Dessert | Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … Merry Xmas

“Christmas, here again. Let us raise a loving cup:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
And make them do the washing up”
Wendy Cope

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … these were plenty fun to make and absolutely delicious {if I may so so myself}. Couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the bells, to colour our world with the red, white & green. They seemed so right!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas JellyThat they turned out goblet scraping good was an added bonus. Everyone, young & old, loved them. The kids begged for seconds. And thirds. Goblets, glasses, shooters. All fun!Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Remember my very recent the Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Thai fruit? These jellies were what I had in mind initially, yet the rice pudding came first. This a little later. Both eggless and both held their own spot in the dessert world. While I fell in love with the colours of the former, the latter played some more magic. Kid sorta magic!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Of course the Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly dessert is inspired. Inspired by the Strawberry and Vanilla Macaron Trifles I made in Dec 2010 adapted minimally from a Donna Hay recipe. They were absolute crowd pleasers then. The story the same this year as well.

Strawberry Vanilla Macaron TrifleThe magic lies in the beauty and simplicity of the fruit juice jelly with suspended fresh fruit within. One look at the dragon fruit, the black and white contrast, and the luscious strawberries in the fridge … and a small voice in my head said “Why not? Why ever not?”

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly So to keep with the flavours, I did a mixed jelly … litchi juice for the dragon fruit and cranberry juice for the strawberries. How good can good get? The result was fab. I know because I could hear the goblets being scraped clean. Thankfully there was plenty.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly There is nothing like glassware to set jelly in. I used a variety of glassware just because I wasn’t in the mood for monotony. I used brandy goblets, stemmed glasses and a few shot glasses too. I think stemless brandy glasses would work well too. Or maybe these beauties from Urban Dazzle which are one of my favourites.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly The dessert needs a little pre-planning. Since there are two flavours of jelly, one needs to set first, then the other follows. I was a bit impatient so the colours merged a little. No issues though. They still tasted brilliant. I think I managed one a little closer to how I would have liked them all to be.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dressing up the jellies is the fun part. Pipe over some barely sweetened low fat pillowy soft cream {I used an Ikea funnel}, garnish with colourful fruit, add a sprig of fresh mint … and go HO HO HO!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly

Have a safe, delicious and fun holiday season. Joyeux Noël dear readers, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013

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

Baking | Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men …christmas cookies with a heart

‘Gingerbread Men’
Stir a bowl of gingerbread, smooth and spicy brown,
Roll it with a rolling-pin, up and up and down.
With a cookie cutter, make some little men,
Put them in the oven, until half past ten.
Author unknown

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men 1 Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men … I call them cookies with a heart even though I cut them out! There’s really nothing like cute little gingerbread men to bring a smile to your face. I’ve been making these for years, almost now a Christmas tradition.

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men I love the deep cinnamon and ginger flavours that get heightened by earthy whole wheat flour. For 100% whole grain cookies, these are nothing short of amazing. Crisp, spicy and sweet! C.U.T.E. too!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men A few days ago, the husband said he was headed to a home for homeless girls as part of his company’s CSR, and asked if I could bake something. Yes! I instantly knew it was going to be these. He also asked me to try to make some goodie bags for the girls!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men I haven’t had SO MUCH FUN in ages. Actually ever since the kids grew up and kissed birthday parties and return gifts goodbye. This was even more fun than those days. Also very interesting to see the level of interest it drew out of the daughter.

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men She began making the goodie bags in the car while I was driving her back from art class. She didn’t lose interest. For once. She continued to giggle stupidly, sing crazily, talk non stop to Coco while making the bags.

Coco-Santa

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men They are slightly tedious to make as compared to normal cut out cookies. The stamping out of the hearts, the adding little heart sprinkles, and then the smile of course are a little involved! There was a time I used to make the little smileys in a flash. Now with more years under my belt, the eyes aren’t as sharp. So the smileys take a little longer, the little dragees rolling all over the place. Some have a mind of their own!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men Well, in the end, it was all very worth it. Just stamping out gingerbread men makes me happy. They promise to spread holiday cheer, sharing happiness with the nibblers! The kids got one each much to their delight since I was guarding the men with my life!

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Men I made a few extra for another special cookie occasion too. More on that very soon! So are you into cookie mode too? I certainly am. What are your cookie monsters munching? My cookies are pretty much whole grain now. I look back in guilt at the many years of plain flour that I baked with.

Wholegrain bakingThe internet is a wonderful place, and food blogs are the best! So much inspiration, food for thought and so much creativity you can build upon. These days there’s plenty of oats, barley, whole wheat and amaranth in my baking.

You can find more festive food here

Christmas food
Christmas Mince Fruit Pies
Pistachio & Craisin Cookies
Garam Masala Christmas Fruit Cake
Christmas Stollen {Dresden Stollen}
Strawberry & Vanilla Macaron Trifle
Pannetone
Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Wookies {Waffles + Cookies}
Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Popovers
Christmas Stollen Pudding
Toasted Walnut Lindzer Cookies
Gingerbread House

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

Baking | Traditional Panettone the Daring Bakers way!

