Thursday, December 26, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


This year Latif and I had decided that we would not celebrate our birthdays anymore and there would be no cake cutting or decorations. I had agreed to this without thinking much but when my birthday rolled around (mine comes first in November) I started having cake withdrawal symptoms and promptly announced that no cake birthdays suck.


Latif celebrates his birthday in December and I could not bear the thought of not making him a cake so I decided to make his all-time favorite Pineapple Upside Down. As I was assembling the ingredients I realized I didn’t have any pineapple at home. With a sad face I started keeping everything back inside when I spotted a packet of mini chocolate chips in the cupboard. What better way to cheer yourself up than making home made cookies!

I am a big fan of these cookies as chocolate, peanut butter and oatmeal are my idea of cookie heaven. I quickly mixed up a batch and baked them, all thoughts of a birthday cake forgotten.

Recipe Source - Given as is from Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
113 Grams / 1 stick / 1/2 Cup Unsalted  Butter (At room temperature)
1/2 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract (I used vanilla essence)
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats (I used quick cooking)
1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
3. On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.
4. Use a large cookie scoop (3 tablespoons) and drop dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Happy Eating!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever


I think it’s high time that I dedicate a post to my favorite chocolate cake. Sure the cake has been featured a number of times on the blog but it has always been overlooked by some frosting or flavor. Today it’s all about the cake and what a cake it is.
 


This is my go to recipe for any occasion when I need a quick cake as all the ingredients are always there in my pantry. It doesn’t even require butter and uses regular canola or sunflower oil. It is chocolatey, moist, rich and everything I want in my chocolate cake. It stands well to frosting and tastes yum plain as well. I have given this recipe to so many of my family and friends and all of them have reported excellent results. Many people call this Hershey’s black magic cake but I found the recipe on the food network. The coffee in the batter enhances the chocolate flavor and you will not taste the coffee at all. I have made this recipe in all shapes and sizes (including cupcakes) and it always turns out well.

Recipe Source – Food Network

Ingredients – Yields two 8 inch round cakes/one 13x9 rectangle/two 8 inch squares/12 Cupcakes.
1 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour, Plus More for Pans
2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cups Good Cocoa Powder
2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Salt
1 Cup Buttermilk, shaken (I use 1 Tbsp lemon juice + enough milk to make 1 cup)
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
3 Large Eggs (at room temperature)
1 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1 Cup Boiling Water
1 Tsp Instant Coffee or Espresso Granules

1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F / 175⁰ C. Grease and line two 8 inch round cake tins (or one 13X9 inch rectangle) with parchment (baking) paper.
2. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a whisk to stir everything well.
3. Place the buttermilk in a medium bowl and add the oil, eggs and vanilla essence. Whisk well till all the ingredients are incorporated.
4. Slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mix. Stir well to ensure there are no lumps.
5. Dissolve the coffee in the hot water and add to the batter and stir just to combine.
6. Pour the batter in the two pans and bake on the middle rack till a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.
7. Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes then invert to remove. Cool completely before frosting or eat as you like!

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spongebob Cake


I made this cake for Latifs nephew who is a big fan of SpongeBob. I got the idea and how to from the internet and the one below is super easy where you bake a standard 13X9 rectangle cake and use the whole cake to draw your spongebob on. There is no carving and no difficult icing. Just a few simple steps and you have a cute little cake. All the kids went crazy over it and I was so happy to finally tackle a character cake.

You will need a lot of colors for icing so it is ideal to make a standard buttercream in white and then proceed to color it up. I decided to make a pineapple cream cheese frosting which I tinted yellow and used whipped cream for the remaining colors. I will go with plain frosting next time as it’s easier to apply and doesn’t melt when kept out!!

Supplies

1 13X9 inch rectangle cake (any flavor)
1 Batch White Buttercream - Divided (about 4 Cups - enough to crumb coat and frost an entire cake) Food colors – Yellow, Blue, Red, Pink, Black and Green.
1 Cup Chocolate Frosting (For the pants)
1 Cup Piping Gel (Divided)
2 Cadbury buttons for the eyes


