Baking | GF Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake … #glutenfree by default #quark #dessert

“Reminiscent of childhood memories, luxury, sweetness and sensuality, chocolate is more than just a food. It is therapy.”
Christelle Le Ru

Dark Chocolate Quark CheesecakeGF Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake … some recipes are just meant to be, and this is one of them. Come summer and quark is constantly being prepped at home. There is never a definite plan for where it goes, yet the fact that I am ‘creating’ a low fat unripened cheese is enough to keep me happy. This tangy cheese finds its way into just about anything. And this something was truly delicious!

Quark dessertsIt’s QUARK all the way! A layered parfait, savoury or sweet, in a curry instead of yogurt, while cooking chicken as a filling for wraps, turnovers like in these Chicken Quark Cross-over Puff Pastry, in frozen yogurt instead of yogurt … or then in cheesecakes of course! That this cheesecake turned out to be gluten free as well is purely incidental …but more about that in a bit!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  There is something infinitely comforting in turning all the ingredients into the bowl of the food processor and celebrating that the filling is ‘ready’ to go into the oven. Simple! Yes that simple, but then cheesecakes usually are. The tough part is waiting for them to cool down, and leaving them sitting in the fridge overnight. The toughest bit however is when you experiment, it takes forever to figure out whether it worked, or didn’t. This one certainly was a YES! Best chocolate cheesecake ever!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  A few cheesecake basics you might like to keep in mind… Try and bake the cheesecake in a water bath so it cooks evenly and the top doesn’t crack. Prebake the biscuit base especially if you are doing a quark version as the filling is moister than when using a cream cheese. If doing a biscuit base, it’s a nice idea to paint the prebaked base with a brush of melted dark chocolate; keeps the base from going soggy. Make sure the quark is well drained for a full day or two. Above all, use the best quality ingredients. A good dark couverture makes this cheesecake really sing!

Quite a while ago I did these Mini Quark Chocolate Cheesecakes which popped up thanks to Google while I was looking for quark inspiration. Inspired by myself {if I may say so myself}, it was time to bake a dark chocolate quark cheesecake. I had the base ready! Well actually, I had a baking disaster whereby my almond sponge flowed inexplicably out of my baking tin. I think the tin was too small and I was left with a 3/4 sponge to salvage. The idea in my head was trifles with quark and strawberries, and Googling led me ‘you know where‘!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  Within minutes, the hapless sponge was blitzed into breadcrumbs in the Thermomix, then rapidly pressed into the baking tin to cushion a base for the cheesecake. You can gauge how much I enjoyed doing this GF Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake! It was the fastest cheesecake I have ever bunged into an oven! I have included a biscuit base recipe below as the coincidence of you having a failed sponge on your hands might be too much to ask for.

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  But if you are up to it, adventurous enough, a sucker for punishment like me AND/OR looking for a gluten free version, then I’ve included the recipe for an almond sponge too. It’s one I use often, here for eg in the Strawberry Almond Roulade. I swopped the Swiss roll pan for a tin, subsequently suffering defeat.

Upcycled Blondie PuddingUpcycling failed desserts {as above} is fun, and one small shove from Ruchira fixed me for life. Upcycle everything that fails is my only thought when I end up with a baking disaster. Eton Mess is a fine example and one that appeared several times as dessert when making macarons was an obsession. Just recently, when an over baked batch of blondies stared me in the face, they headed for the most delicious ‘Upcycled’ Butterscotch Blondie Pudding!

Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  And another piece of happiness … this beautiful ceramic platter that Ruchira got for me recently. It has me absolutely smitten, a new addition to my endless props. That it is round and scalloped, that it is a beautiful shade of blue, that it has tiny dots like a running stitch on the edges, and that it is flat works for me like magic! That she bought it from here in India also makes me thrilled. Wholegrain Anzac Cookies I have a few other bits and bobs of ceramic that tie up with it, so while I enjoy my ever growing {read exploding} prop collection,  I’ll leave you with a recipe that I am sure you will enjoy.Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake  I topped the Dark Chocolate Quark Cheesecake with tiny grated chocolate curls. You could also consider  topping it with unsweetened cream and balsamic roasted strawberries, maybe a salted caramel sauce. My homemade recipe for quark can be found here! Also, find more recipes that use quark on my blog.

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

No Bake | Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta … coastal flavours from friends #dessert #giftthanks #kokum

“I’m not a vegetarian! I’m a dessertarian!”
Bill Watterson

Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta … as if the Italian version of the panna cotta wasn’t delicious enough, the coconut milk version is glass scraping good too. So when the very sweet Ajit posted about a kokum cooler on FB, I was instantly on his case. “Want Want Want”, I said {read pleaded}. The fine, ever obliging and efficient man that he is, ensured that I had a ‘kokum’ package in my hands a few days later. It was a 100 watt smile on my face I tell you!

