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Christmas

“It didn’t matter how big our house was; it mattered that there was love in it.”
Peter Buffett

Gingerbread Garam Masala House – some things in life take long, some miss the date, yet any project made with love is better late than never. I had plans to make a Gingerbread House over Christmas. It was something I have longed to make again for along time. With travel and other commitments it never happened. Until now….In Bangalore in November I chanced upon a billboard from Casa Grande, and it talked about a dream house. An acquaintance had booked one of those and was quite thrilled. Talking to her about her dream home, for some reason this bakers mind connected to a gingerbread house, a dream I had nurtured for long, something I longed to bake again. That set me thinking about how my dream home might be.The elements danced in my head, plans to bake moving forward. First the foundation, or oops main flavours! A recent trip into Old Delhi meant a shifting of gears from ginger to garam masala in flavouring. Such is the power of inspiration. My dream home would have garam masala aromas wafting through it. I often bake my Christmas cake with garam masala, and I can tell you that it is wonderful sweet & warm!Hence I set to work at my first free moment. Can I tell you that building a gingerbread house is a lofty project, needs a couple of hands to help, is an arduous task, yet you fall in love with it once it’s made? Yes, all that and more. 

Drawing the same parallel, so is the home you choose to live in. Make it a good choice. It’s a lofty order to build it together like this Gingerbread Garam Masala House, so it’s best left to safe hands. A good company like Casa Grande a Chennai based real estate enterprise which is driven by a strong belief in building aspirations and fulfilling them. It designs and develops quality livings spaces and operates in niche residential segments like luxury villas and apartments in Chennai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Cochin.Well they take care of all the hard work, quality work, delivering on time all part of the deal, leaving me to take care of my edible dreams. And baking this dream home wasn’t easy by any standard. You need a firm cookie dough to keep it all together, like a good foundation does a dream home. I adapted an earlier gingerbread recipe, made it a 100% wholegrain and smelling sweetly of garam masala. Wasn’t sure my house would stand but here we are. Looks like it came together.It has all the elements I’d like in my dream home. A rustic look, simple lines, sloping roofs, loads of windows that would let in light, and a ton of greenery. The roof is covered with flower cutouts. A few snowflakes too just because it was just Christmas, and just because I love how beautiful they look. And oh yes, how could I forget to mention the beautiful aromas of garam masala cookies wafting through my kitchen.I had real fun putting this together with the daughter. You do need more hands than one to bring together this sweet little home. What would your dream home be like?

Gingerbread Garam Masala House
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The Garam Masala Gingerbread House is my wholegrain take on traditional Scandinavian Gingerbread House. Sweet, spicy and warm and fun to build, this little dream house is well worth the time and effort!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Gingerbread Garam Masala House
Yum
Print Recipe
The Garam Masala Gingerbread House is my wholegrain take on traditional Scandinavian Gingerbread House. Sweet, spicy and warm and fun to build, this little dream house is well worth the time and effort!
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6-8 people 15 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Ingredients
Garam Masala Biscuit dough
Sugar glue
Servings: people
Instructions
Garam Masala Biscuit dough
  1. In the bowl of the food processor, process the chilled butter and jaggery for 1-2 minutes on high speed until you get a breadcrumb like mix
  2. Add the cinnamon powder and garam masala. Stir the baking soda into a 1/4 cup of boiling water Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375’F (190’C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm.
  4. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place. {I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick, cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.}
  5. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.
Royal icing
  1. Beat all ingredients until smooth, adding the powdered sugar gradually to get the desired consistency. Pipe on pieces and allow to dry before assembling. If you aren’t using it all at once you can keep it in a small bowl, loosely covered with a damp towel for a few hours until ready to use. You may have to beat it slightly to get it an even consistency if the top sets up a bit. Piped on the house, this will set up hard over time.
Sugar glue
  1. Place in a heavy bottom saucepan and simmer over low heat just until the sugar dissolves. Take off heat. Dredge or brush the edges of the pieces to glue them together. If the syrup crystallizes, remake it.
  2. Note: Please be very careful while working with hot sugar syrup as it can burn the skin.
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“If chocolate is the answer, the question is irrelevant.”
Unknown

Wholegrain Chocolate Buckwheat Sablés … dark chocolate, a mix of wholegrain flours, a little all purpose too, brown sugar, sea salt, of course butter. All these come together to make an eggless cookie, the indulgent sablé,  a quintessential round French shortbread cookie. Crisp, deeply chocolate, buttery, wholegrain, eggless, Wholegrain Chocolate Buckwheat Sablés are the yummiest cookies ever! Even better since the recipe is eggless. The only sablés I’ve tried before were Dorie Greenspans famous World Peace Cookies, ones that I loved. She’s since reinvented them into an even more delicious version that I just discovered.

