Chocolate Drip Cake

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

drip-cake-with-flowers

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 :

  1. Sift all the dry ingredients : flour + baking powder + baking soda + cocoa powder + salt and keep it aside.
  2. In another bowl whisk the eggs. Add sugar, yoghurt, warm water and mix.
  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients and brewed coffee to this mixture and fold in with a spatula till it gets completely incorporated.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 170C.
  5. Grease the sides and line the bottom of two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  6. Pour the cake batter in the cake pans and bake in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing.
  8. Let it cool completely on wire racks.
  9. For making strawberry buttercream, mix all ingredients with a whisk or a stand mixer.
  10. 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.
  11. Pour the cream on the chocolate and cover it for 2 minutes.
  12. Whisk it till all the chocolate melts and it becomes smooth. Let it cool down.

frosting-and-drip-cake

drip-cake-all-sides

Assembly:

  1. 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.
  2. Place another cake on top and cover all the sides and top with buttercream. Smoothen it with a spatula dipped in hot water.
  3. Put it in the refrigerator  for one hour and let it become cold.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Now pour more ganche in the centre and spread it lightly with a spatula.
  7. Put it in the fridge for 5 minutes to set.
  8. You can decorate it with some sprinkles and fresh flowers.
  9. Store it in the fridge if you live in a hot and humid place like Mumbai.

Notes :

  1. 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.
  2. The cake recipe is from a book called Chocolate by Cordon Bleu. The drip technique is taken from Stylesweetca.com.
  3. Yan use an eggless cake recipe from here and turn this into an eggless dessert.

chocolate-drip-cake-slice

 

Hi-Hat Chocolate Cupcakes

Inside of a high hat cupcake

I have been eyeing these Hi-hat cupcakes on Pinterest for so long now, that I had to make them sooner than later. They are essentially choclate cupcakes with a frosting and dipped in melted chcolate, like your Mc Swirl in Mc Donalds.They looked daunting. What if the fluffy white meringue on top which gets dipped in the chocolate just melts away? What if the chocolate doesnt hold and starts dripping? What if the entire frosting collapses and settles in a puddle on the cupcake? It would be an epic bake-fail, but curiousity got the better of me and I made these. And beleive it or not, they are super easy! I watched a couple videos about making the frosting and then adapted a Martha Stewart recipe to make mine.

High Hat cupcake

Droolworthy chocolates

Hi-Hat Cupcakes!

What you will need :

For the cupcakes

  •  2 cups maida
  •  ¾ cup cocoa powder
  •  1 tablespoon baking powder
  •  ½ teaspoon baking soda
  •  a pinch of salt
  •  1 and ½ cup castor sugar
  •  2 eggs
  •  8 tablespoon melted butter (I use Amul)
  •  1 cup plain yoghurt
  •  ½ cup warm milk
  •  1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  •  1 and ½ cup chocolate chips

Ingredients for chocolate cupcakes

  1.  Mix the flour + baking powder + baking soda + cocoa powder + salt. Sift it so that it gets aerated and there are no chunks of baking powder or soda.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk butter till pale and add sugar. Mix well.
  3. Then add the eggs, one at a time and whisk into the butter.
  4. Mix in the yoghurt and vanilla.
  5. Now with a rubber spatula fold in the dry ingredients and the milk in two additions. Always start and end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Pre-heat oven to 180C for 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, line a muffin pan with paper liners. Drop the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean.
  8. Let it cool in the pan and then on a wire grill completely before frosting.

Chocolate chip cupcakes

For the meringue frosting

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 and ¾ cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Making meringue

  1. In a large heatproof bowl, mix all the ingredients and whisk with a manual whisk or a hand held blender till it forms soft peaks.
  2. In another vessel, heat water till it simmers.
  3. Put this bowl with egg whites on the vessel over the stove/ gas. Whisk continuously till it forms stiff peaks and the temperature of the egg whites goes upto 70 degrees C on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, keep it whisking on the simmering water for 10 minutes, it reaches about that temperature and then egg whites are safe to be consumed.
  4. Then remove from heat and keep whisking till it cools down considerably and frosting thickens.
  5. Do not stop whisking in the entire process or egg whites will curdle.
  6. Transfer frosting to a pastry bag fitted with a big round nozzle.

For the chocolate coating

  • 2 cups chopped chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil

How to proceed:

  1. Combine chopped chocolate and oil in a microwave safe bowl and heat it in bursts of 20 seconds, whisking in between, till all chocolate is melted. Alternately, you can heat it over double boiler.
  2. Let it cool to room temperature.
  3. If the chocolate hardens by the time you are ready to dip, heat it in microwave for 30 seconds and it will be liquid.