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
Robert Browning

PanettoneTraditional Panettone … the December Daring Bakers challenge sounded like music to my ears, only that I wasn’t sure at all that I would get to doing the challenge. The year end has been quite a roller coaster ride, at times frustrating and saddening. The events around the world make the heart heavy, yet the very thought of food means comfort.

Panettone 2Back from an early Christmas cum birthday party a few days ago, I bit into a sweet rum fruit cake that was part of the goodie bag. That old comforting feeling flooded my senses. Sure enough, I was soaking fruit the next morning. A quick Christmas fruit cake was sure to lift the spirits a bit…

Christmas Garam Masala Fruit CakeWith the fruit soaking, the challenge played on the mind since I knew the panettone also used fruit, not soaked though. Pannetone is a sweet yeasted Italian bread served at Christmas. It is characteristically tall. Mine wasn’t. I misjudged the tins a little {read quite a lot}.

The December 2012 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by the talented Marcellina of Marcellina in Cucina. Marcellina challenged us to create our own custom Panettone, a traditional Italian holiday bread!

PanettoneI really pushed myself to begin the challenge. One look at the recipe and you will understand. It looked long and daunting. I began early in the morning. Thankfully the Thermomix did all the kneading in minutes. It was the ‘rises’ that took all day, and my panettones finally got ready late in the evening.

So how was the Panettone born? A beautiful bread with a romantic tale. Traditionally it is eaten by the Milanese but now it is available all through Italy and in many parts of the world. There are many stories and legends of the Panettone. The one recounted by Carol Field, whose recipe we use today, is that of a rich young Milanese noble who fell in love with the daughter of a poor baker whose name was Tony (Antonio). Panettone The nobleman wanted to marry the baker’s daughter so he ensured the baker had at his disposal the very best ingredients – eggs, butter, flour, candied orange peel, citron and sultanas. The baker created a wonderful bread which became known as pan di Tonio (Tony’s bread). The baker found his fame and fortune and the nobleman honorably married the baker’s daughter.

Panettone 3Well thanks to Tony and Marcellina, {and the author of the recipe, Carol Field, of course}, we have this delicious traditional Christmas favourite delighting our palettes today. Rich, buttery, brioche like, studded with raisins, candied peel, nuts {and dark  chocolate chips in the mini ones}, the Panettone is comforting and addictive.

PanettoneOf course I had no time to make a traditional panettone case, and sadly they are quite impossible to find in India. Mine were baked in parchment cases in 3 tiny cake tins. I made half a dozen in cupcake cases too.

PanettoneSo glad I made them. They were fabulous! I was unsure if the kids would eat them, given their love-hate relationship with fruit and nuts … but NOM NOM NOM were the words out of the daughters mouth. The first cupcakes vanished soon, followed by one small cake.

Panettone One bite of the Panettone took me back to the Dresden Stollen; a bread that had ‘stolen‘ my heart a few years ago. The Stollen is an amazing Christmas bread, one that can be made months in advance, and one that keeps really well. A traditional German holiday bread, the Dresden Stollen has yeast and quark as two of the key ingredients.

We also did a Stollen Bread Pudding with the Daring Bakers in December 2010; yet another amazing Christmas dessert. This year was getting very busy and my time management was rock bottom {so what’s new?}. The quintessential fruit cake was yet to be baked and it was already the 22rd!

Christmas CakeChristmas at home is never complete without Fruit Cake. I made a twist to my regular fruit cake this year with a Christmas Garam Masala Fruit Cake. YUM! That was what I originally cut and soaked fruit for. Then figured I could manage the Panettone too.

Panettone Lofty ambitions as Mr PAB decided to hit ER running a temperature of 105C on the coldest day of this year. We shivered with cold while he raged with high fever that took us to hospital. Nothing a drip and a few shots couldn’t fix … and I raced home to my beloved Panettone. Talk about dedication to baking!

PanettoneDon’t get daunted by the length of the recipe or the many ‘risings’ … or the amount of butter for that matter! This is good stuff, well worth the effort, and all the ‘risings’.

PanettoneI didn’t get as far as the baked traditional glaze the recipe offered. The Panettone looked good without it too, until the boy saw a picture I was looking at and asked why mine had no glaze. Talk about added pressure. PanettoneLow fat cream + raw powdered sugar + almond extract = good quick glaze. Good enough for some craisins and slivered pistachios to hang on to. Yummy as well!

Panettone I dressed the Panettone up in a collar of parchment paper with holes punched through, threading golden ribbon through. The little ones were baked in green Christmas cupcake liners that I placed in deep individual muffin tins like the ones you see in this Plum Fro Yo. The dough baked upwards quite nicely. I loved the way they came out.

Do stop by here and check out some the beautiful Panettone that the Daring Bakers have baked. Thank you Marcella for sharing the beautiful story and recipe with us. Thank you as always Lisa of La Mia Cucina and Ivonne of  Cream Puffs in Venice for hosting this fab kitchen!!

Before I go, I am happy to announce the winner for the giveaway of the beautiful retro scale and worktop saver from Zansaar. Put your hands together for Kajal @ For the Love of Food. Congratulations Kajal … will mail you soon! BTW, your blog is beautiful!

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

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