Sunday, December 30, 2012

Daring Bakers December 2012 - Panettone

This month we had a new bread to make as part of our DB challenge and I loved the sweet, rich bread. Though I didn't make it the traditional way with the candied fruit, my version with chocolate and nuts got happy responses from all my colleagues.

Blog Checking Lines: The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

Special Equipment - One panettone paper or pan. I used a 7 inch round cake pan and attached a collar using parchment paper on the inside. I used butter to stick the paper to the sides and stapled the edges together.

Ingredients - Makes one 7 inch Panettone

1 Tsp Instant Yeast
40 ml Warm Water
1/4 Cup (35 gms) Unbleached All Purpose Flour

First Dough 
1 Tsp Instant Yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp Warm Water
1 Large Egg (At room temperature)
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp (87.5 gms) Unbleached All Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 Cup (1/2 stick/57.5 gms) Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)

Second dough
1 Large Egg
2 Medium Egg Yolks
5 Tbsp (75 Gms) Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Vanilla Essence
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup (1 Stick/113 Gms) Unsalted Butter (At room temperature)
1 1/2 Cups (210 Gms) Unbleached All Purpose Flour plus up to (1/3 cup) for kneading
Grated zest of 1 orange

Filling and final dough 
100 Gms Lindt Orange Intense Chocolate Bar
1 Cup Milk Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts/Pecans

Make the Sponge
1. Mix the yeast and water in a small bowl.
2. Mix in the flour.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size for about 20 to 30 minutes .

Make The First Dough
1. In the mixer bowl, mix together the yeast and water.
2. With the paddle attached mix in the sponge, eggs, flour, and sugar.
3. Add in the butter and mix for 3 minutes until the dough is smooth and even.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and allow double in size, about 1 – 1 ¼ hours.

Make The Second dough
1. With the paddle mix in thoroughly the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, honey, vanilla, orange zest and salt.
2. Mix in the butter until smooth.
3. Add the flour and slowly incorporate.
4. At this stage the dough will seem a little too soft, like cookie dough.
5. Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead for about 2 minutes.
6. Turn out the dough and knead it on a well-floured surface until it sort of holds its shape.
7. Don’t knead in too much flour but you may need as much as 2/3 cup (100 gm). Be careful the excess flour will affect the finished product.

First Rise
1. Oil a large bowl lightly, plop in your dough and cover with plastic wrap.
2. Now we need to let it rise until it has tripled in size. There are two ways to go about this.
Rise in a warm place for 2 – 4 hours.
Or find a cool spot (64°F -68°F) (18°C – 20°C) and rise overnight.
Or rise for 2 hours on your kitchen bench then slow the rise down and place in the refrigerator overnight. I placed my bowl on the kitchen counter as we have central A/C and it rose perfectly.

Filling and Final Rise
1. Place a large piece of parchment on the counter and press out the dough onto an oval shape.
2. Sprinkle over half of the filling and roll up the dough into a log
3. Press out again into an oval shape and sprinkle over the remaining of the filling
4. Roll into a log shape again.
5. Shape into a ball and slip into your prepared pans, panettone papers or homemade panettone papers. (I rolled the parchment paper into a cylinder and used it to slip the dough in my prepared pan.)
6. Cut an X into the top of the panettone and allow to double in size.
7. Rising time will vary according to method of first rise. If it has been in the refrigerator it could take 4 hours or more. If it has been rising on the kitchen bench in a warm place it should be doubled in about 2

Bake The Panettone 
1. When you think your dough has only about 30 minutes left to rise preheat your oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 and adjust your oven racks
2. Just before baking carefully (don’t deflate it!) cut the X into the dough again and place in a knob (a nut) of butter.
3. Place your panettoni in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and bake for another 10 minutes
5. Reduce the heat again to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3 and bake for 30 minutes until the tops are well browned and a skewer inserted into the panettone comes out clean.
6. Cooling your panettone is also important. If you have use papers (commercial or homemade) lie your panettoni on their side cushioned with rolled up towels. Turn gently as they cool. If you have used pans
cool in the pans for 30 minutes then remove and cushion with towels as above.

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Red Velvet Cake for a Birthday Boy

Yesterday we celebrated hubby's birthday and by celebrate I mean we went for dinner to his favorite restaurant and ate a lot of food. We also ate this fabulous cake that is a deep red and tastes so much of cocoa. It is moist and a dream to work with.

Since his birthday fell in the middle of the week I had somehow completely forgotten about it and remembered only on 17th night. That too when my brother reminded me (hangs head in shame).

I had no time to make complicated cakes like the Black And White chocolate Cake or the Boston Cream Pie I had made in previous years. I had to quickly think of an easy cake to make, one that did'nt require too much effort and looked fab on its own. Immediately I thought 'Red Velvet' and googled for a recipe. I came across Smitten Kitchen's awesome recipe and made half the quantity in two 8 inch pans. Red Velvety goodness!

Since it was last minute and I didn't have frosting ingredients I decided to go the easy way and use whipped cream. I had some frozen whipping cream which I thawed overnight in the fridge. When I put it in the mixer bowl to whip, it just refused to do anything. In a panic I raided my cupboards and came upon my saviour - Dream Whip! Eeks, I know, but it whipped up perfectly and saved the day.

