No Bake | Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries … lighter & gluten free | dessert for someone you l♥v

“If music be the food of love, play on.”
Shakespeare

 Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic StrawberriesButtermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries … dessert for someone you l♥v, or dessert for someone who loves dessert! Panna cotta, or cooked cream, is one of the quickest Italian desserts you can make. Minimum fuss, quick to make, do ahead and divinely delicious, a winner every single time.

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries The tempting option of going a teeny bit healthy on a cream dessert, yet keeping it indulgent, is perhaps worth the bait! I’ve done a Berries & Buttermilk Puddng in the past, so the idea of a buttermilk panna cotta was going to be worth every delicious spoonful! Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries 5 Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries Delightful tangy undertones, a gentle wobbly set cream, smooth vanilla overtures…what more can you ask for? Pretty darned good as it is, you can take it a step higher with luscious red strawberries as topping. Use any seasonal berries for that matter, or fruit like figs too. A salted butter caramel sauce would be really nice as well.

strawberriesIf you have the time, gently simmer strawberries to make a balsamic strawberry topping. And if time is not your friend that day, simply macerate the berries in castor sugar and a dash of lime juice, or maybe just toss them in honey. It adds a nice sweet touch to the fruit while making it shiny and attractive to top the panna cotta.

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries The colour contrast weaves a magic spell. What’s not to love about red and white? And what’s not to love about strawberries and cream. AND what’s not to love about make ahead, fuss free dessert? Go on, take the plunge! Spoil those you love on V Day with this gorgeous Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries.

Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Balsamic Strawberries Oh yes, and make sure you get them to do the dishes! Share some love!!

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


Baking | Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake …Happy Birthday to me!

“Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.”
Jesse Lane Adams

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake

A Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake … this is what my dreams are made up of. Coffee in a birthday cake has become a quintessential part of my birthday, a flavour that inspires me like no other. A lot of friends express surprise, dismay and even chide me for baking on ‘my big day’ every year… yet this is what relaxes me the most – baking!

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeThe teen did offer to bake for me the night before! She said she would begin baking after Grey’s Anatomy which continued late into the night. She offered to do a rainbow cake {her current obsession} but I wanted coffee. “How about rainbow coffee cake?” she asked. I was soon out cold after a hectic Diwali. She passed out soon too!

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI tiptoed into the kitchen the next morning to get a head-start while the teens snoozed. Throw coffee into the cake batter and I can climb the highest mountain, sail the roughest sea and still come out good! This is a cake I look forward to baking, one with no plan in particular.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake It’s a good relaxed feeling when you are bake for yourself. No disappointments, no one judges your slips and you get to enjoy the fruits of your own ‘labour‘! Therapy at your own pace, in your own time, in your own space!

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeCoffee is my favourite flavour in dessert, so my birthday cake is predictable. The tiramisu we did for the Daring Bakers sang to me. The tiramisu variants that the Olive churns out call my name. I thrive on cold coffee even in the winter.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI use generous doses of Bru instant coffee to get depth of flavour. Bru is one of India’s best known and oldest chicory coffee powders. We love that first mug every morning! It’s a blend we grew up on, the green packaging a nostalgic bit of our teenage years.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeWhen we were young, coffee was forbidden. As teens, we took our first steps into the delicious world of coffee. Both our kids are true lovers of everything coffee, often the first flavour they reach for. Sometimes, chocolate comes second. 

Coffeestudy from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences found that a daily dose of caffeine may block the disruptive effects of high cholesterol that scientists have linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee is now listed as one of many brain foods.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI am not advocating the benefits of coffee. Just saying that if you are a coffee lover, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a cake like this. Use your best loved coffee brand; indulge your palette!! This Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake is testament to it.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeThe flavours developed deeply and nicely. Alternate layers of vanilla bean and coffee sponge sandwiched with a light whipped coffee cream. I did contemplate a chocolate filling but the clock grew wings. Time flew away!  So I grabbed a huge bowl of chilled low fat cream and beat the daylights out of it. 2 tbsps of coffee later, junior teen dug a spoon in …. “Yummm. Can I finish whats left?”

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI asked him to take a teeny video of me assembling the cake if he wanted the cream! Bribery works. Little hands, sometimes shaky, sometimes distracted, tired easily, we did get something on camera. Will process and post it soon. It was shot basically for the chocolate lace collar as I get a lot of mails asking me how I make it.


