Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

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.

chocolate-chip-cookie-split

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 :

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add lightly beaten eggs and vanilla extract and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Let it all get incorporated well.
  4. Now add the flour mixture into the butter and egg mixture and whisk till it all comes together. Do not over-mix.
  5. Remove the whisk and then fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula.
  6. Take a baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
  7. Now with a tablespoon, drop 12 heaps on the parchment paper, spaced well about 1 inch between two heaps.
  8. Put it int he fridge to chill for at-least 15 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 170 C.
  10. 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.
  11. Keep next batch ready for baking or if you have a bigger oven, you can bake two sheets at a time.

chocolate-chip-collage

 

Notes :

  • 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.

stack-of-choco-chip-cookies

Bon Apetit!

Rutvika

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

Eggless Ginger Orange chocolate cake – #CaLbakes

Eggless ginger chocolate cake

For 5 months beginning November 2015, I am hosting a guided baking session on the Facebook foodie group called Chef At Large. The aim is to present baking recipes as simply as possible with the most commonly available ingredients, so it is easier for people to take that step into baking.

While testing recipes and documenting it so that everyone understands, I have learnt so much myself. And when people respond with pictures and feedback of something they made following this recipe, it feels quite good.

I hope I am doing justice to the initiative by offering as much as I know.

This eggless chocolate cake is for the month of November. With loads of pictures showing each step. Let me know what you think.

Eggless Ginger Orange chocolate cake

What you will need:

  1. one slab of 100 grams Amul butter, softened
  2. 20 grams of castor sugar
  3. 1/2 can of condensed milk (200 grams)
  4. 125 ml whole milk
  5. 125 all-purpose flour or maida
  6. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  8. 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (or orange zest)
  9. 2 teaspoon orange juice
  10. 150 grams dark chocolate – melted completely

What to do :

  • In a big mixing bowl, take softened (but not melted) Amul butter. Add sugar to it and whisk.
  • Then to this add the condensed milk and whole milk and whisk well. Let it form a smooth mixture.

Steps 1-3 rec 1

  • In a separate bowl, take flour +baking soda + baking powder and first mix it with a spoon to distribute baking soda and powder throughout the flour. Then sift this once through a regular kitchen sieve.
  • Melt the chopped chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave in 30 second intervals, whisking well at each interval.

chocolate melting

  • Now, to the butter mixture add the melted chocolate and whisk well till fully incorporated.
  • Then add the grated ginger or orange zest and orange or apple juice and mix.
  • Remove the whisk. Now with a rubber spatula, fold in the dry ingredients in two batches. Always move the spatula in one direction and the bowl in the other while folding. Me being right-handed, move the spatula from right to left with the right hand and the bowl from left to right with the left hand.

mixing and folding flour

  • Now pre-heat the oven to 180 C for 10 minutes and meanwhile prepare your pan.
  • Lightly butter and line your 6-8 inch baking pan with parchment paper at the bottom as well as the sides. Alternately you can line the bottom with a parchment paper and grease and flour the sides.
  • Pour the batter in the prepared pan.

Lining a pan and filling

  • Now bake the cake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Insert a skewer or a knife in the cake to check if it’s done.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • Take it out and let it cool completely on a wire rack.
  • There are several ways of making 2 layers of a cake. But the one I prefer the most is this desi jugaad style. For it, all you need is a steel plate, which has a side and covers about half the height of the cake and you also need a knife with serrated edges.

Layering a cake 1

  • Once the cake is completely cool, place it in the plate and taking that as an aid, cut the cake horizontally into two. Be careful to have your knife touching the edge of the steel plate at all times so that you get an even cut.

Layering a cake 2

  • Once cut from all sides, take a cake board or a simple cardboard will do and slide it between the two layers of the cake and separate them.
  • Now use the frosting or the ganache recipe and frost the cake or decorate it as you like.

Buttercream filling

Decorate the cake with a chocolate ganache and/or buttercream.

I have used the buttercream to sandwich between the cakes and frost the sides and ganache for decoration.

Ganache decoration

This post first appeared here.

 

Wonder what a book release feels like?

