Holiday Baking

“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.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun”
Julia Child

Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares & Roasted ChickpeasIt’s Diwali, the festival of lights, India’s biggest festival and one that literally lights up the length and breath of this beautiful country. That this time of the year is hectic seems an understatement; I race to keep up with holiday baking. For today, I went a little sweet and some savoury – Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares & Roasted Garam Masala Chickpeas

LampsOh, I bought some lamps. Actually got these lamps for myself after buying some for Finla {bottom of this post}. Her better half was visiting India for a music fest and I asked her what I could send. Her wishlist had Diwali lamps if possible! I ordered some for her, then got really tempted and got some for ourselves too. I loved the rustic metallic look!

Almond Chocolate SquaresThis is the best time of the year in North India. The nips in the air, winter is beginning to make itself felt. It’s time for soup, for breads, for baking; generally time to tuck into food without feeling too guilty. I was short on time as always yet wanted to bake something. These little squares hit the sweet spot without being too sweet or too buttery. Nice balance of flavours and quick, convenient holiday baking.

Almond Chocolate SquaresThese got made FAST! They’re an adaptation of a simple recipe I’ve had scribbled for ages, passed down by a friend. Of course I added my little twist adding whole almonds to the digestive biscuit base. I love the texture that nuts add. Maybe hazelnuts would work nicely too.

Almond Chocolate SquaresLack of time and I had to fast track. Instead of waiting for the bake to cool completely and then pour melted chocolate over the top, I sprinkled the chocolate chips over the warm bake. Worked well. I do this quite often when I bake Oat Energy Bars. It’s always a happy feeling to see how beautifully dark chocolate melts gently on warm bakes!

Almond Chocolate SquaresNothing like a quick fine slicing of almonds and pistachios over the melted chocolate to dress up the bites. A slicer comes quite handy at times like this unless of course you have the luxury of sliced nuts on hands. I don’t!! Roasted Chickpeas It’s nice to think up something savoury to meet the sweet. Savoury is my weakness! The Philips AirFryer continues to call my name and fuel my imagination with creative ideas. I’ve done roasted chickpeas in the oven before, so thought  that they might come out well in the AirFryer too. Why ever not? Roasted Chickpeas Good idea! Great idea! I do chickpeas from scratch here {we are not a canned chickpea country}. It isn’t cumbersome though does require a little planning like an overnight soak. {At this time I would LOVE to be a chickpea … I’d give an arm and a leg for an overnight soak! Oh my weary bones…} Roasted Chickpeas Once you have cooked chickpeas, toss them in EVOO, then spice them as you like. I did one batch with garam masala, salt and a dash of lime juice. YUM! The second batch was with a mix of garam masala, dried mint, cinnamon, red chili powder and roasted cumin. I’d love to do a garlic or chipotle, or maybe a honey garlic. How about smoked paprika? Roasted Chickpeas These came out CRISPY good from the AirFryer in about 20-25 minutes, a few shakes in between. An oven would do the same job at 200C for about 45 minutes, with some shaking up too.  Both teens had a go at tossing them high in the air and playing catch with the mouth. The dog was obviously HAPPY as she got all the missed catches. She LOVES chickpeas – soaked, boiled and now crispy garam masala too! CocoHope you enjoy these recipes. Both are relatively fuss free and very quick, great additions to the holiday table! Do you have quick fun filled holiday baking recipes that light up your lives? I would LOVE to hear about them! Have a wonderful holiday baking season!


Recipe: Biscuit, Almond & Chocolate Squares your picture

Summary: These little Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares hit the sweet spot without being too sweet or too buttery. A quick holiday bake using staples from the pantry.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 85g whole almonds
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 400g condensed milk {1 tin}
  • Topping
  • 100g dark chocolate, chips or chopped up
  • slivered nuts to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.  Butter the sides of  a 8 X 8″ square baking tin, and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. Place the biscuits and whole almonds in the jar of a food processor and process until you get a sand-like crumb meal. {Thermomix: Speed 7, 20 seconds}
  3. With the processor running on slow, pour in the melted butter, followed by the condensed milk. It should all come together in a sticky glob … something like flubber. Don’t be tempted to taste it now, as the danger is that you might not stop eating. {Thermomix: Reverse Speed 2, 20 seconds}
  4. Transfer to prepared tin, level out with an offset spatula or butter knife, and bake for about 20 minutes / until slightly firm to touch. It will set as it cools.
  5. Leave for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle the chocolate evenly over the top. It should melt in 5-7 minutes. Smoother it uniformly over the top, scatter slivered nuts, cocoa nibs, sprinkles etc over the top and let it cool completely.
  6. You might need to refrigerate it for the chocolate to set.
  7. Cut into squares and serve.

