl as necessary, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. With a wooden spoon or large rubber spatula stir in the chocolate chips, oats, coconut and pecans.
4. For each cookie, drop ¼ cup dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Bake until the edges are set but the middles still look light and puffy, about 12-15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Cool cookies on the baking sheets.

Happy Eating!!