Recipe Source - Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients - Makes Two 8 inch layers

1 3/4 Cups Cake Flour
1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa (not Dutch process)
3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Sunflower Oil
1 Cup + 2 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
2 Medium Eggs
1/2 Tsp Red Gel Food Coloring dissolved in 3 Tbsp Water Or 3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) liquid red food coloring
3/4 Tsp Vanilla Essence
2/3 Cup Buttermilk
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 1/4 Tsp White Vinegar
Butter for greasing pans.

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease the bottom and sides of pans and place a round of parchment on the bottom. 
2. Whisk the cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.
3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternating with buttermilk beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.
4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.
5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Spicy Chicken and Potato Salad

This is one of my new favorite salads as it has a myraid of flavors that come together beautifully. A very simple recipe, it is very easy to whip and will surely impress company.

Recipe Source - From a magazine clipping, unfortunately I don't have the source.

Ingredients - Serves 2

4 Chicken Breasts (Cut into strips)
500 Gms Potato (Peeled and Cut into wedges)
Olive oil for potatoes
Salt To Taste
Mixed salad leaves like lettuce, rocca etc.
For the Spice Paste
1 Tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 Tsp Red Chili Powder
1 Tsp Cumin Powder
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Lemon Juice
Salt To Taste
For The Dressing
1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
1 Cup Chopped Tomato (Seeded)
1 Cup Chopped Oranges (Peeled and Seeded)
Fresh Coriander Leaves (Chopped)
Few sprigs of Fresh Mint leaves
1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Prepare the Chicken
1. Mix all the ingredients for the spice paste and coat the chicken strips with it. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
2. Heat the oil in a pan and cook the chicken strips on medium high heat till done.
Prepare the Potatoes
1. Parboil the potato wedges in salted water for 3 minutes and drain. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil. Drizzle the potatoes with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. 
2. Preheat the oven to 200 Degree C, and place the potatoes in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes turning once. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Make The Dressing
1. Mix together all the ingredients in a large bowl.
Assemble the Salad
1. Add the cooked chicken,potatoes and salad leaves to the bowl with dressing. Toss well and serve.

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daring Bakers Nov 2012 - Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

These cheesecake bars are the result of a kitchen disaster. It all started out with Peta of Peta Eats challenging us to make a celebration cookie, square or bar for this months Daring Bakers challenge. She provided us with 12 recipes and I chose the Chocolate and Caramel Turtle Bars as they looked really yum.

Unfortunately for me, I didn't cook my caramel layer for the bars properly and all I had in the end was a big buttery mess. I didn't want to throw all those good ingredients so I reached out to Peta asking her how I could re purpose my failed bars. She gave me the brilliant idea to crush them up and use as a cheesecake base. I took this idea and made a two layer cheesecake bar. The bottom layer is nutty, chocolatey and dark while the top layer is smooth, sweet and silky. What a fabulous result!

Recipe Source - Adapted from Peta of Peta Eats and Annie's Eats

For The Crust (My crust was the failed turtle bar but I have given a recipe below to imitate the flavour)
1 Cup Pecans or Walnuts
2 Cups Crushed Digestive Biscuits or Graham Crackers
100 Gms Dark Chocolate
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Melted Butter

For The Cheesecake Layer
8 Oz Cream Cheese (At room temperature)
4 Tbsp Sugar
4 Tbsp Plain Yogurt or Sour Cream
1 Large Egg
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
A pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 325 Degree F (162 Degree C). Line a 9 X 3 inch rectangle pan or 8 X 8 inch square pan with foil overhanging from the sides.
Make The Crust
1. Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the nuts until finely chopped. Add the biscuit crumbs, chocolate and sugar and process till the chocolate is broken into smaller bits. Add the butter and pulse till combined.
2. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Leave the oven on at the same temperature.
Make The Filling
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and beat on medium high for 2 minutes till smooth.
2. Add the sugar and beat till well combined.
3. Add the yogurt/sour cream, vanilla and salt. Beat till combined.
4. Beat in the egg till well combined.
Assemble and Bake
1. Pour the cheesecake batter on the crust and level with an offset spatula.
2. Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 30 - 35 minutes till the edges are browned and the center is slightly wobbly.
3. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and place in fridge for 3 hours. Cut into bars and serve. Store covered in fridge.

Happy Eating!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Peach and Cherry Crumb Bars

I ate my very first crumb bar from a famous coffee house and needless to say I was extremely disappointed. The filling was hardly there, the biscuit was nothing to write home about.

 Then I started seeing these Peach  crumb bars all over the Internet (August is National Peach Month) and my interest was piqued. Surely, there must be something good abut them if so many bloggers have written about it. I also had three luscious peaches sitting in my fruit basket along with some plump cherries. I gathered my supplies and baked these gorgeous bars which are tart and sweet and so good when warm I must have eaten three pieces straight from the pan (maybe more, my mind is blank).

I halved the original recipe and made them in a smaller pan because it's only the two of us. You can make the original recipe with any fruit like blackberries, raspberries etc.

Recipe Source - Adapted from Annie's Eats

For The Biscuit base
1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
A Pinch of Salt
1 Tsp Lemon Zest
8 Tbsp (1/2 C/113 Gms) Cold Unsalted Butter
1 Large Egg Yolk

For The Filling
1 Cup Peeled and Chopped Peaches (I got this from 3 peaches)
1 Cup Pitted and Chopped Cherries (About 250 Gms)
2 1/2 Tsp Cornflour (Cornstarch)
1/3 C Sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 175 Degree C or 350 Degree F. Grease a 6X10 baking pan.
2. In a medium bowl, add all the filling ingredients and mix gently. Keep aside.
3. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a bowl, stir with a whisk.
4. Add the butter and egg yolk. Cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or folk till you get pea sized crumbles. No loose flour must remain.
5. Press half the dough lightly into the bottom of the baking pan.
6. Add the filling mixture. (If there is too much liquid use a slotted spoon and leave out the liquid.)
7. Crumble the remaining dough on top.
8. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool Completely before cutting.

