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Valentines Day

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
Charles M. Schulz

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic  strawberry topping, music to this bakers ears. I’m not one for cheesy baking on V Day; possibly the last one who’ll bake for the day. Yet, I am a sucker for good recipes that catch my eye, and this one certainly did. A white chocolate cheesecake with ingredients as many as the fingers on my hand would tempt any baker or cheesecake lover. It certainly tempted me!

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry toppingThe minute I saw BetterButters fun video, part of their V Day series, to get men into the kitchen to bake something simple for their loved ones, they had me in the loop. If the first frame lists 5 simple ingredients, 4 of which are already there, then what’s to stop this rabid baker? Not much!! All it took was a trip to the local grocery store, grab some cream cheese, also some thyme that happened to be there, and I was set. I always have strawberries at home since they are so much in season these days.

Thyme, food styling, food photographyIt’s a simple recipe, S I M P L E. Make sure you see the video twice. First to enjoy the ease, and next, if you are like me, to jot down the steps. Else grab someone a willing soul, asking them to play the video as you go along. One thing I always do is follow the main recipe as is the first time. This was super fun, and I am going to bake this again soon. You know the other thing what I loved about the recipe? The natural quintessential cheesecake sink in the centre that holds the delicious filling.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping A few things I might change. Maybe make the white chocolate cheesecake with quark the next time around. I am not a huge fan of Britannia Cream Cheese as the slight saltiness creeps through and takes away somewhat the joy and beauty of white chocolate. Talking about white chocolate, make sure you use good quality white chocolate. With as little as 5 ingredients in the cheesecake, each one counts in the end.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping This is a great great recipe for beginners, for bakers, for cheesecake lovers and especially for people like me who need a springboard for creativity. I have already begun dreaming of what else I can do with this. For now, enjoy it as it is, a beautiful White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic  strawberry topping. You could even do a light jelly topping that BetterButter did, but try this recipe you must! You can download the BetterButter app here – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.betterbutter.android

Recipe: White Chocolate Cheesecake your picture

Summary: White Chocolate Cheesecake with balsamic strawberry topping  is a great  recipe for beginners, for bakers, for cheesecake lovers and especially for people like me who need a springboard for creativity. You could even do a light jelly topping that Better Butter did, but try this recipe you must! Makes a 7″ cheesecake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Ingredients:

  • White Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 200g white chocolate, melted {I used white baking chocolate}
  • 200g Cream Cheese {Britannia}
  • 4 egg, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 1/2 tsp strawberry extract
  • Topping
  • 150g strawberries, quartered
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 vanilla bean shell
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Garnish
  • Fresh strawberries, thyme

Method:

  1. White Chocolate Cheesecake
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 7″ dessert ring or a loose bottomed baking tin.
  3. Place egg whites with a pinch of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until stiff peaks form
  4. In the meantime, place the melted white chocolate, egg yolks and cream cheese in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and strawberry extract and whisk again.
  5. Add 1-2 tbsp of the beaten whites to loosen the mixture, then gently fold the rest in. I turned the chocolate mix into the bowl of the KitchenAid stand mixer as it is a large very convenient bowl to mix in.
  6. Transfer batter to prepared tin and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 150C and bake for a further15 minutes. Fina;y reduce the temperature to 120C and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool completely in tin, then chill for a few hours or overnight. Gently demold and place on serving platter.
  8. Top with strawberry topping, and scatter fresh thyme over.
  9. Topping
  10. Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom non-reactive saucepan. Simmer gently until thick and jam like. Taste and adjust sweetness if required. Cool. {Can be made a day or so in advance}

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

“Bake with love…”
Manuela Kjeilen

Dark Chocolate Mousse CakeChocolaty, chocolaty, chocolaty, this Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake is a chocolate lovers delight. Make ahead and not very difficult, it’s a lovely cake to make for a special occasion.The instructions might appear a little involved, but once you read them a couple of times, you can see it’s not to difficult. After all, a special occasion cake must have ‘some work’ to make it special!

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake So the other day Simi asked on FB…I think valentine’s day dessert is more to feed the blog than the valentine. Seriously, who agrees with me ??? It was quite interesting {and quite predictable too} to see blogs well fed over V Day! It’s been a trend for a few years now. Come V Day and loads of RED pops up across the globe! Such fun to see the creativity.

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake I am quite the same. The blog must be looked after, in turn the love shared with the readers. That the family gets to eat the goodies is just purely coincidental and good fortune IMHO!  I don’t think I could’ve attempted so many different techniques and desserts religiously over the years had it not been for this little blog!

