March 20, 2011
Considering brownies are one of my all time favorite desserts I thought its about time that I shared a brownie recipe on here. Something that I love to do is take regular recipes and mix them up with different ingredients to create something completely different. And thats exactly what this recipe is. Brownies are so versatile that you have room to be creative and experimental. And to be honest, mixing up and experimenting is what makes good eats. The exact recipe for these brownies can be found here. But basically the recipe has 3 parts:
1. a brownie batter
2. broken pieces of Oreos
3. cream cheese frosting.
Mix the Oreo cookies into the brownie batter then spread in a greased baking dish. Dollop some of the frosting on the batter and swirl with a knife to create a marble effect. Bake for about 22-24 minutes.
January 14, 2011
simplicity conquers yet again
Sometimes the most basic recipes turn out the absolute best. The ones that don’t have very many ingredients or complicated techniques. As far as desserts are concerned, they can be quite complex and time consuming. However, every now and then I get a recipe for something really simple to make that tastes amazing. If you have ever wanted a recipe for a quick dessert using whatever ingredients you have at home then you may be interested in trying out a ‘blancmange.’
I never heard of a ‘blancmange’ before my sister in law told me about it. It basically is a very thick pudding type dessert which needs to be placed in a mold and chilled much like jello. You can add any flavoring you want, but apparently the most common flavor is almond. Similar desserts include Panna Cotta or Bavarian Cream.
We decided to make blancmange with my sister in laws recipe which had chocolate flavoring and it turned out very decadent. The texture was very smooth like pudding and is best when eaten very cold. What I discovered when learning how to make this: it takes no time at all, and is a perfect “go to” recipe when in need of an easy dessert. In fact, it’s amazingly simple, see for yourself:
Chocolate Blancmange Recipe:
- 4 cups of milk (1 litre)
- 4-5 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 2 cups of sugar (more or less to taste)
- 1 cup corn starch
- 2 cup walnuts (you can use cashews or almonds instead)
- 1 stick of butter
- coarsely chopped chocolate cream cookies (such as oreos with chocolate cream)
- chocolate bar for garnish (optional)
- carmel sauce for garnish (optional)
Heat 4 cups of milk in a small pot until boiling. Next, add the sugar and half of the walnuts and stir well; do a taste check of the milk to see if it is sweet enough, add sugar accordingly.
In a small bowl mix the cocoa powder and cornstarch with water until it becomes a liquidy paste; add this to the milk mixture while whisking continuously. Cook until it becomes very thick then turn off the heat and mix in the butter.
Begin layering the blancmange by pouring half of the chocolate mixture into a greased mold (such as a bundt pan). Then make a layer of the cookies and the remainder of the walnuts. Add the remaining of the chocolate mixture and let the whole thing cool for a little while before putting it in the fridge.
Refrigerate for a few hours but ideally overnight will give you the best result.
Once the blancmange has been chilled take it out of the mold onto a plate and garnish with whatever you like such as shavings of chocolate or a drizzle of carmel sauce.
Make slices as if it were a cake and serve! You will find in the middle a layer of the chocolate cookies and walnuts.
September 26, 2010
Gajar ka Halwa is a popular Indian dessert made of carrots, milk, sugar and dried fruit. It may be known as a carrot pudding…mainly because wikipedia said so and mainly because there really is no other way to describe “halwa” other than “pudding” even though it is not a pudding… it’s just pretty hard to translate.
Anyway, my mom used to make this dessert throughout our childhood on special occasions and me and my brothers love it, we could hardly wait before it was done and ready to eat. Often times I would “taste check” for my mom because of my impatience :)
Gajar ka Halwa can tend to be a heavy dessert, however throughout the years my mom has modified her recipe to make it lighter and a bit healthier with skim milk, less butter, and omitting ricotta cheese.
When I made this, I decided to add some fall flavors to it (nutmeg and cinnamon) and it turned out really nice. It’s one of those dishes that you can’t stop eating because hey, that is what happened to me so its bound to happen to you (side note: it’s really good when combined with vanilla ice cream.)
So I thought I would share the recipe with any of you who are interested in trying Indian sweets. Keep in mind this makes a whole pot of Halwa (enough for a party of 20 people) so you might want to halve the recipe and it will still be good.
