Strawberry Oreo Cream-cheese tart

I thrive on multi-tasking. Like most women.

In fact many a times I have observed that if I am doing just one thing at a time, I mess it up. And if I am doing multiple things, with arbitrary simulations at the same time, things go well, much to my disbelief. Of course there are stretches of time when there is deep concentration on something at hand, and then I have to disconnect, look for something else, ponder over it for a while, disconnect again and get back to the thing I was initially doing.

So typically my work space, laptop for instance is filled with at least 20 windows or as many as can fit into one screen without having to toggle frequently, and I keep on zooming in and out of each window multiple times throughout the day. And at times I have to de-clutter my working desk, clean of all the items and then begin creating a complex structure with files and papers and notes so that I can begin with a new energy.

And sometimes it is just for appearing busy and important that I keep my desk cluttered. Just to show off how complicated my work is. Which most of the times it is not.

But one thing I am sure is that the multi-tasking chip is absent in the men folk’s brain. Most of the men I have known are absolutely incapable of doing two things at a time. My husband finds it difficult to even eat when he is talking on the phone. And my dad would have a list of things to buy and just go to one shop and come back before embarking on the rest of the list, again one shop at a time.

The flip side to multi-tasking is that you over-estimate your capacity, in areas where you should concentrate fully. For example while unmolding this cheesecake, I thought I could continue talking over the phone being pressed against my ear, but to my dismay this is what happened :

smudged oreo cheesecakeWell, yeah, but most of the times it gets rewarded and I can accomplish three things in the time of two. So its well worth a shot.

strawberry cheesecake

Strawberry Oreo Cream-cheese tart

This is not a tart in the strict definition of a tart, but the crushed oreos baked with butter render a very flaky, crusty tart feeling to the base. It tastes great when coupled with the smooth rich cream cheese filling.

What you will need :

  • 28 Strawberry Oreo cookies, ground to a powder in a mixer
  • 3 tbsp regular butter
  • 1 pack / 225 gms  / 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 70 gms powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam/ strawberry crush
  • 1 egg
  • 70 gms fresh  cream

What to do :

  1. Grease an 8 inch springform or tart pan. Pre-heat oven to 130°C.
  2. Mix together the ground oreo cookies and melted butter and press it into the pan. Smoothen it out with your fingers and press it tightly in. Bake at 130°C for 3-4 minutes till the crust sets. Remove from oven and cool completely in the refrigerator.
  3. Whisk together the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl until smooth.
  4. Then add the egg, followed by fresh cream until it forms a smooth mixture.Add the strawberry crush and mix well.
  5. Pour this mixture over the crust in the cake pan. Tap a few times to release the bubbles.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 130°C for 35-40 minutes. The centre should still be a soft to touch, but the edges should be set.
  7. Cool in a refrigerator for at least an hour before slicing up. It tastes much better when cool.

slice of cheesecake

Enjoy this mouthful of goodness, sliver by sliver till there is none left 😛

Or share it with a friend while eating it, while taking pictures while writing. Multi-tasking, there you go!

Cinnamon chocolate chip loaf cake

You wont imagine what happened today. I did not either, till the time it had actually happened. So in school, in Le Cordon Bleu, we have an erratic time-table. The day is divided into four three-hour parts, and the demonstrations or practicals start at 8.30am/ 12.30pm/ 3.30pm or 6.30pm. We mostly have 2-3 classes each day, and one of the three-hour slots is always free. Today, after the morning session , I said good-bye to my friends and stepped out for lunch to come back for the 3.30 class. Whilst sitting peacefully and having lunch like a Parisian, in a cafe at about 2 pm, suddenly I checked my timetable and found that I had class at 12.30! Shoot! I practically ran like a whirlwind to the class, changed into the elaborate uniform (which takes at least 5-7 minutes), and went to the demonstration class.

But it was too late. Most of the stuff was already done. And the school has a very particular rule (quite logical if you ask me on any other day) that if you miss a demonstration, you can’t attend the practical. So I missed two classes out of 40, and just came back home. Yeah, that was very stupid of me. I felt so sad, that I even refused to go shopping with my host and wonderful friend Danielle, once I came back home.

The good part was, the chef just demonstrated two types of cookies, which luckily we wont have to make in the exam. And we are allowed to miss 5 classes in the course. So, I escaped this folly without any major damages. And like my father-in-law said “Every early mistake is a stepping stone to success especially if the mistake was inconsequential.” Well, I truly hope that one helps.

