My Last Post of 2013

Ok my lovely readers...... This is my last post of 2013..... Before this year ends, I am posting the cake I had baked for Christmas..... For a change, I have baked Omana Paul's Kerala Plum Cake this year. And I got the recipe from Nagalakshmi's Edible Garden... However, I made a few changes here and there. For instance, the original recipe doesn't require soaking fruits in alcohol, but I used soaked fruits (from last year's)...... Also, the cake is alcohol free. However, I like my Christmas cake to be alcohol-rich, so drenched my cake in brandy after it was baked.

Recipe Adapted from: Edible Garden

Plain flour - 1 cup
Soaked fruits and nuts - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup and 1/2 cup
Butter - 2/3 cup
Eggs -3
Nutmeg, powdered - 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon, powdered - 1/4 tsp
Cloves, powdered - 1/4 tsp
Cardamom, powdered - 1/4 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Salt - a pinch

  • First and foremost, caramelize the sugar. In a pan on medium heat, melt 1/2 cup sugar slowly. Keep swirling the pan but do not stir. When sugar is completely melted and bubbles start coming up and if it has reached the color  you want, turn off the stove and place the pan in the sink and pour 1/2 cup cold water to the caramel and let it come to the room temperature.
  • Preheat oven to 180 C.
  • Add 3 tbsp flour to the soaked fruits and dredge completely to coat it, so that they don't sink to the bottom of the batter while baking. Keep aside.
  • Mix the remaining flour and baking powder, spices and salt until well combined. Keep aside.
  • Beat butter and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy using an electric beater. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Next, add 1 egg and beat. Then add a bit of the flour mixture and fold. Repeat, the process by alternating between the eggs and flour mixture until they are used up.
  • Now add the cooled caramel and dredged fruits and gently fold in. Pour batter into a greased cake pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake for an hour or so until the top turns dark brown and when a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. 
  • Let the cake cool completely. Prick holes here and there on the cake top and sprinkle 2-3 tsps of brandy or rum. Let it sink in for a few minutes.
  • Then, wrap well with parchment paper and then with aluminium foil and leave the cake to mature.

Well, I don't have many photos to share, as my kids finished off the cake even before Christmas!!! Luckily, I got a piece to taste!! The brandy worked magic!!! The above picture was taken before I drenched the cake with brandy...

Lastly, wishing all my readers

A Happy, Wonderful and Prosperous Happy New Year- 2014

So, see you guys next year with more interesting, yummy and tasty recipes.....Meanwhile, keep commenting and liking my posts......Adieu to 2013....


Badam Halwa

Hope everybody had a colourful and sweetilicous Diwali (I know it's too late for this question).... Anyways this year for Diwali I made Badam Halwa with almonds I got last year for Diwali. Simple recipe and easy to make...the whole process takes just an hour or so.....

Recipe Source: Jeyashri's Kitchen

Badam/Almonds - 1/2 cup, heaped
Sugar - 1/2 cup, heaped
Ghee - 1/4 cup
Milk - 1/4 cup
Yellow food colour - a pinch
Cardamom powder - a pinch

  • Soak almonds in hot water for an hour.
  • Take out the skin and grind it into a smooth paste by adding milk to this.
  • In a heavy bottomed non-stick vessel add the sugar and 1/2 cup of water. Boil till the sugar dissolves and when it is completely dissolved lower the flame and add the ground almond paste.
  • Mix this without any lumps. Add the food colour and cardamom powder.
  • Stir continuously and slowly add ghee to this. Adding the right amount of ghee will give a nice texture to the halwa. So add as per the quantity mentioned.
  • When white colour bubbles appear on the sides of the pan switch off the flame and transfer to a greased plate or bowl.
  • The entire process will take 3-4 mins. Keep the flame on medium low.
  • Once it cools down it will be thickened. So wait for a while to get the perfect texture.
  • You store this in fridge for 4-5 days. Just warm up in the microwave oven before eating to get the perfect taste of the badam halwa.


Depression Cake

 Depression Cake!!! Sounds weird right???