P.S - The excess liquid from the filling can be thickened in the microwave or stove top and used as a topping, Yum!

Happy Eating!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

White Chocolate, Pudding and Pistachio Cake

Eid Mubarak everyone!  I know I am three days too late but better late than never right?

Well, I will make it up to you by telling you how to make this cake. Coz this cake is what you need to make right now. This was our dessert on eid day and I was really worried about how all the components would work together. Turns out, there was no need to worry as it was fabulous.

Now, I took some shortcuts and used a box mix for the cake and filling because I was fasting and did not have the patience to make everything from scratch. But if you do go that route I am sure it'll only taste even more fantastic. I wanted to do a tuxedo effect on the top because I had seen it before on Annie's Eats and loved it. A previous attempt had turned into a disaster so I was very careful this time and almost nailed it. Because the cake was cold the ganache would firm up on top itself and not actually pour down the sides. Next time I'll bring the cake to room temperature before pouring the ganache.

There are four parts to this cake: Cake, Filling, Frosting and Topping. The cake and filling can be made one or two days ahead and stored in the fridge but the frosting and topping are better made the same day of assembly.


For The Cake
1 Box (500 gms) White Cake mix with egg whites, water and oil called for on the box
For The Filling
1 Packet (4 serve) Vanilla Jello Instant Pudding and Pie filling with milk called for on the box
For The White Chocolate Whipped Cream
113 Grams / 4 ounce White Chocolate (Use a good quality, I used Lindt)
1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream (Chilled)
For The Topping (Ganache) - From Annie's Eats
56 Grams/2 Ounce Semi Sweet Chocolate (I used Lindt)
1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp Light Corn Syrup
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence

100 Grams Toasted Pistachios (Hulled and Roughly chopped)

Make The Cake
Prepare and Bake the cake as directed on the back of the box in three 7 inch pans. Cool completely and cover with plastic wrap till required.

Make the Filling
While the cake is baking, Prepare the pudding according to the instructions on the jello pudding box. Cover and refrigerate until required.

Make the Frosting
1. Place the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and melt on a double boiler or in the microwave.
2. Place 1/4 cup of the heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.
3. Immediately add the cream to the melted chocolate and mix very well. Keep aside to cool completely.
4. Place the remaining 3/4 Cup cream in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip till soft peaks form.
5. Add the white chocolate cream mixture (it should be completely cooled) to the stand mixer and whip till it holds firm peaks. Be very careful not to over beat.
6. Cover the bowl (I used the bowl of my stand mixer itself, you can transfer to another bowl if you like washing dishes) with plastic wrap touching the surface of the cream. Refrigerate for two hours.

Make the Ganache
1. Break the chocolate to small pieces and place in a bowl.
2. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute then stir completely.
3. Add the corn syrup and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Keep aside to thicken, meanwhile start assembling your cake. (If you take a long time to assemble a cake then make the ganache after the cake is assembled)

Assemble The Cake
1. Level the tops of all the cake layers. Dab a smear of the frosting on a cake board and place one layer bottom side up on the board.
2. Add half the pudding filling on the cake and spread evenly. Do not spread till the edges.
3. Add 1/4 C of the chopped pistachio pieces.
4. Repeat with a second layer of cake, pudding and pistachios.
5. Place the last layer and do a crumb coat with the frosting. Place in the fridge till it sets.
6. Remove from fridge and frost completely.
7. Pour the ganache slowly over the middle of the cake giving it time to gently drip of the sides. If it sets spread gently with an angled spatula.
8. Garnish the top with pistachios. Place in fridge till cake is set. Store leftovers (If any) in the fridge.

Happy Eating!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Daring Bakers July 2012 - Baked Puris or Crackers

Ramadan has started and it has already been a week of fasting. This year I am actually trying to avoid unhealthy fried food that is on the menu at every iftaar. On my quest to eat healthy we make Fruit Chat every day along with one other snack that is not fried. So far I have made Chicken Cutlets, Aloo chana chaat and dhokla, all easy and relatively healthier.

Blog Checking Lines: Our July 2012 Daring Bakers’ Host was Dana McFarland and she challenged us to make homemade crackers! Dana showed us some techniques for making crackers and encouraged to use our creativity to make each cracker our own by using ingredients we love.

When I made the chat I was supposed to buy puris from the market to use in it. But then inspiration struck and I thought why not make a cracker from the challenge and use it instead? The crackers are extremely easy to make and hardly took any time. Moreover since they are not deep fried I can easily snack on them!

Recipe Source - Tarla Dalal

Ingredients - Makes 25 Puris (crackers)

100 Gms Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tsp Vegetable Oil
A Pinch of Salt
1/2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder
1/2 Tsp Roasted Cumin Seeds
A pinch of Aamchoor Powder (Dry Mango Powder - Optional)
Water To Knead The Dough - As required

1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl except the water and stir well.
2. Add water a little at a time until the dough comes together. Do not add too much water as the dough should be stiff. Knead well and keep aside for 10 minutes.
3. Grease a baking tray slightly and pre heat the oven to 200 Degree C/ 400 Degree F.
4. Take a little dough at a time and roll it out as thin as possible. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out circles and prick them with a fork Place on the baking tray.
5. Continue till all the dough is used up.
6. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and store in an air tight container.

