Holiday Baking

“Eat clean. Think straight. Work consistently. Speak positively. Motivate others. Believe in yourself.” Toni Sorenson

Wholegrain holiday biscottiWholegrain Holiday Biscotti. It’s strange that I post biscotti every so often. Each time Mr PAB travels I brace myself for the request. “Do you think you’ll have time to make me some biscotti?” Yes he is that predictable. And me? Equally unpredictable. Even if I am torn for time, I know I will definitely bake a batch. The unpredictable bit is that I cannot make the same recipe over and over again.IMG_4322That the biscotti was going to be healthy and wholegrain was a given. The beginning of the holiday season means a lot of additional flavours begin to dance in the head. Crystallised ginger, dried cranberries, orange, and walnuts of course… fun fun fun! Baking the batch gave me a chance to play around with this beautiful Acacia Wooden Cutting Board from Engrave that I recently received. Chopped the walnuts, ginger and cranberries on it, flipped it over and shot some more…Engrave

Meat or mushrooms, this rugged chopping board can handle it all. Hand crafted from a single block of Acacia wood, this rustic looking board is as comfortable in the lap as it on the kitchen counter. If you find one side is worn out from months if frantic chopping, flip it around for a second stint.

engraveEngrave have got a whole lot of fun, innovative and interesting products online. I especially love the Acacia range, but there’s plenty more in the lifestyle range. Their engraving and personalized products really stand out. There is loads of creativity on offer that includes plaques, canvas, name plates, ipad engraving … Wholegrain holiday biscotti 2…. back to baking and the queen of substitutions kicked in. It was going to be a chocolate base. Most whole grains work really well with chocolate, so no question of messing around there. I like that this recipe worked out well. Plenty of wholegrain – buckwheat flour, wholewheat flour and oats, it’s packed with nuts, ginger, cranberries too … all good for the winters. The recipe is a healthier take on the chocolate almond biscotti I made several years ago…. and that brings me to the Fit Foodie meter.

As you might know, I was part of the Saffola Oats campaign led by Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna last year to develop healthy and tasty recipes.Using wholegrain and healthy ingredients like oats, buckwheat flour, amaranth flour, whole sugars etc., I discovered a whole new world! There’s been no looking back…Cookshow with Chef Vikas Khanna , Deeba Rajpal Food Food TV, fitfoodieI developed  bunch of fun and interesting recipes. You can now find these on the FIT FOODIE website. There were a couple of videos shot for Food Food Channel as well. They are on the Saffola Fit Foodie site and on you tube too.This year around, I have been invited to hop on board and join their ‘Fit Foodie Panel‘.

Our panel of experts is the one that creates, carefully scrutinizes and approves every recipe that is available on the site. Headed by Michelin starred chef, Vikas Khanna, it includes die hard foodies, eminent chefs, popular food bloggers and renowned nutritionists who ensure that the scale is perfectly balanced on both health and taste. They cook, they taste and yes, they share exactly what works to spin that delightfully healthy meal on the table!

Saffola Fit Foodie Panel

The site offers another interesting concept that’s been developed by the efficient and creative team behind brand Saffola… the Fit Foodie Meter. It works hard to improve normally used recipes and give them a healthier makeover of sorts, yet keeps the tasty factor in place.

Fit foodie meter

The Fit Foodie Meter score is in a comparative format. The meter always shows the score for two recipes: 1) The ‘Regular Recipe’ or the most commonly prepared form of the dish and 2) The ‘Fit Foodie Recipe’ or the recipe presented in this website, which is an improved/modified version of the original dish. For example, if one were to take pizza as the dish, the Fit Foodie Meter would show the score for a regular veg pizza (Regular Recipe) and that for the Green Pizza (Fit Foodie Recipe) whose recipe is presented on this website. The greater the difference between the two scores, the higher the nutritive value of the Fit Foodie recipe in comparison to the Regular Recipe.

So join us at Saffola Fit Foodie as we try and get you healthier takes on recipes. Feel free to request for ‘recipe makeovers’ . Together we can reach our goal of tasty & healthy recipes. You can submit your healthier versions of recipes too. It’s a lifestyle change. Come be part of it!