Well, according to Wikipedia "A Depression cake is a type of cake that was commonly made during the Great Depression. The ingredients include little or no milk, sugar, butter or eggs, because they were then either expensive or hard to get. Similar cakes are known as "War Cake," as they avoided ingredients that were scarce or were being conserved for the use of soldiers. A common Depression Cake is also known as "Boiled Raisin Cake," or "Milkless, Eggless, Butterless Cake."

Found the recipe for this milkless, eggless, butterless and even bowless cake from Sweet Little Bluebird while searching for a butterless cake recipe...Worth baking!!! I coated the cake with chocolate ganache.

Chocolate Crazy Cake

Recipe Source: Sweet Little Bluebird

All-purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
Unsweetened cocoa powder - 3 tbsp
Castor Sugar - 1 cup
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
White vinegar - 1 tsp
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Vegetable oil - 5 tbsp
Water - 1 cup

  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Mix the first 5 ingredients in a greased 8" square baking pan.
  • Make 3 depressions in the dry ingredient - 2 small and one large.
  • Pour vinegar in one depression, vanilla in another and vegetable oil in the larger depression.
  • Pour water. Mix well until smooth.
  • Bake on middle rack of the oven for 35-40 mins. Insert a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean. Cool.

Chocolate Ganache

Recipe Source: Easycooking

Chocolate -200gms
Fresh cream - 200ml

  • Chop the chocolate and keep aside in a metal bowl.
  • Heat the cream until it starts to bubble over the edges.
  • Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute or two.
  • Stir well with a spoon. Refrigerate.
  • Ganache thickens as it cools. So if it is too thick, microwave it using 10 second spurts until it becomes the required consistency.

So, if you're in a depressed mood, why wait? Just put on your apron and start baking this cake and all your depressions would be gone once you taste the cake. *smiles*


Whole wheat Almond Squares

Ever since I started baking, one blog I follow and drool over is Deeba Rajpal's Passionate about Baking aka PAB...... She also writes for Times of India's online baking blog under the name The Rabid Baker. Though I had jotted down a few of her recipes, to this date haven't baked anything!! This recipe was adapted from her recipe for Whole wheat Apple Almond Tray Bake which appeared on The Rabid Baker. Since we don't like fresh fruits in our cake, I choose to leave the apple behind and thus ended up with this Whole wheat Almond Squares.

This recipe is worth a try, unlike my earlier wheat cake. Since it's made of wheat flour and ground almonds it tends to be more on the healthier side!

Recipe Adapted from: the Rabid Baker by Deeba Rajpal

Whole wheat flour - 140g
Ground almonds - 40g
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tsp
Baking soda - 1/2 tsp
Butter @ room temp - 100g
Brown sugar - 100g
Castor sugar - 75g
Eggs - 2
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp

  • Preheat oven to 180 C. Line a square baking tin with parchment paper.
  • Toss and stir the whole wheat flour, ground almonds, cinnamon powder, cardamom powder, baking powder, baking soda and a pinch of salt together in a medium bowl and mix well. Keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, place butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla essence. Beat them on high speed for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. 
  • Stir in the dry ingredients.
  • Transfer the batter into the prepared tin. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  • Cool completely before before slicing them into squares as it might be slightly fragile when warm.
  • Serve as it is or drizzle some icing sugar or low-fat cream or with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.


Happiest 3rd b'day to my Naughty Gal!!

My little girl turned 3 today!!! I just can't believe it.... *phew*.... Where is time flying to!! My search for her cake started few months back. I wanted to bake something special for her. I had a few criteria in my mind. I needed a strawberry cake (my gal's favorite fruit); a pink cake (her favorite color) and a 3 layer cake (as it was her 3rd b'day). My search landed up me in Sweetapolita.... I usually go for cakes that pleases my eyes...... And every cake in Sweetapolita pleased my eyes.... *winks*...... Next, I checked out the ingredients of each cake and finally landed upon the Neapolitan Cake..... It had everything that I was looking for - a strawberry cake (for the b'day girl), a chocolate cake (for the son and hubby), a vanilla cake (for the blogger) and of course it's a 3 layer cake......

However, I followed the recipe on Annie's Eats. So, to get the full recipe hop on to her Neapolitan Cake.

The frosting used is Swiss Meringue Strawberry Buttercream from Sweetapolita.

