Peanut Butter Cookies

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Have a fascination for peanuts, peanut butter and cookies too? This may be just the combination for you. Peanut butter cookies. Eat them warm or cool, but they won’t stay long in those airtight containers. Because they’re so damn delicious. With pieces of chunky peanuts, besides the peanut butter itself in the batter, these are irresistible.

Peanuts grow in Saurashtra, close to where I live in Ahmedabad, and every year in January when we go to the village we get back peanuts with us, peanuts in their covers, and peanuts the covers of which have been removed. So with so many peanuts, we make all kinds of dishes. We put them in poha( spiced flattened rice), we add them to dals, we fry them and eat them mixed with onions and spices and we make chutnies with them. And of course, peanut butter cookies! Life doesn’t get better than this.

I’ve chosen this recipe of peanut butter cookies from The Cookie And Biscuit Bible. The book is full of goodies you can make, from cookies and biscuits, to brownies and chocolates.

So here is the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 20-24

Ingredients

115 gms/ 1/2 cup butter at room temperature, diced

125 gms/ 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 egg

5 ml/ 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

225 gms/ 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

50 gms peanuts

115 gms/ 1 cup plain ( all purpose) flour

2.5 ml/ 1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate ( baking soda)

pinch of salt

Method

1 In a medium or large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer till light and fluffy.

2 In a small bowl mix the egg and vanilla essence, then mix into the butter mixture.

3 Stir in the peanut butter and peanuts and blend thoroughly.

4 Sift the flour, soda bicarbonate and salt into the mixture and stir gently to form a soft dough. Donot overmix.

5 Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes until firm.

6 Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/ 350 degrees F/ gas 4. Grease two baking sheets.

7 Take teaspoons full of the dough, make into balls, press flat into rounds and make a criss cross pattern with the tines of a fork. They should each be 6 cms in diameter. Bake the cookies for 12 minutes or until lightly colored.

8 Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once cooled you can store them in an airtight container.

 

Fruit Mincemeat

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I got this recipe from a lovely cookbook in the British Library many years ago. The book was so good that I photocopied it from end to end but unfortunately didn’t copy the cover page. Strangely enough nowhere inside was the name of the book written. So I’m at a complete loss as to who the author of this wonderful fruit mincemeat recipe is.

The recipe is not very boozy and although the original recipe had brandy in it I put rum instead. I’ve also changed the quantities of some of the fresh and tinned fruits in it.

This makes an excellent gift for someone who likes to bake. You can make mince pies, marzipan mince tarts, mince muffins: the delicious list is endless. Fruit mincemeat is usually made at Christmas time but since here in Ahmedabad all the fresh fruits are still in season, I decided to give it a go.

So here is the recipe.

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Fruit Mincemeat

Makes 1 kg

Ingredients

450 gms mixed dried fruit such as raisins, candied peel, candied ginger, cranberries, currants

25 gms glacé cherries, chopped

25 gms blanched almonds, chopped

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg, ground cloves and mixed spice

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon and half orange

55 gms soft brown sugar

55 gms butter

55 gms tinned pineapple, chopped

1 banana, chopped

1 dessert apple, grated

100 gms grapes, halved

2 tablespoons rum

Method

1 Put the dried fruit, cherries, almonds, spices and zest and juice into a mixing bowl and leave to soak for 2 to 3 hours.

2 Stir in the sugar.

3 Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and on high heat toss the fresh and tinned fruit for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool completely.

4 Mix the the cooled fresh and tinned fruit with the dried fruit. Add the rum and give it a good stir.

5 Cover and store in the refrigerator for no more than a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

 

Walnut Marzipan Chocolate

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I was delighted that Rachana and Adi were coming home for the first time. I had only met Rachana at my aunt’s place, which was like her second home. My aunt, who is no more and she were dear friends. My aunt and I were very close too. She is the inspiration behind my love of baking. So when Rachana said she wanted to come home with her hubby I was happy. She got some prasad, homemade sheera for mom and dad and me, it was so tasty. And we had Bhel puri for dinner and then coffee and chocolates afterwards.

Here’s the recipe of the chocolates I made as an after dinner treat. They’re yum, if I may say so myself. You’ve got to make them at home.

Makes 10

Ingredients

150 gms marzipan ( you can take the marzipan recipe from my blog)

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts + 10 halves for decoration

150 gms melted dark chocolate

Method

1 Mix the chopped walnuts into the marzipan.

2 Shape the marzipan into a 9 inch log.

3 With a sharp oiled knife chop the log into 10 even pieces.

4 Dip each piece into the melted chocolate covering the marzipan completely.

5 Before the chocolate covering dries stick a walnut half onto the marzipan. Leave to dry

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week but they will be gone long before that!

