I have a giant book borrowed from an aunt – The Taste of Home : Ultimate Cookie Collection, which has several hundred recipes and very useful directions to almost everything in the land of cookie making. How to store cookies, how to ship them, what if cookies spread too much while baking, what if they don’t, what to do if they are too tough/ too brown / too pale, etc etc. its a delight to read the book and experiment from there.
And my baby Arjun has a book where the cartoon Elmo is making cookies. So he wants to make cookies every weekend. It’s fun to bake with him (only if you ignore all the mess that he does). 😛
Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies
What you will need :
- 1 and half cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 150 gram butter at room temperature (approx 10 tablespoons)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cup chocolate chips
What to do :
- In a bowl, stir in baking powder and baking soda in the flour and then sift it once. This ensures that the baking powder and soda get mixed evenly in the flour and it gets aerated once sieved.
- In another bowl, take butter at room temperature and whisk it with an electric beater. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat till it becomes light, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Let it all get incorporated well.
- Now add the flour mixture into the butter and egg mixture and whisk till it all comes together. Do not over-mix.
- Remove the whisk and then fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
- Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
- Now with a tablespoon, drop 12 heaps on the parchment paper, spaced well about 1 inch between two heaps.
- Put it int he fridge to chill for at-least 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 170 C.
- After 15 minutes chill time, put the tray in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, till the top gets slightly browned and the cookies get crisp on the outside. You can also rotate the pan once in between.
- Keep next batch ready for baking or if you have a bigger oven, you can bake two sheets at a time.
- The cookies spread out once they go in the oven. So make small heaps and space them apart.
- If you want very crisp cookies bake for a minute longer, if you want a chewy centre, bake for a minute or two less. Also individual ovens behave differently, keep a close watch while baking cookies.
- You can also cut the cookies with a cookie cutter when they are fresh out of the oven. Like I did with a Christmas tree cutter in the picture above.
New-york style Cherry Cheesecake
There is a lovely nip in the air and what better time to sit and enjoy a piece of indulgent cheesecake with freshly brewed coffee?! Top it with some fresh fruit of the season – cherries, strawberries or even chopped kiwi. This combination of a tart fruit, creamy cheese cake and a crumbly, buttery crust is very fulfilling.
See notes below for more information about cheesecakes.
For the crust and the cheesecake
What you will need :
- 160 gram digestive biscuits
- 40 grams melted butter (I use Amul)
- 400 grams cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon orange zest/ lemon zest
- 175 grams castor sugar
- 55 grams dairy cream (I use Amul 20% fat)
- 3 eggs
- a pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to proceed :
- Powder the digestive biscuits in a mixture. Then add the melted butter and mix the crumble with your fingers to form a smooth dough like consistency.
- Pre-heat oven to 160C.
- Take a springform pan with detachable base and spread the crumb mixture on the pan at the bottom. Bake it for 10 minutes till firm.
- Take it out of the oven and let it completely cool.
- Meanwhile make the cheesecake filling. Beat the cream cheese well with a whisk or a hand-held blender and add the lemon juice and zest.
- Then add the castor sugar, cream, salt and vanilla essence. Beat well to combine all of it together.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and mixing well before each addition. Pour this mixture into the cooled crust and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160C for 40-45 minutes.
- The best way to check if a cream cheese is done is if it is jiggly in the centre. If yes, bake it for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven once done and let it cool down before frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting :
- 125 grams cream cheese
- 50 grams Amul butter. at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon orange/lemon zest
- 300 grams icing sugar
How to proceed:
- Whisk the cream cheese. Add butter and zest.
- Gradually add the icing sugar, one cup at a time.
- Whisk well.
- Spread the frosting on top of the cheesecake once it cools and adorn it with drained glazed cherries.
- You can skip this frosting and just line the top with cherries or some jam. I prefer a softer, mushier frosting hence I poured it over the cheesecake. If you want a firm frosting, refrigerate it for 2 hours before frosting on top of the cake.