Chocolate dripping

ASSEMBLY

  1. Now the cupcakes are ready to be frosted and dipped.
  2. Frost a high pile of the meringue frosting on each of the cupcakes. Refrigerate for a couple of minutes before dipping in chocolate.
  3. Keep the melted chocolate in a high wide glass. I used a measuring cup for it.
  4. Now grab each cupcake by its bottom and carefully dip it into the melted chocolate and remove it. Don’t worry, it will stay put. The meringue will not melt, you have my word.
  5. Put it in the fridge and let it sit for half hour before cutting.
  6. You high-hat cupcakes are ready!
Hi hat cupcake with chocolate frosting

Eggless Cupcake with eggless buttercream frosting

Notes :

  • Some recipes call for cream of tartar in the meringue, but I havent used it. It stays well and holds shape even without the cream of tartar.
  • Ensure that the instructions int he recipe are followed well, let the cupcakes cool down before frosting. lt the meringue sit in the fridge for a few minutes before dripping in the chocolate and let the chocolate be at room temperature but still  liquid.
  • In the Mumbai humidity, the chocolate ont he frosting starts to sweat as soon as you take it out of the refrigerator. There is hardly anything that can be done about it though.
  • If you want an eggless chocolate cupcake recipe, see here.
  • If you want an eggless chocolate buttercream frosting see here. Meringue frosting looks prettier because of the black and white combination, but you can use any other stable buttercream too.

Cupcakes with chocolate frosting

Kitkat Chocolate Cake

Kitkat and Gems cake

I have found a perfect no-fail chocolate cake recipe and believe it or not I have made it 8 times in the last one month. One weekend, back to back thrice because we had guests and everyone wanted to take home a part of the cake. It is a wonderfully moist cake and stays that way easily for 2-3 days.

My best friend’s son completed a year two weeks back and I wanted to bake a cake for his party. And hence this beautiful, very easy kit-kat cake was on top of my list. My baker friend Ruby from Cakes my Passion pointed me out to this Hershey’s recipe and I can’t thank her enough. Because when I decided to make the cake, I had no idea what should be the height of these cakes so that it matches the length of the kitkat bars. And how many kitkats would I require, will they stick? What about the frosting? Hope it wont melt in the heat. How to prevent the kitkats from smudging? And so on. But here are some tips which I figured out along the way.

So here it is, recipe and the frosting technique.

Kitkat cake

Kit-kat Chocolate cake

What you will need:

  • 1 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (maida)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup full fat milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil, I use rice-bran, but any unflavored oil is fine
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Frosting :

  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Decoration :

  • 20-22 individual sticks of kitkat
  • 30-40 gems or M&Ms

What to do :

  1. Preheat oven to 160C for 5 minutes.
  2. Prepare two 8 inch pans. Line the bottoms with a parchment paper and butter the sides and dust it with some all purpose flour.
  3. Now sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and keep it aside.
  4. Take two eggs and sugar in a bowl and whisk it till it turns pale and creamy.
  5. To the egg mixture add the milk, vanilla extract and vegetable oil and whisk a couple of times.
  6. Alternately add the flour mixture and the boiling water to the egg mixture and whisk till it is all incorporated together. Always start and end with dry ingredients i.e the flour mixture.
  7. The batter will be thin, but the boiling water ensures that all the flour is incorporated properly.
  8. Pour it equally into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the oven, let it cool for 10 minutes. Release the cake from the sides and turn it onto a cooling rack. let it cool completely before frosting.
  10. To make the frosting, melt butter and add in all the ingredients and whisk them together till it forms a smooth frosting. It makes about 2 cups of frosting, which is perfect for this cake with a little leftover.
  11. Frost the cake and line it with kitkats. Spreads gems on top.

Notes :

  • Keep the kitkats in the refrigerator for an hour before using them to prevent any smudges.
  • If not eating on the same day, then keep the cake in the fridge once frosted so that it stays for a long time. (The frosting contains milk so it has to be refrigerated)
  • The It is better to use 8 inch cake pans so that the height of the kitkat bars gets evenly matched with the cakes stacked on each other.
  • After sticking the kitkats, tie it with a thin ribbon or plastic thread for a while so that it sets.
  • You can make the base cake a day in advance so that it cools totally before frosting and the crumbs settle down.

How to frost a cake :

Line with paper

bake the cake, cool it and upturn it on a cardboard tray for frosting. Cover the cake board with strips of parchment so that the frosting does not stick to the board.

Frosting with spatula

Start spreading the frosting on the top with an offset spatula.

Stack another layer on top and cover the sides with frosting

Stack another layer on top and cover the sides with frosting

Use cold kitkats

Frost the top, smoothen the sides and start sticking kitkats on the sides

Sticking kitkats

Cover the cake on all sides and then remove the parchment paper lightly

Decorate the top with colorful candies

Decorate the top with colorful candies

Remove parchment

And you are done!

Black Forest Cake and Bed (Ar)rested!

Two months back at the bake sale, one of my friends was narrating her pregnancy experiences to me. She’d been told to take bed rest from her 8th month onwards. I listened politely, but stuff like this never happens to me. Right? Right?

And exactly 10 days later, my baby was in a hurry to come out too and I was put on total bed rest for 6 long weeks, at the least. There you go. I was thinking to myself “How did this happen to me? TO ME??”