Happy Eating!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pumpkin Roll

This was the first time I ever attempted a roll and I got a lot of Aah's and Ooh's when my cousins saw it. The recipe could not be any easier with very few ingredients and simple steps. It's the after baking process that is nerve wracking. I was out of parchment paper and had to make do with wax paper. Luckily since all the paper was covered with the batter there was no smoking. I prepped everything before hand as you have to really work fast once the cake comes out. Luckily the cake didn't crack on me and I had a nice yummy roll to take to my cousins place.

The only thing I would change in the recipe would be the filling. I think the Whipped cream cheese frosting from my birthday Pumpkin cake would taste outstanding with this. As I still have half a can of puree left guess whats coming next?

Recipe Source - Given as is from My Baking Addiction with my changes in red.

Ingredients - Makes one 10 inch roll - serves 10
For the Cake
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar (to sprinkle on towel)
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice 
( I used 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon Powder and 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg Powder instead)
1/4 Tsp Salt
3 Large Eggs
1 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (I used vanilla essence)
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2/3 Cup Pure Pumpkin Puree

For The Filling
1 (8 ounce) Package Cream Cheese, Softened
1 Cup Powdered Sugar, sifted
6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Make The Cake
1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with powdered sugar. Set pan and towel aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon and nutmeg) and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick. Add in pumpkin and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.
3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.

Make The Frosting
In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract until smooth.

Assemble The Roll
Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Happy Baking!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Daring Bakers June 2012 - Battenberg Cake

Do you know the story about the Battle of Battenberg?

 The one where I was defeated by the evil marzipan?

Well, I had great dreams for my battenberg and everything was going smoothly until it was time to cover it with marzipan. You see, I was a little over ambitious and tried to make a cube with a zillion little pieces instead of the usual four. Needless to say I fell flat on my face (or rather the Battenberg fell) and all was lost. In the end I just took a quick pic with my iphone and proceeded to enjoy the spoils of war. Coz even though I lost the battle I got to eat my tasty oponent. Win Win!

Oh and I finally got my hands on some vanilla beans which were so cheap (0.80 paise) from India!!!! I used them in the cake and loved to see the little flecks of vanilla throughout the delicious cake.

Blog Checking Lines - Mandy of What The Fruitcake?! came to our rescue last minute to present us with the Battenberg Cake challenge! She highlighted Mary Berry’s techniques and recipes to allow us to create this unique little cake with ease.

Recipe - Makes one cake to serve 8.


3/4 Cup (1½ Sticks) 175gm / 6 oz Unsalted Butter, softened & cut in cubes
3/4 Cup / 175gm / 6 oz Caster Sugar
1 1/4 Cups / 175gm / 6 oz Self-Raising Flour (1 Cup All Purpose Flour + 11/2 Tsp Baking Powder + 1/4 Tsp Salt)
3 Large Eggs, room temp
1/2 Cup / 65gm/ 2 1/3 oz Ground Almonds (Can be substituted with ground rice)
3/4 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Vanilla Bean
Red Food Colouring, paste, liquid or gel

To Finish
1/3 Cup (80 ml) 100gm /3 ½ oz Mixed Fruit Jam
1 cup / 225gm / 8 oz Marzipan, Natural

This is how I made the cake because I didnt have square pans, for the other method please check the Daring Bakers Website.

1. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/160°C Fan Assisted/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease two small loaf pans with butter.
3. Place the flour, sugar, ground almonds and baking powder in a bowl. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and remove the seeds by runnning the knife along the bean.
4. Add the vanilla, butter and eggs. Beat together just until the ingredients are combined and the batter is smooth
5. Divide the batter equally (I used my new digital weighing scale!!) and add a few drops of red color to one half to color it pink.
6. Spoon the pink batter into one loaf pan and the other half to the other pan.
7. Smooth the surface of the batter with a spatula, making sure batter is in each corner.
8. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake is well risen, springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean (it should shrink away from the sides of the pan)
9. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes before turning out to cool thoroughly on a wire rack
10. Once completely cool, trim the edges of the cake with a long serrated knife
11. Cut each coloured sponge in half lengthways so that you are left with four long strips of sponge
 Neaten the strips and trim as necessary so that your checkered pattern is as neat and even as possible
12. Gently heat the jam and pass through a small sieve
Brush warmed jam onto the strips of cake to stick the cake together in a checkered pattern (one yellow next to one pink. On top of that, one pink next to one yellow)
13. Dust a large flat surface with icing sugar then roll the marzipan in an oblong shape that is wide enough to cover the length of the cake and long enough to completely wrap the cake
14. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam
15. Place the cake on the marzipan, jam side down
- Tip: Either in the middle or to the one side of the marzipan
16. Brush the remaining three sides with jam
17. Press the marzipan around the cake, making sure the join is either neatly in the one corner, or will be underneath the cake once turned over
- Tip: If you put the sponge to the one side of the marzipan, I found it easiest to "roll" the sponge over and over onto the marzipan instead of lifting the marzipan up onto the sponge
18. Carefully flip the cake over so that the seam is under the cake and score the top of the cake with a knife, you can also crimp the top corners with your fingers to decorate
19. Neaten the ends of the cake and remove excess marzipan by trimming off a small bit of cake on both ends to reveal the pattern.