Recipe: Roasted Chickpeas
your picture

Summary: Crisp, healthy and addictive, these are a great addition to holiday snacking!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 250g chickpeas, soaked overnight , cooked, drained
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint leaves
  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp red chli powder
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. AirFryer
  2. Preheat the AirFryer to 200C for 5 minutes. 
  3. Toss the chickpeas in olive oil, then in the spices to coat well. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  4. Transefer to wire mesh basket, set the timer to 20 minutes. Shake the basket after 10 minutes, then once again after another 5 minutes.
  5. Check to see if they are crisp, else give them another 5 minutes.
  6. For the oven, bake at 200C in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir a couple of times}


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“Marge, it’s 3 AM. Shouldn’t you be baking?”
Homer Simpson

Christmas Mince PiesDid you make your own fruit mincemeat this year? I just about did, and far too late in the month IMHO. I procrastinated forever; then noticed it was the 18th of December and hit the panic button. It was now or never since it needs a few days to soak the fruit. I eventually got it done, also getting distracted along the way …  and suddenly, it was time for a batch of Christmas Fruit Mince Pies!Fruitmince sans suetChristmas Mince PiesDay 3 yesterday and the soaked fruit was looking plump, good and shiny. I should have waited to turn the whole batch into my Garam Masala Christmas Cake, but I couldn’t resist making some little mince pies! {I write this post as my fruit cakes finally bake in the oven!}Baking goodiesChristmas Mince PiesMy sister sent me a load of baking goodies with the BIL who flew in from the US, much like Santa who got here before time. Petit tins of all sizes, something that I love, vanilla beans, sprinkles, a dessert cookie baking tray, a Lindzer cookie cutter, a ‘sack‘ of baking chocolate chips … loads more!Christmas Mince PiesDespite telling her that I hardly bake ‘fancy‘ {read tedious} cookies any more, I pulled out the Lindzer set to make a batch of Toasted Walnut Linzer Cookies with Strawberry Filling. Typically, my mind wandered in the opposite direction, and  I whizzed some pâte sucrée in the Thermomix. Soon the dough was being rolled and the Lindzer cookie cutters were being used to make toppings for petit fruitmince pies!Christmas Mince PiesChristmas Mince PiesIts dangerous to have a big bowl of fruit soaking on the counter. Hungry mouths on the prowl get attracted to it, so I hid it … but couldn’t get it it out of my head! Yesterday I figured I could nick some for a before Christmas cake treat. These little pies are fun to make; quick too. I love using the snowflake cutters sweet Nic @ Cherrapeno gave me … so festive!Christmas Mince PiesChristmas Mince Pies Use your favourite pâte sucrée / sweet pastry dough or use the one below. This works a classic 2:1 ratio of flour and butter. As with pie/pastry dough, keep handling/kneading to an absolute minimum. That way you’ll have a nice light, crisp pastry once baked. If you like, you can add some apple to the filling, like Alli did in her Christmas Chocolate & Fruit Mince Pies. Nice!!Christmas Mince Pies

Christmas Fruit Mince Pies


Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 24 petit pies

Christmas Fruit Mince Pies

The fruitmince pies get made really fast and make for handsome bites, crisp too. Use your favourite pâte sucrée / sweet pastry dough or use the one below.


1 portion Pâte Sucrée {recipe follows}
1/2 to 3/4 cup fruit mincemeat {recipe follows}

1/2 egg white {or yolk for egg wash}

Vanilla sugar for sprinkling

Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Pastry

200gm all purpose flour

2 tbsp sugar

pinch of salt

100gm chilled butter, cubed

1 egg, lightly whisked with fork

1/2 vanilla bean, scraped

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2tbsp chilled water {to bind if required}

Mincemeat or fruit mix, sans suet {you will need about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of this}

700gms raisins, chopped if desired

200 currants

100gms orange peel, chopped

170gms almonds, chopped

250gms cashewnuts, chopped

100gms candied cherries, chopped

1/4 cup Cherry liquor/brandy

1/2 cup rum {or brandy}

3/4 cup fresh orange juice {from 3 keenus/oranges}

Juice of 3-4 limes

Zest of 2 keenus/oranges

4 tbsp garam masala


    Pâte Sucrée / Sweet Pastry
  1. Place the flour, salt, scraped vanilla beans and sugar in bowl of processor and blend briefly. {Thermomix: Speed 6, 5 seconds}
  2. Add chilled butter and process until you get a breadcrumb like mix. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 6-7 seconds}
  3. With the machine running, add the egg and process till it the dough begins to come together. {Thermomix: Speed 8, 7-8 seconds}
  4. If you pinch the dough with your fingertips it should stick together. If not add a tbsp of chilled water and process.
  5. Turn dough onto work surface and pat together into a firm ball. Do not knead / overprocess. Let it rest 10-20 minutes {I left it on the counter as its very cold here. If the temperature is warm, rest the dough in the fridge}.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  7. On a very lightly floured surface, take a quarter of the dough and roll it out thin. Cut out 12 circles with a fluted cookie cutter and place in tart tray. Repeat with next portion of dough.
  8. Fill each base with a heaped tsp of mincemeat.
  9. Now cut out 24 'toppers' from the remaining dough {or a combination of fluted cut-out tops, stars, snowflakes etc} and place over fruit, pressing down slightly.
  10. Brush the tops with a beaten egg white {or egg yolk}, sprinkle with vanilla sugar and bake for 15-18 minutes until light golden brown.
  11. Leave in tray for 1-2 minutes, remove to rack and cool.
  12. Mincemeat / fruitmince or fruit mix, sans suet
  13. Mix all the ingredients nicely and soak overnight in a cool place, or for 3-4 days. The longer you soak the fruit, the more mature the flavour. I soaked mine for 3 days. {You can substitute the alcohol with an equal amount of orange juice too}

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