Other than this incident, the classes are going very well. Sometimes, during practicals, some chefs talk only in French, and 90% of the class is baffled. I hate it when that happens. But some Canadians in our class translate parts of it into English and we manage.

The amazing thing about the school is that they teach some brilliant techniques. Later on, we can modify and experiment with it, to our liking. For instance, there is this Choux pastry technique, which is super easy once you get the texture of the dough right. And it is hollow in the center once baked, so that you can fill in either chocolate pastry, or cheese and onions, or add some savory mix in the dough before cooking. There are numerous possibilities. Once I return back home, I promise to experiment and give you guys full-proof recipes.

Here is a photo of the choux pastry in the form of a St. Honoré (a choux pastry cake with Chantilly cream). Its made in class, and you can still see my name tag on the top left corner.

Choux pastry

For now, the comforting smell of cinnamon and the makes-everything-feel-better chocolate is going to give me company while I drink a Cinnamon hot chocolate. And just because I don’t want you to feel left out of the cinnamon-chocolate goodness, and a quick remedy for those days which don’t look that good, I am sharing a quick-fix chocolate-chip cinnamon swirl cake recipe. Had I not been making two-desserts-a-day at school, I was sure to bake some today. It’s very soothing.

Two slices of cake

Cinnamon chocolate chip loaf cake recipe

What you will need:

  • 250 gms all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 120 gm semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 large egg (at room temperature)
  • 150 gms light brown or dark brown sugar
  • 50 gm regular granulated sugar
  • 240 ml ( 1 cup) buttermilk or 3/4 cup plain yoghurt and 1/4 cup water
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) unflavored vegetable oil (I use groundnut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the cinnamon swirl :

  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 65 gm granulated sugar

What to do :

  1. In a large bowl take flour, salt and baking soda and combine together with a whisk. Add the chocolate chips. Set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk the egg, brown sugar and granulated sugar to combine. Whisk in the oil, buttermilk and vanilla.
  3. Then slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredient, and gently whisk till there are no more lumps or no more flour streaks. Do not over-mix, or the mixture will become elastic.
  4. Make the cinnamon swirl by mixing together the cinnamon and granulated sugar.
  5. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan generously with softened (not melted) room-temperature butter. This helps to give the loaf a beautiful brown crust.
  6. Pour half of the prepared batter into the loaf pan. Spread evenly with 3/4 of your cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  7. Pour the remaining batter on top and finish with the rest of the cinnamon-sugar. Sprinkle with a some more mini chocolate chips if desired.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 170° Celcius.
  9. Loosely cover the cake loaf tin with aluminium foil and bake it for 45 minutes to one hour. Poke the centre of the cake with a toothpick, if it comes out clean, it is done.
  10. Allow the cake to cool completely before in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into slices.

Slice of cinnamon cake

Note :

  1. Buttermilk gives the cake a very moist texture. Don’t skip on it.
  2. Room temperature egg is essential to mix it well. You can also get the egg to room temperature by placing it in warm water.

Cinnamon before and after cake

This cake stays well for a week in an air-tight container. You can also put some banana slices on top and get brownie points for adding fruit to your dessert.

And now I am going to check my time-table every 3 hours, just to ensure I don’t miss any classes.

 

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

It was my sister-in-law’s birthday in the middle of a very hectic working week, and I was wondering how can I bake something sweet, for her birthday,  and still be able to photograph it in daylight? (I have finally realized that food photography cannot happen in the late evening or night). So the answer was to bake some cookies, gift them to her and reserve a portion of them to be photographed the next day.

These cookies, believe it or not, were made after coming back from work, in 4-5 batches making about 30 good cookies. They are super easy. While I was researching for some good chocolate cookies, I stumbled upon this Dahlia Bakery cookie recipe. People swooned over its perfect balance of chocolate and some more chocolate. Oh yeah! These are packed with so much chocolate,the aroma will linger in your house for the whole day. These cookies have an entire cast of chocolates from the bittersweet cubes to chocolate chips and some cocoa powder.

The batter has a consistency of soft ganache, making them live up to their name of truffle cookie. Rich dense and bursting with chocolate, you will be grabbing more that you intended. Finish them up with a glass of milk.

