Baking | Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares & Roasted Garam Masala Chickpeas … Diwali / Holiday Baking

“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!

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

Holiday Baking| Christmas Fruit Mince Pies …

“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

51

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.

Ingredients

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

Instructions

    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}
http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/2011/12/holiday-baking-christmas-fruit-mince-pies.html

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

Holiday Baking| Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread {vegetarian}

“Children ask better questions than adults. “May I have a cookie?” “Why is the sky blue?” and “What does a cow say?” are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than “Where’s your manuscript?Why haven’t you called?” and “Who’s your lawyer?“”
Fran Lebowitz

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread“Can I have another squaaaaaaare pleeeeeeease?” You know the cookies are good if that’s what you hear literally reverberating through the house; even better if it’s the call from the dieting diva square after square! These were indeed GOOD Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread cookies!Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread Theres something about December, and something about cookies that make me want to bake; bake all the time actually even though power cuts continue to play spoilsport. Baking around silly powerless situations means more cookies since there are fewer chances of them ‘deflating‘ {unlike cakes} when the lights go off!Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadThe wookies were fabulous for fast track ‘faux baking‘. This shortbread is too, non traditional as it may be. You can’t go wrong with shortbread, caramel and dark chocolate, can you? A combination inspired from many shortbread posts, especially this Chocolate Caramel Slice from Nash @ Plateful, and a ‘Month of shortbread baking‘ from Julia‘Mélanger :: to mix’.Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadThis is the season of holiday baking, and only good could come out of such delicious inspiration. GOOD DELICIOUS COOKIES! Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadDark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadWinter is the only indulgent time of the year here when shortbread feels ‘guilt-less; you need the butter to keep you warm after all. Warm weather the rest of the year makes the crumb not keep together nice and crisp! For the record, this isn’t true shortbread; the traditional version doesn’t venture away from  a 8:4:2 classic combination of flour, butter and sugar… and a dash of salt maybe.Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond ShortbreadI had on hand  hungry kids, butter and a ‘want to bake’ feeling; also a loose bottomed square tin that I had recently bought and was impatient to use. That resulted in … Oats + Almonds + Flour + Butter + Brown Sugar = Crisp shortbread base.Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread …  to which was added some salted butter caramel {adapted from Jamies sweet blog}, the top smothered in deep, luscious, dark melted chocolate; then briefly left to set! Simple as can be. Next with my Ergo chef knife, the slab was cut into squares {you can do bars/rectangles…whatever grabs your fancy}. YUM! ENJOY!

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread …

51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 25 squares / cookies

Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread …

Crisp healthy delicious shortbread topped with a salted butter caramel sauce...then covered in delicious dark chocolate.

Ingredients

110gm all purpose flour

35gm rolled oats

65gm whole almonds

60gm brown sugar

100gm unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes

1/2 cup salted caramel butter sauce {recipe follows}

150gm dark chocolate, melted

Salted Butter Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

4 tbs salted butter

200ml low fat cream

Instructions

    Dark Chocolate Caramel Oat & Almond Shortbread
  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Place flour, oats, brown sugar and almonds in processor and process until ground {Thermomix: Speed10, 30 seconds}
  3. Add chilled butter and process briefly until breadcrumb like mix. {Thermomix: Speed 6, 5-7 seconds}
  4. Turn into lined 8X 8" square tray, pat into place and bake for about 45 minutes until light golden brown and firm.
  5. Cool completely.
  6. Run the salted butter caramel sauce in microwave until warm and melted. {Will still be thick batter like}
  7. Pour it over the cooled shortcrust, and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Leave in fridge for about an hour to cool completely.
  8. Melt the dark chocolate in the microwave or double boiler, and pour evenly over the caramel. Handle the melted chocolate as little as you can to keep it shiny. Spread with an offset spatula to the edges. Leave to set in the fridge for about an hour. Cut into squares.
  9. Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
  10. Melt the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until completely melted and caramel in color. Lower the heat to low and whisk in the butter in about 3 or 4 additions.
  11. Continuing to whisk, add the cream in a slow stream; the caramel may foam up, but keep whisking, as it will calm down once all the cream is added and will turn to… a smooth caramel. Once it is smooth and creamy, remove from the heat and allow to cool at least to tepid before serving.
http://www.passionateaboutbaking.com/2011/12/baking-dark-chocolate-caramel-oat-almond-shortbread-holiday-baking-vegetarian.html

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

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