Sunday, December 18, 2011

Star anise and cinnamon flavoured green tea

Life for a “board student”, a student studying in 12th grade, is like a roller coaster. What with all the running from one class to another, 7 days a week, the loads of assignments, homework, tests, exams and not to forget, the high expectations and pressure from your parents, teachers and loved ones. I hardly get any time to cook or blog, or even come online for 5 minutes in a day.

But I think it is during times like this that you learn to appreciate the small things in life. When you wake up wondering where the book and specs that you had slept on with was and then see it safely on your study table, you know that your mom cares for you. You become happy when you come to know that your test marks are highest among your friends’, not bothering to find out how much the real topper has scored.  The high expectations from your parents make you realize that they trust you and know your capabilities. 

Somehow, this also happens to be the year when we try to do something out of our comfort zone, like how I am trying to be a little naughty now. Enough of the “Miss good who never does anything wrong” image. I have learnt that a little talking and joking during classes  and bunking classes couldn’t hurt. And breaking rules, well, that really don’t sound like a major sin anymore J. So my motto for this academic year is “Enjoy the small moments in life and don’t worry about the consequences”.

We had a “cooking without fire” competition last week. To me at least, the rules sounded crazy. I mean, how can you cook anything without a stove, microwave oven, refrigerator or blender??
I managed to prepare this strawberry and honey salad, hummus sandwiches with tabouleh and chocolate pudding with a mint leaf. They were supposed to represent the green past, barren present and hopeful future. And to top it all, I prepared some truffles.

The results were announced yesterday. When I came to know that I hadn’t won, it hurt. Yes it did. But just for a moment. Coz when I knew that my best friend had won the first place, I was in cloud nine.

I think in all this craziness, it is hot beverages that keep me sane. I seem to have fallen in love with anything hot. And every beverage has its own time. Just before I start studying, I need some green tea. When I need something out of ordinary, I go for hot cocoa. When I am cramming at night, I need huge doses of coffee. And when I need to take a break and just rest with a novel, I go for this special green tea.

I got this idea from a book, Comfort Food. It is one of the best cookbooks I have owned. They have wonderful recipes and all of them shout “Comfort”. Do try to get your hand on a copy of the book.

Star anise and cinnamon flavoured green tea:
1 cup water
1 green tea bag
1 star anise
1 small bark cinnamon

Boil water with a cinnamon stick. Let it cool for 2 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and pour the water into a tea cup. Dip a tea bag and a star anise seed. Steep the tea bag for about a minute. Remove the tea bag and serve the tea with the star anise. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011


For those of you who are new to it, hummus is an Arabic dip which has been gaining popularity worldwide lately for its taste and nutrition. It is basically a paste of chickpeas and Tahini, which is sesame seed paste.

There are some foods that we never eat. We might have never tasted it,but the very sight of it tells you "There is no way you are going to eat it". For me, Humus was one such dish. No, there was nothing wrong with its presentation. Instead it was the way I used to see Nada eat it. Hummus is something that has been a regular on our dining table since my childhood. It was always served with Kubbus(Arabic bread), and sometimes, grilled chicken. And whenever it was served, Nada would plop a large blob of hummus onto her plate, dip her fingers into it and lick it like it were heaven. Ugh!! Disgusting. It was only about 4 years back, when Nada had learnt her table manners, that I decided to give this white paste a try. 
I remember that day very well. It was midnight. All my cousins were at home and we were awfully hungry. A raid in the fridge and Nada emerged with a packet of kubbus and a bowl of cold hummus. And man..was it good!! I couldn't believe what I had missed all those years. Though the dish is usually served at room temperature, I have always preferred it cold, just like how I had it that night.

Growing up in Qatar, Umma never prepared hummus. She never had to, since we get to buy it in every other restaurant there. It is said that we realize the value of something only when we lose it. And that is exactly what happened when we came down to India 11/2 years back. We began to crave for Arabic food, including hummus. Luckily, this recipe that I got from an extremely old Lipton cookbook(yeah..I know..I too am wondering as to why a tea company would publish such a recipe) came to my rescue.