Happy Eating!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Daring Bakers April 2012 Armenian Nutmeg Cake

Armenian Nutmeg Cake.. sounds fancy right? This cake is a twist on the traditional coffee cake with the addition of fresh nutmeg which gives it an interesting flavor. It is simply wonderful and I have already made it twice this month.

Blog Checking Lines - The Daring Bakers' April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry  with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a nutty, fragrant coffee style cake.

While I didn't make the nazook this month I did make the cake twice and it was quickly gobbled up both the times. The pictured cake is a 6 inch one as I halved the recipe when I made it the second time. Latif polished off four slices coz he couldn't wait for dinner anymore!

Recipe Source - Adapted from The Commonsense Cookery Book

Ingredients - Makes one 9 inch cake

1 Cup (240 ml) Milk
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 Tsps Baking Powder
2 Cups Brown Sugar (Firmly Packed)
1 1/2 Sticks (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) Unsalted Butter (cubed)
1/2 Cup Walnut pieces (I also used pistachios and almonds)
1/2 Tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon Powder
1 Egg

1. Pre heat the oven to 175 Degrees C (350 Degree F). Have ready a 9 inch round pan.
2. Place the flour, baking powder and brown sugar in a bowl and whisk to mix evenly. Toss in the butter cubes and crumble the mixture with your fingers. It should resemble coarse breadcrumbs.
3. Take two cups of the mixture and press it evenly in the bottom of the cake pan to form the crust.
4. Mix the baking soda to the milk and keep aside.
5. Add the egg to the remaining cake mixture and mix well.
6. Add the milk, nutmeg and cinnamon powder. Mix well. The batter should be a little lumpy.
7. Pout the batter over the prepared crust in the pan. Scatter the nuts on top and place in the oven,
8. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack and then invert on a serving plate. Have a slice and enjoy!

Happy Eating!! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Daring Bakers March 2012 - Dutch Crunch Bread

This month we visited the zoo to see all the wild animals like tigers, giraffes and zebras! Not really, but if you see all the wonderful results of the challenge you will surely think so too.

Blog Checking Lines : Sara and Erica of Baking JDs were our March 2012 Daring Baker hostesses! Sara & Erica challenged us to make Dutch Crunch bread, a delicious sandwich bread with a unique, crunchy topping. Sara and Erica also challenged us to create a one of a kind sandwich with our bread!

Though I did make the bread I couldn't make a sandwich as I was really pressed for time and we had them as dinner rolls. The recipe is very easy and within two hours you can have fresh baked bread out of the oven.

Recipe Source -  The recipe for the Dutch Crunch topping came from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible. The recipes for the breads we’ve suggested came from The Bread Bible and an adaptation of a recipe found on

Check out the Daring Bakers website for the recipe!

Happy Eating!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Strawberry Tiramisu or Charlotte or Whatever!!

I am not sure what to call this dessert. It is called a Tiramisu but the only similarity the two have is that they are layered. It looks like a Charlotte Ruse from the outside but that's again where the similarity ends. But as they say, Whats in a name? right? The important thing is that it tastes amazing and is very easy to make.

We had company on the weekend and I wanted to make an elaborate dessert as I never get to make it for the two of us. I had some frozen strawberries in the freezer and wanted to use them up. This recipe caught my eye on the Kraft website and it had fab reviews. I did make a few changes as I couldn't find all the ingredients (like Cool Whip, which I had seen a thousand times in the store, but when I went to buy it they had removed it from the shelves!!! Grrr) and I must say that Stabilized Whipped cream is a good substitute for Cool Whip.

Recipe Source - Adapted from the Kraft Website

Ingredients - This is a great dessert for a crowd
2 Packages (200 gms each) Ladyfinger biscuits (Saviordi)
500 Gms Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
3 Tbsp Castor Sugar
200 Gms Philadelphia Cream Cheese (I used light)
2 Packets (3.4 oz - 4 serving) Jell-o Instant Pudding - I used Cheesecake flavor as that is all that was available on the shelves, the original recipe called for vanilla flavor.
3 1/2 Cups Cold Milk
For The Stabilized Whipped Cream (You can use 3 Cups Cool whip instead)
1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream (Chilled)
1 1/2 Tsp Gelatin
1 1/2 Tbsp Cold Water
2 Drops Red gel Food colouring

Prepare the Strawberries
Place the strawberries on a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar to release juices and sweeten them. Drain the liquid before using. 

Prepare the Stabilized Whipped Cream (You can use 3 Cups of Cool Whip instead)
1. Place the cold water in a small microwave bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on it. Wait till the gelatin absorbs all the water.
2. Heat the gelatin in the microwave for 15 seconds till it melts ( you can also do this on the stove top in a saucepan).
3. Place the cream in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip to soft peaks. Add the gelatin (if it has started to set heat in again), sugar and red colour. Whip till you get stiff peaks.

Prepare the Pudding Mixture
1. Beat cream cheese in large bowl with mixer until creamy.
2. Gradually beat in milk,  add dry pudding mixes; beat on low speed 1 min. or until well blended.

