TRANSLATE

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Cake

Phew! Last minute Christmas Cake is best for those in a rush...like me...I made this at the last minute before I set out on a travel and I am posting the recipe while sitting in a hotel room. I hope you are able to make it and enjoy it too. I have not cut the cake yet, can't wait for Christmas.


Have a Merry Christmas!


Last Minute Christmas Cake
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 1-1/2 hours | Yield: 8 inch cake

Ingredients:
  • 350 grams mixed dried fruits * see notes
  • 80 grams / 3 oz butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Irish Cream or fresh cream for an alcohol free cake
  • 1 cup self raising flour * see notes
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon powder * see notes
  • 2 tablespoons rum * optional, see notes
Method:
1. Chop the dried fruit into as small pieces as possible and keep aside. Sift the flour and nutmeg/cinnamon powder.
2. Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper and keep aside. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees C for 15 minutes.
3. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar and butter until well mixed. Add one egg at a time and beat. Pour in the Irish cream or the fresh cream and blend. Add the sifted flour and nutmeg/cinnamon mixture and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add the chopped fruits and give it once last mix. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smoothen the surface with a spatula and bake for 1-1/2 hours or till the skewer inserted comes out clean. The top of the cake should be nice and firm and darkish brown in colour
5. Remove and cover the pan with a piece of foil to retain all the moisture.

Notes:
1. I used a blend of tutti-fruitti, raisins, black currants, dried chunks of fruit (papaya, pineaple), dried ginger. I recommend you use a  fewer dried fruits that are not so tart/sour (like black raisins or cranberries) and more of sweeter ones like dates, figs & prunes.
2. To make your own self raising flour sift flour into a cup (1 cup = 237 ml) and then add 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and sift it well together.
3. You may use any spice blend of your choice if you don't like nutmeg or cinnamon. You can use all spice (a kind of spice that looks like peppercorns) or mixed spice (a blend of spices like garam masala but without the chillies/pepper and is used in the preparation of fruit cakes)
4. If you are using fresh cream instead of Irish cream due to lack of availability of the latter try adding a bit of rum or red wine for that bit of alcohol flavour.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gingerbread Men


On one of my recent shopping escapades I came across a very nice book on Christmas recipes. It had every recipe that one could possibly want to try during the festive season. While I couldn't decide which one I should try out first, this particular recipe caught my eye. I had only heard about gingerbread men. I used to be a huge fan of Enid Blyton's novels during my childhood and that lady can definitely make one salivate with her description of food. Cupcakes, muffins, scones and such to be eaten along with high tea. Pretty much the stuff that made up for a majority of her stories. I loved reading her books and they always made me hungry so I'd always run to my mum and ask her to whip me something quickly to satiate the hunger pangs. Well, since my mum never baked she made Indian equivalents of the goodies. Pancakes a.k.a dosa would appear on a plate in front of me and I would lavishly pour honey or ghee and sugar over it and wallop it down. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mincemeat Crumble Bars (Pure Vegetarian!) ~ Christmas Baking


Ho ho ho! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Almost every mall and commercial establishment here in Dubai is decked up for the season. My Christmas shopping began months ago when I started jotting down recipes to be tried this year. By early October I had finalised my menu and started trying out dishes. I am so glad I did this as my camera and laptop decided to crash in when the baking-clicking frenzy had just caught up with me. Luckily they are repaired and are back with me in the nick of time. While the duo was gone I did get some quality time to stop thinking about food and live life as a non blogger for a bit. Yes, on many occasions I contemplated using my iPhone camera to click pictures, but none satisfied me as would my trusted DSLR would. Anyway, one of the recipes I had tried out 'pre-crash' was the mincemeat crumble bars. 


I had seen this recipe a while ago and bookmarked it. However, the name was pretty misleading. If you thought this is a hardcore non vegetarian savoury dish you are wrong! This dish has nothing to do with meat! In fact, this recipe doesn't even contain eggs! Then why is it called 'mincemeat'? Well, traditionally mincemeat was a mixture of dried fruits, spices, vinegars, eggs and beef or venison meat. This was used as a pie filling and was eaten more as a dessert than as a savoury meal accompaniment. Today's mincemeat is restricted to just dried fruits, fruit peels & spices heavily soaked in rum or brandy and makes an excellent mixture to be added to rum cakes or pies. Notice that the name says 'mince meat' and not 'minceD meat'. 

