Posted in Sweets and desserts

Peanut Chocolate Brownies

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The irresistible combination of chocolate, peanut butter and peanuts baked into delicious brownies. These brownies taste luscious, so yum, and unlike walnut-chocolate brownies, they have peanuts in them, which are easily available in Asian food stores.

Bite into one of these brownies and you’ll believe every word I say. They’re like a super love song, like good music, luscious, dreamy, gooey, just so good.

The largest grower of peanuts in the world is China. India comes a close second and then comes America. Although peanuts are classified as nuts they are actually legumes. They are healthy and very nutritious.

These brownies are from a recipe by Chetna Makan from her book The Cardamom Trail. Chetna is a NIFT Mumbai pass out, who relocated to Britain and even participated in the Great British Bake-off 2014 where she reached the semi finals. She’s now oh so popular for her book which treats you to tastes from the east; inspiration from Indian food.

I have used an Amul 150 gm dark chocolate bar for the chocolate in this recipe. It contains 55% cocoa solids and although most recipes asks for 70% cocoa solids in the chocolate, these bars work very well for me. They are easily available in Amul parlours in Ahmedabad and I keep a stock of them.

Remember, self raising flour is nothing but baking powder added to plain flour (Maida). Add 1 teaspoon baking powder to 110 gms of plain flour. There, you have self raising flour!

Here is the recipe

Peanut Chocolate Brownies

Makes 20 small squares

200 gms (7oz) golden caster sugar

200 gms (7oz) light muscovado sugar

4 large eggs

150 gms (5 1/2 oz) plain dark chocolate

110 gms (4 oz) crunchy peanut butter

110 gms (4oz) unsalted butter

110 gms (4oz) self raising flour

110 gms (4oz) roasted peanuts lightly crushed

Vanilla ice cream to serve  (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, 350 degrees F, Gas mark 4. Grease a 22-23 cm(8 1/2-9 in) square brownie tin and line it with baking paper.

2 In a large bowl whisk the sugars and eggs together with an electric whisk for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is pale and creamy.

3 Break the chocolate into a heatproof bowl, add the peanut butter and butter and set the bowl over a pan of steaming water until the mixture has melted, ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water beneath it. Pour the chocolate -nut mixture into the egg- and – sugar mixture and stir. Sift the flour into the same bowl, then add the crushed peanuts and mix well.

4 Pour the brownie batter into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is crisp but the middle is still a bit gooey. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn the cake out. Cut into squares. The brownies can be enjoyed fresh when out of the oven (with vanilla ice cream) or cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Chocolate Pudding

 

 

A2A84CE2-1652-456E-B48F-40D9C2F1B5F1I love baking, cooking and making delicious desserts. In fact I have a sweet tooth and like eating sweet stuff too. I started baking and cooking years ago, when I was perhaps 10 or 12, when I made my first donuts for the family. Ever since, there’s been no looking back. I enjoy cooking for family and friends, and especially old people and small kids, although all the desserts I make wouldn’t classify as kid’s treats. But this one sure does.

Chocolate is the ultimate treat for the senses. Whether you’re a child or an adult, chocolate is plain irresistible. And what if you have loads of great tasting unsweetened chocolate in your chocolate pudding; and of course the pudding doesn’t taste bitter. I promise this pudding will be enjoyable for the whole family. My family and friends just loved it!

Use good quality unsweetened  chocolate, that enhances the taste of the pudding.

This recipe is from one of my favourite food writers and chefs, David Lebovitz. He lives in Paris and is passionate about food, culture and travel. He also runs a fantastically successful blog and his writing is fun and sometimes cheeky, but mostly a whiff of fresh air. The recipe is called Chocolate Pudding, what else, and it is taken from The Great Book Of Chocolate.

I didn’t garnish my puddings but they still turned out yum!

Here’s the recipe for Chocolate Pudding

Serves 4

2 cups (500 ml) milk

4 ounces (115 gms) unsweetened chocolate chopped

6 tablespoons (75 gms) sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 large egg yolks

2 teaspoons chocolate extract or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (250 ml) whipped cream

3 tablespoons shaved bittersweet chocolate

1 In a small saucepan, warm the milk and the chocolate until the chocolate has melted. ( It may not be completely smooth)

2 In a medium saucepan make a slurry by whisking together the sugar, cornstarch and egg yolks. Gradually whisk the warm milk and chocolate into the slurry.

3 Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with the whisk, until the pudding thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the chocolate extract.