Assemble The Dessert
1. Trim 25 biscuits to the height of your springform pan (10 inches). Line them all along the sides and use the trimmings on the bottom to help them stand. Fill the bottom completely with the ladyfingers.
2. Add half the pudding mixture and whipped cream. Cover with the strawberries (do not use the liquid).
3. Repeat with a layer of ladyfingers and remaining pudding and whipped cream.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To Serve
Remove plastic wrap and run a knife around the sides of the pan to ensure the ladyfingers are not stuck to it.
Gently open the sprinform latch and remove the mould. Tie a ribbon around the sides and decorate the top with additional berries, grated chocolate or whipped cream.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chocolate Marble Bread

This is the second bread I made as a part of the February Daring Bakers Challenge. The method for both the breads is exactly the same and it is a very easy recipe. However, my cake turned out a bit dry and that could be because I baked it a bit too long. I have given the link to the recipe below from Joy of Baking.

Recipe - Joy of Baking

Happy Eating!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers February 2012 - Pineapple Loaf Cake

Up until the beginning of this month I had no idea what a quick bread was. So when I saw the title for the challenge I assumed we were going to make some type of bread. Then when I saw the recipe I thought, "hmm, this is a cake recipe..." I was really confused on the whole quick bread thing and hopped on to google to get some answers. So, what I have learnt so far is that a quick bread has a distinctive method of mixing ingredients and does not use any leaveners like yeast to raise the baked goods.

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Though we were asked to make our own flavors I was hesitant to try anything of my own. I tried two recipes from the net and both were good. I thought the pineapple loaf would be a bit of a problem based on the reviews but that was the recipe that got rave reviews from my tasters.

Recipe Source - Slightly adapted from the Coconut - Pineapple Loaf Cake from Martha Stewart

Ingredients - I have reduced the recipe quantity from the original to fit my loaf pan.

2/3 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
2/3 Stick (approx 80 Gms) Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Tsp + 1/8 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp + 1/8 Tsp Salt
2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2/3 Cup Thick Yogurt
6 Pineapple Rings (from a can - Drained and Chopped finely)

Note - Make sure the pineapple is really well drained. Place it on multiple sheets of kitchen towels to remove as much moisture as possible.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch (8-cup) loaf pan; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Reduce speed to low, and alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not overmix).
  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold pineapple and coconut into batter. Spoon into prepared pan, and smooth top.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approx 60 minutes. Let cake cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Happy Eating!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Strawberry Buttercream

While I was attending my Cake Decorating course , we were required to bring some cupcakes for decorating and filling. I was feeling a bit uninspired as to my flavor choices and decided to check online for some ideas. Surely enough Annie's eats did not fail me and I saw these beauties with lovely swirls of pink buttercream.

The cupcakes are really delicious especially on their own and I ate most of them without any frosting on top. While I did try making the buttercream I was not a fan of it but only because I don't like buttercream in general. I was a bit worried that I would not be able to make it but after 10 minutes in the stand mixer the buttercream beautifully just comes together. One minute its a curdled looking mess and then it just transforms right before your eyes!

I filled my cupcakes with a simple strawberry sauce using a filling tip but they can also be served plain.

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

Ingredients - Makes 32 Cupcakes

For The Cupcakes
21/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Cake Flour
1 Tbsp Baking powder
1 Tsp Salt
2 Sticks (1 cup) Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
21/4 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Large Eggs Plus 1 Large Egg White
1 Cup Milk
2 1/2 Cups Finely Chopped Fresh Strawberries (I used frozen strawberries for both cake and frosting)
For The Frosting
1 1/2 Cups Fresh Strawberries (8 oz.), Rinsed, Hulled And Coarsely Chopped
4 Large Egg Whites
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
3 Sticks (1½ Cups) Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature

Make The Cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 175˚ C (350˚ F).  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  
2. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  
4. Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  
5.With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with a spatula.
6. Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling each about ¾-full.  Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make The Frosting
1. Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Puree until completely smooth.  
2. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.
3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
4.Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (it took 10 minutes for me)  Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip with the frosting.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Happy Eating!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hazelnut and Chocolate Torte With Nutella Mascarpone

I am really happy to post this recipe as this was one my best desserts so far. The flavor was so reminiscent of a Ferrero Rocher that I have started calling it a Ferrero Rocher Cake. I also got to try a lot of new techniques like baking a daquoise and making my own Mascarpone.

I had missed the November Daring Bakers challenge of the Sans Rival and wanted to give it a go. Sans Rival is a Filipino dessert which means 'without rival'. I decided to give it a try but without making the heavy buttercream filling as I wanted something light. The Nutella mascarpone complements the dacquoise perfectly and is very easy to make.

Recipe Source - Hazelnut Dacquoise Slightly adapted from November Daring Bakers Challenge host Catherine of Munchie Musings; Chocolate Ganache recipe from Joy of Baking.


For The Dacquois
5 Large Egg Whites (At room temperature)
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Tsp Cream of Tartar
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
3/4 Cup Chopped Toasted Hazelnuts (Texture of Breadcrumbs)
For The Filling
1 Cup Mascarpone Cheese (You can make your own!!)
1/2 Cup Nutella
2 Tbsp Cadburys Drinking Chocolate
1/4 Cup Chopped Hazelnuts
For The Ganache
100 gms Semisweet Chocolate
60 ml Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

Bake the Dacquoise
1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and draw three squares measuring 4x4 inches on each pan. (See Diagram below). Turn over the paper  and lightly grease the squares.