Confused? So was I initially. On our several trips to the supermarket I looked for a bottle of mincemeat but could not find any, so I asked my brother and other relatives to keep an eye out just in case they found one. Everyone had a 'savoury' requirement in mind and even suggested that I should ask the local butcher if I wanted it specifically made :D Anyway, once the confusion was cleared and I found my jar of mincemeat I got to work immediately. 


These crumble bars have a crumbly shortbread base (like a butter cookie) with a sweet & tart and VERY rich mincemeat filling topped by a lovely sweet crumble with almonds. This is a perfect dessert on your Christmas menu if you really don't have time to put a proper Christmas cake together. Of course, these crumble bars don't aim to replace the cake in any way but they sure make up for your sins as they are almost like short bread cookies married to mixed dried fruit :-)

Mincemeat Crumble Bars
Recipe source: Everyday Muffins & Bakes

Prep time: 15 mins | Chilling time: 20 mins | Baking time: 35 | Yield 12 bars or 9 squares

Ingredients:
For the shortbread crust (bottom layer)

  • 140 grams / 5 oz unsalted  butter at room temperature + extra for greasing the pan
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar * see note#1
  • 150 grams / 5-1/2 oz plain flour (maida)
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz cornflour (cornstarch)

For the filling (middle layer)

  • 400 grams/ 14 oz ready made mincemeat
  • icing sugar for dusting

For the topping

  • 115 grams/ 4 oz self-raising flour*see notes
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar
  • 25 grams/ 1oz flaked almonds *see notes

Method:
1. Grease & line a shallow 28x20 com/ 11x8 inch cake tin with baking parchment. (I simply used a 9x9 inch square tin). Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/400 F.
2. To make the bottom layer, beat the butter & sugar in a bowl till pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cornflour and then with your hands lightly knead the mixture together to form a ball. Press this dough into the prepared cake tin and even it out. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Then bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes till it is puffed & golden.
3. To make the middle layer spread the mince meant over the bottom layer.
4. To make the crumble topping, place the flour, butter, sugar in a bowl and rub together till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the flaked almonds. and spread this mixture over the mincemeat layer. Bake in the oven for another 20-22 minutes till golden brown.
5. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool for 12-15 minutes. Run a knife through to make bars. Cool completely.
6. Dust icing sugar over the bars and serve. Store in an airtight container - it keeps well at room temperature for 3-4 days (not in hot weather though)

Notes:
1. Since I didn't have golden caster sugar I used regular white - fine granulated caster sugar. You may use regular sugar measured and then powdered in a grinder.
2. To make your own self raising flour measure out 1 cup (115 grams flour) by sifting the flour directly into the measuring cup. This way you are certain not to cram up any extra flour. Alternatively you may simply weigh the quantity on a kitchen scale. Add to it 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder & 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sift all the ingredients together once again.
3. Flaked almonds are sliced almonds (without skin). Buy them ready made if they are available, otherwise simply blanch them at home - Place almonds (with skin) in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the bowl with a lid and keep for 15 minutes. The peels should come off easily. Pat them dry and thinly slice them lengthwise. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rava Laadu / Rawa Laddoo (Sweet Semolina Balls) - Christmas Goodies - Kuswar


Indian sweets - well, what do I say about them? As much as I claim that I don't have a sweet tooth, I do. Big time. I didn't have one during my growing up years but ever since I had my kids I have this undying love for Indian sweets. Laddoos top the list and I just can't seem to resist them. The best part about laddoos is that they are so versatile, from the traditional ones to the more contemporary ones, you can make them out of any ingredient. Just shape them into balls - any size and they qualify to be called a laddoo. 

While each region in India offers its own variety of favourites the boondi laddos (sweet balls made of chick pea flour droplets) and rava laddoos are by far the most pan Indian.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lemon Mascarpone Blondies


 One of the best perks of staying in Dubai is the massive array of baking ingredients that are available in most supermarkets here. Something I missed seeing in Mumbai. Yes, Crawford market in Mumbai does provide you with almost everything you need in your baking pantry but not only are most of the ingredients very pricey (since they are imported) there's also the inconvenience of going all the way to to town to purchase them. Ok, i'll kill the suspense and let you know what I am talking about. Cream cheese, mascarpone (pronounced as 'maaska-ponay'), chocolate chips, molasses, treacle - a few prized possessions that didn't come by too easily when I was in Mumbai are easily available here. So I am making the most of this opportunity and trying out as many recipes as possible that call for such ingredients. Well, yes, at my own peril. In these past few months I must have consumed a million calories thanks to these heavy duty dairy products, but I couldn't care less (well, not until I stood on the weighing scale, gulp!)