My pregnancy was relatively easy till then and I had just bought some lovely maternity dresses and wanted to wear them and go out with my adoring husband, while lapping up all the attention. And there I was, stuck to the bed. Albeit I knew it was for a fixed time, and the alternate was a preterm baby and all complications, still, the first 3-4 days were the worst. It was as if a full speed car got stuck in the middle of a highway. Stopped. Midway.

But then, acceptance slowly seeped in. It became less difficult with each passing day. I got time to read. To pause when reading and to think. About the book or an article and about what it said. For the last several years I had been reading, but never pausing. Never taking it in. Gobbling it up, and filing it away in the reserves of the brain. Now was the time to ruminate.

To look out of the window on crisp winter mornings. To look and to stare. Think about the swaying leaves, and notice how that purple-rumped sunbird came for honey on the same flower, everyday at the same time. To listen to the various sounds omnipresent in the air. The vehicle horns, the chug-chug of a long distance train, a bus coming to a halt, children laughing, furniture being moved in the adjacent apartment, two birds chirping on the potted plant outside, a distant dog barking, first loudly and then fading away. May be it was chasing a car. Just like my mind was chasing a thought, first in a single solid story, connecting to something else, and then something next while the first stream of thought vanished.

It also gave me time to think about parenting. Analyze people around me and their parenting styles. Pick up different situations from people’s lives and imagine what I would have done in that scenario. Is it wise to read a lot of parenting books and go by the milestones prescribed? Or go by my gut, intuition and be a parent accordingly. One thing I decided for sure is that the first six months, the baby should be fully connected to me. I will have the exclusive right to feed the baby. Even after I resume work 3 months post delivery, I will hop back home as my office is close-by. I owe it to my baby to give it a healthy start. And come on, it’s a kickass feeling to be the sole provider for the baby. My best friend just accomplished this feat, so I know it is tough, but doable.

Sometimes it is essential to slow down. To take a break and let your mind wander. Let your body recuperate. Let the baby making take centre-stage while work and baking and blogging takes a back seat. I took this 6 week break for the first time since I ever remember. And may be bed rest is meant for those of us who won’t voluntarily slow down. Slow down. Pause. And get back to activity like never before. I am sure this was the calm before the storm. Before a screaming baby comes into this world and captures our attention. All of our attention.

I cant wait 🙂

Rutvika

P.S : From yesterday my bed rest has been relaxed and I can flutter around waiting for the baby to show up.

*******       *******       *******

And while baking has been suspended for the last few weeks, I had a black forest cake ready to be shared. I tweaked the original recipe and substituted it with a favourite dark chocolate cake and whipped cream and cherries on top. The whipped cream absorbs the depth of the dark chocolate and there is a medley of flavors in your mouth with some cherries. Its beautiful! And fancy, great for a celebration.

Black forest cake

Black forest Cake

What you will need :

  • 180 gm dark chocolate cut into pieces
  • 200 gm butter
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
  • 125 ml water
  • 1 and 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 75 ml milk
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, I use Tropolite
  • 4 tablespoon icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 can of maraschino cherries
  • Chocolate shaving for decoration

What to do :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C. Gease two 8 inch baking pans, and line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Mix lemon juice and milk and keep it aside.
  3. Mix instant coffee in water and let it dissolve.
  4. Melt butter and chopped chocolate in pan and remove from heat once it is melted. Keep aside to let it cool.
  5. Whisk the dry ingredients together, namely all purpose flour + Cocoa powder + baking soda + baking powder + corn flour.
  6. Then add granulated sugar and brown sugar and mix well.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and add milk and lemon mixture. Then add chocolate mixture and mix till thoroughly combined.
  8. Fold in the dry ingredients and pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove from the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.
  10. Meanwhile, whip the cold cream till it forms soft peaks. Add the icing sugar and vanilla extract whip till it forms stiff peaks.
  11. Chop 3/4th of the maraschino cherries and reserve 1/4 cherries for decoration.
  12. For assembly of the cake, take one cake layer and spread it generously with the whipped cream on all sides. Spread it with a layer of chopped cherries. Then place the second cake layer on top. Cover it with the remaining whipped cream.
  13. Spread chocolate shavings on the cake and all sides and decorate with cream and whole cherries on top.
  14. Black forest cake is ready!

Note :

  1. You can use the cherry juice from the can as imbibing syrup to moisten the cake.
  2. This chocolate cake recipe can also be used with other buttercream icing.

IMG_2152

O mother, it’s mothers day again!

I am almost glad Mothers Day is over. I have failed to understand the hype over it. I am always good to my mom, and have been ever since I remember. Sure, as a teenage girl, I had my share of fights with her, but then they didn’t particularly cease on Mothers day. And plus they were circumstantial fights, and not conceptual ones, so by and large we have been very good to each other.

But come Mothers day and the anticipation of what you are going to do, or literally the social media competition of who is doing the crazy what reaches such a stage that it gets nauseating. Photos of people as kids with their moms, which are hardly recognizable to us who know them only once they are full-grown adults, or typical photos of girls pouting on their wedding day with their mom in tow, starts doing the rounds. Come on, give it a break!

