Category

Baking

Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping “Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.”
Jo Brand

Moist, dark and absolutely delicious are words enough to describe this Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping. The base is a simple chocolate genoise sponge, layered with a low fat whipped cream. The top is a brown sugar meringue topped with slivered almonds, quite optional if you are torn for time, but it does add a lovely touch to the final look. The secret to the moist cake and whipping up low fat cream is melted, cooled clarified butter/ghee. This is my new favourite sponge recipe and my new favourite light buttercream.Eggs and chocolateIt’s been a busy last few months and I stare at a hungry blog. We’ve had a great food styling workshop just recently, packed to the gills, on one of the hottest days of the season. It was a LOT of work and planning, but it was all so worth it. The venue {Lodi – The Garden Restaurant, New Delhi}, the folk who attended, the food we ate and shot, was all great fun. A great learning experience too.Food Styling Workshop, The Lodi, New DelhiThen of course there is obsessive everyday shooting, something that keeps me so engrossed, I often lose track of time. Some work for others, some for myself, yet all a learning process. Add to that Sunday Stills where I join Simi as she shoots stills. Pitcher #sundaystillsAmaltasThe Masala Dabba with Dolphia has fallen prey to procrastination but I will get back there soon since spices is what I enjoy shooting a lot! Gundu Chilies from Karaikudi

Masala Dabba, spices

The Masala Dabba #2Getting back to baking and this wonderful cake, here’s something I recently discovered. I often find a lot of folk these days baking out of a box and frosting the cake with ready made cream,  ingredients loaded with preservatives, enhancers, emulsifiers and what not. Read the label and you’ll figure out. Baking  or cooking ‘from scratch’ conjures up images of cooking with fresh ingredients and lovingly preparing meals. Boxed meals emphasize just the convenience. Add a few ingredients and then you’re done. Making a cake from scratch gives you control over the quality of the ingredients, also allowing for a bit more creativity. Wholewheat Dark Chocolate Fudgy Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting 3 1000 1Creativity and experimenting go hand in hand. The revelation that I could use clarified butter / ghee instead of normal butter has made life really simple for me. The recipes need to be adapted a little here and there, but the huge plus is that clarified butter stays good on the shelf for long. You don’t need to melt and cool in summer as it doesn’t set hard at warm temperatures. The convenience of use is indescribable in weather like we have here these days at 45C! That’s how I got the low fat 20%  cream to whip up so I could pipe it.  Wholewheat Dark Chocolate Fudgy Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting 2 1000 1Worked each time but once when it was really really hot and humid. Whip chilled low fat cream to medium soft peaks at a high speed. Then drizzle in about a teaspoon of cool melted clarified butter / ghee for every 100ml of cream and continue to whip at high speed, you will notice the cream gradually firming up and holding shape. This is because you’re putting the fat back into low fat cream. I have also seen this works better with the ‘Go’ brand of fresh cream as compared to ‘Amul’ {in India}. Do let me know if it works for you!Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping Well everyone can’t ‘do it from scratch’, and even though additives etc are often considered part of the package when it comes to boxed meals, it really doesn’t have to be. Interestingly enough, at least one company thought that way. San Francisco-based food tech company Hampton Creek offers a new take on shelf-ready foods, striving to take out additives and other unnatural ingredients from common, off-the-shelf goods. For eg, their premade cookie dough doesn’t contain common additives, is an eggless dough mix that is also dairy-free. Baking from a box or a premade mix can be as mouth-watering as a meal made from scratch; guess you need to know what to look for.

Until then, here’s my Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping Cake!

Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping
Print Recipe
Moist, dark and absolutely delicious are words enough to describe this Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping. The base is a simple chocolate genoise sponge, layered with a low fat whipped cream. The top is a brown sugar meringue topped with slivered almonds, quite optional if you are torn for time, but it does add a lovely touch to the final look. The secret to the moist cake and whipping up the cream is melted, cooled clarified butter/ghee. This is my new favourite sponge recipe.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping
Print Recipe
Moist, dark and absolutely delicious are words enough to describe this Dark Chocolate Layered Cake with Almond Meringue Topping. The base is a simple chocolate genoise sponge, layered with a low fat whipped cream. The top is a brown sugar meringue topped with slivered almonds, quite optional if you are torn for time, but it does add a lovely touch to the final look. The secret to the moist cake and whipping up the cream is melted, cooled clarified butter/ghee. This is my new favourite sponge recipe.
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 people 20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Ingredients
Chocolate Genoise Sponge 1
Meringue topping
Servings: people
Instructions
Chocolate Genoise Sponge 1
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line the sides and bottom of 2 8" spring-form round tin with parchment. {I have just 1 tin and an oven that fits only 1 cake at a time. I kept the parchment ready while the first sponge baked}
  2. Place 4 eggs and 1 egg yolk in the bowl of the stand mixer with 125g brown sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk on high speed until light, very mousse like and tripled in volume, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt 2 times. Reserve.
  4. Place cooled clarified butter in a medium sized bowl. reserve.
  5. Once the eggs are whisked and mousse like, sift over 1/3 of the flour/cocoa mix and gently stir in in figure 8 moves so that the beaten air doesn't escape. Repeat 2 more times.
  6. Take about a cup of this batter and fold into bowl with melted ghee to loosed the mixture. Now turn this batter back into main batter and gently mix through taking care not to release the beaten air.
  7. Turn into prepared tin and bake for approximately 40 minutes, untl a pick inserted comes out clean.
Chocolate Genoise Sponge 2
  1. Repeat as above, turn into prepared tin and top with brown sugar meringue spreading gently and uniformly with an offset spatula. Scatter slivered almonds over and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until a pick inserted comes out clean.
Brown sugar meringue
  1. Whisk the egg whites with brown sugar on high speed to stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
Frosting and filling
  1. Place chilled cream, icing sugar, clarified butter in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk at highest speed for 7-9 minutes until stiff peaks form. Adjust sweetness if required.
Assemble
  1. Gently cut each cake into two horizontal layers. They will be very moist and delicate.
  2. Place one layer on the cake platter, top with about 1 cup of whipped cream, spread evenly. Repeat with remaining 3 layers. Frost the sides of the cake with remaining frosting, maybe pipe a border around.
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Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake ... Mooz Formaggio, local artisan cheese at its best“Dessert without cheese is like a beauty with only one eye”
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Triple Cheese Moozberry Cheesecake must be one of the best cheesecakes I have made. Ever. And I have made many over the years, almost all with homemade quark, and they’ve all been special. Yet this one turned out to be even better. It baked up perfectly, has a mix of 3 soft cheeses in it, and the most delicious topping of balsamic cherries infused with rosemary and vanilla. If it wasn’t good enough, I topped it with green almonds which are also in season these days. You can imagine, well almost, how wonderful this might have been.Cherries

Green almonds

Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake And of course  I need to explain why it’s called a Triple Cheese Moozberry Cheesecake. Well the guys from Mooz Formaggio were nice enough to send me a huge lot of their cheese range to sample.  Their range has been developed and designed by a fourth generation Italian cheesemaker. Delightfully enough, the Mooz folk are manufacturing all their cheese here locally and it matches up to admirably to imported cheese available.Mooz CheeseFor those who do know me, dairy is my weakness, and fresh cheese even more. For those who don’t know me, well now you do!! Fresh cheese has long held me fascinated. That it is not processed, that is has a million uses other than just eating out of a bowl or tub, that it is healthy as well as healthier than imported/processed cheese are huge pluses for me. I’ve explored and made fresh cheese – mascarpone, ricotta, quark, cottage cheese for really long, and in turn done several desserts with them.Cherries & green almondsSavoury stuff too, but what I really do enjoy is desserts using unripened f soft cheese. When I make quark myself, I just chuck it into a concoction, play around a little and then bake. When Mooz showed up, it was a new level of luxury. Imagine, I didn’t have to make my own cheese, so the mind went into overdrive. The plan was for a mascarpone galette with cherries. A nice batch of cherries recently pitted and frozen seemed just right for a wholegrain galette.Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake The mind is a strange place when creative ideas get buzzing. Just looking at the little tubs suddenly got me thinking further, and I knew it had to be a cheesecake. Time to experiment. I grabbed the ricotta, quark and cream cheese and turned the oven on. The recipe is simple, an experiment on a quark cheesecake I make often. This time I added zest of a Bitter Citron Lemon that Sanjeeta mailed me from Chennai, and also zest from a lime from the garden. They say lime zest cuts out any eggy aromas from a cake, and ‘they’ weren’t wrong!Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake Must admit to a million butterflies in my tummy as the cheesecake baked. I had my fingers crossed on this one. How I wished it would turn out well. It baked up beautifully, water bath and all, the tin size worked just perfect too, no cracks on top, didn’t sink like a crater. I was thrilled. An overnight rest in the fridge and I was up early next morning to do a topping, cherries of course. I infused them with some fresh rosemary, a few sprigs that have turned into a plant ex Switzerland, some bitter citron zest from down south, and some aged balsamic and brown sugar.