On one of my baking escapades I ended up with a lot more mascarpone cheese than the recipe asked for. Talk about not planning my groceries properly. Anyway, its a habitual thing for me - to pick up stuff on a whim, promising myself that I will turn it into something nice, getting back home with a load of groceries, putting them away and completely forgetting about them (that reminds me, I have a load of cream cheese sitting in the deli drawer of my fridge, Omigosh!). After browsing the net for a suitable recipe I came across this delicious recipe on Simply Recipes that made use of the mascarpone and lemons that were idly sitting in my fridge. By lemons I am talking about the large yellow ones which are not commonly available in India. In India we get lndian limes and lemons which are really small and maybe 2-3 of them may fit into one's palm easily. The ones available here are quite large and are perfect for desserts and cakes, the zest of which can marvelously uplift even a boring sponge cake.


Anyway, the most important story of the day is that I had a near death experience when I made these blondies. I chose to write about it just so that it serves to be a reminder to everyday cooks to be a bit more cautious in the kitchen. While I went about preheating the oven that day, I didn't realise that the gas burner for the oven (below the crumb tray) had gone off. My niece who was always alert brought it to my notice and I immediately went to open the kitchen door. Despite having exercised immediate caution, I don't know what compelled me to go right ahead, open the oven door and light the burner again. The next thing I knew was...Boom!!! I was thrown to the ground with a row of burnt hair, heart pounding like crazy and a scream that escaped my lips. This was the effect of that little gas that was trapped inside the oven that caught fire from the ignition of the gas lighter. Such a scary experience for me and the kids in the house who had been just chased out of the kitchen before my great adventure. After everyone had calmed down & I had gained my composure I made a vow that it was the last time that I was ever baking in a gas oven. Although the ceramic (smooth top/glass top) hob in my new house is painfully slow, it gives me a sense of safety every time I turn the power knob. I urge all my readers to exercise precaution before using gas ovens or any other kitchen appliance for that matter. It's never a good idea to be over smart or careless in the kitchen (or life in general).

Life is precious, so please stay safe!


Ahem! Back to the recipe now!

Blondies are just like brownies in terms of the texture. They are slightly fudgy, dense and in some cases may be chewy too. The only difference between brownies & blondies are that no cocoa or chocolate is used in the preparation of blondies. However some blondie recipes may call for chocolate chips. Cocoa or chocolate is replaced with brown sugar that gives blondies their taste and colour. They are baked in square/rectangular tins and cut into shapes before serving.

These blondies are simply melt-in-the-mouth. So decadent, so delicious and yes, rich too! But no matter how much you try to resist you won't be able to stop at one! The mascarpone cheese gives the moistness and flavour to these blondies making them so irresistible and any festive occasion definitely calls for these!


Lemon Mascarpone Blondies
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 30 mins | Yield 9 blondies of 3x3" each

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (115grams) all purpose flour (maida), sifted
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (200gms) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100gms) butter, melted
  • 8 ounces (225gms) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square tin and dust with flour. You could even line it with baking parchment.
2. Mix the melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg & vanilla extra and whisk well.
3. Add the lemon juice, zest & mascarpone cheese and mix until incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt in parts & mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin & spread the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Remove the tin cool it on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then carefully invert onto the rack.
6. When completely cool cut into equal sized squares and serve.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Muffizzas (Muffin Shaped Thin Crust Pizzas Made from Chapathi Dough!)


Come Christmas or any festive season everybody is focused on making sweets - traditional or contemporary. Many a times we miss out on the preparation of savouries - especially the mini eats or snacks. I always break into a sweat when I host parties especially those for little kids who need to munch on something delicious and nutritious. I think these mini pizzas are the answer to some healthy home made snacks. They will serve well at parties for adults too as they are individual sized, made with whole wheat bases filled with delicious goodness of whatever you may fancy. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Traditional Chocolate Cake ~ Very Rich & Chocolatey!


My first attempt at making two cakes in one go and then sandwiching them together! All thanks to my new oven which is huge and can easily accommodate two cake tins side by side - a privilege I missed when I was in Mumbai. I made this cake for Baby Z's 1st Birthday, for the little celebration we had at home. I found the recipe in a lovely cookbook gifted to me by my brother just a few days before the birthday and I spent days on end flipping through its pages going crazy over which recipe I should try first. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Christmas Cake

Phew! Last minute Christmas Cake is best for those in a rush...like me...I made this at the last minute before I set out on a travel and I am posting the recipe while sitting in a hotel room. I hope you are able to make it and enjoy it too. I have not cut the cake yet, can't wait for Christmas.