2 cups cooked chickpeas* with 1/4 cup of the water it was cooked in
3-4 garlic cloves
5 tbsp olive oil and more for garnishing
2 tbsp tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste
salt to taste

Grind all the ingredients to a thick grainy paste. Add chickpea water if it gets too thick. Check the taste and add lime or tahini if required. Garnish with of a squirt of olive oil and chickpeas. Serve with any flat bread, preferably kubbus.

*To cook chickpeas, soak the chickpeas overnight and pressure cook till you get the smell of cooked chickpeas- usually 3-4 whistles.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rasmlai-with egg!!

When I was about 8 years old, I and Nada used to go tho the park in our compound everyday to play with our neighbors. We would play for about 2 hours or till Umma sent for us. On one such day, we were feeling unusually hungry and decided to go to one of our friend, Afia's house to fill our stomach. Afia's mom had prepared these cold juicy rasmalais. That was the first time I tasted rasmalai. And the best too.

My aunt Noorialama keeps taunting me telling me that though I know to prepare dishes from around the world, I am blank when it comes to Indian food, our Desi food. I guess it is true. And it is probably so because I have never really been attracted to Indian food. And even those things that I love are either prepared by Umma or easily available in the stores. So I never attempted them.

But now, I have decided to attempt some real indian food, specially Manglorean food. And what better to start off with than desserts, my forte. This is the same recipe that Afia's mom had used. After that day, I have tasted many rasmalais, but nothing could bet these.

Traditionally rasmalai is prepared with paneer(cottage cheese). I have used a shortcut method which tastes just like the paneer version. The whole dish comes together in 30 minutes. They taste best when they are cold, but if you don''t have the patience, then enjoy them hot.

Just last week I had made tres leches cake, and somehow, I think these Indian rasmalai are similar to Latin tres leches cake. Both of them comprise of a soft cake holding a ton of sweet milk within it. You might laugh at this comparison, but this is just my opinion :)

Egg Rasmalai
makes 12 rasmalais

1 mug(about 125g) milk powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp oil
1.5 litres milk
1/2 cup sugar(adjust according to your taste)
1/2 tsp caramom powder
1 tsp rose essence
few strands of saffron
pinch of salt

  • Heat the milk along with salt and sugar.
  • /in a bowl, sieve milk powder and baking powder together.
  • Add the oil and egg and mix well to form a dough.
  • Immediately form small balls(keep in mind that the balls will expand while cooking). See to it that there are no major cracks in the balls.
  • Keep the balls covered with a cloth till the milk starts boiling, else they will get dried.
  • When the milk starts boiling, drop the balls. 
  • Increase heat and immediately decrease.
  • Cover and let it simmer till the rasmalais are cooked and expand in size.(5-10 minutes)
  • To check if the rasmalais are cooked, take a rasmalai and break it open. The whole ball must be uniformly coloured.
  • Let them cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Switch off the flame. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir carefully. The rasmalai are brittle and can break easily.
  • Let the rasmalai cool.Refrigerate and serve cold.

Note: If the dough becomes dry and starts cracking, wet your hands and knead the dough. Keep the dough covered if you are slow in forming the balls to prevent them from getting dried..

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cleta Bailey's Toffee Squares

I don't remember how I came across Pioneer Woman. But ever since, my life hasn't been the same. She is one of the best food bloggers in the world. Perfect recipes, perfect photos, great writing skills, there is nothing in her that you can complain about.

This specific recipe is one of the easiest bar recipes you will ever find. Once when I was preparing it at 5 in the morning, I was just wondering how can something be so easy. That is when I realised that something was wrong. The dough was supposed to be brown, not white. I panicked. How could my fail-proof recipe fail? And that is when I realised, I was so sleepy, I had forgotten to add the brown sugar. Hehehe. A quick sprinkle of sugar and the bars came out as good as they always do. This is one of those recipes that you can prepare when you are having a large group of friends coming over without prior notice. Or if you want to gift your loved ones something special and yet easy. Or if you want to treat yourself some cute bars without sharing with anyone. Yup! Just for you ;)

Take a look at Pioneer Woman's post for step by step photos.