4 Divide the pudding among 4 custard cups and chill thoroughly before serving.

5 Garnish the puddings with a dollop of whipped cream and the shaved bittersweet chocolate.

 

 

 

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Sugar-free Fig and Nut Laddoo

 

C5CC8DAD-1FE4-41B2-BD80-A6923AD247A8Chetna Makhan is best known for being a semi finalist in the British Bakeoff 2014. But that was before she wrote her pathbreaking book, The Cardamom Trail. In the book she surprises you with giving an Indian twist to all that she cooks and bakes. I just got myself a copy, and the recipes look oh sooooooooo… good. Especially for Indians the book offers unusual variations with our daily herbs and spices. There’s a scrumptious Coffee Cardamom Cake, Black Sesame and Lime Cake and Rose and Honey Cake all of which look beautiful. The book has loads of lovely photographs.

What I’m so excited about today are the Sugar-free Fig and Nut Laddoos which I made and which turned out delectable. Every one in my family loved them. They’re healthy because they don’t have added sugar, and they’re made of dried fruits and nuts, and they’re good for diabetics too. And, the best part, they’re really easy to make.

Sugar-free Fig and Nut Laddoo

Makes 12

150 gms (5 1/2 oz) dried figs

20 gms (3/4 oz) cashew nuts, roughly chopped

20 gms (3/4 oz) almonds, roughly chopped

20 gms (3/4 oz) pistachios, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 tablespoon ghee, melted

1 In a heatproof bowl, soak the figs in freshly boiled water for 15 minutes. Drain the water from the figs and blend them to a purée in the food processor.

2 Combine the fig purée, chopped nuts, ground cardamom and melted ghee in a bowl, mixing well with your hands. Roll the mixture into 12 small balls and put them on a plate to set. The laddoo will keep in an airtight container for upto 6 days.

 

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Til Chikki

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Yes. I know what you’re going to say. That this is a winter dish and the winters are over in India and summer is setting in fast. But I had to post the recipe of Til Chikki or Sesame Seed and Jaggery Snaps first, because they taste so good, and second, and even more important, they are amazingly easy to make. And yes, they’re oh so melt in the mouth!

Both jaggery and sesame seeds are easily available in India all year round, and if you live in another country, do go to the Indian store and get yourself these two ingredients.

Chaula Shah, a family friend of ours, gave me the recipe. One wonderful day she sent us some of this chikki and I was totally blown away. I had to learn how to make it and put the recipe on the blog, so when she agreed to demonstrate the recipe I was delighted. We made the recipe in her kitchen and I was pleasantly surprised when she said, “ oh, it will take just 10 minutes to make”.

Til Chikki or Sesame Seed and Jaggery Snaps

Makes 25-30 pieces

500 gms sesame seeds

500 gms jaggery

Oil or ghee for greasing

1 Run the sesame seeds through a sieve so any dirt particles are removed. Put them into a deep bottomed pan over medium heat and stir lightly till heated through. Do not let them change colour or burn. Remove the seeds from the pan and keep aside.

2 Put the jaggery in the pan and heat on medium heat till all the jaggery melts. Stir to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and mix the sesame seeds into the jaggery.

3. Take a rimmed steel thali or a large plate with a 2 cm rim. Grease the thali or plate with oil or ghee. Now turn the sesame seed and jaggery mixture onto the plate and make the surface even with the back of a steel katori or a smooth bottomed bowl.

4 Let the mixture cool for 20-30 minutes. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container, that is, if the snaps stay that long, because everyone is going to love eating them.

 

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Cranberry Orange Walnut Cake

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I wanted to make the most of the orange season before it left us so this time I’ve baked a cake with what else but…. orange. The orange has its origins in China and India. I love using orange peel in any form, whether it be zest or candied peel, and I think it’s a colossal waste to throw away orange peel into the dustbin.

This cake also has cranberries in it which worked well for me because I had frozen cranberries which I wished to use. Cranberries are native to North America. They grow wild on long running vines in hogs and marshes.

The cake is from the baking book Martha Stewart’s Cakes, and it turned out delicious. Her recipe is for 9 small cakes but you can bake one large cake too. Here I’ve made the one large cake recipe instead of the one for 9 small cakes.

I love cooking with fruits, and it’s great cooking with seasonal fruits. In Ahmedabad, the winter is over and summer has almost set in. This means we don’t have the luxury of winter fruits and vegetables any more and the produce that grows in the summer season is much costlier. The vegetable sellers are no longer generous with free bunches of fresh coriander, chillies and ginger like in the winter months. But of course you have the mango, the king of Indian fruits, which is a summer fruit, but more about that in another post.

So let’s get on with this terrific recipe. Incidentally I do all the beating of the butter and eggs with a fork, the old fashioned way, and although it’s a bit of hard work, the result is no less fantastic!