As kids I remember, because my friends and their friends were doing it, we used to get a card for mom on Mother’s day, and of course one for dad on Fathers day. Typically, my mom would look at it, read if there was any handwritten message, smile, give us a hug (which she would do anyway) and go back to preparing the next meal or ask us about homework. That’s it. That’s how spectacular an effect that card had on her. But eventually and finally I realized that I don’t need this drama of a special day because I can get a hug from her anytime, I can keep my head on her lap and cry as long as I want. Anytime. And if I had done something wrong, and she wanted to be mad at me or scold me, she would give two hoots about it being mothers/daughters/parents/birthday/dont-shout/take-it-easy or any other god-sent day.

Parenting is a full-time job which doesn’t stop on any day. Ans similarly kids have to be naughty, mischievous but still responsible and nice to her, dad, grandparents, brother, sister, the dog, cat, plants and every body else as much as possible and at all times. It’s not different on any  A-day, a B-day or a C-day. It’s just Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, so on and so forth.

And hence in retaliation and partly because of the enormous pressure of having done something, I let the mothers’ day pass. And let a sigh of relief.

Needless to say, me and my mom do the mother-daughter things all the time. We have taken vacations together – just the two of us, we go shopping, watch a movie, I go to her house to have a scrumptious meal at least once a week, I always get her favourite bitter chocolate bar whenever I go somewhere, we fight, we squabble, we hug, we cry, we discuss, bitch, talk, and in short we are us. For each other, and for ourselves, carrying a part of the other in our hearts.

Sometimes I think it is easier for guys. My husband hasn’t wished his mom a Happy mothers day, and there ain’t even a need to do so. He did exclaim ‘Ah, its mothers day’ and he and his mom, and me and all of us went on doing our regular business as usual. She made his favorite lentil soup, and my favourite paav-bhaji, we all had lunch, cleaned the tables and went off to take a Sunday nap. It was that easy and that peaceful. Special yes, very special, but in an everyday kind of away. In the evening we all played some carom, but we do it often without any special day signs and balloons plastered all over.

And I am sure, when I have kids, I am going to make it clear to them that no amount of bribery in the form of cards, letters, chocolates, balloons or whatever is going to spare them from eating vegetables, or doing homework or simply being kind to anyone , on any day, be it on here or on the moon.

Ah. Never-mind, to close on a positive non-cynical note and because this is rare phenomenon captured on camera of 5 generations of us , I am sharing this photo with a big, bright, colorful Happy Mother’s Day to you all. And that’s practically each and every day. Cheers.

(Seen here in the photo from right is my mom, her mom, her mom, and her mom, with me as a baby. Ages 90-70-49-22 and 3 months).5 generations Snd


On that occassion, presenting here a Chocolate mud cake, chocolate being my mom’s favourite, but no, I did not make it for the day, I made it because I knew she would like it. Any day.

Chocolate mud cake

I got this recipe from my friend Charlene who makes some awesome chocolates, who got it from her friend and was kind enough to share a tried and tested mud cake recipe. This recipe makes an 8-inch cake and like its name, it is super chocolaty and yum.

Chocolate Mud Cake

What you will need:

  • 140 gms dark chocolate
  • 140 gms salted butter
  • a pinch of salt if using unsalted butter
  • 215 gms castor sugar
  • 140 gms flour
  • 11.5 gms baking powder
  • 15.5 gms unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 225 ml warm water
  • 2 eggs

For ganache :

  • 100 gms dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100 gms fresh cream

What to do :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160C.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter over double boiler or in a  microwave in short bursts, whisk to combine.
  3. Sieve flour, baking powder and cocoa.
  4. Add sugar to the dry mixture.
  5. Add water to the flour mixture and mix till smooth.
  6. To this add the molten chocolate and butter mixture.
  7. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk eggs. Add it to the chocolate mixture. Whisk till combined.
  8. Grease and line 8 inch round or square pan and pour the prepared batter in the pan.
  9. Bake at 160C for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or till knife comes out clean when inserted.
  10. For ganache, take chopped chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl.
  11. Heat the fresh cream, pour it over chopped chocolate, cover for 2 minutes and then whisk to form a smooth ganache.
  12. Once the cake is baked, let it cool completely before pouring the ganache over the cake.
  13. Cut, serve and eat.

Piece of chocolate mud cake

Notes:

  1. This is a fairly simple cake that can be whipped up very easily. Be careful while baking as the dark chocolate color can be misleading. Do not overbake.
  2. If while pouring the ganache it has cooled down, slightly heat it in a microwave or spread the cooled ganache over the cake with a spatula.

 

Orange Chocolate chip loaf cake – robust and simple as life mostly is.

There are moments when I terribly miss Paris. The omnipresent Eiffel tower, the sunset over the Seine, the fancy-dressed musicians on the streets, colorful pavlovas dotting the patisseries, tiny little espressos, copper pots clinging to the walls, demure little macaroons, the flea markets, Rodin’s Thinker, carefully curated gardens, the morning vegetable markets, foie grass, carousels and all, but most importantly Danielle, my host in Paris and now my friend.