Sonali mami

To be very honest with you, I have always wanted to write. Ever since I was a little girl who had sent a silly eight-line poem to the Barbie magazine, I wanted to write. But I had no idea what I could write about. Someone once suggested that I write for the Chartered Accountant magazine, but I found that really boring. So for a long time I did nothing, except write in my diary occasionally and write a few letters and notes.

Then about two years back I started blogging about food. And little tidbits of life with it. As life went on, I searched my memory for fragments of story and wrote about it. Sometimes coherently, at times random little stuff stitched together with words. I am not sure what the reader gets of it, but I find great joy in writing.

Then about three-four months back came a period when nothing I wrote made sense to me. I read a lot of blogs online, columns in newspapers and literary journals. After reading those, my words felt insufficient. My ideas naive. I started thinking that everyone writes so much better than me; perhaps I should stop this part of the blog and only continue to write about baking.

Back when I was a teenager I nurtured the dreams of becoming a journalist. For a while. But at that time I could never write anything more than the school essays. My best friend Ketki used to write short stories and poems and I thought if I can’t write even that much, may be I should think of another career line. And eventually, I let it go and became a CA instead.

Then two months back, my husband’s aunt – Sonali mami had come to India from US with her two teenage kids. She is a published author and her second book is on the way. One evening while I was feeding Arjun, she asked me – “So you want to write a book?”.

I fumbled, and started thinking when had I told that to her? At the back of my head I have perhaps thought that I want to publish a book, sometime way in the future. I have no idea what it would be about. How did she find out?

Sonali mami realised that I am feeling embarrassed about it and she told me to relax. She said that I should not think that I am thinking of writing a book because she has. In fact if there has to be any connection, it should be a positive one. I should benefit from her experience in writing, editing and publishing.

She told me a story of how she wanted to be a journalist when she was studying, but the girl her elder brother dated was also a journalist. Afraid that everyone might say that she wanted to become a journalist just because of her brother’s girlfriend, she dropped the idea and went for architecture instead. But writing did not leave her mind and her heart. She did technical writing for a software company and simultaneously worked on her first book –  The Bollywood Affair, which got excellent reviews everywhere. Even from the industry bigwigs like Kristina Higgins, Nalini Singh and even my favourite Nora Roberts. It also got nominated for the RITA and the RT Reviews choice which are the two highest awards in the genre. 

Now her second book The Bollywood Bride was released last week and it is so beautiful. The entire weekend I lived with Ria and Vikram, their story, feeling their love and pain, their guilt and euphoria, and itched to finish the book so that I find out how it ends. But I wanted to linger, savour the lovely Indian-America wedding setting. The book reaches out to you, so much so that this Monday morning I am wearing a turquoise kurta like Ria wore in the book. 🙂

Sometimes it is difficult to imagine that a very close family member is really a published author, at an international level. Sonali mami’s best friend is the producer of the movie Mr. and Mrs. Iyer. (Remember that one? My friend and I watched it together when we were 18 or so and oh how we loved it!) and her sister-in-law is the fabulous Irawati Harsh- another stellar actress. Sonali mami has access to a lot of Bollywood gossip and I lurk around her to hear some of it. So it wont be surprising if these gorgeous books get made into movies. The story already has enough masala for a movie. 

And if that isn’t enough, she has beautifully raised two kids while having a full time job till now. When we were thinking of planning  a child my husband would often (reassuringly?) tell me that I will be as good a mother as Sonali mami is.

I don’t know about that, but several years later, if I ever write a book, she will be on my list of dedications. Sonali Dev is a living example of achieving your dreams while managing a job, two kids, a husband who is travelling 10 days a month and a cute little dog Simba.

sonali books

For now, let me snap out of the dream world I lived in for the last 2-3 days and get back to work 🙂

Cheers,

Rutvika

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Cupcakes or muffins are my favourite quick bakes whenever someone shows up suddenly. They are easy to whip up and still look festive.

I have made these chocolate chip muffin several times, sometimes using white chocolate chips, sometimes dark chocolate sometimes a mix of both. This one bowl recipe here is a winner and I have dolled it up with some slightly coloured buttercream.

White choco chip cupcakes

White Chocolate Chip cupcakes

What you will need :

  • 110 gram butter at room temperature (I use slightly salted Amul butter)
  • 75 grams caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 175 grams all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 110 ml milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Buttercream recipe is from here. Add some milk and a few drops of red colour or strawberry syrup in place of mango juice.