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake This cake happened also because of the KitchenAid contest. I spoke about it when I recently shared the Wholewheat & Oat Butterscotch Blondies recipe. It’s a fun contest, even if only for participation sake, and Ruchira’s been telling us for long to send our entries in. I think I got lazy, until the bakeware arrived. Then the mind began to think.Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte I first thought a Charlotte like the Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte. With strawberries really painting the bazaar red, chocolate seemed a good pairing. So the saviordi went chocolate, and eventually I settled for a dark chocolate mousse filling. The mousse might make for a really nice stand alone mousse dessert too, after you play around with quantities a bit. That seems a likely possibility in the near future.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte The saviordi recipe is based on a basic one I used a while ago when I did a tiramisu from scratch, zabaglione, mascarpone from scratch and all. That was one marathon baking session, and I can’t imagine what possessed me! As compared to that, this cake is an absolute cake walk!

Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake So go on, try baking this cake someday. Be creative, take a leap of imagination. Do a genoise sponge base if you like, with a liqueur spiked mousse. Maybe a coffee chocolate combination, maybe vanilla orange, or a salted butter caramel swirled in there somehow. The possibilities are infinite, with baking fun galore!

[print_this]Recipe: Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake
your picture

Summary: Chocolaty, chocolaty, chocolaty, this Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake is a chocolate lovers delight. Make ahead and not very difficult, it’s a lovely cake to make for a special occasion. Serves 6-8

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

  • For the saviordi biscuit base
  •  4 large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder
  • About 2 tbsp icing sugar, for sifting
  • For the syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • For the dark chocolate mousse
  • 250g dark couverture chocolate {53%}
  • 1 tsbp instant coffee
  • 400ml single cream
  • 1tbsp gelatin sprinkled over 25ml water
  • 100g brown sugar
  • Topping
  • 100g dark couverture chocolate for shards
  • 5-7 strawberries, quartered

Method:

  1. For the saviordi biscuit cake base
  2. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 200C. Draw out 3 X 7″ circles on parchment paper.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder twice. Reserve.
  4. In a clean grease-free bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually, add the half the brown sugar {3tbsp}, and continue beating until the egg whites form firm peaks, glossy and smooth. Reserve.
  5. In another large bowl, combine the egg yolks, remaining brown sugar and scraped vanilla bean. Whip until pale in color and thick {3-4 minutes}.
  6. With a rubber spatula, gently fold about 1/3rd of the whipped whites into the yolks to lighten them up. Spoon about a half of the remaining whites over the yolk mixture, then sift a half of the flour over the whites. Gently fold until the ingredients are barely combined. Spoon the rest of the whites over the yolk mixture, sift the rest of the flour over the whites, and then fold delicately until combined. {It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in the ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy}.
  7. Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip about ½-inch wide and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 3 X 7″ circles.
  8. Sprinkle half the icing sugar over the saviordi biscuit base and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers or saviordi biscuit base it’s characteristic crispness.
  9. Bake the biscuit base for 12-15 minutes, until they puff up and are firm to touch
  10. Cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack, and then gently turn over and peel off the parchment. Trim if required into 7″ circles using the dessert ring as your guide. Cool completely. {Can be made a day before.
  11. Syrup
  12. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer gently until sugar dissolves. Take off heat and leave to cool.
  13. Dark chocolate mousse
  14. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl and leave until spongy. Place bowl in warm water and leave until the gelatin is clear.
  15. Place the chocolate and 100ml single cream in a large bowl and melt over a double boiler or in microwave until almost melted. Take off heat and whisk until smooth, then whisk in the coffee and gelatin. Leave the chocolate to come to room temperature, stirring on and off
  16. Meanwhile whip the cream with the sugar until medium stiff peaks. Fold 2 tbsp through chocolate to loosen it a bit. Then fold in half very gently, then the rest.
  17. Topping
  18. To make the shards, melt the chocolate in the microwave. Stir until smooth. With an offset spatula {or butter knife} spread a 2-3 inch piece of parchment paper thinly with the melted chocolate. Place another strip of parchment on top and roll tightly into a scroll. Secure and put in the freezer for about 15 minutes {or until required}. unroll over a platter, and use on top of cake. {Can be made ahead and stored in an airtight box in the fridge}
  19. Assemble
  20. Place a &” dessert ring on cake platter, and place a biscuit disc within. Brush liberally with syrup and top with 1/3rd of the chocolate mousse filling. Repeat with remaining discs, finishing with a mousse layer on top.
  21. Cover and chill in fridge overnight.
  22. Gently remove dessert ring {use a warm towel wrapped around outside to help release if required}.
  23. Top with dark chocolate shards and strawberries. Leave out of fridge  for 30 minutes before slicing if it is cold weather. {For summers straight out of the fridge should work well}

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“Recipes don’t work unless you use your heart!”
Dylan Jones

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef BunglaIt isn’t everyday that you get to shadow a corporate pastry chef at a hotel, so I was in for a pleasant time. The Hyatt invited me to spend ‘A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla‘ … a behind the scenes of the chefs at work! I’ve met the ever so sweet, down to earth and very humble Chef Bungla before, and was more than happy to peep into his happening kitchen.