Cleta Bailey's Toffee Squares:
Makes 24 bars(might vary depending on size of bars)

2 sticks/ 1 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips(use milk chocolate if you like your bar overly sweet)
3/4 cup of your favorite nuts, chopped(optional)


  • Preheat oven to 325 degree Fahrenheit. 
  • Cream butter and sugar till fluffy.
  • Add egg and vanilla. Beat till combined.
  • Add flour and mix well.
  • Spread the dough on a 9x13 inch cookie sheet. using an offset spatula.
  • Bake for 15 minutes or till golden brown.
  • Sprinkle the chocolate chips on the cookie layer and return to oven for 1 minute.
  • Spread the melted chocolate using an offset spatula.
  • Sprinkle nuts and cut into squares.
  • If possible, let them rest overnight. It tastes a lot better the next day. Though it is almost impossible..

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Jam tarts

I was experiencing some problem with my internet connection since the past couple of weeks. It is at times like this that one realizes the extent to which one is dependent on technology. I could not check my mails, could not open my facebook account, could not blog surf, and all of this had to happen just when I got 2 weeks off from college. Ugh!

And because of this I couldn’t even do this month’s sweet punch. This month we were asked to prepare Ria’s  jam tarts. I had read the recipe many times so I could prepare them even without internet connection. But I couldn’t post it until today.

Talking about the tarts, they are one of my favourite desserts. Be it a fruit tart or a chocolate one and I will gobble it down in seconds. Ria’s tarts are a tart-lover’s dream. They were perfectly flaky and buttery and since the tart shell does not contain any sugar, the jam did not make it oversweet.
Ria puts the jam into the tart shell before baking. I prepared half of the batch Ria’s way and baked the remaining tarts without jam (I did not put any beans and they came out fine).  Later I microwaved jam till they just started to boil and poured it into the warm shell. The baking time is almost the same for both cases. I think I preferred the second method because the tarts turned out prettier.
Her is a comparison pic. The one to the right was made Ria's way.

Jam tarts:
Makes 9-12 tarts depending on size of tart cases

Flour 115g
Butter 60g, chilled
Baking powder- 1/2 tsp
Water 4-5 drops
Jam about 1 tsp for each tart

Mix flour and baking powder.
Add butter and rub with your fingertips till it resembles fine bread crumbs.
Add water drop by drop if required.
Don't knead it too much.
Line the tart tins with dough.
Bake for about 15 minutes in an oven preheated at 180 degrees.
Microwave jam for 30 seconds or till it becomes thin.
Pour jam into warm tarts.
Demould when cooled.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

It's time for another sweet punch, and it is Italian biscotti this month.
Back in Qatar, I was crazy about Indian rusk. Whenever anybody would be coming to Qatar from India, I would ask them to get Indian rusk. Of course, they would be shocked because rusk is so "ordinary". When I was introduced to biscotti, I used to call them American rusk(I didn't know they were originally Italian)

These biscottis were extremely easy to prepare. The original recipe called for almonds which I substituted with hazelnuts, giving it an almost Ferrero Rocher taste. Next time I prepare them, I will add a tad more sugar and try to make it a little more presentable.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti:
Adapted from JoyofBaking
Makes 16 biscotti
3/4 cup whole hazelnuts
2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (225 grams) all-purpose flour
4 ounces (110 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped(can use chocolate chips)

Toast the hazelnuts in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree Celsius for 8-10 minutes or till it tastes cooked.
Rub the between a towel to get rid of the skin. Coarsely chop the nuts.
While the nuts are being toasted, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed for about 3 minutes to get a thick, pale and fluffy batter.
Beat in the vanilla extract.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder and beat till combined.
Throw in the chocolate and nuts and give it a final mix.
Transfer to a baking tray lined wit parchment paper and shape into a 12 x 31/2" log.
Bake for 20 minutes or till firm to touch.
Cool for 10 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 165 degree Celsius.Cut them diagonally into 3/4" slices.
Bake them, cut side down for 10 minutes.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ultimate Chocolate Cake