My 3 days of work, calculations, re-works, texting my friend in Dubai for tips, skipping out my regular activities, everything was paid off when I got what I wanted!!! In fact my daughter wanted to cut it the minute I finished the frosting, but somehow I managed to divert her attention....Kids!!


Happy B'day to JJ....

Yes! It's that month when I have two most important people celebrating their birthdays on two consecutive days...I have my better-half celebrating his birthday today..... And this is the first time I am actually doing something on his birthday since I usually concentrated more on the next one..... So, I wanted to make him something special this year, (not the usual cake) and I landed upon one of the most creamylicious, yummylicious dessert-The Tiramisu-one of his favorite too!!! 

Now, I have made a Tiramisu and a Tiramisu Cake some time back with sponge cakes but this is the first with Savoiardi...... Moreover, I needed a twist in the dessert, something different from the usual!! And so, I decided to make the Irish Cream Tiramisu by Nigella (one of my favorite baker)..... Nigella has never failed me when it comes to baking...... I tried her Devil's Food Cake last year (same day) and it was simply superb!

Irish Cream Tiramisu

Recipe Source: Nigella 

Instant espresso powder - 9 tsps (dissolved in 350 ml of cool water)
Baileys - 250 ml
Savoiardi Biscuits - 400g
Eggs, large - 2
Caster Sugar - 75 g
Mascarpone Cheese - 500g
Cocoa powder - 2 1/2 tsp

  • Mix coffee with 175 ml of Baileys in a bowl. Dip the savoiardi into this liquid. Let them soak on each side enough to become damp but not soggy.
  • Line the bottom of a glass dish with a layer of the dipped biscuits.
  • Separate the eggs and keep only one of the whites.
  • Whisk the two yolks and sugar together until thick and a paler yellow. Fold in the remaining 75 ml of Baileys.
  • Add mascarpone cheese to make a moussy mixture.
  • Whisk the single egg white until thick and frothy. Fold the egg white into the mascarpone cheese mixture.
  • Spread half of this mixture on top of the layer of biscuits.
  • Repeat with another layer of soaked Savoiardi and then top with the remaining mascarpone mixture.
  • Cover the dish with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight.
  • When ready to serve, dust cocoa powder on the top of the tiramisu with the help of a tea strainer.

We don't get Bailey's Irish Cream here, haven't seen anywhere...... But I didn't want that factor to hold me back from making the tiramisu...So, I googled and found out from the Brown Eyed Baker as to how to make a homemade Irish Cream!! Again, the recipe uses Irish Whisky which is not found in my place.... So, I substituted with another brand!!! 

Homemade Irish Cream

Recipe Source: Brown Eyed Baker

Irish whisky - 2 cups
Light/Heavy cream - 1 cup
Condensed Milk - 1 can
Chocolate Syrup - 2 tbsps
Vanilla extract - 2 tsp
Instant coffee - 1 tsp

  • Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree on high speed for 30 seconds.
  • Transfer mixture to an airtight container and store in the fridge.
  • Shake well before using.
Sadly, I forgot to click a picture of the Irish cream. Maybe, next time!


Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

It's been ages since I have baked a cookie!! The last I had baked were the Chocolate cookies. So, decided to bake one. The original recipe adds chopped walnuts in the cookie..... Since we are not walnut lovers, I decided to skip that part....

Recipe Adapted from: Chocolate by Parragon Books

Unsalted Butter - 1/2 cup
Light brown sugar - 1/2 cup, generous
Castor sugar/Granulated sugar - 1/2 cup, scant
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Instant coffee granules - 1 tbsp, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
Egg - 1
All- purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
Baking powder - 1/2 tsp
Baking soda - 1/4 tsp
White chocolate chips - 1/2 cup, scant

  • Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease the cookie sheets.
  • Put the butter, light brown sugar and castor sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Then add the vanilla extract, coffee and egg one by one and beat until fluffy.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into the mixture and fold in carefully.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Spoon heaping teaspoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, allowing room for the cookies to spread.
  • Bake for 10-15 mins, until crisp on the outside but still soft inside.
  • Let cool on the cookie sheets for some time and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


Peanut Butter Milkshake

A rich and filling milkshake, which can be enjoyed once in a while. To make it more nutritious, I added a teaspoon of flax seed. And if you want to indulge, then add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or cream.