It was partly because of Danielle, a friend of my dear friend, that my Paris dream came true. I remember the first time I met her, on the bus stop where I was waiting for her to pick me up. I always thought Parisian women are very snooty (and believe me they are), but Danielle looked very kind and warm. She willingly took me to her beautiful apartment and instantly I knew that this month in paris, her home and she, will be a cherished part of my life for years to come.

I miss that 71-year-old, young friend of mine very dearly. At-least once a day, I catch myself remembering something she said, or something around her house, or the French potato gratin she made on my first day in Paris. Sometimes the wine bottle sitting on my shelf makes me think of her so much that I have a temptation to pour a little in a glass and swirl it to check its notes. Or simply make a creamy fish like she did and may be the aroma of the cream being baked will make me feel close to her.

Her bedroom, the room which she gave me generously for a month, was idyllic, like those you see on Pinterest. White French windows with pink and violet flowers in the balcony and the room full of books. How fervently I hoped I could read French, those books were alluring. And Danielle, whose daughter in law is from Kolkatta, and who visits India every year had very cleverly used cotton sarees as in-house curtains. Simple, yet so elegant.

The day before I started school in Le Cordon Bleu, she carefully showed me the way to school, which metro to take, which exit to walk out of, and all in English because I hardly understood French. Oh how it tired her, the act of thinking in French, translating and then talking in English. But we had some great conversations. I always used to look forward to having breakfast or lunch with her, and talking about the oddities of life, the dreams, hopes, desires, tales of cruising along through life and its myriad colorful lanes. How she would say Oh là là when she remembered a sweet thing, and how her eyes would go silent when talking of something estranged. Oh I miss her voice, her pause when she is remembering an english word, her acceptance of reality, her zest to help an older 85-year-old lady staying upstairs, her caramelised leek roast-  the way her mom made it, the opera music filling the room when she knitted, and oh, simply her presence. I miss all of it so bad that I have to exhale deeply to empty my heart of the longing to see her.

Danielle invited me to her book club meetings, took me out for a classic French dinner, invited her friends and family so that I could meet them, showed me photos of her in her young days, took me around Paris, we even went for a Bollywood movie, and patiently listened to my tales from patisserie school every day and ensured that I don’t feel home-sick. And she did it all with such finesse that it never felt that she was intruding in my life, but was always solidly present.

All through the day I could go waltzing around Paris or be in the school for 9 hours, because I knew I would have company at night, someone to report the events of the day before going to sleep. Someone to pull me out of trouble if I get into one, while in Paris. Someone to look after me when I was an ocean away from home and someone to simply ask me how was my day or if I had proper dinner.

Five weeks later, when it was time to leave, she came to drop me off at the bus station and while bidding goodbye, a silent lonesome tear trickled down my face. Not a sad tear but a thankful, indebted one. And her parting words to me , the ones that got etched in my mind were “Thank you, you were kind to me.” It was the simplest, least dramatic but very emotional good-bye which was more of a see-you soon than a farewell. It was the beginning. Of a new friendship. Of a new me.


Today I will share with you all a simple go-to chocolate chip pound cake recipe. It can be baked in an hour and sometimes all you need is an uncomplicated chocolate flavor, with a hint of orange. Nothing fancy and assuming, but something robust yet tender, like a grandma’s wholesome cake.

Chocolate chip cake with oranges

Orange Chocolate Chip pound cake

What you will need:

  • 240 gm all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 225 gm salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (only if using unsalted butter)
  • 200 gm granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

What to do :

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175C. Generously butter a 9*5 inch loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together flour and baking powder to mix evenly and break any clumps.
  3. Beat sugar and butter till pale in color.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time till fully incorporated. Add orange zest.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula, taking care to not over-mix.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon the batter in the prepared pan and level it with the spatula.
  8. Bake for 40-60 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Once baked, let it rest for 15 minutes before removing from pan and transferring to a cooling rack.
  10. Serve with fresh orange pulp , drizzled with some chocolate syrup.

Orange chocolate chip cake

Notes :

  • Resist the temptation to cut into the cake till it has considerably cooled down, or it has a tendency to crumble when hot.
  • The orange zest can be substituted with vanilla extract/ vanilla essence, but I highly recommend orange zest.

 

Pear and Chocolate cake and Autumn Friends

When we were growing up, (I often refer to I as we, because in those days, me and my best friend did a lot of collective thinking, which you can read now), we always believed that – People come in your life either for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime. We even sat down and classified the people in our lives in those three categories. Of course, some people who we thought were in for a lifetime, went out of season as the monsoon came to an end and some came in for really fucked up reasons, which we found later on. But back then we were very happy with our generalization. Albeit, very specific one.