It's been 2 months since I returned to India. It was like returning to the pre historic era. No, dear patriotic Indians, I am not criticizing my country. I am just trying to explain how I spent these months, without Internet-without a connection with the outer world, no blogging, no blog surfing, no nothing. 
Alhamdulillah, we got internet connection last week, which means, it's time to return to blogging :). And I have just the perfect dish to restart my blogging journey- The Ultimate Chocolate Cake. No, this is not one among the zillion  chocolate cakes the you have baked. This is special...very special. The best chocolate cake I have had so far...wait, correction, its was the second-best cake I have had. The best one was the Mocha Bavarian Cake. Nothing can beat it.
Anyway, coming back to the cake, the recipe is from here, by Angela Nilson. My cousin, Nabeel gave me the recipe. He had tasted it at a relative's place and really wanted to prepare it. So we donned our chef hats and began preparing it. The preparation was a breeze. No complicated steps or anything. It was fun preparing with Nabeel too. He wanted everything to be perfect, like, large eggs are large and not the small ones you get in the local grocery shop. We fought at almost every step. But by the time the cake was ready, we had forgotten our differences. The cake was simply perfect. It had an intense chocolate flavor and a strong coffee flavor to balance it.
Definitely a keeper!!

200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces(I used chocolate chips)
200g butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp instant coffee granules, mixed in 125ml water
85g self-raising flour
85g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200g granulated sugar
200g light brown sugar
25g cocoa powder
3 eggs
75ml buttermilk

For ganache:
200g dark chocolate, broken to pieces or chocolate chips
284ml double cream(pouring type)
2 tbs brown sugar

Butter a 20cm round cake tin and line its base.Preheat oven to 140 C.  
Heat the chocolate, butter and coffee in a heavy based pan over low heat, till everything melts. You don't want to overheat it. Alternatively, microwave it till it melts(3-5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Mix the flours, bicarbonate of soda, cocoa and sugars.
Beat the eggs in a bowl. Add the buttermilk.
Beat the egg mixture and chocolate mixture into the flour and mix till well blended.
Pour it into the pan and bake for 1hour and 25-30 minutes. A skewer should come out clean hen poked into the cake and the top should be firm. Let it cool for 10 minutes. Let it cool further on a wire rack.
Once cooled, Cut the cake into 3 layers, horizontally.
To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a bowl. Boil the cream and sugar till it is about to boil. Immediately, pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for 30 seconds. Mix till the ganache is well blended. Let it sit for 10 minutes so it cools and thickens. 
Sandwich the cake layers with a little ganache. Pour the remaining on top of the cake and let it fall down the sides.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mocha Bavarian Cream Gateau with Joconde Imprime

DISCLAIMER: This is a long post where I have babbled on how I spent the past 4 months of my life. If you are not jobless like me and have better work to do than read gibber, you may scroll down and read the recipe.

I saw this cake for the first time here on Ria's blog in January. I had just logged on and opened Ria's blog, I saw this cake and I knew that I had to prepare it. But even before I could go through the recipe, Umma asked me to shut down the laptop and prepare for my preparatory exams(Woah! That sounds odd). Soon after my exams, somewhere in the month of Feb, I went online again. I quickly rushed to Ria's blog and checked her home page. No Biscuit Joconde Imprime! I was really confused. Had I been dreaming it all? Or was it somebody else's blog? Fingers crossed, I clicked the previous posts button.And oh my! There it was! The pic that I had been dreaming about for a whole month. This time thankfully I had enough time to go through the recipe. But I couldn't make head or tail out of it. What was the cigarette batter and the joconde? And the cigarette batter was not even mentioned in the assembling part.Just looking at the recipe sent my head reeling. 'This is so not like Ria', I thought. I mean, Ria's recipes were always crystal clear and left me with no doubts at all. But with this one, I had a 101 questions already. And to top it all up, the difficulty level was like 15/10. I realized that no matter how inviting the photo is, this cake would never come from my kitchen. So the cake was forgotten, or at least pushed to the back of my mind, and I began to prepare for my final exams.