Cranberry Orange Walnut Cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan.

3/4 cup heavy cream.

Finely grated zest of one orange, plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 Preheat the oven to 350.F. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan, dust with flour tapping out the excess. Combine cream, orange juice, and vanilla in a small bowl.

2 Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3 With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, orange zest, and sugar until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of the cream mixture; beat until combined. Gently fold in cranberries and walnuts.

4 Put batter into prepared pan; smooth top with an offset spatula. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake until the cake is golden, and a cake tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and then turn out the cake onto a rack to cool completely.

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Classic Chocolate Brownies

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‘Tis the season for celebration! Day before yesterday was Ahmedabad’s 607th birthday. Today is my sister’s birthday. And we’ll all be splashing colours on each other celebrating Holi the day after tomorrow.

So, what better way to have the time of our lives than eat something deliciously gooey and chocolatey? This recipe of Classic Chocolate Brownies is just that….loaded with delicious chocolate. And of course, how can you not add walnuts, when you make classic chocolate brownies?

This recipe is taken from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible by Catherine Atkinson with recipes by Joanna Farrow and Valerie Barrett. The book is an excellent resource for brownies, biscuits, bars….the works. It has over 400 recipes and more than a 1000 photographs. I’ve tried many of the recipes in here, they’re very reliable.

The recipe below is my go to recipe every time my family and me want a chocolate fix. So here it is.

Classic Chocolate Brownies

Makes 24

225 gms/8oz dark (semisweet) chocolate

225 gms/8oz/ 1 cup butter diced

3 eggs

225 gms/8 oz/generous 1 cup caster (superfine) sugar

30 ml/2 tablespoons strong black coffee

75 gms/3oz/2/3 cup self raising flour

pinch of salt

150 gms/5oz/1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts

5 ml/1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/ 375 degrees F/ Gas 5. Grease and line a 18 x 28 cm/ 7 x 11 in tin (pan). Break the chocolate into squares and place in a heatproof bowl with the butter.

2 Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and leave for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring ocassionally until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and then leave the chocolate mixture to cool for 5 minutes.

3 In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and coffee, until smooth, then gradually beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.

4 Sift the flour and salt over the mixture, then fold in together with the walnuts and vanilla essence.

5 Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for about 35 minutes, or until just firm to the touch in the centre. ( Don’t bake it for any longer than this as the mixture will be soft under the crust, but will firm up as it cools. Over cooking gives it a dry result).

6 Leave the brownies to cool in the tin, then turn onto a board, and cut into squares using a serrated knife and a gentle sawing action.

 

Posted in Sweets and desserts

Besan laddoos

8F3668EC-A10D-4F6A-8CAC-523FAC5B063A.jpeg On this blog, are some of my favourite recipes. I’m sharing them with you so that you in turn can make them and share these eats with family, relatives and friends. Aao, muh meetha kare.

This dish is from the Indian cookery diva, Tarla Dalal’s collection. The Sweet Gram Flour Balls or Besan ladoos are just so melt in the mouth, and were one of Suman masi’s (mother’s sister) favourite recipes. She loved to make them and share them with family and relatives. I spent some of my best growing up years in her home.

Tarla Dalal has been with me since childhood. We were gifted a Tarla Dalal cookery book in the early 80s by masi herself.

Besan laddoos aren’t difficult to make as long as you cook the gram flour properly. Undercook it and the laddoos will fall apart. Also, add the correct quantity of ghee or they’ll turn too soft or too hard. Masi never added ground almonds to the mixture, but I have. You must stir the mixture continuously while it is cooking, and that is a bit of hard work but when the laddoos are made and you’ve popped one in your mouth, you’ll remember me!

Sweet gram flour balls or Besan laddoos

Makes 18-20

4 cups gram flour or besan

1 cup clarified butter or ghee

2 cups ground sugar

1/4 cup coarsely ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

Garnish

1 tablespoon almond slivers

1 Heat the ghee in a deep, heavy bottomed, non stick pan, add the gram flour, mix well, and cook on a medium flame for 13 minutes while stirring continuously ……

2 Switch of the flame and continue to stir for one minute.

3 Transfer the mixture to a plate and leave aside to cool for 1 hour or until the mixture cools completely.

4 Add the sugar, roughly ground almonds and cardamom and mix well with your hands, till it forms a crumbly texture.

5 Take a small amount of mixture and shape into a laddoo or ball. Make 17 more round shaped laddoos.

6 Garnish with slivered almonds.

These laddoos can be kept stored in an airtight container for upto 15 days.