Have a Merry Christmas!


Last Minute Christmas Cake
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 1-1/2 hours | Yield: 8 inch cake

Ingredients:
  • 350 grams mixed dried fruits * see notes
  • 80 grams / 3 oz butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Irish Cream or fresh cream for an alcohol free cake
  • 1 cup self raising flour * see notes
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon powder * see notes
  • 2 tablespoons rum * optional, see notes
Method:
1. Chop the dried fruit into as small pieces as possible and keep aside. Sift the flour and nutmeg/cinnamon powder.
2. Grease and line an 8 inch round cake tin with parchment paper and keep aside. Preheat the oven at 160 degrees C for 15 minutes.
3. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar and butter until well mixed. Add one egg at a time and beat. Pour in the Irish cream or the fresh cream and blend. Add the sifted flour and nutmeg/cinnamon mixture and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add the chopped fruits and give it once last mix. Pour the batter into the prepared tin, smoothen the surface with a spatula and bake for 1-1/2 hours or till the skewer inserted comes out clean. The top of the cake should be nice and firm and darkish brown in colour
5. Remove and cover the pan with a piece of foil to retain all the moisture.

Notes:
1. I used a blend of tutti-fruitti, raisins, black currants, dried chunks of fruit (papaya, pineaple), dried ginger. I recommend you use a  fewer dried fruits that are not so tart/sour (like black raisins or cranberries) and more of sweeter ones like dates, figs & prunes.
2. To make your own self raising flour sift flour into a cup (1 cup = 237 ml) and then add 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and sift it well together.
3. You may use any spice blend of your choice if you don't like nutmeg or cinnamon. You can use all spice (a kind of spice that looks like peppercorns) or mixed spice (a blend of spices like garam masala but without the chillies/pepper and is used in the preparation of fruit cakes)
4. If you are using fresh cream instead of Irish cream due to lack of availability of the latter try adding a bit of rum or red wine for that bit of alcohol flavour.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gingerbread Men


On one of my recent shopping escapades I came across a very nice book on Christmas recipes. It had every recipe that one could possibly want to try during the festive season. While I couldn't decide which one I should try out first, this particular recipe caught my eye. I had only heard about gingerbread men. I used to be a huge fan of Enid Blyton's novels during my childhood and that lady can definitely make one salivate with her description of food. Cupcakes, muffins, scones and such to be eaten along with high tea. Pretty much the stuff that made up for a majority of her stories. I loved reading her books and they always made me hungry so I'd always run to my mum and ask her to whip me something quickly to satiate the hunger pangs. Well, since my mum never baked she made Indian equivalents of the goodies. Pancakes a.k.a dosa would appear on a plate in front of me and I would lavishly pour honey or ghee and sugar over it and wallop it down. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mincemeat Crumble Bars (Pure Vegetarian!) ~ Christmas Baking


Ho ho ho! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Almost every mall and commercial establishment here in Dubai is decked up for the season. My Christmas shopping began months ago when I started jotting down recipes to be tried this year. By early October I had finalised my menu and started trying out dishes. I am so glad I did this as my camera and laptop decided to crash in when the baking-clicking frenzy had just caught up with me. Luckily they are repaired and are back with me in the nick of time. While the duo was gone I did get some quality time to stop thinking about food and live life as a non blogger for a bit. Yes, on many occasions I contemplated using my iPhone camera to click pictures, but none satisfied me as would my trusted DSLR would. Anyway, one of the recipes I had tried out 'pre-crash' was the mincemeat crumble bars. 


I had seen this recipe a while ago and bookmarked it. However, the name was pretty misleading. If you thought this is a hardcore non vegetarian savoury dish you are wrong! This dish has nothing to do with meat! In fact, this recipe doesn't even contain eggs! Then why is it called 'mincemeat'? Well, traditionally mincemeat was a mixture of dried fruits, spices, vinegars, eggs and beef or venison meat. This was used as a pie filling and was eaten more as a dessert than as a savoury meal accompaniment. Today's mincemeat is restricted to just dried fruits, fruit peels & spices heavily soaked in rum or brandy and makes an excellent mixture to be added to rum cakes or pies. Notice that the name says 'mince meat' and not 'minceD meat'. 

Confused? So was I initially. On our several trips to the supermarket I looked for a bottle of mincemeat but could not find any, so I asked my brother and other relatives to keep an eye out just in case they found one. Everyone had a 'savoury' requirement in mind and even suggested that I should ask the local butcher if I wanted it specifically made :D Anyway, once the confusion was cleared and I found my jar of mincemeat I got to work immediately. 