What to do :

  1. Beat butter and both sugars together till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating fully before adding the next.
  2. Add vanilla essence and whisk.
  3. Sift flour and baking powder together and keep it aside.
  4. Now add the flour and milk alternately to the butter and sugar mixture in 2 steps. Mix well with a rubber spatula.
  5. Always end with the dry ingredients.
  6. Now add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
  7. Prepare a 12 case muffin pan and line it with paper cases.
  8. Spoon the mixture into the pan and preheat oven to 170C.
  9. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 minutes till a skewer inserted in the centre comes clean.
  10. Let it cool int he pan for 5 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

White chcolate crumb cake

Notes :

  1. White chocolate chips caramelise beautifully to give soft crunch. Dark chocolate chips turn gooey and delicious.
  2. Is using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to balance the flavours.
  3. Use all ingredients at room temperature to avoid over-whisking which leads to cracked tops.

Cupcakes with white chocolate

Grandpa. Its been 19 years since you are gone. And chocolate Iced terrine for the summers.

Summers always make me miss my grandfather. My mother’s father. The smell of heat scorched earth or some sweet smelling flowers transports me back to that time when we were little and we used to spend the vacations with him. He was a jolly man, in love with music, good food and in turn – in love with life. He passed away at the age of 60 due to blood cancer. Too early. But then, I think even 100 would have been too early for him.

I was 10 and my cousin AJ was 9 when grandpa was diagnosed with cancer. But in those few years I have so many memories of him. He was a big man, with a bigger stomach and an even bigger appetite for delicious street food. We would take a train and go into the city to just to eat bhel from a famous bhelpuri-wala or go to another part of the city to eat some garma garam fafda jalebi. Or simply load ourselves with a few watermelons, go up on the terrace and dig into them while leaving red watermelony stains on our clothes. He also had a bank of chocolates. A glass jar, which held chocolates and candies of various colors and sizes. Each day Aj and I would get to put our hand in the jar and pull out one chocolate. Of course, whenever we bought some candies or were gifted some, they went straight into the jar. How I miss those colourful crinkly candies in the jar and also standing in front of grandpa and waiting to put my hand in that jar.

Ajji Ajoba and kids

Grandpa had a huge collection of audio cassettes. And a notebook where he painstakingly indexed all the songs in his meticulous handwriting. He was like a living jukebox. Anyone could request a song and it would get played within minutes. And it was a time of the tape recorder where the cassette had to be rewinded or forwarded to find your song.When I got an ipod for mom from my first stipend, I ached for grandpa. He would have so loved this little thing which stored hundreds of songs, pre-indexed and could be played at a click. One of my favourite songs from that time is “Mere paas aao mere doston ek kissa sunno“. Kissa – stories. Life was all about stories then. Other people’s stories to help us build our own.

Grandpa believed in a funny concept. That there is less oxygen in a room which is full of people. So whenever everyone was gathered around the dining table and Aj and I ofcourse wanted to get in all the gossip, he would ask us to leave the room and go to an airier room. Or go out in the garden and play. We hated that and would find ways to stick around the adults and listen to who said what. But he was persistent. Many times he would come with us in the garden, just to ensure that we got more “oxygen”. Or perhaps he was simply shying away from my stubborn grand-mom with her defiant thoughts. That man cried at movies while we kids giggled at seeing a grown up man cry. But how essential it is to be able to cry. Now I know. And it came easily to him.

So you can see he was quite an emotional man. I love my grandmom and he did too. But sometimes I feel she was much stronger and practical than him. Just after he turned 60, my grandma went away to stay and work in an old-age home. They say, that broke my old man’s heart. And soon he was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in six months. This week it will be 19 years since he passed away. And I miss him more than I ever did. When I listen to a song he used to play or when I eat bhelpuri or simply when the scorched earth smells of itself when it rains.