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India 26

Four Seasons Vineyards, Baramati, Pune, India Ever since we had the sol kadi {top left corner, and just above} at Baramati on the wine fam trip to Four Seasons Winery a couple of years ago,  kokum has had me smitten. Must be a taste bud thingy. I might bake and make a load of sweet stuff, but my heart belongs to savoury. Piquant, tangy, sharp, citric … flavours that make my mouth water. Add garlic, astoefetida, sumac, phalsa berries, raw tamarind to the list and you just might hear my heart sing out loud.Kokum Coconut Milk Panna Cotta Kokum or Garcinia Indica  is indigenous to the Western Ghats region of India located along the western coast of the country. It is used as a staple souring agent typically in Goan cuisine and some parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka. Kokum yields a peculiar flavour and blackish red colour. It is a preferred substitute for tamarind in curries and other dishes from the Goa and Konkan region.

So you can imagine my happiness when the package with kokum arrived. With it, a sweet hand written note from the A of A & N, a blog that I first connected with several years ago. At the time A & N were in the US, and regaled their audience with tales of getting flood waters in their home, food and a lot more. The they came back to India, and we reconnected. A and me exchanged notes over ingredients, oohed and aahed over experiments with 100% whole wheat bread, and a lot more…

Whole Wheat BreadThe N of course is the sweetest thing to walk the earth… joyful, exuberant and uber talented. She works with of my most fave online furniture stores Urban Ladder. Anyway, to cut a long story short, A in his note said “I’m sure you’ll work your magic and turn it into something wonderful. Looking forward!” The pressure that didn’t allow me to make just a simple cooler. I wanted to make something to embrace sweet & savoury for summer….

Kokum Coconut Milk Panna CottaI knew it was panna cotta. To tie in the coastal flavours from where kokum is born, it was going to be a coconut milk panna cotta. Vanilla bean because I love it so, and it flavours the panna cotta gently.  More flavours because I have bunches of lemon grass growing outside, and a box of kaffir lime leaves in my freeze. The pairing was beautiful. The basic panna cotta pairs well with most fruit …. so think strawberries, cherries, blueberries, mango, blackberries…

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | ‘Upcycled’ Butterscotch Blondie Pudding … when things go wrong as they sometimes will!

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Miguel de Cervantes

Upcycled Blondie Pudding‘Upcycled’ Butterscotch Blondie Puddingand whatta strange name might this be? It’s natural to wonder but you know, things happen. So I was baking YET ANOTHER BATCH {I can bake these in my sleep now} of the kids favourite blondies, and then there was an emergency. Not an emergency emergency, but one that required me to hurriedly nip out of the house to get some work done. I seldom leave while I am baking. The blondies were about done, like 5 minutes to go. I peeped in, and then thought, nah, not done. Should give them an extra 10 minutes!

Upcycled Blondie Pudding Well that’s the difference between Wholegrain Butterscotch Blondies and the‘Upcycled’ Butterscotch Blondie Pudding! Just ten minutes. TEN! Got back, they were done, cooled… and I thought, oh dear, slightly over done. The boy readied to sink his teeth into gooey, moist blondies, and was disappointed. “Ummm, NO. What did you do? You messed them up. Same taste, not gooey Mama.” It was a ‘shove the blondies down his throat now‘ sort of a moment, but I desisted.

Upcycled Blondie Pudding They sat there in the box for a few days. ‘He‘ didn’t even look at them. The dog did. Often. I was tempted to, but I couldn’t give sweet to the poor pooch. I debated what to do, then eventually ran out of patience, and thought, that’s it. Trash ’em! As luck would have it, just that day Ruchira swung by. We were in the kitchen and the box caught her eye. ‘What’s that?’ ‘Ruined batch of blondies.’ ‘Whatchya gonna do with them?’ ‘Chuck them. Overbaked.  Too dry!’

Upcycled Blondie Pudding She took a little nibble, eyes shining said, ‘Upcycle them!’ We both dissolved into puddles of giggles as we had spent all morning discussing up-cycling furniture.  Oooh whatta good great idea that was. And that is just what I did the next morning. Such fun. Just the very name ‘Upcycled’ Butterscotch Blondie Pudding gave me the energy and soon I had sweet little glasses of up-cycled dessert!

Upcycled Blondie PuddingThey were a HIT! A simple vanilla pastry cream brought together in the Thermomix in under 10 minutes. Crumbled blondies and butterscotch chips. The pastry cream smothered the dry blondies in it’s love, and the end result was love at every bite!addictive good. The spoon scraping the bottom of the glasses was the sweetest sound ever! Can’t wait for another over baked batch!

Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India