Dessert | Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta … Mother’s Day Special – Delicious Creamy Indulgent

“Giving birth is little more than a set of muscular contractions granting passage of a child. Then the mother is born.”
Erma Bombeck

Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta … this is really delicious, creamy and special. Well anything that has the Indian king of fruits has to be special. Yes, it’s mango season and the markets are literally flooded with luscious fruit. This is just the beginning and it’s going to get better and better.

Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta So when I saw the Panacotta vanilla with passion fruit sauce @ Canela kitchen, I knew it was panna cotta time on PAB, the perfect dessert for Mother’s Day! I love the stuff my sweet friend Gloria from Santiago churns out, and this recipe was different from any I had seen before.

Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta Who doesn’t love a good panna cotta, one of the easiest and yummiest desserts that the Italians offer the world? Infinitely versatile, beautiful to serve, eggless, make ahead … and oh-so-satisfying! It’s easy to run out of adjectives when trying to describe a dessert well-loved across the globe.

collageI’ve done several {read MANY} versions of this delectable dessert in the past. Some of my favourites are Bru Coffee Panna Cotta, Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries,  Strawberry & Tangerine Quark Panna Cotta with Oatmeal Florentines, Dark Chocolate & Orange Panna Cotta, Mousse-a-cotta, Dark Chocolate Panna Cotta and Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta … see didn’t I say M.A.N.Y.

Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta As you can see, Panna Cotta holds a really special place in my heart. I love how easily it comes together, how infinitely you can play with flavours and how stunning it looks. Use seasonal fruit, or a favourite liqueur to add some oomph, or just simple vanilla bean to tease the taste-buds. You could also try a dairy free version with coconut milk and cream. Mmmm…Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta 5The Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta was sublime, a celebration of all good things in life. It’s a good dessert to salute the toughest job in the world. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there.

Other Mother’s Day desserts on PABMother's Day Desserts Bittersweet Chocolate Marquise with Crème Chantilly & Balsamic Cherry Sauce
Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares
Cherry & Plum Crisp
Mini Quark Vanilla Cheesecakes with Balsamic Cherries

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Baking | Sinful Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche … chocolate + toffee = heavenly!

“In today’s world, when many of yesterday’s fashionable habits are today’s misdemeanors, we should rejoice that a chocolate dessert can bring so much innocent pleasure.”
Marcel Desaulniers

hocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche 1Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche … a sweet beginning to 2014. Always fun to end a year decadently {Dark Chocolate Kumquat Amaranth Mousse Cakes}, and begin the next one on a clean slate. As in my case, maybe with a dose of some more decadence? Actually, it’s more of a ritual because the daughter was born on the 2nd of Jan. Every year begins with a baking frenzy, and of late, chocolate is being demanded more than ever before!

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche It was more frenzied when she was young as there had to be cookies, brownies, dips too. The works! As they grow up, the pressure here falls … increases everywhere else I have to add! This year was the big 18 and most of her day went with friends as expected. For me, it was a situation which reminded me of Driving Ms Daisy … I drove her up and down all day long! Since I love driving, I cannot complain!

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche The previous day was busier than I could manage. The cake became a rushed affair. I did have this fancy fondant cake in mind, the colours that she would have loved, with stuff on top which might have knocked her breath away etc… that remained in my dreams! Instead, between racing around like a headless chicken for two whole days, I threw in one genoise after another. Cakes baked, frosting was the next challenge. Thankfully I had a tin of dulce de leche made from an earlier batch when I did this Banoffee Pie.

Dulce de leche,” meaning candy of milk or milk jelly in Spanish, is a rich and decadent sauce or syrup, similar in flavor to caramel. Unlike caramel, however, which is made by heating sugar, dulce de leche is prepared by heating sweetened condensed milk. Dulce de leche is especially common in the desserts of various South American countries, including Argentina and Uruguay.

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche Might work I thought. Well it had to because I had cut it too fine. While she had a friend over to ring in her birthday at midnight, the poor mother stood in freezing January temperatures trying desperately to fill a chocolate genoise with a hair brained ‘toffee inspired‘ filling idea. Fast approaching the Cinderella hour, I ended up using an adjustable dessert ring  {one of my best buys in Sydney many years ago} and gelatin to stabilize the filling.
Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche Thankfully it turned out fine and ‘set‘ overnight, else I might have wept copious tears. Chocolate and toffee are a wonderful combination. With less than an hour in hand, I did a quick dark chocolate ganache to frost the cake, and made some shards to garnish. There was just enough time to give it a dusting of powdered sugar, take a few snaps …

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche … and the rest is history! I didn’t get any shots of a slice as the cake went pretty quick after the 18 year old did the honours. I am however sure I will make this again soon. Maybe as soon as I get those cans of condensed milk into the pressure cooker again!