IMG_8864

 

Yield: About 30 cookies     Prep time : 40 minutes     Cooking time per batch : 14 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 1⁄4 cups (200 grams) all-purpose flour/ maida
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (20 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 550 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140 grams) butter, softened
  • 2 1⁄4 cups (460 grams) sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (340 grams) bittersweet chocolate chips

I always use Morde’s chocolate slab (they come in packs of 500 gms) and Morde’s chocolate chips. They are very easily available in Mumbai, plus they taste as good as any other fancy chocolate slabs, at less than half the cost.

Directions :

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking powder 2-3 times, till it is aerated and mixed together well.
  2. Melt the chocolate by the double broiler method, keeping the chopped chocolate in a pan , and the pan in a pot of boiling water. Or the simpler method is to melt it in a microwave, with short bursts of 15-20 seconds, and stirring in the intervals, until the chocolate is smooth.
  3. Combine the soft butter, sugar and whisk it till it becomes pale and creamy. Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing well, till fully incorporated. Beat the mixture for a good 5 minutes, till it is very light, almost foamy. Scrape the bowl as required. This whisking is what gives the cookies their shine. Keep the electric beater away. No more whisking from this point on.
  4. Then add the melted chocolate and vanilla. Mix just until combined.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients with a spatula. Do not overmix or the cookies with be tough. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.
  7. Start scooping out the cookies as soon as the batter is ready. In the warm Mumbai climate, the batter starts to melt further and gets runny, if it sits for a long time.
  8. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and scoop out the batter. It is a good idea to do it with an ice cream scoop. Now it gets a little tricky here. There is no fixed amount of batter per cookie, but you will have to judge that on the basis of your oven and baking tray size. But generally, a scant 1/4 cup is a good amount. (I made a batch in which there was higher amount of batter per cookie, it all melted in the oven and I had one giant baking tray shaped cookie!)
  9. Bake until the cookie tops are evenly cracked and they are soft and set, about 14 to 16 minutes. Rotate the pan at about 7 minutes, if your oven has hot spots. If you have 2 pans of cookies in the oven at the same time, also switch them between the racks for uniform baking.
  10. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely before removing them from the cookie sheets with a metal spatula.

The cookies can be stored in air-tight containers for 5-6 days at room temperature.

IMG_8886

Tip :

1. Though these are deliciously rich, they are quite heavy, so give gift packets to family and friends. You will earn a lot of brownie points err cookie points for it 🙂

2. These cookies are very delicate, I burned one batch because I kept it on the rack closest to the heating coil, for a tad bit longer.

Related :

Brown Eyed Baker Truffle cookies

Home Made Chocolate

 

 

°C

Chocolate dipped strawberries n bananas

This is one of the fastest desserts I have ever seen or made. Plus a perfect make-ahead-of-time snack..

IMG_5758

And all that is required is a slab of chocolate (I use Morde – about Rs. 125 per half kg), and some fresh fruits. I prefer strawberries and bananas for the sheer color variation it brings to the plate and off course the big chunks it can be cut into.

So, the first and the only step is to melt the chocolate. The double boiler way. Take a big vessel and fill it with water and put chocolate slab in another vessel. Then keep the chocolate slab vessel over the water filled one and heat the water.  Continuously monitor and stir the chocolate. The chocolate melts within a couple of minutes, take it off the heat, or else it starts to burn pretty quickly.

See a quick video here : How to Melt Chocolate in Double Boiler

The other method, the super fast but tricky one,  is to microwave the chocolate slab in a bowl in bursts of 10 seconds, and stirring it between two bursts. This way it gets done in 40-50 seconds. However, if not stirred well, the chocolate burns, leaving a not-so-good burnt smell to the chocolate. But if done with caution, microwave is the best way!

Once the chocolate is melted, the fun part begins.

Line a plate with a butter paper or any greaseproof baking sheet, or even a slight layer of cream/malai just so that the chocolate does not stick to the dish.

Wash the strawberries and cut the leaves, and dice the bananas into 2-3 inch pieces.

Dip the strawberries and bananas in the molten chocolate and place it on the plate.

Freeze for 10 mins, while the chocolate hardens, and it is ready to be served or eaten!

IMG_5754

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Caution:

Chocolate is an oil based product and as such it does not combine well with water. When melted chocolate contacts water, it will seize (solidify rapidly). It takes very little water to cause this so great care must be taken not to contaminate the chocolate with water. All equipment must be totally dry before use.