These crumble bars have a crumbly shortbread base (like a butter cookie) with a sweet & tart and VERY rich mincemeat filling topped by a lovely sweet crumble with almonds. This is a perfect dessert on your Christmas menu if you really don't have time to put a proper Christmas cake together. Of course, these crumble bars don't aim to replace the cake in any way but they sure make up for your sins as they are almost like short bread cookies married to mixed dried fruit :-)

Mincemeat Crumble Bars
Recipe source: Everyday Muffins & Bakes

Prep time: 15 mins | Chilling time: 20 mins | Baking time: 35 | Yield 12 bars or 9 squares

Ingredients:
For the shortbread crust (bottom layer)

  • 140 grams / 5 oz unsalted  butter at room temperature + extra for greasing the pan
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar * see note#1
  • 150 grams / 5-1/2 oz plain flour (maida)
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz cornflour (cornstarch)

For the filling (middle layer)

  • 400 grams/ 14 oz ready made mincemeat
  • icing sugar for dusting

For the topping

  • 115 grams/ 4 oz self-raising flour*see notes
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 85 grams/ 3 oz golden caster sugar
  • 25 grams/ 1oz flaked almonds *see notes

Method:
1. Grease & line a shallow 28x20 com/ 11x8 inch cake tin with baking parchment. (I simply used a 9x9 inch square tin). Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/400 F.
2. To make the bottom layer, beat the butter & sugar in a bowl till pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour, cornflour and then with your hands lightly knead the mixture together to form a ball. Press this dough into the prepared cake tin and even it out. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes. Then bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes till it is puffed & golden.
3. To make the middle layer spread the mince meant over the bottom layer.
4. To make the crumble topping, place the flour, butter, sugar in a bowl and rub together till the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Stir in the flaked almonds. and spread this mixture over the mincemeat layer. Bake in the oven for another 20-22 minutes till golden brown.
5. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool for 12-15 minutes. Run a knife through to make bars. Cool completely.
6. Dust icing sugar over the bars and serve. Store in an airtight container - it keeps well at room temperature for 3-4 days (not in hot weather though)

Notes:
1. Since I didn't have golden caster sugar I used regular white - fine granulated caster sugar. You may use regular sugar measured and then powdered in a grinder.
2. To make your own self raising flour measure out 1 cup (115 grams flour) by sifting the flour directly into the measuring cup. This way you are certain not to cram up any extra flour. Alternatively you may simply weigh the quantity on a kitchen scale. Add to it 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder & 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Sift all the ingredients together once again.
3. Flaked almonds are sliced almonds (without skin). Buy them ready made if they are available, otherwise simply blanch them at home - Place almonds (with skin) in a bowl and pour enough boiling water to cover them. Cover the bowl with a lid and keep for 15 minutes. The peels should come off easily. Pat them dry and thinly slice them lengthwise. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rava Laadu / Rawa Laddoo (Sweet Semolina Balls) - Christmas Goodies - Kuswar


Indian sweets - well, what do I say about them? As much as I claim that I don't have a sweet tooth, I do. Big time. I didn't have one during my growing up years but ever since I had my kids I have this undying love for Indian sweets. Laddoos top the list and I just can't seem to resist them. The best part about laddoos is that they are so versatile, from the traditional ones to the more contemporary ones, you can make them out of any ingredient. Just shape them into balls - any size and they qualify to be called a laddoo. 

While each region in India offers its own variety of favourites the boondi laddos (sweet balls made of chick pea flour droplets) and rava laddoos are by far the most pan Indian.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lemon Mascarpone Blondies


 One of the best perks of staying in Dubai is the massive array of baking ingredients that are available in most supermarkets here. Something I missed seeing in Mumbai. Yes, Crawford market in Mumbai does provide you with almost everything you need in your baking pantry but not only are most of the ingredients very pricey (since they are imported) there's also the inconvenience of going all the way to to town to purchase them. Ok, i'll kill the suspense and let you know what I am talking about. Cream cheese, mascarpone (pronounced as 'maaska-ponay'), chocolate chips, molasses, treacle - a few prized possessions that didn't come by too easily when I was in Mumbai are easily available here. So I am making the most of this opportunity and trying out as many recipes as possible that call for such ingredients. Well, yes, at my own peril. In these past few months I must have consumed a million calories thanks to these heavy duty dairy products, but I couldn't care less (well, not until I stood on the weighing scale, gulp!)


