Baking | Wholewheat & Oat Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies – deep dark chocolatey + chewy + fudgy = comfort food

“Remember, there are cookies waiting here for you.”
Dean Koontz

Wholegrain brownie cookiesWholewheat & Oat Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies. A new baking recipe. An easy baking recipe. A chocolate chip cookie recipe gone healthier, yet still deeply satisfying. This is not your everyday quintessential chocolate chip cookie. This one is better. Deep dark chocolatey + chewy + fudgy = pure comfort food! I’m quite glad I got pushed into making it!

Wholewheat & Oat Dark Chocolate Brownie CookiesI’ve had a busy few weeks. Getting back to routine after a vacation is never easy. So much and more needs to be done, everyone and everything needs ‘urgent’ attention for some silly reason. So the boy complained the other day that I don’t bake nice stuff often enough any more! It took me a while to figure out what the issue was because the baking never stops here. Ahem. Too much fruit in baking of late; he was cringing something chocolate! On prodding further, the words tumbled out. “Chocolate chip cookies or chocolate cake Mama please”!

Wholewheat & Oat Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies Looked like it was cookie baking time again! I’ve done loads of chocolate cake recipes of late, and as always I was thinking of a new baking recipe for cookies. Not the trusted old wholegrain chocolate chip cookie recipe. That lives in my head; I’ve baked it SO OFTEN! That is what the kid asked for. I knew exactly the thing, Wholewheat & Oat Dark Chocolate Brownie Cookies. The idea has been sitting in my head for long. Just took a few words from the bitterly complainingcookie monster‘ to get it off the back burner and into the oven.

Wholewheat & Oat Dark Chocolate Brownie CookiesSo I brought the brownie into the cookie, made it a healthier version, trimmed the butter, cut an egg, skipped the APF. In went wholewheat and oats, loads of dark couverture chocolate … the result was a deep, chocolatey, and very delicious chocolate chip cookie. Soft and melt in the mouth! Next time I might go for a gluten free version, maybe try going eggless.

Wholewheat & Oat Dark Chocolate Brownie CookiesEasy to bake recipes are fun. This was just that. Not quite a single bowl recipe like I would have wanted it to be, but pretty close. You can hardly go wrong with staple ingredients, but playing around has sometimes led to disasters. This one worked well thankfully, and the monster was happy that day! A healthy baking recipe which turned out to be delicious too was spot on!

Chocolate on vintage weighing scaleWhen things go well, it leaves me motivated to shoot. Even though I find chocolate a little tough to shoot, I enjoyed doing it this time. A lot. Actually the main motivation was this old weighing scale that I recently added to my ever growing prop collection. I find it so charming, that I want to shoot it all the time!

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Baking |GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles … Mother Dairy #SummerOfHappiness #dessert #healthy

“Bread, milk and butter are of venerable antiquity. They taste of the morning of the world.”
Leigh Hunt

GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Triflessummer of happiness in ever sense of the word. It’s a celebration of flavours, of the season, of delicious, healthy things in life. The good thing is that the Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles recipe is very doable, quick and quite hassle free. Almond meal in the sponge makes it gluten free too! Play around with ingredients in your pantry and fridge, skip the almonds if you are catering to nut allergy or don’t have any on hand. Substitute the nut meal with plain flour or 1/2 whole wheat + 1/2 all purpose flour.

GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles Mother Dairy #SummerOfHappinessThe idea is to enjoy every season in the most delicious way. An even easier way might be to omit the sponge completely. Layer fresh fruit and Mother Dairys creamy and yum fruit yogurt, chill for a bit, and voila – light, healthy, refreshing summer dessert. Or make a granola fruit yogurt parfait with granola, fruit and fruit yogurt. It’s the Mother Dairy #SummerOfHappiness. Explore how much easier can it get with their line of products. For me fruit pairings are fab, specifically yogurt with fruit in any possible way, and summer is the best time for it!Mother DairyI am a through and through dairy lover. I can live forever on dairy products – milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, flavoured yogurts. It’s no coincidence that you will find loads of recipes using dairy on my blogs. Yogurt, buttermilk, cream, cottage cheese are some things I use really often. Panna Cotta, layered cream cakes, cookies, cakes, smoothies, desserts in glasses, cheese from scratch. Did I forget smoked butter paneer, the quintessential Indian Kadhi, savoury buttermilk lassi, buttermilk chicken pizzaKadhi  Indian yogurt curry