By first week of march, I  had attained freedom from exams and had the laptop to myself. I revisited the cake harm in drooling over the pic, right? Seeing the pic gave me a little courage. I decided to take the cake as a challenge. The day I prepare it, I could consider myself to be great. Ha ha ha! I studied the recipe carefully till I got an idea on how it was prepared. I googled about the joconde and understood how it was done. This specific page was quite helpful, with the detailed photos. I decided that 31st of march, the day Nada would write her last board exam, would be the perfect day.

After I came to Qatar, I began my preparations for the cake: some more research, purchasing all the ingredients and a mail to Ria to clarify my silly doubts. I couldn't contain myself and decided to prepare the cake on her 4th exam and not the last one. I started with the genoise. Once it went into the oven, I decided to take a small break. After 50 minutes, I checked my cake- it had burnt. I was heartbroken. All my dreams were shattered. If that wasn't enough, I was feeling guilty for having wasted 5 eggs. To me, eggs are something really precious. There have been many cases where I didn't prepare a dish due to the amount of eggs used in it. So 5 eggs wasn''t a joke to me. After that, I didn't have the courage to prepare the cake again. Until my aunt asked me as to when was I planning to try my hands on the cake again. That was the push I needed. I reminded myself of the proverb which says that there is no cook who hasn't prepared a failed dish..or something of that sort, I can't remember the exact wordings. 

Anyway, during Nada's final exam, I re-attempted the cake. This time I started with the joconde. Ria had told me that the joconde can burn easily, so I checked it after 3 minutes, though the recipe asks it to baked for 7 minutes. Guess what- it had just 3 minutes. Now I realized that something was wrong with my oven. Otherwise, how can a sponge cake burn in 3 minutes, when it is not even cooked completely.

After this, I decided to close the chapter of biscuit joconde imprime for now, and try it out when I had become a better cook, or at least got a better oven. Then, in mid-April, my friend Julie called me. When I was in 7th grade, we friends decided to get together sand prepare something. Basically, it was just an excuse to get together. And this became a tradition. We would get together about once or twice a year and prepare something 'different'. Usually it comprised of a main dish and a dessert. Julie had called me regarding this. She wanted us to restart our 'cooking class', as we liked to call it. It was then that it occurred to me, that we could prepare this cake together. I sent her the link though I was sure that she would say no on reading the recipe. But well, I was wrong. She was really excited on seeing the photo(that is the magic of Ria's photos) and we decided that Julie, our friend Aaliya and I would get together to prepare it. Since it was a time consuming recipe, we decided to not to prepare anything else along with it. On the D-day, I got a call from Aaliya telling me that she wouldn't be able to come, so probably they should cancel the plans, or postpone the date. Cancel? No way. I had prepared a lot for this cake. And nothing was going to stop me from prepare the cake. I decided that the cake would be prepared, whether Aaliya is present, or not(Do I sound rude?). SO Julie and I got together. Ria had taken 2 hours to prepare the cake, plus 2 hours for refrigeration. But for me, after 2 hours, only the genoise was ready, the bavarian cream was underway, and our legs were paining due to standing in the kitchen for so long. I was so nervous, I began to make all sorts of mistakes. Most of them could be  corrected, but one major mistake was to add cocoa powder to the mocha bavarian cream. Well, the whole cake is made of chocolate- the genoise contains chocolate, the joconde contained chocolate, the ganache is nothing but chocolate, so the cream was the only part which balanced the chocolate taste- and I added cocoa powder to it too. Though, I am not sure if it can be called a mistake, because no one felt that the cake was too chocolate-ey. Of course, I will have to prepare the cake again minus the cocoa powder in the cream to decide which one is better.