- Different brands of cream cheese are available in the market. Philadelphia and D’lecta are two brands I have most commonly seen. The Philadelphia cream cheese is costly (650 for 225 grams), but D’lecta cream cheese is also very good and costs Rs. 650-700 for 800 grams. In Mumbai it is available in Arife and a lot of stores having a cold storage facility.
- Cheesecakes tend to crack at the top after baking. To prevent this they are baked in a water bath. But to keep things simple, I have avoided a water bath and topped the baked cheesecake with a cream cheese frosting and some cherries.
- Cheesecakes are dense and continue to bake even when removed from the oven due to the latent heat. So to avoid over-baking it should be slightly moist at the centre when you stop baking.
- After removing cake from the oven, loosen the sides with a spatula or a knife. It allows it to cool without breaking.
A couple days back I posted a photo of methi laddoos, a delicious winter variety of nutty ladoos on my Facebook feed. Everyone kept asking for the recipe, so here it is. Straight from my mami, who lovingly sent a box with my cousin who came over.
All winters we have literally hogged on these laddoos since childhood. But because of the very intense ingredients used, the quantity was limited to only one laddoo per day. May be a second one if you coaxed someone enough and drank a full glass of milk with it. I always did.
These laddoos stay well at room temperature even for a month. During my internship days when I used to go to Delhi for a month in December, my mom used to make and give me 30-40 of these laddoos. And they used to be my breakfast every morning. Wholesome, compact and nutritious. Methi (fenugreek) is also a galactagogue, that is it enhances milk production in lactation mothers. They were my quick snack everyday when baby Arjun was born and I was feeding him.
Caveat : Methi laddoos are I think an acquired taste. I love the bitter, nutty, sweet deliciousness but not everyone can handle it. If you are trying it for the first time, you can reduce the quantity of methi powder and gradually add in more if you find it suitable!
Recipe for Methi Laddoos
What you will need :
- 1/2 kg of desiccated coconut (khobra)
- 250 gms of Poppy seeds (khaskhas)
- 250 gms of Dry dates (kharik), powdered
- 100 gram walnuts + 100 gram almonds + 100 gram cashew nuts
- 1 heaped tablespoon fenugreek powder (add more if you like it more bitter)
- 200 grams powdered sugar
- 200 grams pure ghee
What to do:
- Grate the dry coconut. Roast it on low flame in a thick bottomed pan till it turns golden brown. Remove on a plate and keep aside till it slightly cools.
- Roast the poppy seeds. Once cool, grind them along with some sugar. Poppy seeds release oil and become sticky, so we use sugar along with the roasted poppy seeds to grind.
- Grind all the dry fruits too.
- And the powdered dry dates to the dry-fruits. You can get powdered dates if you know a reliable source or shop. I make the powder at home.
- Now the roasted grated coconut can be crushed by hand itself. After you break the grated coconut into finer particles evenly, add all the above powdered material to this coconut along with the fenugreek powder.
- I get fenugreek seeds ground from the flour mill because I make a lot of laddoos in winter. But you can grind the seeds at home for the recipe as you need. If you roast the seeds just a light brown the bitter taste will lessen.
- Warm the container of pure ghee in a vessel containing hot water so that it turns liquid. Add this liquid ghee to this mixture. Don’t put the ghee to direct flame.
- Then roll the laddoos with your hand. Add a little more melted ghee if required for it to come together. Nice tasty laddoos ready to eat.
“Rutvika I hope I have been able to convey the recipe. With lots of best wishes to all.” – Mami 🙂
There! Let me know how it turns out of you do make them.
I have been eyeing these drip cakes in gorgeous colors for a while on pinterest and Instagram now. Katherine Sabbath sort of invented them in 2015 and they have been a rage. They look deliciously pretty and leave people wondering how the drips were made.
Very easy. Just some runny ganache and a cold cake.
I have made it here with a classic chocolate cake, a strawberry buttercream and chocolate ganache dripping. Once you know the basics, you can play around with cake flavors and white chocolate + gel color drip. And ofcourse any variation of buttercream or meringue frosting.