Valentines Day, Hyatt Regency, DelhiMore so since it was close to the red letter day of love, Valentines Day. I knew the creative chef would be painting his kitchen red, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I was overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at his creativity, the ease which which he churns out the best of goodies to ‘feed’ Sidewalk. It was a virtual Charlie’s Chocolate Factory in there behind the steely cold kitchen doors.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi In the kitchen at 7am every morning, a well oiled schedule and a well choreographed team, he is at his creative best. It’s pin drop silence in here. Everyone on his team knows what to do, and they go about doing it professionally and perfectly.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi A candid moment sometimes comes by with an old hand carrying a vintage willow basket that catches the eye. I want to grab it and make a beeline for the door. Oh yes, the envy for old rustic things! I try to ‘capture‘ the man and his basket and the whole kitchen peeps in to see what caught my eye! Then they get back to their routine…

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi A giant Isfahan macaron is being prepared under the chefs watchful gaze. Handpicked red strawberries, each chosen of the same size, tops neatly sliced off, then hulled and filled with cream. With clockwork precision, the team works around the huge white marble counter tops as I smile seeing deft hands gently pulling trademark Hyatt red ribbons to complete the V Day look. Ribbons are such a feminine thing in my humble opinion… here you see how male dominated the kitchen is! A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt DelhiThe chef gives his look of approval, then does the honours. A sprinkle of slivered pistachios, a dusting of red rose petals… and we are all set for V day! This is just one of the surprises that they are creating. My favourite of course is the English Mix Berry Cake topped with colourful fruits, decorated for V Day. So European, and to my delight, one of the most popular cakes that comes out of the kitchen.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi The other very popular one and a huge V Day favourite is his luscious Red Velvet Cake. You can tell that V day is around the corner as strawberries paint the kitchen red. Strawberries in white chocolate lay in neat rows on the counter. Not just those. There’s beautiful raspberry mousse for two as well! So much love in the air, what’s not to love a kitchen like his!

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi What’s also not to love about a kitchen that has huge loads of bread dough being kneaded, sourdough the all time call. Chef Bungla treats each loaf as his baby, proudly tells me that no yeast is ever used. All bread is baked using sourdough, the culture over a 100 years old! He walks me through the ‘bread basket’ pointing to the slightly bubbled crust one some loaves. This is a sign of good bread he says.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi Having honed his skills mostly in Europe, Chef Bungla is one well traveled chef. He’s been in the Hyatt since 1982, and has mastered every baking and patisserie technique in his time here. To my absolute amazement, ten years ago he even worked under the God of macarons, Pierre Hermes! Yet he is so humble, so nonchalant, so passionate about the bakery.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi We talk about heart shaped chocolate truffles, macarons, choux pastry, profiteroles, recipe development, European trends, Japanese bakeries, panna cotta sans gelatin {you should have seen the twinkle in his eye}, bagels {sourdough again}. He relies on his authenticity, techniques, tradition and finally his intuition to invent his creations. The passion shines through, his humility endearing.

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi He accompanies me to Sidewalk, and as I take pictures of his creations, you can sense his pride. Take a shot of this one quick he says. Cakes get sold very fast here. After 4pm we don’t bake. Only the days’ bakes reach the counters, never anything from the the previous day. Sure enough, a patron stops by at Sidewalk and orders 7 cakes. Goodbye beautiful cakes, all boxed and expertly packed on their way to delight someones taste buds!

A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi We stop by the Café for a bit. It’s buzzing with activity. At the heart of the cafe is the dessert bar, like a candy shop! It’s close to 3pm and there is a heightened sense of activity around it. The chef hovers around, a keen eye, a quick look over, then we head back for Sidewalk where a guest is waiting for him.

A day in the kitchn of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi After a happy animated chat, he calls the kitchen below to hurry up and get ‘the cake for the lady from South Africa’. With a huge grin across his face he tells me that she has been a guest at the hotel for years, and the Orange Almond GF Cake is her favourite. She knows him by name, he knows what she’ll ask for… and he always obliges. A day in the kitchen of Corporate Pastry Chef Bungla, Hyatt Delhi In all this, I am the very fortunate onlooker who benefits. I get served a slice as well. I have to say, this is the best cake ever! Simple, flavourful, decadent. My type of cake. No frosting, no unnerving sweetness… just good good flavours. It’s one I like to bake myself, but being served by the chef himself, makes it the best ever!

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