 

World Peace Cookies

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Peace, such a common word but so important, especially in these turbulent times. Now just imagine that you could help in bringing peace to the world. Yes you can, one cookie at a time.

Dorie Greenspan who’s wonderful recipe this is, says-

“The original recipe for these cookies was given to me by my friend, Pierre Hermé, the wonderful Parisian pastry chef.  In the cookies’ first incarnation, they were called Sablés Chocolats, or chocolate shortbread.  In their second, the one in which chopped chocolate was added to the sweet/salty dough, they were dubbed Sables Korova and were served at the Paris restaurant of the same name.  Finally, a neighbor of mine gave them the name they truly deserve:  World Peace Cookies.  He was convinced that if everyone in the world could have these cookies, there would be planetary peace.  I hope he’s right.  What I know for sure is that everyone who has these cookies smiles and smiles are pretty powerful”.

So bring a smile to somebody’s face this Christmas by making these absolutely delicious cookies, smiles and happiness as opposed to hate are a sign of peace in the world. Make these wonderful cookies today.

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And the good news is, they don’t have eggs in them so if you don’t eat eggs like some Gujaratis where I live, this recipe is reason to cheer!

 

Here is the recipe

Makes 30 cookies

Ingredients

1/4 cups (170 gms) all purpose flour

1/3 cup (30 gms) cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (155 gms) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup (135 gms) packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup (50 gms) sugar

1/2 teaspoon fleur del sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces (140 gms) bittersweet chocolate chopped into smaller than 1/3 inch pieces

Method

1 Sift and mix the all purpose flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.

2 Beat the butter and sugars till soft and creamy.

3 Add the salt and vanilla extract to the butter sugar mixture and beat until incorporated.

4 Gently fold in the flours until just mixed. Don’t overmix.

5 Add the chocolate pieces and mix until just incorporated.

6 Put the dough on a work surface and divide into half. Roll each half into a log measuring 1 1/2 inches (4 cms ) in diameter. Wrap  the logs in plastic tightly and twist the ends and keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months).

7 Heat the oven to 165 degrees C (325 degrees F) with a rack in the center. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

8 Using a sharp knife to slice the logs into 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) rounds. If the rounds crack while cutting them, don’t worry, just press the bits back together. Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, about 5 cms apart. Keep the remaining dough chilled until you are ready to bake the next batch.

9 Bake the cookies one batch at a time for 12 minutes. When done, they won’t look done or even feel firm to the touch. Let the cookies cool. Serve warm or let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Homemade Vegan Marzipan- compiled recipe links

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

Marzipan is used to make delicious sweets and as a filling or encasing for cakes and chocolates. It is said to have first been made in the Middle East and then travelled to Spain. In India the Portuguese brought marzipan to Goa, but this is a different kind, one made with cashew nuts, not almonds.

Marzipan is mostly made with a combination of sugar and almond flour or ground almonds. The ratio of sugar to almonds varies from place to place. Usually marzipan has a greater ratio of sugar to almond flour, than almond paste in which the sugar content is less or equal to the quantity of almond flour.

Homemade marzipan is so much better than the store bought variety. Because, you know what ingredients go into making homemade marzipan as opposed to store bought, which may be mixed with cheaper ingredients or plain adulterated.

In this post I will share 3 recipes for marzipan, in fact they are links to excellent, easy, doable marzipan recipes on the net. All three are recipes for vegan marzipan. One is a regular vegan marzipan, the other is the Goanese type, and the third is a sugar free marzipan. Check out all three and decide which one you’d like to make this Christmas.

Here are the links:

This is a recipe from a blog, the idea of which I like a lot. Going slow and environment consciousness.

Here is the Goanese recipe with cashew nuts for the base.

Here is a wonderful recipe for sugar free marzipan.

So go ahead and make some delicious sweets and desserts this Christmas for your loved ones.

 

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

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If you can find heaven in a cake then this is it. Sticky, soft, and everything you’ve dreamed of but never had. This cake has a taste of fresh lemon juice because it is soaked with lemon juice after making it, and the poppy seeds in it taste divine.The combination of lemon and poppy seeds is sooo good. A bit unusual for those who haven’t tasted this combination but delicious still.

I love chocolate cakes and I know so do you, and one of these days I’m going to put up a chocolate cake recipe too, but rich fruit cakes taste so good. We’re having guests over this evening and I’m going to delight them with large chunks of this cake. The last time I made it, it was gone in the wink of an eye. Only the crumbs remained in the plate as proof that there had once been a nice big cake before it was devoured.