*******       *******       *******

Chocolate Iced terrineTriple Chocolate Iced Terrine

What you will need :

White Chocolate Layer –

  • 50 gm white chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 20 gm sugar
  • 20 ml water

Milk Chocolate Layer –

  • 50 gm milk chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 20 gm sugar
  • 20 ml water

Dark Chocolate layer –

  • 150 ml whipping cream
  • 60 gm dark chocolate

Layers of iced terrine

What to do :

  1. Firstly chop white chocolate and melt it over double boiler or in a microwave.
  2. Bloom or sprinkle geltain over the 1 tablespoon water and leave it aside fro 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk cream and refrigerate.
  4. Place sugar and water in a saucepan and swirl over low heat till sugar dissolves.
  5. Bring it to a boil, take it off heat and add gelatin.
  6. Pour into melted chocolate and whisk quickly. Carefully fold in the cream with a rubber spatula.
  7. Pour it into a terrine pan or I used a loaf pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula and put it in the freezer.
  8. Repeat the same procedure with milk chocolate and pour it over the white layer of terrine in the pan.
  9. For the dark chocolate mousse, chop dark chocolate and melt it over a double boiler.
  10. Whisk cream till firm and fold in the melted dark chocolate.
  11. Pour this dark mousse over the milk chocolate layer and smoothen the top.
  12. Put it in the freezer for atleast 3 hours for it to set.
  13. Cut slices and serve or dip the loaf in hot water and upturn it over a plate.

One layer of iced terrineNotes :

  1. You can replace the gelatin with double amount of agar-agar and follow the same procedure.
  2. I used Amul whipping cream. There was no problem in setting it because of the gelatin.

Iced terrine collage

Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes and The Bake Sale

The Bake Sale

Last week, for the first time in my life, I baked cakes and cupcakes and sold them. Yes, it is still unbelievable that someone was ready to pay for the stuff I baked and that I had the guts to ask for a price for my time and effort.

Honestly, I had no idea where to begin. When a friend called to ask if I would like to participate in the upcoming Diwali exhibition, I was sceptical to say the least. But my mom volunteered to have her stall of her competitive exam classes and I took the plunge, with her. I had never done a commercial bake sale before, and within a week I had to decide what to bake, how much to bake, when and where to source the ingredients from, marketing of the exhibition, what sort of frosting would stay well, how to package, how to transport, the pricing, what to do with the leftovers and a dozen other little details. As usual spreadsheets and to-do lists came to my rescue.

Being 27 weeks pregnant, I had to be careful that I don’t overexert, and bending down and lifting heavy objects was out of the question anyway. So I took help. My brother did all the shopping for me, I asked my maid to come in a few hours earlier to help with the preparation, my husband helped with the transportation and of course my mom did a lot of work at the stall venue. Which reminds me, have I said thank-you enough to them? Probably not, and I should do it today. 🙂

I had a few cupcake recipes on the blog, and a few bookmarked in a random books. I estimated that it would be suitable to make 24 cupcakes of each type. The batter preparation time would be saved and I could still make 3-4 varieties before my energy and time runs out. So I shortlisted 15 cupcakes recipes, and converted all of them to make 24 cupcakes. Then came the upside down fruit cakes, which I simply doubled, to make two pans and about 16 pieces. With all the ingredients listed out, I concluded that I would require 6-7 kgs of flour, 4-5 kg butter, about 4 dozen eggs, a kilo of chocolate chips and slab, canned pineapples, canned cherries, mango pulp, fresh apples, fresh milk, 2-3 packs of whipping cream, 3-4 kg of sugar – granulated and castor and a few other things.

Then I was stuck with the packaging! Local shops and Arife, the go-to shop for baking supplies had nothing even remotely suitable and they couldn’t order it on a short notice. Luckily, I found this online company called IPFKart and they had the perfect size individual cupcake box, and to top it, they agreed to deliver it within a day. Now I was set. Cupcakes : done. Frosting : done. Packaging : done.

The only puzzle which now remained was the pricing. I took a poll in a foodie facebook group called Chef At Large, and a lot of them suggested that Rs 50-60 per cupcake would be a good idea. So on the first day I priced all the bakes at Rs. 40. I baked and sold 80 pieces, but when I calculated the costs once back home, I found I had made a loss. (!) Totally sold off, yet a loss. So the next 2 days, I sold it at Rs. 50 a piece and could cover the costs without compromising on the best quality ingredients and sturdy packaging.