My weird attempt at drawing..baking sheet with three squares.
3. In a large clean, dry  glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.) 
4. Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)
5. Fold in nuts.
6. Divide meringue into 6 equal parts and spread onto square shapes in the baking sheet with each square being 1/2 inch thick. (Alternatively you can bake these in cake pans also).
7. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the meringue is set. Remove from oven and peel off parchment paper while still hot. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the Ganache
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside.
2. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Can also heat the cream and butter in the microwave.) Bring just to a boil. 
3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand, without stirring, for a few minutes. Stir gently (as you do not want to incorporate air into the ganache) with a spoon or whisk until smooth.
4. Place in fridge to cool completely before using.

Make the Filling
Combine all the ingredients and whisk well. Keep aside.

Assemble The Torte
1.Trim the sides of each dacquoise square.
2. Place one square on a serving plate.
3. Top with 2 Tbsp of the filling.
4. Repeat with one more layer of dacquoise and filling.
5. Add the last layer of dacquoise and pour some of the cooled ganache on top.
6. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to make Mascarpone Cheese

How many times have you walked through the cheese aisle and looked at all that lovely cheese staring at you? And how many times have you looked at the prices and decided not to buy it? It has surely happened a lot of times to me as some of the prices are way too much (Ricotta and Mascarpone, I am talking to you!

In Dubai you can find a big variety of cheese in the supermarkets but paying so much for a small tub doesn't make sense. When I made the Tiramisu at home I had purchased a small 200 grams tub, but this combined with the cost of the biscuits, cream and coffee made the dish expensive to make at home. This time when I needed Mascarpone for a dessert I thought why not make it at home? The recipe was very easy to find as The Daring Bakers had this as a challenge some time ago and a lot of bloggers had posted their results.

I have made Paneer and Ricotta at home before and this time again I am amazed at the simplicity of it. And the best thing about it, it is so cheap!!

Recipe Source - Baking Obsession.

500 ml Pasteurized Heavy Cream (I could not find pasteurized cream so I used Ultra pasteurized, It tasted great to me, just use a cream with 33 - 36 % fat).
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice (I used lemon concentrate from a bottle)

Equipment Needed
  1. Medium size Saucepan
  2. Stainless Steel Bowl (It must fit over the saucepan, without touching the bottom).
  3. Cheesecloth (I used a clean tea towel)
  4. Fine Mesh Sieve
  5. Candy Thermometer (Optional, but great if you have it)
1. Fill a medium size saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low so that the water is barely simmering.
2. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl on the saucepan.

3. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. (If you do not have a thermometer, look for small bubbles on the surface of the cream).
4. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir.
5. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
You will get around 2 Cups of Mascarpone. I wish I had weighed it, but I will surely make it again and update the weight.

I made a fantastic dessert with my homemade mascarpone. Recipe coming up!!

Happy Cheese Making!! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daring Bakers January 2012 - Scones

This months Daring Bakers challenge was a simple yet tricky challenge. While the scones looked easy to make and had staple ingredients the technique was anything but easy. To get perfect flaky scones one has to knead the dough for the right time and with the right pressure. 

Due to time constraints I could make only one batch and they were quite good for a first timer. They were delicious hot out of the oven with some jam.   

Recipe Source: The challenge scone (biscuit) recipe has been especially formulated by Audax Artifex after a large amount of research and experimentation. It is designed to help you master the techniques involved in making scones (biscuits) exactly the way you like them.  
Blog-checking lines: Audax Artifex was our January 2012 Daring Bakers’ host. Audax worked tirelessly to master light and fluffy scones (a/k/a biscuits) to help us create delicious and perfect batches in our own kitchens!   


1 Cup (240 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) Plain (all-purpose) Flour 
2 Tsp (10 ml) (10 gm) (1/3 oz) Fresh Baking Powder 
1/4 Tsp (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) Salt 
2 Tbsp (30 gm/1 oz) Frozen Grated Butter (or a combination of lard and butter) 
Approximately 1/2 Cup (120 ml) Cold Milk
Optional 1 tablespoon milk, for glazing the tops of the scones
1. Preheat oven to very hot 475°F/240°C/gas mark 9. 
2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. (If your room temperature is very hot refrigerate the sifted ingredients until cold.) 
3. Rub the frozen grated butter (or combination of fats) into the dry ingredients until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs with some pea-sized pieces if you want flaky scones or until it resembles coarse beach sand if you want tender scones. 
4. Add nearly all of the liquid at once into the rubbed-in flour/fat mixture and mix until it just forms a sticky dough (add the remaining liquid if needed). The wetter the dough the lighter the scones (biscuits) will be! 
5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board, lightly flour the top of the dough. To achieve an even homogeneous crumb to your scones knead very gently about 4 or 5 times (do not press too firmly) the dough until it is smooth. To achieve a layered effect in your scones knead very gently once (do not press too firmly) then fold and turn the kneaded dough about 3 or 4 times until the dough has formed a smooth texture. (Use a floured plastic scraper to help you knead and/or fold and turn the dough if you wish.) 
6. Pat or roll out the dough into a 6 inch by 4 inch rectangle by about ¾ inch thick (15¼ cm by 10 cm by 2 cm thick). Using a well-floured 2-inch (5 cm) scone cutter (biscuit cutter), stamp out without twisting six 2-inch (5 cm) rounds, gently reform the scraps into another ¾ inch (2 cm) layer and cut two more scones (these two scones will not raise as well as the others since the extra handling will slightly toughen the dough). Or use a well-floured sharp knife to form squares or wedges as you desire. 
7. Place the rounds just touching on a baking dish if you wish to have soft-sided scones or place the rounds spaced widely apart on the baking dish if you wish to have crisp-sided scones. Glaze the tops with milk if you want a golden colour on your scones or lightly flour if you want a more traditional look to your scones. 
8. Bake in the preheated very hot oven for about 10 minutes (check at 8 minutes since home ovens at these high temperatures are very unreliable) until the scones are well risen and are lightly coloured on the tops. The scones are ready when the sides are set. 
9. Immediately place onto cooling rack to stop the cooking process, serve while still warm.   

