Category

Baking

“If it’s not 100 per cent pure maple syrup, it can’t be called ‘pure maple syrup.”
Nancy Greene

Dark Chocolate Wholegrain Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting. It’s been forever since I baked cupcakes or muffins. I bake cakes and cookies more often I guess, possibly, lazy me. Yet when Spring comes and summer is round the corner, the first thing I reach out for are these gorgeous cupcake liners a sweet friend sent me. This time I also had on hand a 100% pure maple syrup from Canada.Both the liners and the syrup inspired me to ‘cupcake’ so here we go. These cupcakes are a 100% wholegrain which is what I mostly bake with now.  I also almost always use natural sweeteners and this time I decided to use a pure maple syrup from Canada in the cupcakes. The flavours are subtle but the health benefits quite significant.Maple Syrup an excellent source of manganese and riboflavin {B2}, and a good source of magnesium and a source of calcium, potassium, sodium, copper and zinc. It offers a healthier alternative to regular sweeteners and sugar. You can easily replace white or brown sugar with an equivalent volume of maple syrup. Just reduce the quantity of liquid in the recipe accordingly {for each cup of maple syrup substituted, reduce liquid by a ¼ cup}. An alternative like maple syrup is a great addition to adding flavour and nutrition to food.It has an addictive earthy robust flavour. One sip, then another … and soon the little bottle is empty. That delicious!! Also it’s ideal for vegans. I did a version of granola with the 100% pure maple syrup and virgin coconut oil. Mmmmm! Do tell me if you’d like the recipe.

While using maple syrup is extremely easy in your morning pre-workout or post workout smoothie, I thought I’d try it in baking as well. I used it very easily in this granola I made but before that tried it in cupcakes. The cupcakes are a great on the go healthy snack, a tiffin box filler, and a great addition to the kids birthday party. That they are a 100% wholegrain and use natural sweeteners  cannot be emphasized enough.I am currently working around a #makehalfyourgrainswhole theme. You can too. Before you cook,bake or make something, look at the list of ingredients and see how you can make it better. Make each ingredient count for itself. If it says empty calories, try and work out a better alternative.For instance, for the frosting for these cupcakes I reached out for the bottle of maple syrup to see if it would work. Yes it did! Just simple cream cheese with maple syrup offered a creamy delicious earthy cupcake frosting. It’s simple changes like this that will lead you to a healthier lifestyle. Take a step at a time…

Dark Chocolate Wholegrain Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting
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Print Recipe
These Dark Chocolate Wholegrain Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting are moist, chocolaty, and oh-so-satisfying. The frosting uses 100% Pure Maple Syrup from Canada.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 muffins 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 muffins 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Dark Chocolate Wholegrain Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting
Yum
Print Recipe
These Dark Chocolate Wholegrain Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting are moist, chocolaty, and oh-so-satisfying. The frosting uses 100% Pure Maple Syrup from Canada.
Servings Prep Time
6-8 muffins 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 muffins 5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: muffins
Instructions
Wholewheat dark chocolate muffins
  1. Preheat oven to 180C
  2. Place all ingredients for dry mix in a large bowl and stir well to mix. Reserve.
  3. Place all the wet mix ingredients EXCEPT buttermilk in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk for 2-3 minutes on medium high speed.
  4. Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk in 3 lots. Stir until mixed. Don't overmix.
  5. Turn into 6-8 cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes until done.
  6. Eat as is, warm or at room temperature. Cool completely if you wish to frost them.
Maple cream cheese frosting
  1. Place cream cheese and maple syrup in a large bowl
  2. Whisk with an electric hand beater until smooth. Transfer to piping bag fitted with a star nozzle. Pipe over cupcakes.
  3. Sprinkle over maple flakes if desired.
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“I’m a man of simple tastes. I’m always satisfied with the best.”
Oscar Wilde

When the Tropical Collection from Chumbak comes knocking at your door, how  can you not fall in love with it? It’s fresh, it’s tropical, it’s everything you can celebrate spring with, a line you can usher summer in with as well! It’s an inspiring line, and immediately nudged me to do something fun. Take a look….