White butter and gheeClarified butter? Yes please! I collect top of the milk cream and churn out sweet butter every week. Gives me all that I need for baking. You will also find me making ghee or clarified butter every alternative weekend. Pure liquid gold. Nothing like a drizzle of ghee on a dal, a tadka of ghee to a kadhi, or naans smeared with this good fat. Say what you may, but I am old school here. Butter and ghee are good fats, and make food taste great when used in moderation. For other times, there is always cold pressed sesame oil, virgin olive oil, or good old mustard oil!

GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles So, when I saw the ongoing challenge ‘Summer of Happiness‘ at Mother Dairy it was back to the good old days and a wave of nostalgia hit me. Back in the late 1970’s when we returned from a posting in Bangalore, we lived in the Central Vista Officers Mess for a couple of months waiting for regular accommodation. School was CJM at Gol Dak Khana, New Delhi. Every morning my mother drove us to school in a rickety old olive green Fiat, MEV6909 {the number still imprinted in my head}. Because we refused to drink the watery warm milk served in the Officers Mess, it was routine to stop by Mother Dairy, glug a tall glass of milk down right there every morning, and then be dropped to school. I cannot imagine doing that now, be seen glugging milk with wild abandon at the familiar blue and white Mother Dairy kiosk in school uniform, yet the taste of pasteurized milk ‘from the tap’ is a happy memory, a nostalgic connect. GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles Decades later, I used to take my little one to buy milk, pop the token or ‘coin’ into the slot at the kiosk, telling him that there was a cow on the other side that delivers milk. For several years he naively believed me, and still laughs each time we pass the kiosk or stop by to buy something from there. I suspect a lot of folk might have carried similar tales to little ones back then, the fascination writ across faces completely worth every token of milk drawn! Kids are less gullible now, and Mother Dairy has moved on from milk and butter to a lot more!

The journey seeing them expand has been a fulfilling one. I still remember the first tub of blueberry yogurt I raced home with, and the whoop of delight my daughter let out. It was her favourite one, a product that till today remains on top of her list. Then came more stuff and we were spoilt for choice. Mishti Doi, Aam Doi, Mango Yogurt, Blueberry Yogurt, Mango Lassi, Strawberry Lassi all regulars at home. GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt TriflesEven though I set yogurt at home everyday, my Creamy Dip is always from a tub of Mother Dairy yogurt {nothing else works as well}. Quark, a soft, unripened curd cheese, is also something I regularly make, always with full fat milk and cultured buttermilk from the blue and white kiosk! Quark on hand opens the door to so many more recipe ideas.

GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles As I wrap up, I’m going to leave you with another collage of things I have made over the years using dairy products. Hope that inspires you to get motivated, begin thinking and create a recipe for this ‘Summer of Happiness‘. From smoothies, to cheesecakes, to desserts in glasses, to savoury curries, korma, buttermilk chicken, pancakes with fruit yogurt, dream on!

Summer of Happiness. PAB It’s a simple challenge, sweet or savoury is up to you, maybe both sweet & savoury in one! There are seven products you can choose from; details here. Take a look at the seven delicious recipes Chef Vikas Khanna has created for the Summer of Happiness, one that is more inspiring than the other. He talks about enhancing flavours, playing with textures, pairing dairy with interesting ingredients, spicing things up, and last but not the least, presentation.

GF Blueberry & Mango Yogurt Trifles Submit innovative recipes at Summer of Happiness using any of the 7 products, and the best recipes will win goodies from Mother Dairy. 