Cherries and rosemaryDarned delicious if I may say so myself, and fabulous pairing with cheesecake. The cheesecake itself darned delicious too, and got a standing ovation. You should must try making it. To cut the calories, or maybe extra work, or both, you can even go crust-less. Maybe bake mini cheesecakes.

Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake The entire line from Mooz is really really good, including the sour cream. So many varieties, such great flavour. You are literally spoilt for choice as far as sour cream goes. Lemon, peri peri, jalapeno, chipotle {one of our favourites}, yes they have them all. I did a quick smoked chicken farelle with the chipotle sour cream, flavoured with loads of garlic, with fresh lime and rosemary from the garden. Turned out great. Even crumbed chicken with sour cream is yum!! And nachos of course!!Mooz Pasta Also really good  are the Chili Toasty and Plain Toasty, generous stringy cheese slices for grilled sandwiches. Quite addictive and great quality, your grilled toast might never be the same again. The Chili Toasty especially has a great chili flavour and kick. The only cheese that disappointed was the mozzarella which had a slight bitter aftertaste. Not sure why that happened as all the cheese was perfectly stored and from the same batch.Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake

 

Baking | Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake... local artisan cheese at its best!
Print Recipe
Triple Cheese Moozberry Cheesecake must be one of the best cheesecakes I have made. It baked up perfectly, has a mix of 3 soft cheeses in it, and the most delicious topping of balsamic cherries infused with rosemary and vanilla. If it wasn't good enough, I topped it with green almonds which are also in season these days. The best thing is that this uses locally produced artisan cheese from Mooz.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Baking | Triple Cheese 'Moozberry' Cheesecake... local artisan cheese at its best!
Print Recipe
Triple Cheese Moozberry Cheesecake must be one of the best cheesecakes I have made. It baked up perfectly, has a mix of 3 soft cheeses in it, and the most delicious topping of balsamic cherries infused with rosemary and vanilla. If it wasn't good enough, I topped it with green almonds which are also in season these days. The best thing is that this uses locally produced artisan cheese from Mooz.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
Ingredients
Crust
Balsamic Rosemary Infused Cherries
Servings: people
Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Line the base of an 8″ loose bottomed tin with parchment, and lightly grease sides..
  2. Run the biscuits, chilled butter and whole almonds in food processor until ground and a moist crumb forms. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 10 seconds, repeat once}
  3. Turn into the baking tin and press the crumbs into the base, building up the sides a bit if desired. Chill while you preheat the oven, and make the filling.
Filling
  1. Place the quark, ricotta, cream cheese, egg yolks, cornflour, 40g sugar,vanilla, cream and lime zest if using into the bowl of your food processor and run on medium speed till smooth. {Thermomix: Speed 6, 10 seconds}
  2. Beat the whites with the remaining 90g sugar to firm peaks. Gently fold this through the quark cheese mixture and pour over the biscuit base.
  3. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes, and then at 180C for about 45 minutes until firm.
  4. Allow to cool completely in oven, leaving the door ajar.
  5. Cover well and chill before serving, preferably overnight. Serve topped with Balsamic Rosemary Infused Cherries.
Balsamic Rosemary Infused Cherries
  1. Place all ingredients in heavy bottom non reactive pan and simmer gently for 5-7 minutes, until cherries soften. Taste and adjust sweetness if required.
  2. Remove cherries to a bowl, and reduce syrup in pan until nice an thick. Strain over reserved cherries, discarding the vanilla bean and rosemary. Chill completely before topping cheesecake.
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Caramel Custard
“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.”
Henri Cartier-Bresson