Happy Eating!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Chewy, Fudgy Triple Chocolate Brownies

There is a great rift among people in the brownie world due to all the different types of brownies out there. Fudgy, Cakey, with nuts, without nuts, plain chocolate ones, peanut butter ones, cream cheese and on and on. Everyone has their own favorite recipe and when I started searching for a recipe that I would love I must have browsed a 100 different  ones with each blogger claiming that their version is the best. What is a girl to do in such a case? I just went with my instincts  and picked the Triple Chocolate Brownies from Annie's Eats and I sure picked a winner!

These are everything that I love in a brownie. I would describe my version as fudgy and chocolatey. (I have tried Ina's Outrageous Brownies before and they were too fudgy for me). These rose nicely in the pan even without any leaveners and had a great chocolate flavor. I did not use too much of unsweetened chocolate as I am not a fan of the flavor and made these with half dark and half milk chocolate. This ratio was perfect for me. I made half a pan with walnuts and half without and I loved both the versions. I can't wait to try this recipe with more mix ins in the future.

Recipe Source - Slightly Adapted from Baking Illustrated via Annie's Eats

Ingredients - Makes one 8X8 Pan of brownies.
100 Gms (approx 3.5 oz)  Dark Chocolate (70% Cocoa) (Chopped)
100 Gms (approx 3.5 oz) Milk Chocolate (Chopped)
8 Tbsp (113.4 Gms) Unsalted Butter (Cut into Quarters)
3 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
3 Large Eggs
1 1/4 Cups (8¾ oz.) Sugar
2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup (5 oz.) All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Chopped Toasted Walnuts (Optional)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 175° C (350° F) and line an 8 inch square baking dish (I used a 10X6 inch rectangle) with foil (Use extra foil so that it hangs out from two sides). Grease lightly and set aside.
2. Place the chocolate and butter in a microwave proof bowl and melt in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring after each time till completely melted and smooth. (You can also use the double boiler method on the stove). Add the cocoa powder and whisk till combined. Keep aside to cool
3. Mix together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium bowl for 15 seconds.
4. Pour in the warm melted chocolate mixture and mix.
5. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the walnuts if using.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula to make an even layer. Place in the middle tray of your oven and bake until slightly risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a small amount of sticky crumbs clinging to it, 35-40 minutes. 
7. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.  
8. Pull the overhanging foil and remove the brownies from the pan. Transfer to a cutting board and cut as desired.  Store in an air-tight container.  

Happy Eating!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

German Chocolate Cake

This cake is not from Germany and has nothing to do with that country. Then why is it called so ? According to Joy of Baking "Richard Sax in Classic Home Desserts says this cake was being made in the 1920's and eventually became popular nationwide after a recipe appeared in a 1957 food column of a Dallas newspaper. While the name "German" Chocolate Cake seems to suggest a tie to Germany, the name refers to the type of chocolate used in the cake which, in turn, is named after the Walter Baker & Company employee, Samuel German, who developed the chocolate in 1852. German's® Sweet Chocolate is a semi sweet baking chocolate that has a mild flavor and is much sweeter than other semi sweet chocolates (it tastes like a candy bar). Baker's® sells this chocolate and it is sold on the baking isle of most grocery stores".

In Dubai I found the brand in a few supermarkets like Safest-way but it was way too expensive to justify its use in a single cake. That's where this recipe came in handy as it uses unsweetened chocolate and is very easy to make.

I must say that not everyone who ate this was a fan and that was because of the coconut in it. I am personally a coconut lover and I loved it, especially when heated a little so that the ganache is all warm and melty.

Recipe Source - David Lebovitz

Ingredients - Given as is from his website with my changes in red.

One big, tall 9-inch cake; about 16 servings

For The Cake
2 Ounces Bittersweet Or Semisweet Chocolate Chopped (I used Milk Chocolate)
2 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate, Chopped
6 Tbsp Water
226 Grams (8 ounces/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
1 1/4 Cup + 1/4 Cup Sugar
4 Large Eggs, Separated
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Buttermilk, At Room Temperature
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
For The Filling
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Egg Yolks
85.05 Grams (3 Ounces) Butter, Cut Into Small Pieces
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Pecans, Toasted And Finely Chopped
1 1/3 Cups Unsweetened Coconut, Toasted
For The Syrup
1 Cup Water
3/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Dark Rum (I omitted this)
For The Chocolate Icing
8 Ounces Bittersweet Or Semisweet Chocolate, Chopped
2 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup
42.5 Grams (1 1/2 Ounces) Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream

Bake The Cake
1. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Melt both chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 ¼ cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks, one at a time.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
6. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft, droopy peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar until stiff.
7. Fold about one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.
8. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool cake layers completely. While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup, and icing.

Make The Filling
1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.
2. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)
3. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

Make The Syrup
1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum (If using)

Make The Icing
1. Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.
2. Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.

Assemble The Cake
Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.
Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.
Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.
Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

Happy Eating!!