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Baking | Ptasie_mleczko Cake or Birds Milk Cake … birthday cake and memories of Down Under

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”
Anthony Bourdain

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake …my adaptation. With a name as intriguing as that, I quickly jotted it down as my Ukranian friend translated it out of her mothers cookbook in Sydney earlier this month. There is an eternal charm in handwritten recipes of times gone by, this recipe book is from the 1960’s. Neat, and well explained, the recipes all written In Ukrainian, talk to you, explaining each step. The measures are often in glasses from the Old Soviet Union, standardised at 200ml, a measure my sweet friend continues to use as her mother once did.

Ptasie Mleczko (Polish) is a soft chocolate-covered candy filled with soft meringue (or milk soufflé). In Russian it is called ptichye moloko (птичье молоко) and in Romanian lapte de pasăre. All these names literally mean “bird’s milk” or crop milk, a substance somewhat resembling milk, produced by certain birds to feed their young. However, this is not origin of the name; rather, ptasie mleczko is also a Polish idiom meaning “an unobtainable delicacy”. In Poland, Jan Wedel, owner of the E. Wedel Company, developed the first Ptasie mleczko in 1936. Wedel’s inspiration for the name of the confectionery came from his voyages to France, when he asked himself: “What could bring greater happiness to a man who already has everything?” Then he thought: “Maybe only bird milk.”

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake This must be one of the quickest birthday cakes I’ve ever made. And yet another very very delicious one. You can find my coffee take on it at the bottom as Ulyana decided to bake one for us the night before we were due to fly out. No pictures of the cake in Sydney as we were racing against time. I didn’t get too many pictures of the cake I baked here too as coming home after a vacation is always far too busy. It was however tasty as hell!!

Sydney 2015

Sydney 2015 Our trip Down Under was great fun! All trips there always are! Sydney has been one of our fave places to go when possible, and this was our fourth trip. Like every earlier trip, this too was packed and flew by like a heartbeat. This trip was short, just a week ‘long’, but we had a great time. With hosts as good as ours, the days went by driving from mountains to beaches, with great food and drinks thrown in. Mindless banter, endless shopping what with the daughter with us, too much food,  overindulgence … ad before we knew it, time to fly back.

Sydney 2015 We flew in comfortably, sleeping all the way on Cathay Pacific, with a short stopover in HKG. There too the daughter shopped till we dropped for 3 whole hours.Hong Kong Hurriedly dug into some delicious street food, raced back to the hotel, showered and hopped onto the Sydney flight. A long 9 hour flight, some great food, Aussie wines too, Pamela’s book kept me entertained and nostalgic as we landed there into a crisp 4C at 6am. We were really blessed to see great weather the few days we were there.

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015We’ve done most of the iconic must see places on the earlier trips covering The Rocks, Opera House, Botanical Gardens, Tiranga Zoo {to date one of my sons fave places}, Butterfly Park, Harbour Bridge, Harry’s original van at Wooloomooloo, the Blue Mountains … and so much more. Yet a visit to the Blue Mountains is a quintessential part of Sydney for us, and that’s where we headed pretty soon. It as a freezing COLD day but we managed to stop by some breathtaking spots, taking in the gift that only nature can offer. Knocks your breath A W A Y!

Blue Mountains, Sydney 2015 We went off piste, little walkways dot the Blue Mountains, each with a signboard telling you how long it takes to get to the destination, level of ease …and more! There’s loads to do. Did I mention stunning beaches? Yes those too!Maroubra Beach, Sydney 2015Beautiful beaches, birds, crabs, shells, nature, left over pizza from the Italian pizzeria from the night before, chilled beer though not as chilly as the cold winds, great company … couldn’t have asked for more.Maroubra Beach, Sydney 2015 Of course I shopped some too. It’s always good to know the ‘right’ people, who in turn know the right places…and a Sunday morning market later, I was back a happy camper. There was loads I could have gladly bought to ‘prop’ up the blog, but sense had to prevail. It was a struggle I tell you!Food Prop shopping, Sydney

Food prop shopping Sydney 2015No trip to Sydney for me is complete without a visit to Victoria’s Basement. Though short on time, we did a quick walk through, a near impossible task in itself given the treasure trove you can find under a roof! I shopped a wee bit more here and there, constantly thinking of how much I could stuff back into suitcases. You know! Oh the choices we have to make!