I played with the collection endlessly. It brings alive the child in you. You can’t take us Indians out of the our beloved tropics {for long at least}and you can’t take tropical out of India, so the collection is a sure win. I love the crisp, colourful feel, the energy it shares, the vibrancy it spills. The collection is inspired by tropical elements like palm leaves, pineapples, flamingos and the like.Here’s what I was inspired to do – Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit BowlWhen we were young, my dad scooped or rather balled out watermelons and musk melons on our birthdays, then served the fruit chilled in fruit bowls. For some reason, just looking at the collection took me right back there, and before I knew it I was carving a fruit bowl. It’s the funnest thing to do for a pool party, kids birthdays, an evening pick me up in summer, or an anytime fresh healthy snack.I used kiwi stars, halved gooseberries and watermelon balls. I thought I’d throw in strawberry hearts too but forgot the in the fridge. Gah! Summer will see stone fruit galore, so the fun will double. You could do a stone fruit and berry inspired bowl. Or maybe set a watermelon granita in the melon bowl, freeze, slice and serve! No dearth of ideas when your life is flooded with inspiration.

Chumbak had a #spotthepineapple fun campaign to launch the collection. How can you be tropical and not have pineapple? So I figured I’d do a pineapple strawberry smoothie too. I freeze both strawberries and pineapple chunks, so this smoothie is the easiest thing ever. Throw in a cup of each, a cup or two of water, some sweetener, a dash of lime juice into the blender. Whirrrrrrrr it up and you’re good to go.That’s what the coming summer is going to ask for. Quick fresh foods that will keep the spirit light and happy. See how beautifully they paired with the Chumbak Tropical in the light of the afternoon setting sun? Such pretty hues that go so beautifully with the bougainvillea too. Same colours, tropical feel, and I am all set! There’s plenty of choice…

With a range of cushion covers that explode in bright colours, I think this is the best time for a summer makeover! Vibrant, vibrant, vibrant is all I think! Pineapples, flamingoes, elephants, flowers, geometric patterns {♥♥♥}, I want to redo my place! Oh and the sweet little owl too stepped out from a smitten golden ex Diwali into a rustic rainbow coloured creature. Can you imagine that the ullu {owl in hindi} went tropical too? I fell in love with this little fellow, toes and all!The other thing I really liked are the cookie jars. Spacious, clean lines, good quality airtight jars, and beautifully patterned, the counter tops will never be the same again. Even though I am not a gold person, I really like the golden cookie jar too. It fits in so well with the rest. And of course there is PLENTY MORE to the collection. I just picked a few.My all time favourite is of course the palm leaf pattern line. That has my name written all over it. It is fresh, understated, almost like each piece has been hand painted. The teacups are a generous size and stand tall. The pitcher is a winner and I would LOVE for it to sit on my counter. It pours well, it’s easy to clean and is an ideal size for milk or juice. Heck, it even doubles up as a stunning flower vase! It’s lovely to begin the day with for breakfast. Quick granola and fruit parfaits, omelette, toast, a glug of milk from the jug, coffeeeeeee … the leaf pattern is my kind of pattern. For salads too. The interesting bit is that the leaf pattern fits in to every time of the day, every meal too. From a crisp beginning in the morning for breakfast, to a soothing, lilting sun-downer feel, with calming, soothing hues. 

Even the coordinated leaf platters are darling. I just find the leaf pattern very very refreshing, something anyone would love to own, serve on, put out for guests, hang on their wall as part of a   plate collection. I shot with it a lot as you might notice. You can see I shot it the most. With flowers {poppies} for breakfast, with milk for breakfast too, with onion flowers just like that, then with the Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl . That’s how versatile and handy it is. The great thing is that it pairs with almost every colour and meal. I’m thinking chilled lemonade through summer!

Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
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Print Recipe
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies, and a Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl are quick, inspired, no cook, tropical fruit based recipes for summer! Inspired by the Tropical Collection from Chumbak.
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies & Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
Yum
Print Recipe
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies, and a Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl are quick, inspired, no cook, tropical fruit based recipes for summer! Inspired by the Tropical Collection from Chumbak.
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
3-4 people 15 minutes
Ingredients
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies
Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
Servings: people
Instructions
Strawberry Pineapple Smoothies
  1. Place all ingredients in jar of blender and process until smooth. taste and adjust seasoning adding more sugar if required.
  2. Garnish with slices of fresh strawberries.
Watermelon Kiwi Gooseberry Fruit Bowl
  1. With a melon baller, scoop out balls of watermelon. gently remove any remaining flesh to take a bowl out of the skin. Carve the edges with a sharp fruit knife if you like.
  2. Peel and slice the kiwi. Stamp out stars with a small cookie cutter.
  3. Halve the cape gooseberries.
  4. Toss them all and put into the watermelon bowl. Chill. Scatter fresh mint over it. Serve chilled.
Note
  1. Run the left over watermelon and kiwi in a blender to make watermelon juice. Add a dash of honey, fresh lime and rock salt. Serve chilled.
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Thandai Indian Rice Kheermy version of serving up Thandai in an Indian rice pudding, or kheer as locally called. Flavoured delicately, this indulgent rice pudding hits all the right notes. Sweetened gently with jaggery, the flavours of almond, cardamom and saffron just shine. The texture of broken simmered rice is what adds body to this delectable kheer or pudding.The underlying inspiration comes from Dolphia who inspired, coerced and pushed me to shoot saffron. That’s one of the reasons this kheer came to be. The other reason of course was that the better half has bitterly complained over the last few days that I haven’t made a kheer in years!  As much as I love stirring a good kheer, for some reason it hadn’t happened yet…

Then yet another trip into Old Delhi, some Kashmir saffron bought to please Dolphia and the hub {in no particular order of course} meant that the kheer was simmering away gently quite soon. The recipe of course inspired by the season, all the Thandai kind of stuff I make at this time of the year. Thandai is a spice and nut blend, with ingredients that include almonds, melon seeds, fennel seeds, poppy seeds, green cardamom, saffron, rose petals, sometimes whole pepper too. It is popularly served up as a milk cooler, often with a local bhaang or intoxicant, on Holi. There are a million versions, every household laying claim to their recipe. Mine changes all the time!

Sometimes, a theme helps me find direction, and this time around the prettiness of the colours got to me. Spring is like that, and so is every visit into the heart of Old Delhi!

First I did a Saffron Almond Chia Thandai for  Olive Tree Trading and that really set the mood. So much colourful prettiness and so much inspiration. That’s just how this time of the year is. I’ve dried loads of organic rose petals, so you’ll see me using those a lot.And so to cut a loooong story short, I finally made the Thandai Indian Rice Kheer. And it came out finger licking good. It’s a quick one, one I figured out as I went along. It’s the first time I’ve ground almonds with rice {an earlier version had the Thandai nut mix}. 
For some reason, I loved this simpler version. Here it is, the Thandai Indian Rice Kheer.

Thandai Indian Rice Kheer
Yum
Print Recipe
Flavoured gently, this indulgent Thandai Indian Rice Kheer hits all the right notes. Sweetened gently with jaggery, the flavours of almond, cardamom and saffron just shine. The texture of broken simmered rice is what adds body to this delectable kheer or pudding.
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Thandai Indian Rice Kheer
Yum
Print Recipe
Flavoured gently, this indulgent Thandai Indian Rice Kheer hits all the right notes. Sweetened gently with jaggery, the flavours of almond, cardamom and saffron just shine. The texture of broken simmered rice is what adds body to this delectable kheer or pudding.
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Servings Prep Time
8-10 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 5-8 hours
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Dry grind rice and almonds to a coarse breadcrumb like texture in a coffee grinder.​ You can add the cardamom seeds here if you like.​Stir the above into cold milk with the jaggery, cardamom seeds and cream if using.
  2. Put over low heat and cook for about 25-30 minutes, STIRRING OFTEN, until the rice is cooked and the kheer thick.
  3. Taste and adjust sweetness if required. Take off heat and add a generous pinch of saffron. Stir well.
  4. The kheer will continue to thicken as it cools. You might need to add a little milk as the absorption quality of rice differs. Once it gets to room temperature, ladle into earthenware bowls, individual serving bowls etc to set. Garnish with saffron strands, almond slivers, pistachio bits, rose petals etc.
  5. Serve chilled.
  6. Note: Rinse, drain and d​ry the rice overnight, else dry in microwave for 1 minute.
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