Recipe Source: My own

Milk, chilled - 1 1/2 cups
Peanut butter - 1 -2 tbsp
Banana - 1
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Flax seed - 1 tsp

  • Blend all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.
  • Serve the milkshake either chilled or with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or a dollop of cream.

  • Though flax seeds have a sharp taste, adding them makes it more nutritious. So, this is completely optional depending on your taste buds.


Zebra Cake

Wishing All My Readers All Around The World
 "Eid Mubarak"

For the past few days my kids were constantly demanding for a cake and I was like "Now, which cake?". My son reminded me of the Zebra Cake which he had seen on a blog few weeks back while I was noting it down on my recipe book. So, off goes mamma bear to bake the cake for her little bears and papa bear ...*smiles*...

Recipe Source: AZ Cookbook

Eggs - 3 @ room temperature
Granulated sugar - 250g
Milk @ room temp - 250ml
Oil - 250 ml
All purpose flour - 300g
Vanilla essence - 1/2 tsp
Baking powder - 1 tbsp
Dark cocoa powder - 2 tbsp

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color.
  • Add milk, vanilla essence and oil and continue beating until well blended.
  • In a separate bowl, combine and mix flour and baking powder.
  • Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredient and beat until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
  • The batter should be neither thick or thin. If the mixture is too thin, add a little more flour.
  • Divide the mixture into 2 equal parts. Keep one portion plain.
  • Add cocoa powder into another and mix well.
  • Preheat oven to 180 C.
  • Lightly grease the cake tin with oil and line it with parchment paper.
  • For assembling the cake, pour the batter into the cake pan; scoop 3 heaped tbsps of the plain batter into the middle of the cake tin. Then scoop 3 tbsps of cocoa batter and pour it in the centre on top of the plain batter.
  • Do not stop and wait until the previous batter spreads. Keep going. Do not spread the batter or tilt the pan to distribute the mixture. It will spread by itself and fill the pan gradually. Continue alternating the batters until everything is finished.
  • Bake in the oven for about 40-45 mins. Insert a toothpick in the centre to see if the cake is baked.
  • Remove from oven and immediately run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake and invert onto a cooling rack. Cool completely and serve. 

My patterns haven't come out well though!! From this I have come to a conclusion that pattern cakes and I never go hand-in-hand...*winks*......


Moong Dal Kheer/Cheru Payar Parippu Payasam

It's been quite sometime since I have made payasams or kheer at home. The last I made was an Ada Pradhaman for last year's Onam. Suddenly I had an urge to make a payasam yesterday. I looked for the available ingredients and found a packet of cheru payar parippu/split moong dal in my pantry. I googled for moong dal payasam/kheer and found many. Finally, I zeroed in the recipe from Spicy Treats, since it was quite easy to make.

Recipe Source: Spicy Treats

Moong dal - 1 cup
Jaggery - 1-2 cups, grated
Milk - 2 cups
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Cashew nuts - 8-10
Raisins - 8-10
Ghee - 2tsp + 1 tbsp

  • Cook moong dal with 3 cups of water in a wide vesssel.
  • When the moong dal is 90 % cooked, add the grated jaggery.
  • Stir well till the jaggery gets completely dissolved and the raw smell leaves.
  • Add cardamom powder and stir well.
  • Add 1 -2 tsp ghee and stir well.
  • Then add warm milk to the dal syrup and stir gently.
  • Leave for 2 mins and switch off the stove.
  • In another pan, heat ghee and fry the cashews and raisins until they turn golden brown.
  • Pour the browned cashews and raisins into the payasam and serve.

Submitting the recipe to the event "My Legume Love Affair" (MLLA) hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen, which was started by Susan of Well-Seasoned Cook and carried forward by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen.


Choco-Banana Milkshake

Milkshakes have proven to be the best hunger supressing food in my home. They are always ready by the time my son comes home from school. Lately, I have been trying out various combinations and most of them are quite fruitful!! One such is this Choco-Banana Milkshake. 

Source: My very own

Banana, large variety - 1
Bournvita - 1 tbsp
Sugar - 1 tbsp
Chocolate sauce - 1 tbsp
Milk, chilled - 1 cup

  • Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.
  • Transfer to a serving glass and serve with love *winks*.