I’ve taken this recipe from Dan Lepard’s  recipe.

He is a baker from the United Kingdom and one of my favorites. His cookbooks are my prized possessions and are the jewels of my library.

I put only half the amount of lemon and caster sugar syrup given in this recipe, on the cake, and no additional dredging of caster sugar, but the cake was still scrumptious.

Sticky Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

Serves 10 to 12

Ingredients

For the cake

225 gms caster sugar

125 gms unsalted butter, softened

100 ml sunflower oil

Finely grated zest of 3 lemons

4 medium eggs

50 ml hot water

250 gms plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

75 gms oatmeal, or rolled oats finely ground

30 gms poppy seeds

For the syrup

150 gms caster sugar, plus extra to finish

100 ml lemon juice

Method

1 Line a deep 20 cm square cake tin with baking paper. Beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest and oil till light and fluffy, then add one egg at a time and beat well. Then beat the hot water into the mixture.

2 Sift the flour, then add the baking powder and mix well. Then add the oatmeal or the finely ground oats and the poppy seeds, and beat them into the cake mixture.

3 Pour the batter into the tin and bake at 180 degrees C / 160 degrees C fan / 350 degrees F/ gas 4 for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean, when inserted into the cake.

4 While the cake is warm, heat the lemon juice and caster sugar till the caster sugar dissolves. Poke the cake all around deep with a fork or a skewer and spread the syrup onto the cake letting it soak it in. Once it has cooled dredge it with more caster sugar.

 

Candied Walnuts In A Jiffy

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We’re getting into the Diwali spirit here in India and then Christmas will be at our doorsteps in December. Time to celebrate! Today I’m posting an easy and delicious recipe. Candied walnuts. These are great as a Diwali or Christmas gift. They’re even good to munch on during the festivities or to add to a salad or eat topped onto ice cream. The recipe is inspired by the one in the blog Natasha’s Kitchen

When I was in the fifth standard in St. Mary’s School in Poona, one of my friends used to get walnuts mixed with sugar in her tiffin and share them with me. I loved eating this terrific combination. My friend’s mother packed this yummilicious tiffin and she knew I shared it with her, so she would send enough for the two of us. I was in boarding school and this was magic.

That’s where I got the idea for candied walnuts from. So I was thrilled to find this recipe in Natasha’s Kitchen. Easy, fast, it only takes about five minutes to make, and yummy. No egg whites to coat with, no baking, nothing, it’s so simple. And …..it works out much cheaper than store bought candied walnuts. And… of course, Homemade!

Just remember to keep your kitchen tools handy while making these because the walnuts could burn if you’re not watching.

You can store the caramelized walnuts for about a week in an airtight container, but they’ll disappear very quickly.

You can use this recipe to candy pecans too.

Here’s the recipe

Candied Walnuts

Makes approximately 1 cup

Ingredients

1 cup walnuts quarters

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon white unsalted butter

Method

1 Heat a skillet to medium heat. Put the walnut quarters, sugar and butter into the skillet and stir continuously until the butter and sugar melt and the walnut pieces are well coated. This will take approximately 5 minutes. Make sure you stir the walnuts otherwise they will burn.

2 Once coated with the sugar, quickly remove them and put them on parchment or baking paper, and immediately separate the walnuts. Do this fast or you will be left with a lump of sugar coated walnuts.

3 Put them in a bowl to cool and eat them right away or store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Gur Papdi

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Gur Papdi, also called Gol Papdi or Sukhdi is a Gujarati sweet, made with jaggery, ghee and whole wheat flour and flavoured with cardamom powder and garnished with slivered nuts. It is delicious and healthy, and is eaten as an everyday sweet in homes and sometimes becomes a special sweetmeat for festivities too.

You can have loads of ferrero rochers and lindts and godivas but the good old desi Gur Papdi is delightful to bite into with its rich, aromatic whole wheat flour and cardamom flavors. Each time I bite into it, it brings back memories of midnight feasts at my aunty and uncle’s place where we cousins would sneak to the fridge at night, and gobble up all the goodies that were there, and often my aunt would store Gur Papdi to serve us as a dessert with lunch, but it would all be gone when she opened the fridge the next day.

I’m lucky with those midnight feasts I still have all my teeth intact, but I’ve certainly had to ‘brush up’ my teeth hygiene in these last few years.

Here’s the recipe

Gur Papdi

Makes about 15 pieces

Ingredients

100 gms whole wheat flour

6 tablespoons ghee

125 gms jaggery

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

Some slivered almonds for garnishing

Method

1 Heat the ghee in a deep bottomed pan. Cook the whole wheat flour in the hot ghee over a low to medium flame till brown and aromatic. Remove from the stove.