A post about Caramel Custard, Mother’s Day and Sunday Stills! Also of high key photography. The recent trip down into the heart of South India opened up a new dimension to how I wanted to style and shoot food. Karaikudi meant loads more prop shopping, tons of enamelware included. Strange how it started off a domino effect. My downright dark and moody side opened up to a new love, a new light I have never chased so passionately! Kumquat LemonadeKumquat LemonadeLove for light food props, then love for white frames, and eventually a fascination with high key photography. Light tones, pastels, loads of whites, brighter hues, sometimes edging on overexposed. The technical sense still abysmal though! I am still experimenting, still trying to build a level of patience…Kumquat lemonadeThat was a drastic change from what I have always enjoyed shooting, dark, moody frames. Moody is still my first love, shadows, darkness, deep blacks, blocking light, all reflective of my personality, and definitely of my favourite colour, black!Wholewheat Apple Walnut Cheddar Thyme Hand Pies

Pomegranate Mojitos

Melons

Buckwheat Oat Walnut Chippers GF Caught between yin and yang, swinging between two extremes, my sweet friend Simi asked if I wanted to join her and Dolphia for Sunday Stills. Sunday Stills meant experimenting with testing new levels of photography. That basically meant different experiments with light and techniques, new ways to push our comfort levels. While she is a workhorse, with loads of planning and in-depth research, something that reflects in her stunning styling and images, I am quite the opposite.Caramel Custard 1000 3Often impatient, no time for research, technically pretty incompetent {read pathetic}, yet we share two things. Love for food styling and photography, and food props. We are the queens of procrastination too. Oh yes, and we share a single day between birthdays, Scorpions to the core we are!

pink flowers pink flowers

High key photographySo here we go this Sunday. With my #SundayStills, thanks to this hugely inspiring lady, I share with you a little of what I’ve been shooting lately {I have to admit I am also shooting low key, dark images on the side}. Also here for you a recipe for a Caramel Custard that I did for Kitchen Aid. I did another version soon after, the Caramel Flan. Caramel FlanHopefully someday that recipe too will see light of day! While I have baked the custard, you can always steam it the old fashioned way like my Mum used to do. 10-15 minutes in the pressure cooker, placed on a trivet submerged in water, lid on, no cap.

Pink Flowers, Mother's DayHave a great Sunday, and of course, Happy Mother’s Day!

And before I forget, grateful thanks to Manidipa for the include in her post this morning – 20 Top Female Food Bloggers of India: Mother’s Day Special

Caramel Custard
Print Recipe
My version of the quintessential ‘Caramel Custard’ that showed up on our frugal dessert table quite often when we were young. This one is slightly more luxurious than the wobbly one we had as kids from the armed forces. It's baked, not steamed, though if you are making one large pudding, steaming it in the pressure cooker is a breeze. Quick too!
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 3-4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 3-4 hours
Caramel Custard
Print Recipe
My version of the quintessential ‘Caramel Custard’ that showed up on our frugal dessert table quite often when we were young. This one is slightly more luxurious than the wobbly one we had as kids from the armed forces. It's baked, not steamed, though if you are making one large pudding, steaming it in the pressure cooker is a breeze. Quick too!
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 3-4 hours
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 15 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
45 minutes 3-4 hours
Ingredients
Caramel
Custard
Servings: people
Instructions
For the Caramel
  1. Keep 4 X 8oz ramekins ready and place sugar and water in a heavy bottom saucepan, and stir over medium heat until sugar melts.
  2. Increase heat to high, and allow to bubble away without stirring, until it reaches a deep amber colour. {This is the crucial part because the caramel can burn. Also please take extreme caution as caramel is very hot}.
  3. Take off heat immediately, and pour into ramekins, turning gently to coat bottoms. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, while you make the custard.
For the Caramel Custard
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Heat milk, cream and shell of vanilla bean in a pan over low heat until slight bubbles form on the edges. Take off heat.
  3. Place the eggs, scraped vanilla and sugar in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk on speed 2 for 2 minutes until sugar is almost dissolved.
  4. Reduce speed to lowest, put the splatter screen, and gently pour in the vanilla infused milk, whisking continuously for 30 seconds.
  5. Strain the custard into a jug/saucepan, and then pour into the prepared ramekins.
  6. Place ramekins in a 9′ X 9″ square pan. Gently pour in water into the tray to come up half around the ramekins. – –
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes until the custard begins to set, a bit wobbly in the middle.
  8. Allow to cool, then chill covered for a few hours, preferably overnight.
  9. To serve, run a butter knife gently around the tip to loosen it, place a platter over the ramekin, turn over swiftly, and then shake to release. Top with toasted walnuts if desired.
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