Sydney 2015With travel comes food, and most good memories are tied to taste! Knowing the right folk is great! It’s satiating to explore a country through it’s cuisine, and then comes the added bonus of exploring the flavours they brought from their native lands. So we were spoilt. Ukranian cusine filled our days alongside Aussie quintessential. Gourmet sausages on the barbeque that made the tastiest hotdogs, slow cooked {read dropping off the bone good} lamb-shanks with chickpeas and spinach, Caesar salad galore, smoked Polish sausages and cold cuts, Ukranian potato latkes with garlic and sour cream, artisan pizzas, more Aussie reds, red wine too, pancakes for breakfast with whipped cream and local preserves, cheese in every avatar to die, then more local artisanal unripened cheese as if that was not enough …Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake Sweet stuff too, though no pictures. Fresh cherry strudel, macadamia and caramel ice cream, divine coffee gelato, berry gelato too, and then of course this beautiful Birds Milk Cake flavoured with the organic lemon from the yard the night before we flew out. I dreamt of the cake as I slept on the flight back home. I knew I just had to make one soon, my pet flavours dancing in my head.

Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake That’s just what I did the next day for the son’s birthday. As we melted into a sizzling North Indian summer at 45C, desperately trying to hang on to memories of 12C, the crisp and beautiful Aussie winter we left behind, Ihit baking mode. This cake bridged the gap beautifully, and that is what good food & travel is all about. Makes you come full circle, flavours and memories sharing a plateful! What a delightful {and delicious} journey this food business is!

Recipe: Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake
your picture

Summary: Ptasie_mleczko or Birds Milk Cake finds it’s roots possibly in the Old Soviet Union. A preparation for the light as air filling quite as intriguing as the name ‘birds milk’, it’s a moist and delicious cake that takes well to added flavours. Make ahead and chill for the flavours to mature. It tastes wonedrful as a fresh tray bake as originally intended to be too. Serves 8

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour {plus cooling and chilling}
Ingredients:

  • Cake
  • 130g butter
  • 200ml / 1 glass brown vanilla sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 200ml / 1 glass all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Filling
  • 150g butter
  • 400ml / 2 glasses milk
  • 100ml/ 1/2 glass sugar
  • 3 tbsp semolina /suji
  • 2tbsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp Kahlua {optional}
  • Topping
  • 50g dark couverture chocolate
  • 100ml low fat cream
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • White chocolate shavings to garnish

Method:

  1. Cake
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 X 8″ round baking tins with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt. Reserve.
  4. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, ten the vanilla extract.
  5. Slowly fold in the dry mix. Turn batter into tins and bake for approximately 30 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Cool in tins for 15-20 minutes then cool completely on rack.
  6. Filling
  7. Make this while the cake is baking {or a few hours before too}
  8. Place the sugar, semolina, coffee and milk in a heavy bottom pan. Stir over low heat until the mixture thickens. Leave to cool completely.
  9. When the cake is ready and cool, make the remaining filling.
  10. Place butter and sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth and fluffy. Beat in the coffee semolina and Kahlua if using.
  11. Assemble
  12. Place one layer on serving platter and keep in place with an 8″ dessert ring. ladle over half the filling and top with second layer. Top with remaining filling, cover and refrigerate for a few hours {or overnight} for flavours to mature.
  13. Take the ring off gently, top with chocolate ganache {recipe follows} and white chocolate shavings.
  14. Chocolate Ganache
  15. Place ingredients in a heat proof bowl and microwave 1 minute at a time until the chocolate has almost melted. Stir until smooth and glossy. Cool to room temperature before use.

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