Chocolate Drip Cake
What you will need :
For the sponge cake:
- 180 gram all purpose flour
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 60 gram cocoa powder
- a pinch of salt
- 275 gram castor sugar
- 100 gram yoghurt
- 40 ml warm water
- 130 ml strong brewed hot coffee
- 75 ml vegetable oil, I use groundnut oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the strawberry buttercream :
- 100 gram butter, at room temperature (I use Amul)
- 230 gram icing sugar
- 7-8 strawberries – pureed in a mixer with a tablepoon of granulated sugar
For the chocolate drip :
- 100 gram chopped dark chcolate
- 200 gram Amul cream
What to do :
- Sift all the dry ingredients : flour + baking powder + baking soda + cocoa powder + salt and keep it aside.
- In another bowl whisk the eggs. Add sugar, yoghurt, warm water and mix.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients and brewed coffee to this mixture and fold in with a spatula till it gets completely incorporated.
- Pre-heat oven to 170C.
- Grease the sides and line the bottom of two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper.
- Pour the cake batter in the cake pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.
- Let it cool completely on wire racks.
- For making strawberry buttercream, mix all ingredients with a whisk or a stand mixer.
- For the chocolate drip, keep the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream till it starts to bubble around the edges. Do not let it come to a boil.
- Pour the cream on the chocolate and cover it for 2 minutes.
- Whisk it till all the chocolate melts and it becomes smooth. Let it cool down.
- Take a cake board or a wooden board and place one layer of the cake on it. Cover it with strawberry buttercream on the sides and top.
- Place another cake on top and cover all the sides and top with buttercream. Smoothen it with a spatula dipped in hot water.
- Put it in the refrigerator for one hour and let it become cold.
- Make the chcoolate drip 20 minutes before using it on the cake. If you make it in advance and it becomes thicker when you use it, heat it in microwave for 10-2o seconds till it becomes runny again. But ensure that it is not hot when you pour it on the cake.
- Now remove the cooled cake from the fridge. With a spoon start pouring the ganache on the edges of the cake. It will start dripping down. Within one or two drips you will realise how much to pour at one go. Cover the entire edge of the cake with such drips.
- Now pour more ganche in the centre and spread it lightly with a spatula.
- Put it in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.
- You can decorate it with some sprinkles and fresh flowers.
- Store it in the fridge if you live in a hot and humid place like Mumbai.
- You can add a teapoon of corn syrup to the ganache to get a smoother finish. But you can absolutely skip it like I did.
- The cake recipe is from a book called Chocolate by Cordon Bleu. The drip technique is taken from Stylesweetca.com.
- Yan use an eggless cake recipe from here and turn this into an eggless dessert.
Yesterday was my first baking class. I taught the tart making technique and apple and orange tart to a group of friends. I was very nervous in the beginning. There were six girls and having six pairs of eyes focussed on you is daunting. I fumbled, couldn’t crack an egg neatly, spilt sugar on the counter and certainly couldn’t look at anyone. But all of them were really supportive and within a few minutes I was relaxed.
Making the tart dough and kneading it without letting the butter melt is a tricky business. But I still wanted to give all of then a feel of sablage – the French technique of pressing down the dough to make it look like sand. So we did it quickly, the Mumbai heat was unsparring, but we worked our way around. I have had no prior experience in teaching. Really, the last time I tried to teach anyone anything was my brother and he fled to the US. But I wanted to show tart making to a very hardworking and talented baker friend Rucha, and it was about time I broadened my horizons, so this class happened.
As I have a little toddler who is sometimes wary of strangers, I was worried that he might start hollering and I will have to leave everything and sit with him. But he was very well behaved. And looked forward to eating some cake. And this baking class wouldn’t have happened without the awesome support of my in-laws. They are pretty much the best. 🙂
Ok that was my little thank you speech, but thank you all so much. For showing belief that I could do it and for forgiving the little things that went awry.
This was not a paid class and it was strictly for friends who I knew outside of social media. In my own home.
But who knows if this might become a regular feature, a proper class in a proper venue. I am yet to figure that out.
P.S : Links similar to what was taught in the class –