[print_this]Recipe: Wholegrain Holiday Biscotti {chocolate+cranberries+ginger+walnuts} your picture

Summary: Crisp, chocolaty, and healthy, this Wholegrain Holiday Biscotti is a nice addition to the holiday cookie platter. With cranberries, walnuts, crystallised ginger and orange, it’s time to ring in the holiday season with this twice baked Italian cookie! Makes 25-30

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes Ingredients:

  • 75g wholewheat flour
  • 40g buckwheat flour
  • 50g oats
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 75g unsalted butter, chilled, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 1tp vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 50g walnuts, roasted, chopped
  • 15g crystallised ginger,chopped
  • 25g dried cranberries, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 170C
  2. Place wholewheat flour, buckwheat flour, oats, coco powder, baking powder, pinch salt and dark chocolate in bowl of food processor and pulse to fine mix.
  3. Add the butter and pulse at high speed again. Reserve.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar, almond extract and orange rind till fluffy, one minute.
  5. Fold in the dry mix with the walnuts, ginger and cranberries. Form into 2 logs and bake for 30 minute
  6. Leave to cool for 10-15 minutes. Slice with a sharp knife.
  7. Lay flat on sides on the baking tray, and bake again at 150C for 30 minutes.


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

“Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”
Robert Fulghum

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies 1Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies … Cookies Cookies Cookies. The events of the past week asked for something comforting … the call was for cookies! Last months Daring Bakers challenge was meant to awaken the cookie monster in us, which it did. Sadly,  I never did get down to posting them.

Pistachio & Craisin Cookies Excuses? Plenty and thankfully not too lame. Exams! Then the internet has played truant. The service provider refused to acknowledge the basic problem. A month later, after trying every solution under the sun, they finally agreed to redo the wiring {which is what we asked for in the first place}. Frustrating but true, like so many other things in life. I am happy to be back to blogging with less stress.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies Of late, I’ve been bitten by the brownie monster and it was just  a matter of time before I hit cookie mode. Daring Bakers in November set me off. Made two lots {downgraded from an ambitious 5-6}. Then the posting date passed by with intermittent internet and these poor cookies went into drafts. With the net now up and racing, I thought I’d better get them out before the bells begin to jingle louder. Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt and Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies and Gingerbread Men CookiesWhen the kidlets were younger, December always woke up the cookie monster in me. The jar was never empty. I was always elbow deep in dough {well almost}. My days {and often nights} would go in backbreaking baking, frosting cookies, doing stain glass cookies, hanging dozens onto the tree, making dozens more for the kids, their friends, for orders etc.

Wholewheat Gingerbread Men Cookies 2Then the ‘forever hungry for pretty Christmas cookies’ kids grew up. I fell to easier and more practical cookies to make. I hardly ever do cookies that need dressing up and fussing over. Wholewheat Gingerbread Men Cookies are an exception though; I really enjoy doing these. {Ceramics courtesy Urban Dazzle}

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt Now I consider myself lucky if freshly baked cookies even get a chance to ‘cool completely‘! Before I know it, dirty grubby teen ‘lad’ fingers hesitatingly come forward to grab a few, while the older sister bites gently into them. The two are ALWAYS game for cookies.

Pistachio & Craisin Cookies 1I started off pretty early in November. First out of the oven were Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies. Simple, crisp and delicious with craisins and pistachios adding beautiful flavour. The craisins were orange flavoured, so slight hints of orange teased the palette! Good beginning!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt 3Then I happened to see these chippers on a beautiful blog  Reclaiming Provincial. I instantly knew they were about to happen in the near future, pretty near future. I mentally ticked off everything I loved about them …

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt They are from a book I long to own {read yet another book} Good to the Grain, Kim Boyce. Wholewheat flour only. Brown sugar too. Seemed like a good deal! They certainly were! Watch them as they bake though … they can go from brown to dark brown in a heartbeat.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt 6My cookies didn’t flatten like the ones I saw. Maybe because our Indian wholewheat is heaps different from the American whole wheat pastry flour {I presume the original recipe uses wholewheat pastry flour}. Maybe the egg I used was a tad small. Whatever, but these are darned delicious cookies!

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea SaltI did add a drizzle of honey; maybe I could have added another. There’s plenty of time for experimenting because these are good cookies and are going to show up more often! Sorry for the delay in this Daring Bakers post Peta.

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us.