Coming to the end product, it was quite a pain to assemble it. Julie and I had a tough time cutting the cake into three layers. The first layer came out nice and thick. But when we tried to get the next two layers, the cake crumbled and we were left with cake crumbs. So we used the first cut layer as the base and used the crumbs to compensate for the next two layers. As we were assembling the crumbs, I and Julie were joking that this cake would be called the beggar's cake, as we were struggling to get enough crumbs to cover the whole cake. 

When the cake was ready, I was too scared to do the taste test. I let Julie do the honors. One bite and 'Awesome ' came out the reply. I was elated. Finally, I had done it. I decided to take my first bite next. And I realized  Julie was right. I felt like as though the chocolate and coffee flavors were playing hide-and-seek inside my mouth. The joconde had a deep almond flavor, though its flavor couldn't be heard under the screams of the chocolate and coffee. Everyone agreed that the cake was simply awesome, the best cake I had prepared to date. To me, Nada's comment was the most important, as she has been a loyal critic to my food. She has always been very frank regarding her comments. So when she told me that it tasted just like it was bought, my joy knew no bounds. Julie's parents also agreed that it was really good. 

Aaliya, too bad you couldn't join us. Here's a slice for you :). Ria, thank you so much for making my dream come true. And Julie, I am still waiting for the World Cooks Federation to come and give us a prize for making the impossible possible.

Coming to the recipe, the cake is divided into 4 parts: the genoise(basic chocolate cake), the mocha bavarian cream, the joconde(the outer covering, to give the pattern) and the ganache.


Chocolate genoise:
125 g flour
125g powdered sugar
125g chocolate,melted
100 g butter
5 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mocha bavarian cream:
11g powdered gelatin
75ml cold water

2 large egg yolks
62.5g granulated sugar
250ml milk
4ml vanilla extract
3/4 tbsp instant coffee powder
6g cocoa powder

250 ml heavy cream/Amul cream

30g softened unsalted butter
30g powdered sugar
1 egg white
20g flour
6g cocoa powder

75g ground almonds
75g powdered sugar
20g flour
2 whole eggs
30g melted butter
2 egg whites
12g sugar

Chocolate ganache:
125g semisweet chocolate/dark chocolate
125 g heavy cream/ Amul cream


Chocolate genoise:
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Grease and dust a 10" baking tin and line the base with a greaseproof paper.
Melt the butter in a small bowl over a pan of hot water and leave for any sediments to settle. Pour off the clear ghee from the top of the bowl ( you can use homemade/storebought ghee instead).It should not be hot when it is added to the mixture.
Sieve the flour and baking powder twice.
Separate the yolks and whites and keep in 2 bowls.
Add sugar to the yolks and beat over a pan of hot water until thick and creamy.Add vanilla.
Sieve the flour on to the egg mixture.Do not stir in.Pour the melted butter slowly over the flour, around the sides. 
Pour the melted chocolate. 
Whisk the egg whites stiff(not dry) . 
Add a little whisked egg whites to the flour and mix gently.
Fold in the remaining whites carefully.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45-50 mins. 
The cake is cooked when it shrinks from the sides of the tin and springs back into shape when pressed.
Remove the cake from the oven and leave it for 2 mts in the tin on a wet cloth and then turn it out on a clean dry towel.
Peel of the paper and invert the cake on a wire rack.
When cooled, slice horizontally into 3.

Mocha bavarian cream:
Soak the gelatin in cold water and let it bloom for 5-6 minutes.
Whip the yolks and sugar until light and thick.
Scald milk and slowly add it into the egg mixture,beating constantly.
Cook this mixture over a water bath until it thickens slightly.
Add vanilla extract and coffee powder and mix well to dissolve. Add cocoa powder if using.
Melt the gelatin and add into the egg mixture.
Let it cool over ice or in the fridge till half set, making sure to stir in every now and then to keep the mixture smooth.
Whip cream to soft peaks,DO NOT over whip.
When the egg custard has thickened, and not yet set, fold in the cream.
Pour in between the cake layers (as mentioned in the 'assembly' below).