1. Use the white buttercream to apply a thin crumb coat to the entire cake and refrigerate till set.
2. Take Two cups white buttercream in a bowl and tint it yellow. Remove cake from fridge and frost a little more than half the cake with yellow. Don’t worry about keeping the edges straight as it will be covered by the next layer.
3. Place 1 cup of the white buttercream in a piping bag and add a two inch wide strip directly below the yellow section.
4. Frost the remaining body with the chocolate frosting.
5. Take ½ Cup piping gel and tint it black. Alternately you can use buttercream if you don’t get the gel. 6. Place the piping gel in a piping bag fitted with a size 1 round tip. Start drawing the features of spongebob as shown in the picture. Start with two concentric circles for his eyes and eyelashes; then the nose and the mouth, teeth and tongue. Draw two inverted triangles for his collar and make his tie. I am a little challenged in the drawing department so I cut templates for his eyes and mouth and used them as a guide to draw the lines.
7. Tint 1 Cup buttercream red and use it to fill in the tie. (I didn’t have any white frosting left so I colored some sugar red and used that to fill the tie.)
8. Take the leftover red cream and add some chocolate frosting to it to make it maroon. Fill his mouth with this.
9. Tint the remaining piping gel blue (an aqua blue shade) and pipe it in his iris. Place the Cadbury buttons in the middle of the iris.
10. Take the piping bag with the white cream and change the tip to a size 3 round and fill his eyes and teeth.
11. You can also take some light green icing and make small circles around him as in the picture. I was not sure about it and so left it out.
12. You can give the whole cake a border to give it a finished look or leave it as is. I arranged a few MnM’s on the border.
13. Place the cake on a cake board and your SpongeBob is ready!

Happy Eating!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Oreo and Chocolate Pudding Trifle


If you have any Oreo loving friends and family, make this super easy trifle for them and watch them sigh with pure pleasure. A layer of crushed oreos is topped with chocolate pudding and another layer of whipped cream and cream cheese. Since everything comes from a box this recipe is good to have in your arsenal when you are doing a lot of cooking and dessert is the last thing on your mind. You can scale the quantity as you like to make as much or as little pudding you think you can eat. Or if you want the dessert to be your showstopper you can make everything from scratch (yes, the Oreos also). This trifle fed a lot of people and there was plenty leftover too.

Recipe

Ingredients

2 Boxes of Instant Chocolate Pudding Or Cookies n Cream flavor
4 Cups Cold Milk
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
One 300 Gms Pack of Cream Cheese
½ Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Box Oreos (the big box approx 3lb 4.5 oz)

1. Place the heavy whipping cream in the bowl of a mixer and whip till you get stiff peaks. Using a spatula fold in the cream cheese and powdered sugar till mixed well. Place the cream mixture in the fridge.
2. Prepare the pudding according to package directions and place in fridge.
3. Arrange oreos along the circumference of the trifle bowl. I dipped them on one side in milk and this helped them stick to the glass. Break a few oreos in four pieces each. Place all the pieces on the bottom of the bowl and continue till they reach the height of the oreos on the side.
4. Remove the pudding and cream mixture from the fridge. Pour half the pudding mix on the oreos and smoothen with a spatula.
5. Pour half the cream mixture on the pudding layer and smoothen.
6. Repeat all the layers. Decorate as desired.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours atleast for the oreos to soften.
8. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Happy Eating!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Makai and Aloo Tikkies - Corn and Potato Patties


Here is another simple recipe which is packed full of fresh flavors. Corn kernels are mixed with peas and potato to give a quick sweet and savory snack.

Recipe Source - Original Recipe from Everybunny Loves Food

Ingredients

1 Cup Corn Kernels - (Boiled)
1 Cup Peas - (Boiled)
1 Medium Potato - Boiled and Mashed
2 Green Chillies - Finely Chopped
1 Tsp Chat Masala
4 Sprigs Coriander Leaves - Finely Chopped
Oil For Frying
Salt To Taste

1. Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl and mix well.
2. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
3. Form into small flat tikkies and shallow fry.
Serve hot with ketchup and green chutney.

Happy Eating!!

Daring Bakers August 2013 - Mawa Cake


This month our Daring Bakers host was Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and she challenged us to make some amazing regional Indian desserts. The Mawa Cake, the Bolinhas de Coco cookies and the Masala cookies – beautifully spiced and delicious!

Due to time and calorie constraints I decided to only tackle the Mawa cake. The rich and fragrant cake was a favorite among all the tasters, especially Latif who is very picky about dessert.

According to Aparna, “Mawa Cakes are a specialty cake that is the hallmark of Irani cafés in India. The Iranis are Zoroastrians who left Persia/ Iran in the 19th and early 20th centuries to escape persecution of non-Muslims, and settled down and thrived here mostly in the cities of Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. They’re most famous in India for their friendly informal cafés/ restaurants that serve the most awesome food. The brun pav or maska pav(kinds of bread) with Irani chai (thick, strong, sweet and milky cardamom flavored tea), their Shrewsbury biscuits and Mawa cakes are but a few of them.
Mawa (also known as Khoya/ Khoa) is made by slowly reducing milk (usually full-fat) until all that remain is a mass of slightly caramelized granular dough-like milk solids. Mawa is used in a wide variety of Indian sweets like Gulab Jamun and Peda, to mention just two. Mawa is pronounced as Maa-vaa; Khoya is pronounced as KhOhyaa. “
While the cake is a cinch to make, the Mawa is time consuming and requires a lot of patience.  It took about 4 hours for my milk to completely reduce down to milk solids. Next time I will make the cake with ready made mawa that we can get in Indian mithai (sweet) shops.