[print_this]Recipe: Fluted Pistachio & Craisin Cookies your picture

Summary: Simple cookies to enjoy holiday baking this season! Enjoy these crisp, light and delicious cookies with a cup of tea or coffee! Makes 2 dozen

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 75g raw sugar
  • 1 egg yolk {reserve the white}
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 25g almond meal
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g pistachios, chopped
  • 25g craisins, chopped


  1. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the yolk and zest and beat again.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well and bring together into a smooth dough. {In case the dough doesn’t come together well, add a little egg white to bind it}
  4. Roll out to 1/8″ 4mm thick and stamp out with fluted cookie cutters. The cutters need to be sharp to cut through the craisins and pistachios.
  5. Place on the prepared sheet and bake at 180C for 13-15 minutes until light golden brown.
  6. Cool for 5 minutes on the tray, and then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Sea Salt your picture

Summary: Rustic, earthy and delicious wholegrain chocolate chip cookies … worth every bite! {Minimally adapted from Good to the Grain, via Reclaiming Provincial}. Makes 2 dozen

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 225g whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 100g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 60g dark brown sugar
  • 60g raw sugar {bura}
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt


  1. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda into a medium bowl. Reserve.
  3. Beat the butter with both sugars in another bowl on low speed. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again for a minute.
  4. Add the sifted flour mix and incorporate on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips {on low speed, with a wooden spoon, or your hand}.
  6. Drop walnut size scoops of dough about 1.5″ apart onto the baking sheet. {I rolled mine into balls and flattened them slightly}.
  7. Sprinkle over with sea salt if desired.
  8. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the cookies are evenly dark brown.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes on the tray, and then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.


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

“Foodie friends – Rosa, Helene, Alessio, Deeba, Vidya, Jamie. Love learning new stuff from you now and then! Whether it be your blogs,inspiring tweets or delicious FB posts. Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate and thank you! :-)”
Fahad Khan via FB

Pumpkin Pie TartletHow beautifully can sentiments be conveyed. The lines above are a reflection of everything the inspiring food blogging  community and foodies share with large hearts. It’s a humbling feeling. Two small words like Thank You that can make the day shine! ‘Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate’. Thank you for being here. It’s Pumpkin Pie Tartlets in a Walnut Shell with Spiced Ginger Cream to celebrate the day!

Pumpkin Pie TartletsThanksgiving? There are some days which hold great significance in the Western world yet go largely unnoticed here. Every culture and every country however has a day they hold dear to say thank you for good deeds. For the baker in me, today is incomplete without baking a pie with a pumpkin, an opportunity to use this humble vegetable in a more fun way!

pumpkin puree from scratchAs aromas of pumpkin pie spice waft through the house, the lad will come sniffing the air hungrily. Pumpkin pie? YUM! I think I make this just because of him and his love for pumpkin {in dessert form}.This is also the only way both kids will eat the yellow veggie, rather hungrily devour it! This time of the year drives me to grab some pumpkin and roast it for puree.

Pumpkin Pie TartletsIt’s a humbling feeling to know that such a simple vegetable can give you such stunning end results. Since we are not a ‘pumpkin in the can’ country, the prep is always from scratch  Pumpkin or kaddu is extensively used in cooking on the subcontinent as it is cheap, grows abundantly and is nutritious. It sometimes sneaks into Indian desserts as well like halwa and barfi too.

Pumpkin Pie Tartlets

Adding pumpkin pie spice to puree energises the taste buds into reaching for higher ground, into appreciating how much more worth this humble yellow gourd can be! It’s simple to roast and make your own pumpkin puree, yet I find myself only ‘walking the roast the pumpkin plank‘ every Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Pie TartletsI wonder why? The Pumpkin Pie Tartlets in a Walnut Shell with Spiced Ginger Cream were really enjoyed by the family. The son gobbled his tartlet in a matter of seconds. Mmmm, these are GOOD!! They are simple to put together. I enjoy doing a walnut tart shell, inspired by the Whipped Strawberry Curd Cream Tartlets with Walnut Shortbread Crust.

Pumpkin Pie TartletsBack to the TG moment. I have to say a big Thank You to Finla for these very charming and ‘so me’ ceramic ramekins she sent me {with ALL the other stuff} when her rockstar hub visited Delhi last month. I’ve been impatient to use them, and this seemed a good time to do so.