Gajar Ka Halwa Recipe:
- 5lbs of carrots, peeled and shredded
- 2 sticks of butter
- 2 cups of skim milk
- 4 cardamoms, broken
- 1/2 cup almond powder
- 4 cups of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
- pinch of saffron mixed with 3 tablespoons of milk (optional)
- 1/4 cup of sliced almonds (for garnish)
- 1/3 cup of regular raisins
- 1/3 cup of golden raisins
Heat a large pot (such as a soup pot) and melt the butter. Add the shredded carrots and stir. Next add in the cardamom and milk and mix really well; you will need to cook this for 45 minutes stirring occasionally. This is the main cooking process of the halwa where the moisture of the carrots and the milk is absorbed.
Once the carrot is tender and everything has reduced add in the almond powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and saffron mixture and stir well. Finally add in the raisins and mix. Cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Generally served warm with sliced almonds on top for garnish. :)
August 30, 2010
One thing that will never be out of season is chocolate. All 4 seasons, all 12 months, and all 365 days a year, no one is going to turn down a good chocolate recipe.
On my vacation to India earlier this year I had a series of chocolate cake experiences. It was mostly because I get spoiled… a lot.
These chocolate cake experiences really made me want to make a chocolate cake myself. If you don’t like grocery store cakes and you don’t like paying the high price of fancy bakeries then to bake one yourself is an amazing alternative. It’s relatively inexpensive and it tastes so much better.
In my search for the perfect chocolate cake recipe I remembered Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe that I had put aside a while back. When I saw this recipe I instantly knew I would be making it because of the chocolate and coffee combination. I made it a while ago and never got a chance to put it up so I wanted to share it with all of you so you could benefit from this chocolate-coffee magic as well.
I love chocolate and coffee; putting these two flavors together in a cake seemed like a no brainer and I wish I had thought of it first. The coffee in this cake really brings out the chocolate flavor and makes it very rich and decadent. In fact, I would just eat this cake without the chocolate buttercream frosting… because it’s just that good.
I don’t make cakes that often, I’m used to making cookies or brownies and for a while I thought that in order to make a cake you had to use cake flour. But, as it turns out that is not true. This was my first try at making a chocolate cake and it turned out really really good. Maybe it was just luck or maybe my experience of eating chocolate cakes helped. In other words, I should eat cake more often… clearly.
If you like the combination of chocolate and coffee and you’re looking for a moist and delicious cake recipe then this is for you.
Chocolate Cake Recipe (By Ina Garten)
- Butter to grease cake pans
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (extra to coat the pans)
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk ( I used half and half)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat oven to 350°
Grease two round 8 inch cake pans with butter and flour.
Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix this together with an electric mixer until everything is incorporated. In a separate bowl mix together the half and half, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With your mixer on low, slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Once that is nicely combined slowly add in the coffee and mix.
Pour the batter into your cake pans and bake it for 30-45 minutes just until you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Cool them for about 30 minutes before you take them out of the pans.
Butter Cream Frosting:
- 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate ( I used Guittard chocolate chips)
- 1/2 a pound of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder (if its too strong reduce to 1 teaspoon otherwise it will overpower your cake)
Melt the chocolate by putting it in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Mix it until it melts then set it aside so it comes down to room temperature.
With an electric mixer beat the butter (up) until its light and fluffy. Add the yolk and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes. Put the mixer on low and slowly add the confectioners sugar. Once it is all added put the mixer on medium and beat until smooth and creamy.
Mix your instant coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of hot tap water. Finally, on a low speed add the melted chocolate and coffee to the frosting until its well blended. It’s easiest to spread it right away onto the cooled cake.
Also you may have noticed from the picture but I garnished the top with some chopped walnuts just for the heck of it. It added a nice crunch!
August 2, 2010
a word on pastries
So I used to watch this show called Pushing Daisies (only lasted 2 seasons don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it). Anyway, the main character Ned was a pie maker. He would make these mouth watering pies that made me want to make a pie too. So I did. And it looked fine…and the filling tasted just fine…but the pastry was not so fine.
I hope I’m not alone in the fact that whenever I try to make pie pastry something goes wrong with the taste and texture. It has made me hate vegetable shortening, and it has made me love buying pies from Perkins (I’m a sucker for strawberry).
However, every culinary disaster is saved sooner or later. And for me, that is usually done with the help of Ina Garten. This pastry recipe for her french apple tart is so easy and turned out so good on the first try! It’s really light and buttery and you can use it as a base for any fruit tart, not just apples. But, the combination of green apples and apricot jelly really taste great together so I’d say stick with it.
A simple dessert…worth a try…the most difficult part is probably peeling and coring the apples. Here is the recipe.
By the way, the recipe says to mix the apricot jelly with calvados. I don’t know what the heck calvados is, and I didn’t bother to look it up. I just used water with it and it worked out just fine.