On one of my baking escapades I ended up with a lot more mascarpone cheese than the recipe asked for. Talk about not planning my groceries properly. Anyway, its a habitual thing for me - to pick up stuff on a whim, promising myself that I will turn it into something nice, getting back home with a load of groceries, putting them away and completely forgetting about them (that reminds me, I have a load of cream cheese sitting in the deli drawer of my fridge, Omigosh!). After browsing the net for a suitable recipe I came across this delicious recipe on Simply Recipes that made use of the mascarpone and lemons that were idly sitting in my fridge. By lemons I am talking about the large yellow ones which are not commonly available in India. In India we get lndian limes and lemons which are really small and maybe 2-3 of them may fit into one's palm easily. The ones available here are quite large and are perfect for desserts and cakes, the zest of which can marvelously uplift even a boring sponge cake.


Anyway, the most important story of the day is that I had a near death experience when I made these blondies. I chose to write about it just so that it serves to be a reminder to everyday cooks to be a bit more cautious in the kitchen. While I went about preheating the oven that day, I didn't realise that the gas burner for the oven (below the crumb tray) had gone off. My niece who was always alert brought it to my notice and I immediately went to open the kitchen door. Despite having exercised immediate caution, I don't know what compelled me to go right ahead, open the oven door and light the burner again. The next thing I knew was...Boom!!! I was thrown to the ground with a row of burnt hair, heart pounding like crazy and a scream that escaped my lips. This was the effect of that little gas that was trapped inside the oven that caught fire from the ignition of the gas lighter. Such a scary experience for me and the kids in the house who had been just chased out of the kitchen before my great adventure. After everyone had calmed down & I had gained my composure I made a vow that it was the last time that I was ever baking in a gas oven. Although the ceramic (smooth top/glass top) hob in my new house is painfully slow, it gives me a sense of safety every time I turn the power knob. I urge all my readers to exercise precaution before using gas ovens or any other kitchen appliance for that matter. It's never a good idea to be over smart or careless in the kitchen (or life in general).

Life is precious, so please stay safe!


Ahem! Back to the recipe now!

Blondies are just like brownies in terms of the texture. They are slightly fudgy, dense and in some cases may be chewy too. The only difference between brownies & blondies are that no cocoa or chocolate is used in the preparation of blondies. However some blondie recipes may call for chocolate chips. Cocoa or chocolate is replaced with brown sugar that gives blondies their taste and colour. They are baked in square/rectangular tins and cut into shapes before serving.

These blondies are simply melt-in-the-mouth. So decadent, so delicious and yes, rich too! But no matter how much you try to resist you won't be able to stop at one! The mascarpone cheese gives the moistness and flavour to these blondies making them so irresistible and any festive occasion definitely calls for these!


Lemon Mascarpone Blondies
Prep time: 20 mins | Bake time: 30 mins | Yield 9 blondies of 3x3" each

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (115grams) all purpose flour (maida), sifted
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 1 cup (200gms) firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100gms) butter, melted
  • 8 ounces (225gms) mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons of lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square tin and dust with flour. You could even line it with baking parchment.
2. Mix the melted butter and sugar in a bowl. Add the egg & vanilla extra and whisk well.
3. Add the lemon juice, zest & mascarpone cheese and mix until incorporated. Sift in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt in parts & mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin & spread the surface with a spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. Remove the tin cool it on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then carefully invert onto the rack.
6. When completely cool cut into equal sized squares and serve.



Friday, December 6, 2013

Muffizzas (Muffin Shaped Thin Crust Pizzas Made from Chapathi Dough!)


Come Christmas or any festive season everybody is focused on making sweets - traditional or contemporary. Many a times we miss out on the preparation of savouries - especially the mini eats or snacks. I always break into a sweat when I host parties especially those for little kids who need to munch on something delicious and nutritious. I think these mini pizzas are the answer to some healthy home made snacks. They will serve well at parties for adults too as they are individual sized, made with whole wheat bases filled with delicious goodness of whatever you may fancy. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Traditional Chocolate Cake ~ Very Rich & Chocolatey!


My first attempt at making two cakes in one go and then sandwiching them together! All thanks to my new oven which is huge and can easily accommodate two cake tins side by side - a privilege I missed when I was in Mumbai. I made this cake for Baby Z's 1st Birthday, for the little celebration we had at home. I found the recipe in a lovely cookbook gifted to me by my brother just a few days before the birthday and I spent days on end flipping through its pages going crazy over which recipe I should try first.