I was sure mom and dad were in it for a lifetime and thankfully for us, we came from a generation, where they really do. Together in it. For a lifetime and beyond. Of course they had their fights and the really bad days, when you are asked to pick sides. “Who do you want to stay with if we go our separate ways?” Me and my brother would as-a-matter-of-fact say that we want to live in this house. So we will stay with whoever stays here. Materialistic? hell no. We knew in our hearts that this is just a conversation and it wont come to that. Ever. And so we played along, and rather than choosing sides, we chose something which cannot be asked to choose a side. That’s being animatedly inanimate.

But, then there was a fine line between reason and season. And many a times some people could be classified into both categories at the same time. Like a friend who openly proclaimed that relationships come with a shelf life. And perhaps she also wanted to look like the cool one amongst us dorks. So there was a season when she technically paraded as our dear friend, but it was as well for a reason. I knew in my heart that this one wouldn’t last a long time, and boy, I was right.

The same thing goes with the guys who came in life. It might be just a crush, a random date or even a boyfriend. I though everyone is in for a long haul, but I was fool-hardy. And näive. But also glad.

Mostly the reason and season ones left a dent in the heart, a crack in the brain or at the least shattered a well-believed belief. No but wait, that was the primary reason we came up with this theory. So that there wont be anymore heartaches and tear stings. So classifying folks from the beginning meant that we dint really give a shit about they stayed or left, and if they were there, then for no matter how long. Because they were already supposed to leave and any staying on was a bonus.

But these were also the ones who taught me the most. Or held my hand in a difficult situation and led me through. Like one dear colleague, who helped me a lot during the most intense career examination of my life, and then disappeared. Or was kicked out. No way to find out if he was playing the reason season game or if I was. So its a little tricky, my friend. In somebody else’s mind (I think they must be atleast a dozen) I am the leaver. The girl who was there for a nice little spring to get help to pick a few apples. And then gone.

I thought about all of this again now, because after a really long time I made a new friend. A girl, who thinks a lot like I do, and shares the same love for rebellious characters. Now once again, I think (hope) it is for a lifetime. Or at-least for some solid reason. Or may be a few seasons? Who knows. I will have to wait and find out.


Pear and Chocolate Cake

On a sweeter note, baked pears are beautiful. They are soft, warm and fuzzy. And put into an intensely chocolate cake held together by a simple tart at the base. It’s a flavor ride in each bite.

Pear chocolate cake

Recipe adapted from a non-descript book titled simply – ‘Food Lovers Chocolate Book’. That leads me to believe good things in life come without a band-baaja.

chocolate cake with base

Makes a 9 inch cake to feed 4-10 people. Depends on how much you eat. really.

What you will need:

For the base:

  • 60 gm butter, cold and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 140 gm all purpose flour
  • 50 gm castor sugar
  • 2 egg yolks

For the filling:

  • 3 ripe pears
  • 1 egg
  • 75 gm butter
  • 75 gm brown sugar
  • 20 gm ground almonds
  • 75 gm flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 25 gm dark cocoa powder
  • 50 ml milk

What to do :

  1. Combine all the base ingredients together, quickly knead into a dough, wrap in sarine wrap or a damp towel and refrigerate for atleast half an hour.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC. Grease and line a 9 inch springform pan for easy unmolding of the cake.
  3. Roll out the dough to a circle on a lightly floured surface and line the base of the prepared pan.
  4. For the filling, peel the pears, halve lengthways and remove the cores.
  5. Cream the butter and sugar together till pale. Beat in the egg.
  6. Stir in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cocoa powder and milk. Stir well till incorporated.
  7. Spread this on top of the dough in the springform pan. Arrange the pear halves on top, pressing them in so that they touch the base.
  8. Bake in the middle shelf for about 30 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  9. Take it out and let it cool in the pan for a few minutes before unmolding. let it cool completely before cutting.
  10. Drizzle with some powdered sugar. optional.
  11. Now take a spoon and dig in.

Slice of chocolate and pear

Notes :

  1. It is easy to overbake this cake, so be careful. It’s intensely dark color makes it difficult to gauge if it is baked through. So skewer method is important.
  2. Depending on your preference you can use 2 and 1/2 to 3 pears. I used 2 1/2, but you can squeeze in 3, i.e 6 halves.

 

 

Chocolate Genoise with Chocolate Mousse

Some incredible things happened last week.

One of my closest friends, Shikha, delivered a baby girl. I went to see her in just a couple of hours. Initially I was reluctant to hold such a newborn baby. But at my friend’s insistence I took her in my lap. It was one of the most amazing feelings. The first thing that occurred to my mind was ‘It is so real’. I didn’t realize I had said it out aloud till my friend said ‘Of course she is! What did you think?’. I had no idea a little baby would be so full of character. A baby who can’t yet talk, walk, sit up, or do anything on its own, it was a full individual. She had those distinct eyes, those gorgeous full of color lips, that smile on her face, her delicate little hands. It was a miracle. A miracle of life.