Beat 30g powdered sugar and the softened butter together till fluffy.
Beat in an egg white and add 20g flour and cocoa to it.Mix well.
Spread this batter on a parchement paper and make designs on it using your fingers/forks/pastry combs etc.
Freeze this for 15 mins. DO NOT skip this.

Beat 2 egg whites stiff by adding the sugar (granulated) towards the end. Reserve.
Beat almonds,powdered sugar,flour,whole eggs together till fluffy and add the melted butter.
Fold in the egg whites carefully and pour this batter over the frozen cigarette batter.
Spread it to an even 1/4" thickness.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 475F/250C for 7 minutes. The cake should spring back when touched lightly.
Let it cool for 5 mins and then carefully transfer it onto a chopping board and trim as needed to fit your moulds.

Chocolate ganache:
Chop the chocolate into small bits and reserve in a stainless steel /glass bowl.
Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate.
Let it sit for 5 mins. Stir till it is smooth. It will be loose now, you can leave it in the fridge for 10 mins to get it slightly thickened. This can be prepared just before the assembly of the cake and refrigerated till everything, except for the ganache , has been assembled.

Make a soaking syrup by dissolving 1cup granulated sugar in 1cup warm water.
Split the Chocolate genoise into 3, horizontally.
Cut out a strip of parchment paper whose length is a little more than the circumference of the cake pan and whose height is the same as that of the cake tin.
Arrange the piece of parchment paper around the pan.
Cut the joconde into the size of the springform pan (circumference) to fit snuggly. There should be no gaps.
Place a layer of genoise at the bottom and soak it generously with 1/4 c of soaking syrup. Top it with half of the bavarian cream. Repeat. The last layer should be the genoise.
Top it with chocolate ganache and level it using a spatula, preferably offset.
Cover the whole assembly with a cling film and let it set in the refigerator for 2 hours.
Decorate the top of the cake as you need and serve chilled.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prince William's Chocolate Biscuit Cake

This post has been lying in my drafts box since about a week. I couldn't post it since I wasn't able to upload the pics. I know the wedding celebrations have died down, but better now than never, right?

I am not British. I have never stepped into the kingdom either. So the royal wedding was just like any other wedding to me. I was not among the billions of people around the world who were waiting for the D-day, following each and every news report about the wedding. Until I heard about the groom's cake. Now I just need an excuse to cook. So when I heard that Prince William's favorite cake's recipe has been made public, I knew I had to try my hand on it.
And when I cook, I do my homework beforehand. I spent a whole night reading about the royal family, the wedding preparations, the groom's cake and the fondness the Queen and her grandson share for this cake.
Preparing the cake was a breeze. I think it was the easiest cake I've ever prepared. I tweaked the recipe slightly to a large extent as I did not have enough dark chocolate in hand and I had no patience to let my butter "soften".

The end result was delicious. I am not sure if you can call it a cake. Nor can you call it a candy bar. It was somewhere in between. I don't think the English vocabulary has any word that can describe this dessert. Or if there is, then I for one haven't come across it. Anyway, coming back to the cake, it uses McVitie's, one of my favorite cookie brands(which is one of the main reasons I decided to prepare the cake at the first place). I was a little hesitant to prepare the cake since it contains raw egg, but then I reminded myself that I am a person who eats cake batter on a regular basis. So if that couldn't harm my health, this cake couldn't either. Of course I had to hide this fact from my family, or else they would never eat the cake ;) Strangely, the cake had a caramel flavor, though no caramel has been used in the preparation. Not that I am complaining. Talking about complaints, the only change I would like to bring about would be to use a smaller pan, since my cake was very thin.

Next time, I don't think I will need an excuse to prepare the cake. The cake was wonderful. No wonder it is one of Her Majesty's favorites.