2 Add the jaggery and cardamom powder to the hot ghee, whole wheat flour mixture and stir with a spoon and mix till the jaggery has melted completely.

3 Now overturn the mixture onto a greased 6 inch thali and while still warm cut into diamond shapes. Garnish with the slivered almonds.

4 When cool store in an airtight container.

 

 

 

Banana Bread

 

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Now, I’ve eaten many banana breads and cakes but this one steals the show. Really, I mean it. It’s for no small reason that Nigella Lawson is called the queen of home cooking. Nigella ‘awesome’ Lawson for that’s what I call her, is just great when she shows us ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’. That’s the name of her baking book from where I made this recipe. It totally bowled me over. Did you know she’s not a professional chef? She’s a self taught home cook. Read this dazzling article and those of you who dislike the name of her book because it sounds weird, you may think, will change your mind.

And here’s her recipe for Banana Bread that’s so aromatic when you bake it that it makes your mouth water, not to mention that eating it will tingle your taste buds. It’s a nice large bread, and you can cut out big chunks for yourself, the kids, family and friends.

Sometimes, because ovens differ in their heating, and every oven has a nature of its own, go by instinct. When the cake begins to give out a delicious aroma, check if it’s ready, even if it’s before time.

Here’s the recipe

Banana Bread

Ingredients

100 gms sultanas

75 ml bourbon or dark rum

175 gms plain flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate

1/2 teaspoon salt

125 gms unsalted butter, melted

150 gms sugar

2 large eggs

4 very ripe bananas( about 300 gms without skin) mashed

60 gms chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin

Method

1 Put the sultanas with the dark rum to boil. When the liquid starts boiling, remove from flame and stand them for an hour or until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then drain.

2 Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C or gas mark 3.

3 Put the plain flour, baking powder, soda bicarbonate and salt into a medium size bowl and mix with a spoon to combine well.

4 In a large bowl, mix the sugar and melted butter and beat until blended.

5 Put in the eggs one at a time, then add the mashed bananas.

6 Stir in the sultanas, walnuts and vanilla extract.

7 Add the flour mixture, one third at a time, stirring well after each addition.

8 Scrape into a greased loaf tin and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hour. When a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean it’s ready.

9 Leave in the tin or on a rack to cool before cutting into nice big chunks and enjoying.

 

 

 

Coconut Ladoos

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Ganesh Chaturthi is here once again. How do we make the sweet, elephant headed God happy? Make him ladoos, because according to mythology Lord Ganesha loved ladoos. So this post is an offering to Lord Ganesha.

Dear friends, God never wanted us humans to pollute rivers and destroy nature. Please make environment friendly Ganeshas and immerse them in a clean tub of water for Ganapati immersion or better still leave the idols under a tree or in a temple. Do not alienate nature.

There’s a wonderful story about Ganesha and his sibling brother Kartikeya.

One day sage Narada came to Lord Shiva with a mango, which he had obtained from Lord Brahma. Now this was no ordinary mango. It was the mango of wisdom and knowledge. Lord Shiva wanted to give it to his sons, but which one should he give it to? He was in a quandary. So he decided to hold a competition where each sibling had to run a race around the world and the one who came first would win the mango.

Ganesha was plump and roly poly, and although he wanted to win badly, his vehicle was a mouse. Kartikeya on the other hand had a fast flying peacock for his vehicle and was very active too. Kartikeya set out immediately to fly around the world and show his prowess. Ganesha thought for a bit and then, gathering his parents together he circled them thrice. “Now give me my mango” he said. Shiva asked him why he deserved the mango, to which Ganesha replied that Shiva and Parvati his parents, meant the world to him. They were his world, so he had circled them thrice. Shiva gave him the mango.

Kartikeya, it is said in one version, was happy and accepted his father’s decision, but another version says, he got terribly angry and came down to earth to meditate in the Palani hills in the southern part of India. Ganesha, with great difficulty pacified him and brought him back to Mount Kailash.

Here is this really fantastic, tasty and easy recipe.

Coconut Ladoos

Makes 20 ladoos

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 tin(400 gms) condensed milk

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

A little less than 1/2 cup raisins

A little less than 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

1 Mix all the ingredients together in a thick bottomed pan except the 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut, and cook on a slow flame till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. Approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and keep aside to cool a little.

2 Spread a little oil or ghee on your hands, make round balls with the mixture. Dip each ball into the remaining 1/2 cup of desiccated coconut.

You can store these in an airtight container in the refrigerator, if they last that is. The kids at home will love them, and so will the adults.