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Baking | Irresistible Banoffee Pie from the Sood Family Cookbook … recipe & review

“At home I serve the kind of food I know the story behind.”
Michael Pollan

Banoffee PieBanoffee Pie … it was the first ever banoffee I truly loved. Indulgent. Addictive. Impressive. More impressive as the recipe comes from 16 year old Oraya, the youngest baker in the Sood family. She’s firmly booked her spot in the ‘The Sood Family Cookbook‘ and her dessert sang out loud.Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain 3It was a winner at the lunch I will talk about in a bit. I had a slice. Then, guilt ridden after a virtual food marathon, I reached out for a second helping. I am not a banana person, but this was different. I got home and HAD to put one together for the family. Unfortunately, things got delayed. A lot.

Mumbai Dec 2013Went to Mumbai for a cookshow shoot {it’s under wraps at the moment} for 2 days, stayed on for 4. It was a memorable experience. Met up with food blogger friends. Ate every bit of Mumbai street food we could find. Was part of a fantastic team. We eventually shot all night long, a’night duty‘ after a long 19 years as Mr PAB messaged. My years in the airlines came alive again…

Banoffee PieBack home and I hit the ground running. The Sood Family Cookbook on my list of things to do {read cook from}. As I flew in, the husband flew out on work emergency. He somewhat managed to fly back just in time to take junior to Hongkong for a short vacation. This was dessert to celebrate!!

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Rich, indulgent, addictive and made with simple pantry ingredients, Banoffee Pie comes together easily. I baked the biscuit crust as a matter of habit {read I bake everything; well almost!}, but it’s great sans baking. This  is one of the many recipes that makes Aparna’s ‘from the heart cookbook a star.

Banoffee Pie Condensed milk is the main {read finger licking good} ingredient here. You can make the toffee as in the recipe below. There is an alternative if you have a pressure cooker {which is pretty much standard in Indian kitchens}, and aren’t terrified of the thing exploding as I used to be at one time. It works well. 

Banoffee PiePlace the tin {I do 2-3 together to save time and energy} in a pressure cooker, cover with water and place on heat until the steam comes out. Put the weight on once the steam builds up. After whistle number 1, reduce heat to minimum and allow to cook for 30 minutes. {or 40 like me if you want it really thick}. Turn off heat, allow tin to cool. Use as required.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain About the book now. A family cookbook is a celebration in itself, a concept as comforting as it is interesting. The value a community adds to a cookbook is huge; a family adds even more! The Sood Family Cookbook offers an absorbing mix {of recipes and food memories}, a potpourri as varied as the mind can envisage. I LOVE the design and layout.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Aparna writes it well, a connect runs through the book. Stories come alive as you read through it. It’s interesting how her life criss crosses with that of the audience in different situations. We’ve all been through the nostalgia, the missing ‘taste of home’, the calling family at odd hours for a recipe, the childhood taste that lingers forever …

The Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna JainWith a post grad degree in hospitality, Aparna has literally had a finger in every pie. From Silicon Valley, to Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping, to the now somewhat clouded Tehelka, she has an intriguing background. Vibrant, warm and passionate,  she played the perfect host!

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain It was a delicious experience to be part of the launch that beautiful Sunday morning. The warmth and connect embraced you as you entered. With the whole family rallying behind the cookbook, it was difficult not to notice how food excites them.

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Everyone had a food story to share, each one brimming with nostalgia about the journey of the book, proud to be part of the book. Recipes were discussed, ingredients shared, pahaadi khaana accorded its deserved status …

Food tasting of “Pahaadi Khaaana” from the Sood Family Cookbook by Aparna Jain Lunch offered dishes straight out of the book cooked by the Sood family. The food was finger licking good food. Each recipe as different and special as the book promises is testimony to how good a cookbook it is. Some of my favourites … crispy bhindi, ghee roast, pahadi mutton {a winner}, pahaadi madra, pahaadi mani, pahaadi hara namak, shrimp biryani. And of course Oraya’s Banoffee Pie!

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