The exhibition was in my home town, the place I have been living in since the last 28 years. Needless to say I had a lot of friends and family friends who were very eager to taste all that I have been making and posting on the blog and Facebook for a while. So half the goodies were gone within an hour of opening shop. Chocolate cupcakes were the first ones to disappear and so the next day I made 3 types of chocolate bakes and still, all were gone in two hours. We are all crazy about chocolate, no? Well, chocolate deserves it.

Bake Sale collage

I had a great time at the sale. I got to bake tonnes of cakes, frost them with dainty looking cream, and the feedback kept my feet off the ground for a whole two days 🙂 If you are inclined, and if you get the opportunity, I highly recommend going in for a bake sale or a retail sale of any kind, the whole experience is quite worth the effort.

Cheers!

Chocolate chunk cupcakes

Chocolate Chunk cupcakes

I had made these cupcakes a couple of times earlier, and each time, they turned out perfect. Little bits of melted chocolate to bite into surrounded by a soft cake. And chocolate whipping cream frosting with a few chocolate chips drizzled on top.

For those who are interested, you can find the cost and pricing of this cupcakes here, to give you an idea of how to do the pricing.

This recipe will make about 30-32 cupcakes, but it can be very easily halved. Adapted from Purple Foodie Chocolate Cupcakes.

What you will need :

  • 24o gm all-purpose flour
  • 72 gm cocoa powder
  • 4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 400 gm castor sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 320 ml warm milk
  • 300 gm melted butter
  • 230 gm dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 400 gm about 2 cups heavy whipping cream (I use Tropolite)
  • 4 teaspoon icing sugar
  • 3 drops of brown food color
  • chocolate chips, for decoration.

What to do :

  1. In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and cocoa powder and keep aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 170C and line two muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  3. Beat the sugar and eggs till pale and creamy with a whisk or a hand-held beater. And vanilla extract.
  4. Then add the flour mixture and milk alternately to the egg mixture, in three-four parts, folding in with a spatula till barely incorporated. Always start and end with flour.
  5. Add the melted, but not hot butter and stir well.
  6. Add the chopped chocolate chunks and mix well.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan up to 2/3rd full and bake for 12-15 mins, till a skewer inserted in the cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Let them cool on a wire rack after baking.
  9. For the frosting, whip the cream till it forms soft peaks, and then add icing sugar, one teaspoon at a time with some brown food color (optional).
  10. Once the cakes are completely cooled, pipe a tower of frosting on the cupcakes, and drizzle it with some chocolate chips.
  11. Ta da! Delicious, melt in your mouth sinful chocolate cupcakes are ready.

Moist chocolate cupcake

 

Eggless Chocolate Cake with Inserted Lava

A Cultural Rhapsody

I was 17 when I read Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. And it had a profound impact on me. I missed school and classes for two days, pretended sick and stayed at home to finish the book. It almost felt as if her difficulties would lengthen if I took longer to finish the book. I don’t know if I was empathizing more with Betty or her daughter Mahtob, or both, while simultaneously realizing that Dr. Moody, the father also had honorable intentions, considering his cultural upbringing.

Betty and Moody came from entirely contrast backgrounds, she knew freedom and yearned for it, for herself and her daughter. Moody saw patriarchal way of living in Iran where he grew up, and the way he treated his wife and daughter was the normal way of life in Iran. His mom, sisters, and other women in the family adhered to the beliefs and he wished his wife would too. She, an American, did not confirm and hence retaliated, which led to a vicious circle of fights. Later, Moody told his wife that she can leave, but as per Islamic law, the daughter’s custody would be with him. He was her father, and had equal right to raise her as he deems fit; but Betty wanted an American way of life for her daughter. Unfortunately the book is from Betty’s point of view, but I yearn to read what Moody felt when his daughter was taken away from him, in the middle of the night.

Honestly speaking, at that point of time I couldn’t imagine being separated from my mom, so I was glad that it ended it victory for the mom and daughter. But now, a decade later, I see the somewhat faulty, biased premise of the book. An aunt from my husband’s side, married an Irani guy who she met studying at Delhi University. They shifted to Iran after her wedding, and lived luxuriously for a couple of years in Iran, as he belonged to a royal family. They had two lovely daughters. Then because of the increasing turmoil in Iran due to the Gulf War, they left Iran and settled in the US. All of them. For 20 odd years they were happily married, and eventually due to some problems between the two of them, they got a divorce and she came back to India. But the point is,  she always describes her life in Iran with a lot of fondness. True, their customs are different from ours, but you sort of accept that when you decide to marry a man from that culture!