Recipe Source - Aparna from My Diverse Kitchen

Ingredients
For The Mawa
1 liter (4 cups) Full Fat Milk
For The Cake
1/2 Cup (1 stick) (120 ml) (113 Gms) Unsalted Butter (soft at room temperature)
3/4 Cup (180 ml) Packed Crumbled Mawa
1-1/4 Cups (280 Gms) Castor Sugar
3 Large Eggs
1 ½ Tsp Cardamom Powder
2 Cups (260 Gms) Cake Flour 
1 Tsp (5 Gms) baking powder
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Cup (120 ml) Milk
Cashew Nuts (or blanched almonds) to decorate (about 18 to 20)

Make The Mawa
1. First make the “Mawa”. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed saucepan, preferably a non-stick one. Bring the milk to a boil, stirring it on and off, making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Turn down the heat to medium and keep cooking the milk until reduces to about a quarter of its original volume. This should take about an hour to an hour and a half.
2. The important thing during this process is to watch the milk and stir it frequently to make sure it doesn't stick to the sides or bottom of the pan and get burnt. The danger of this happening increases as the milk reduces and gets thicker.
3. Once the milk it has reduced to about one fourth, 1/4 quantity, lower the heat to low and let cook for a little while longer. Keep stirring regularly, until the milk solids (mawa) take on a lumpy appearance. There should be no visible liquid left in the pan, but the mawa should be moist and not stick to the sides of the pan.
4. Remove the pan from heat and transfer the mawa to a bowl and let it cool completely. Then cover and refrigerate it for a day or two (not more) till you’re ready to make the cake. It will harden in the fridge so let it come to room temperature before using it. You should get about 3/4 to 1 cup of mawa from 1 liter (4 cups) of full-fat milk.

Bake The Cake
1. Now start preparations for the cake by pre-heating your oven to moderate 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Beat the butter, the crumbled mawa and the sugar in a largish bowl, using a hand held electric beater, on high speed until soft and fluffy.
2.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on medium speed till well incorporated. Add the vanilla and milk and beat till mixed well.
3. Sift the cake flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt onto the batter and beat at medium speed and well blended. If you cannot find cake flour, place 2 tablespoon of cornstarch in the bottom of your 1-cup measure and then fill it with all-purpose (plain) flour to make up to 1 cup.
4. Grease and line only the bottom of an 8 inch (20 cm) spring form pan. Pour the batter into this and lightly smooth the top. Place the cashew nuts (or blanched almonds) on top of the batter randomly. Do not press the nuts down into the batter. A Mawa Cake always has a rustic finished look rather than a decorated look.
5. Bake in a preheated moderate oven for about 1 hour until the cake is a golden brown and a skewer pushed into the center comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake or it will dry out. If the cake seems to be browning too quickly, cover it with aluminum foil hallway through the baking time.
6. Remove from oven and allow it to cool for 10 min in the tin. Release the cake, peel off the parchment from the base and let it cool completely. 

Happy Eating!!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hara Bhara Kababs - Spinach and Potato Patties



Hara Bhara Kababs are the quintessential vegetarian appetizer in all Indian parties. A slightly crisp patty made with mashed potato, peas and blanched spinach it is an easy and yummy snack to rustle up. You can make the patties one or two days before your party and store it in the fridge and fry it just before the guests arrive. I love to add a little bit of feta cheese to my recipe as this gives it a slight tang.

Recipe

Ingredients
150 Gms Fresh Spinach – Blanched and Chopped
1 Cup Peas – Boiled and Mashed
4 Medium Potatoes – Boiled and Mashed
4 Green Chillies – Finely Chopped
3 Tbsp Fresh Coriander – Chopped
1.5 Inch Ginger – Chopped
1.5 Tsp Chaat Masala
Salt to Taste
3 Tbsp Cornflour
100 Gms Feta cheese - Crumbled (Optional)
Vegetable Oil for Shallow Frying

1. In a big bowl add the potato, peas and spinach. Combine well and add the remaining ingredients.
2. Shape into small flat tikkies and shallow fry till golden brown on both sides.
Serve hot with ketchup.

Happy Eating!!