Till now, I always thought of babies as a group. All of them alike. But I was so wrong. Right from the minute they are born, or even before that, they are so unique. All those who came to see her tried to guess if she looked like her father or mother. She looked like both of them and still like none. She looked like herself. 🙂

Another thing which baffled me was the immense responsibility put in your hands when you are holding a baby. It is so fully dependent on you, that it is scary. Believe it or not, but the whole 30 minutes that I was holding her, I was sitting still like a statue. Lest, she would get disturbed if I move.

Incidentally, later that week, another of my closest friends, who is 5 months pregnant, had come home. As usual, we were talking about latest gossip and life hacks. And on particularly interesting subjects, the baby would kick. Not a meager flicker of a heartbeat, but like a genuine kick high-five. I had to keep my hand on my friend’s stomach for a long time, to feel the baby kick. That little whimsical darling, it is loved so much even before it is born.

And thirdly, my sister-in-law had a beautiful, beautiful baby girl. But they are far away in the US, and all we get to see is her photos and videos. But in one single day, we must have seen her video at-least 40 times. My heart aches to not be able to hold her, smell her and feel her in my arms. Such a sweetheart, I have never felt so much connection to a family member who I have not even seen yet. Those big radiant eyes looking at the camera are etched in my memory for now. 🙂

Now celebration time, we are having big family dinner today and on the weekend.

Choclate magador

This is a chocolate genoise with chocolate mousse. Specially for these wonderful babies, so that they grow up loving chocolate. Because there is none other purer love than the love of chocolate 😉

Mogador-  Chocolate Genoise with Chocolate mousse

What you will need:

Chocolate Genoise sponge:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 120 gm sugar
  • 100 gm flour
  • 20 gm unsweetened cocoa powder

Chocolate Mousse :

  • 75 gm egg yolks
  • 35 gm sugar
  • 35 ml water
  • 150 gm chocolate
  • 300 gm heavy cream
  • 100 ml water and 80 gm sugar for the imbibing syrup
  • 100 gm raspberry/strawberry jam for decoration

What to do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Take eggs and egg yolk in a bowl. Add sugar and whisk together till pale. Put it over double boiler over a saucepan and warm it.
  3. Once the mixture is hot to touch, take it off the double boiler and whisk continuously till it cools down completely and gets a ribbon texture when you lift it up with a spoon.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix cocoa powder and flour.
  5. Add half of these dry ingredients to the egg-sugar mixture. Fold with a spatula, start in the centre and fold out while rotating the bowl. Then add the rest half and stop once there are no streaks of flour.
  6. Grease a 8-9 inch mousse mold or a spring-form pan.
  7. Put the mixture in the mold and fill upto 4/5th of the mold.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes , till a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  9. Bring 100 ml water and 80 gm sugar to a boil in a saucepan. Then take it off heat and you may add some fruit brandy or cherry essence if you wish.
  10. Once the cake is baked, let it completely cool on a wire rack before unmolidng.
  11. Once cool, cut the cake horizontally into half with a sharp serrated knife. Place the lower half of the cake in the mold or springform pan and refrigerate till you make the mousse.
  12. For the chocolate mousse, put the 35 gm sugar and 35 ml water in saucepan and let it come to a rolling boil. then take it off heat.
  13. Take egg yolks in a bowl. Then add the sugar mixture to the egg yolks while whisking continuously. Continue till the egg yolks fluff up as they cool down.
  14. In another bowl, whisk the cream till it has soft peaks and put it in the fridge.
  15. Melt the chocolate (chopped pieces) on a double boiler or in a microwave and keep it molten.
  16. Now mix the whipped cream with the sugar and egg mixture. Fold it evenly and gently. Add 1/3rd of this mixture to the chocolate and whisk till it is completely incorporated.(# See note)
  17. The take the rest of the cream mixture and add it to the chocolate bowl. Mix gently with a whisk. The mixing has to be done very quickly, or the chocolate will seize.
  18. For the assembly, take the cake (the lower half in the mold). Imbibe the cake with the sygar syrup. Then spread a thin layer of raspberry/strawberry jam on the cake.
  19. With a slotted spoon, start adding the mousse on the cake from the outer edge. Add more mousse int he centre. Spread it from the centre towards the edge, first with a plastic scraper and then with a spatula. Smooth-en the top with a knife and then put it in the fridge to set for an hour.
  20. Decorate with cherries or pomegranate seeds and some chocolate shavings on top.

Piece of MagadorNotes :

  1. Once you add the whipped cream to the chocolate, it has to be mixed rapidly, yet gently so that the chocolate does not seize and harden. For this it is essential that the chocolate is totally molten before mixing.
  2. And by chance, if it seizes, worry not, it will still taste spectacular,
  3. If you wish you can use a plastic mousse holder inside the ringmold to be able to unmold, but it is not essential. I did not use it.
  4. For the chocolate mousse, the hot sugar syrup will cook the egg yolks, so it is very safe to consume.

Bon Apetit! And cheers to new lives.