Pumpkin Pie Tartlets I love them; the colours and the feel full of rustic appeal. I wasn’t sure they would work well with tartlets. As you can see, luck was my friend {So was parchment paper. For that, gratitude to a sweet reader, now friend, Komal in Mumbai who continues to feed the ‘parchment monster‘ in me}. Big thank you!

Pumpkin Pie TartletsOn the topic of ramekins and parchment paper, a word about pumpkin pie spice. The spice is simple to make at home. It’s a mix of powdered cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. A good blend can be made in the 2:1:1 proportion i.e. 2tsp cinnamon powder, 1 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground nutmeg.

Pumpkin Pie TartletsAnd if you are making homemade pumpkin puree, make sure your puree is not too watery. You will not get a nice well set pie. The puree should be thick and can be cooked down if it’s too liquidy. If you add the pie spice to it while cooking down, the flavours will mature well. I added some freshly grated ginger juice to my filling. Nice!

Pumpkin Pie TartletsTo tie up all the warm flavours in the Pumpkin Pie Tartlets, I spiced the whipped cream gently with some powdered ginger. I did attempt to make some walnut caramel shards but the raw sugar did not oblige! Pumpkin, walnuts, ginger, cinnamon …warm, comforting, filling, delicious!

Happy Thanksgiving you beautiful readers. Thank you as always for stopping by! I leave you with a collage of random things that make me happy.

Random 'happy' things

Don’t forget to tell me if you have something special you make with pumpkin!


Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Tartlets in a Walnut Shell with Spiced Ginger Cream
your picture

Summary: Walnuts pair beautifully with warm pumpkin, pie spice and ginger to make these simple little tartlets. A touch of gently spiced ginger cream and we have a winner! Serves 8

Prep Time: 30 minutes {extra if you are making the puree from scratch}
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes {plus cooling & chilling time}

  • Pumpkin Puree
  • 600-700g slice of pumpkin
  • Walnut tart shell
  • 85g / 2/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 50g / 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 100g / 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
  • 150g / 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Pumpkin Pie Filling {recipe adapted minimally from here}
  • 400g pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs
  • 400ml {1tin} condensed milk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1.5″ piece fresh ginger, grated, juice squeezed out through a strainer
  • Spiced Ginger Cream
  • 100ml low fat cream, chilled
  • 30g / 2tbsp powdered sugar
  • 5g / 1/2 to 1 tsp ginger powder {as per taste}


  1. Pumpkin Puree
  2. Remove seeds etc of pumpkin {I used one long slice}, wrap in foil and bake at 180C for about 45 minutes.
  3. Once warm enough to handle, peel and chop the roasted pumpkin, and puree. Yields about 425-440gms of pumpkin puree {approximately 1 15oz can}
  4. Walnut Tart Shell
  5. Preheat oven to 180C.
  6. Place walnuts and sugar in food processor; process to grind to fine meal in short pulses. {Thermomix: Speed 9, 10 seconds}
  7. Add the chilled butter and process until you get a breadcrumb like mix, 30 seconds. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 10 seconds}
  8. Add the flour and salt. Process again until it begins to come together. Bring together gently until smooth and pliable. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 10 seconds, repeat if required}.
  9. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions. {if dough is too soft, chill for 20 minutes in refrigerator}.
  10.  Gently press dough to line the base and sides of eight 3-inch loose bottomed tart pans or parchment lined shallow ceramic ramekins {as pictured}
  11. Bake for 15 minutes until light  golden and firm to touch. Cool completely before filling.
  12. Pumpkin Pie Filling
  13. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well until smooth.
  14. Assembling Tartlets
  15. Preheat the oven to 180C. 
  16. Divide the filling equally between the cooled tart shells. Bake for 45 minutes approximately until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean, and the filling is firm to touch and glossy.
  17. Cool completely on a wire rack and chill if you like. Chilling heightens the flavours of the ginger and pumpkin spice. 
  18. Note: The warm walnut shell might be a tad crumbly so be careful if you are trying to demold it while warm. Suggest chill the tart before demolding.
  19. Spiced Ginger Cream
  20. Whip the chilled cream with sugar and ginger powder until medium peaks. Place in pastry bag with a 1/2″ round nozzle and pie over pie once the pie is completely cool, preferably chilled.


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

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