Chocolate Biscuit Cake: (I have written down my version. Check the source for the original recipe.)

1/2 tsp. softened butter for greasing pan
8 oz. McVities rich tea biscuits, broken into almond-sized pieces
1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra fine granulated sugar
4 oz. (about 1/2 cup) chopped milk chocolate or milk chocolate chips
1 egg, beaten
8 oz. chocolate for icing

Lightly grease a 6" spring form pan.  Set aside.  
Melt 4 oz. chocolate in a double boiler or microwave it for 1 minute on high. Stir well. Add butter and stir till it melts. Add sugar and mix till well incorporated.  Add the egg and continue to stir.  Fold in biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.
Spoon the chocolate coated biscuits into the cake pan.  Press firm with the back of a spoon to fill in any gaps - the bottom of the cake will be the top when turned out.  Chill the cake in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
Remove cake and unmould on a wire rack.  Melt the 8 oz of chocolate (I did this in the microwave) and pour over the cake.  Spread smooth with an off-set spatula.  Allow chocolate coated cake to sit at room temperature until chocolate is set.  When set, run a spatula under the cake to remove from wire rack (chocolate makes it stick a little).  Transfer to a fancy serving platter, slice and serve.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pizzas topped with zaatar and bechamel sauce

This month's sweet punch challenge was pizza. Yes, good ol' pizza. I think this was a really good choice. I mean, there are 1000+ variations that you can bring about in a pizza. Only the pizza base recipe was given. We had the freedom to use our favorite sauce, toppings and cheeses. Wow! My mind was running. I thought of barbeque sauce pizza, bechamel sauce pizza, paneer pizza, zaatar pizza and on and on and on. And then, after a week, I got busy enjoying my holidays and completely forgot about the challenge. Yes, you read that right.

Today, while surfing on the net, I decided to visit Divya's blog. I saw her latest post: the sweet punch challenge. Man, I  got the shock of my life. I was like "What! Today is the 7th of April". So I rushed to the kitchen to prepare the pizza. As I began assembling the ingredients, I realized there was no yeast in the house- or at least I couldn't find it. I checked all the cupboards, the fridge, every possible place. But I couldn't find it. Finally, I found a small packet of yeast in our fridge. Oh, the relief!

The base dough came about very easily. Since I didn't have a lot of time, I decided to keep it simple. I prepared a quick bechamel sauce and used up some zaatar I had bought. As soon as I sent my pizza into the oven, my aunt asked me if I wanted to accompany her to our neighbour's house. "It will take just 10 minutes. We'll come fast" she told me, and I agreed. But we are ladies girls. Once we get together, we forget everything. So my pizza had baked for a good twenty minutes before I came home running. The pizza hadn't burnt, but the overcooking had made the crust a little hard, or should I say crispy? Actually, crispy sounds better. It sounds like a whole new variation, right? A pizza whose crust is crispy while the body is soft.

However it was, I loved both the toppings. The bechamel sauce pizza had a very soft base. And the best part of it is that the sauce, topping and cheese is combined. I think it was the best pizza topping I've ever prepared.

For the crust(Makes two crusts):

1 teaspoon Active Dry Or Instant Yeast
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
⅓ cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sprinkle yeast over 1 1/2 cups warm (not lukewarm) water.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.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. ***It’s best to make the dough at least 24 hours in advance, and 3 or 4 days is even better.Roll out the dough onto the cookie sheet 1 hour before baking. Let it rise. Add the sauce, toppings and cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 400 F for 15-18 minutes.

For the bechamel sauce:

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup mozerella cheese
salt and pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 sausages, sliced

Heat oil  in a frying pan. Saute the sausages till the are slightly browned. Heat butter in a saucepan. Add flour and mix vigorously for a minute. Add milk while continuously stirring. Keep stirring till the sauce thickens . Add salt, pepper, cheese and sausages. Mix well till cheese melts. Remove from flame.

For the zaatar pizza:
Drizzle a generous amount of olilve oil onto the pizza and sprinkle zaatar powder.