Rutvika Charegaonkar

Paris and Hot Chocolate cake with buttercream frosting

I am back in Mumbai to the chaos, colors and my comfort zone. Overall the last 5 weeks in Paris have been quite enriching. There were days in the beginning when I did feel lost and missed home, but then the city seeped into my subconsciousness and I enjoyed the days. Paris is enigmatic and callous at the same time. The entire city is like a museum and each street is filled with art galleries and boutique shops. But also with thieves and drunkards. With gourmet food and fashion icons, but also with ragged clothes and foul smelling subways. Paris receives about 27 million visitors per year but still is the 5th topmost place in the world for pickpockets.

But as I said, my time in Paris was wonderful. I was on guard at all times , but I came back without :

  • Losing my passport, money and or anything valuable
  • Breaking any beautiful art piece or glassware in my host Danielle’s beautiful home
  • Gaining any weight after a month long buttery French Pastry course
  • Taking any medicine of any sort (not even a headache, even once).

And meanwhile, I had some amazing times when I:

  • Tasted almost 50 different types of French pastry from the chefs in school and also from Hermes, Laduree, Lenotre and some more.
  • Made awesome friends from atleast 10 different countries
  • Went first time to a kickass night club at the Champs Elysees (that was my first time in not only that club, but in ANY night club. Yeah.
  •  Tasted foie grass, grilled rabbit and Julia Child’s famous beef bourgnion in the school.

Eventually I realized that :

  • Mona Lisa at the Louvre is not that great. And plus you can only look at the painting from a 15 feet distance . The idea of her painting in my head sounds more gorgeous than the actual painting.
  • Eiffel tower on the other hand is so incredibly beautiful at night that I could stare at it for a long time, and look at it with longing for it to sparkle.
  • The French folks are somewhat arrogant, and no one will talk to you before you say Bonjour. No matter if you said Hello/ Hi, or you are in a hurry;  the world halts before you say Bonjour/ Bonsoir (that is good morning/ good evening)
  • All pigeons in the world are just the same. Look at this otherwise dainty Paris street :

pigeon in parisThe school, Le Cordon Bleu Paris was pretty cool, although I have some complaints about the format. That will come up in the next post.

chocolate cake

In school we once made a sponge cake with buttercream frosting and they showed us good techniques for doing the frosting. But surprisingly just three of us from the group of thirty had frosted a cake with buttercream before. And I had done it just the week before leaving, so it was easy for me during the practicals. We had to lift the cake in left hand and frost it with a spatula in the right hand, while rotating it around. We hoped that no one would have any accident while frosting, and thankfully no one did. But, while putting the tall cake in the fridge for cooling, one girl (a very dear friend of mine), bumped it to the upper rack and the cake got a slope on one side.Never-mind, such accidents happen, but it tasted delicious!

Piece of cake

Hot Chocolate cake with Chocolate buttercream frosting

What you will need:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup hot chocolate (I use 1 cup of hot water mixed with 5 tablespoon of hot chocolate powder)
  • 1 and ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 and ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 and ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, preferably warm
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 c. Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup salted butter , at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 2- 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 175C. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans; set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot chocolate; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.ith an electric mixer (either hand or stand), beat eggs for 1 minute.
  4. Add milk, butter, and yogurt. Beat until well-combined.
  5. Stir in vanilla extract until incorporated.
  6. Add hot chocolate mixture, and stir to combine.
  7. Add flour mixture, and stir in until just combined.
  8. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  10. Cool in pans for 10 minutes.
  11. Remove cakes from pans and cool on wire rack until room temperature.
  12. The cake is now ready to frost and assemble.
  13. For the frosting, take cocoa powder in a large bowl. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  14. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  15. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, whisk for about a minute or beat for about 30 seconds with a hand mixer. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  16. Add vanilla extract and combine well.
  17. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.
  18. Once the cake has completely cooled down, frost one of the cakes with buttercream with a spatula. Then put the second cake on top and cover it generously with the buttercream. Store at room temperature.
  19. Decorate with buttercream drops on top.

Frosting cakecake being cutTips :

  1. You can also bake the cake batter in one pan and then cut it horizontally to frost in the centre and assemble back.
  2. The buttercream can be stored in the fridge for upto a week. Just whisk it well before using.
  3. I used salted butter to make the frosting, but if you use unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the buttercream so that it does not taste too sweet.

Chocolaty Chocolate Cake

There must rarely be anyone who doesn’t like chocolate cake. And everyone has a perfect chocolate cake recipe to go to every now and then. I think i found mine this time. I had to make two versions of it, increasing the egg content to get a moist crumb. The egg white of an additional egg did the trick.

My twelve-year-old cousin came over to help me bake the cake for another cousin’s birthday party and oh boy, we had a blast. Dipping our fingers in the chocolate ganache (icing) and testing for that perfect ‘chocolaty taste’ . I personally think, chocolate tastes better off the fingers .. What say?

Oven fresh moist cake topped with deep and dark chocolate. This is what Sunday mornings should be.

chcolate cake piece

Now the amount of chocolate ganache icicng can be varied based on personal taste, but its always good to make a little more, which can be used on ice creams later on.

For the chocolate cake you will need :

125g flour (maida)
30g cornflour/cornstarch
40g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

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