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

{Baking} STRAWBERRY & VANILLA BEAN MASCARPONE CAKE … PINK for Pinktober

“Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone’s eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too.”
Gladys Taber

Yes, it’s the PINK month of the year again, PINKTOBER, or October as the calender says it. October is officially known as the Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this pink ribbon flies its colour. I support the cause and do my little bit to chip in towards social awareness every year, October being kicked off pretty early {on the 3rd} by Mr PABs birthday. { I got an early morning groggy picture of him and junior below}.

Year after year, he gets a cake with some, or sometimes a LOT, of PINK! He is a  good sport, and doesn’t mind the PINK at all. There was a time over the past years that the kids would question the pink? “Why is Papas cake pink? That’s a feminine colour. Why don’t we make it blue“… etc, etc! I’m glad to say they learnt the cancer awareness message, and now enjoy the pink with the rest of the PAB bunch, no questions askedPINK rules October in my mind!

October 1st marks the beginning of breast cancer awareness month all over the world. American Cancer Society uses this time to boost their campaign to raise awareness to breast cancer and to inform people that there is now a 98 percent rate of survival if the cancer is detected early. October is the month where you will see pink ribbons everywhere, which has been the national symbol for breast cancer awareness since it was first introduced back in 1991.

I picked some pink off my blog today! I have to admit I was never a pink person by any stretch of imagination, and steered clear of the colour for as long as I remember. White, black, beige, blue are more me, and I almost hated the very sight of pink.  So much so, that my daughter was hardly seen in pink in her toddler years. As time went by, I began to soften my attitude to many things in life, and my first Pinktober experience had me warming to the colour. It’s strange how rigid and stubborn one can be, and then comes along a different perspective, through blogging as in my case, and teaches you how to accept things more easily. Dislike for a colour seems so  trivial, especially when there are so many serious issues around.

Of course I had grand plans, with PINK and frozen strawberry reduction syrup etc for the cake, but my plans went very wrong. A new oven, new baking tins,  and a new recipe are not the perfect combination, and before I knew it I was in a corner, cooling my heels. My baking prowess took a larger than life beating, and I sulked as I looked at the two flat as pancakes strawberry genoise cakes. It was a horror of a day, and even though I thought hmm, trifle pudding, the cakes looked no good, so sadly were binned. I was quite relieved I had made the mascarpone two days ago.

Soon it was late evening, and with the next day being a busy one, I just whipped up my tried and tested old faithful sponge recipe. Things looked more PINK and happy soon, but no time for pictures of the making of course. Old recipe, single baking tin and new oven worked better. But the sink full of dishes, and next days lunch preparation made me over-bake my sponge slightly. Had I taken it out 5 minutes earlier, it would have been the perfect one! Yet nothing that some vanilla mascarpone filling couldn’t fix! Pictures taken in a hurry as we had folk over for lunch … huff puff!

As you can see, it was pink all the way. I had dried strawberries for the top, which I forgot all about and they still lie in my fridge. I barely had time to hurriedly pipe on squiggles on the top, but the strawberry flavours and the vanilla bean mascarpone combined well and saved the day! In the end I was just glad I was able to go PINK!

Strawberry & Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Cake
Sponge
The sponge recipe is based on the weight of the eggs. Each egg weighs approx 50gms.
6 eggs {300gms}
125gms sugar(little less than half the weight of the eggs)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
150gms flour {half the weight of the eggs}
1tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tsp strawberry extract/essence
2-3 drops red food colour
Filling/Topping
600gm mascarpone (homemade recipe here)
200ml cream, chilled (25% fat, that’s all we get here)
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 cup icing sugar for filling { adjust if required}
50gms dark chocolate ganache, optional
Method:
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 190C. {I reduce it to 180C after 10 minutes of putting the cake in} Grease and line a 8″ spring form cake tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt thrice. Reserve.
Beat the eggs and sugar well with hand beater till very thick ribbon falls and holds in place for at least 5 seconds {beat for approximately 10minutes}.  Add vanilla extract and strawberry extract and beat for another minute.
Gently fold in the sifted flour; mix lightly so that air doesn’t escape.
Turn gently into tin and bake for 35-45 minutes till done. Don’t over-bake it or the sponge will be dry.
Once done, remove from tin after 5 minutes and leave on rack to cool completely. Cut horizontally into 4 layers.

Filling:
Whip the mascarpone with almost all the powdered sugar and the scraped vanilla bean until thick and holds peaks. Divide and keep 1/3 for topping.
Sandwich the layers with the remaining 2/3rds of cream.
Topping:
Whip the chilled cream till it holds peaks, and gently fold into the reserved beaten vanilla mascarpone cream.
Reserve 1-2 tbsp for piping designs on top. Frost the top and sides, pipe some designs on top {see video here} and drizzle some dark chocolate ganache down the edges if desired. Chill well before serving.

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

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