That was also the time when I realised that I am not capable of handling such a huge cultural diversity. It takes a truckload of patience and courage to accept and assimilate into a different culture you are marrying into. And all the talk of women’s liberation does little to help when you want to adjust into the new family, a majority of the changes have to be absorbed by the woman. Even a strictly vegetarian Jain girl finds it strange is she gets married to a mutton-relishing Punjabi guy. And that is just the beginning. I knew different cultures are a mix of amazing and some very peculiar practices. But I am a sucker for traditions and love the little things that we did as a family , as a community. I knew, I would marry someone who has the same kind of social set-up and values.

So even though the poignancy of that book washed over me and had me in a trickle of tears, my takeaway from the book was way different from what Betty Mahmoody had put in front of us. Nevertheless, like every chisel blow shapes a statue, this book had a big role to play in the way I viewed the world, from thereon.


I have always loved the Choco Lava Cake which comes with the Dominos Pizza. A choco ‘lava’ cake is basically a slightly undercooked cake, with a chocolate chunk in the centre, which melts while the cake is being baked, but does not bake fully into a solid with the rest of the cake. I researched for several recipes, but the thought of eating a slightly underbaked cake with eggs was deterring.

So I researched and tried some more recipes to make an Eggless choco lava cake. Two of the recipes came close to having atleast some amount of molten chocolate, but texture wise one was a disaster. The other one was good, although I would have preferred a bubbling sizzling chocolate lava coming out of it. But in this case there was just a hint of molten chocolate inside.

Two molten lava cakes

Eventually, let me be honest, I realised that a oozing chocolate cake from the centre is not really possible, so I filled it with some melted chocolate , yeah totally cheat sheet.

But its a beautiful and super simple eggless chocolate cake, and I had to share the recipe!

Serving suggestion : Pour some melted chocolate in the centre and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

Chocolate lava cake

Eggless Chocolate Cake with inserted Lava

4 ramekin cakes

What you will need :

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup softened butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  • 1/2 cup yoghurt
  • Chocolate chunks, coated with flour

What to do :

  1. preheat oven to 220C.
  2. In a bowl, sift all purpose flour + cocoa powder + baking powder + baking soda.
  3. In another bowl, beat butter and sugar together till pale and creamy.
  4. Add in yoghurt and flour mixture, alternately, in 3 steps, ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Grease 4 metal ramekins with butter.
  6. Pour the prepared batter in a ziplock bag or a pastry bag without a tip and pipe it into the ramekins for a smooth swirl. Alternately, you can even spoon in the batter into the ramekins.
  7. Press a chocolate chunk in the centre and cover it up with some more batter. Do not let the chocolate chunk touch the base of the ramekin.
  8. Bake at 220C for 8-10 mins, till it is light and springy to touch. A skewer inserted in the centre will show some batter sticking to the centre, which is good. Stop baking and let it cool on wire racks.
  9. Before unmolding, run a knife along the edge of the ramekin and upturn in to a plate.

Cutting a lava cake

Notes :

  • Being an eggless cake it is perfectly safe to leave it slightly undercooked. The centre is still gooey and if you are lucky, some chocolate might come pouring out 🙂
  • This cake is best enjoyed warm with cold icecream.

 

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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Home-made Chocolate

My fondest memories of going to my granny’s house in Pune have been of the time when she would be be making this chocolate and the resulting sweet aroma that would fill up the entire house. Her sari would smell of the cocoa and cream for an entire day and I would go and hug her several times just to feel the scent of that warm chocolate.

This one here, is her original recipe, true to the last bit and believe it or not, has just 4 simplest ingredients. None of the fancy-shmancy oven or olive oil or that baking soda blah blah.. Just some fresh white cream, milk powder , cocoa powder and sugar. And cooking it in a pan on the stove top. Easy and chocolaty. Need i say more??

chocs stacked

Serves : A group of people

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