With wholewheat and buckwheat in this buttery chocolaty shortbread, I didn’t expect things to go so well. Can safely say these are my best chocolate shortbread cookies to date, best eggless cookies too! They’re inspired and adapted from Chocolate Sables @ The Boy Who Bakes, and HE is so good in everything he bakes! These are great for the festive cookie platter, fab for hanging off the tree and make a great gift too.I did a batch for Diwali earlier, and now a cookie cutout one for Christmas. With hand made wreaths using the perennial local ‘Mor Pankhi’, a genus of coniferous trees, it was a lot of fun. Made the wreaths for the Teabox Christmas shoot earlier in November, which was a fun & creative shoot. Here’s a peak of a couple I shot on the side, and you can see more on their website.You could always add some tea leaves into the cookies to make this a chocolate tea shortbread. Now that’s an idea I might work on. Until then, here are Wholegrain Chocolate Buckwheat Sablés, eggless cookies loaded with chocolate, and almost wholegrain, with the goodness of buckwheat {kuttu ka aata}. Great comfort food, great for the holidays.

What is your favourite Christmas cookie to bake?

Wholegrain Chocolate Buckwheat Sablés
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Crisp, deeply chocolate, buttery, wholegrain, eggless, Wholegrain Chocolate Buckwheat Sablés are the yummiest cookies ever! Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes.
Servings Prep Time
2 dozen 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 dozen 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Wholegrain Chocolate Buckwheat Sablés
Yum
Print Recipe
Crisp, deeply chocolate, buttery, wholegrain, eggless, Wholegrain Chocolate Buckwheat Sablés are the yummiest cookies ever! Adapted from The Boy Who Bakes.
Servings Prep Time
2 dozen 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 dozen 10 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
Dry Mix
  1. Stir dry ingredients in a bowl to mix. Reserve.
Wet Mix
  1. Place butter, brown sugar and vanilla in bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment. Whisk on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until smooth.
  2. Add the dry mix and ground chocolate, and mix on the lowest speed just enough for the dough to come together.{You can do this by hand to play safe}. Don’t over-mix else the cookies will become hard.
  3. Bring the dough together, either make a cylinder like roll, cling-wrap and chill for a couple of hours.
  4. Alternatively, you could always use the dough for cut out cookies.
  5. Preheat oven to 170C
  6. Place on parchment lined cookie trays
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes until just firm to touch.
  8. Cool completely on cookie racks
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Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan Wines“Cake is happiness! If you know the way of the cake, you know the way of happiness! If you have a cake in front of you, you should not look any further for joy!”
C. JoyBell C

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau … because when a smooth, indulgent dessert wine arrives, you have to do something special with it. These were thoughts that ran through my head when the well packaged bottles of Bellissima and Rosa Rossa arrived from Big Banyan.With Christmas around the corner, my flavours and colours were pretty much sorted out. I knew what I wanted to bake. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesIt was going to be a flourless fallen gateau, it was definitely going to have dessert wine, and the top would have strawberries. Well it all kind of fell into place. I had bought a ton of strawberries a few days ago and planned to make a preserve. Then along came dessert wine. Why not a strawberry wine jam? With winter here, spices are part and parcel of almost everything I do, so I settled for a spicy Strawberry Wine Jam. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen GateauIt came out deliciously wicked. It’s great on toast and in lindzer cookies, fabulous to make dark chooclate truffles with, and makes for a much appreciated holiday gift as well. Strawberry jam is the easiest to make. You basically just cook it down to a nice chunky consistency, discard the whole spices, and bottle the jam. Dollop it over waffles, ice cream, onto parfaits, over breakfast oats … you will love it!

Spiced Strawberry Wine Jam Jam done. That was so easy. Strawberry Wine Jam Big Banyan WinesWhen the jar of wine jam says time for cake, it’s time to bake!! This is one of the simplest gateaus you can bake. Don’t get misled by the long list of ingredients. It comes together really fast and is a fuss free, chocolaty, fudgy gluten free cake. The ingredients should all be good quality because that’s what makes the cake special. Dessert wine and spiced strawberry wine jam added oodles of oomph to it. Subtle undertones of sweet strawberry and a hint of wine make this special. It’s called a fallen gateau because it rises quite normally while baking, then collapses most dramatically.

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesI love the crater the so called collapse causes because that becomes ‘ground‘ for filling. An ugly duckling, rustic cake, moorish to boot, gets a snazzy dressing up. Christmas is here so it’s red, white and green. Chocolate pairs really beautifully with wine and fruit, so this was going to be a winning combination. The almond cream added further indulgence. Then came the ruby red, bursting with flavour, spicy strawberry wine jam topping that was literally the icing on the cake.

Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesDid I forget to mention the chewy meringue top studded with pistachios? Yes, you can taste that as well as you savour every rich bite of this chocolaty wine goodness. It might seem tempting to skip the step, but I urge you not to. It’s small things like this that add to the final delight. We loved every little detail of this cake so much, I am going to bake it again soon. This is my new favourite cake that was created all thanks to some fabulous wine from Big Banyan.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen GateauI have to give the wine full marks. I’d heard the buzz about the wine here and there, and it more than lived up to my our expectations. I might not be a connoisseur, but yes, can tell a good wine. The dessert wine glowed a beautiful gold, while the Rosé  blushed a beautiful cherry pink. I am quite partial to sweet dessert wines. The Bellissima was my first love with sensual smooth hints of apricot, pears, walnuts and raisins; so exotic in my opinion. Like liquid gold.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan WinesThe Rosé got the better halves vote. With the acidity just right, whiffs of freshness and smooth flavour, this wine was good! I couldn’t stop clicking the wine. It added great festive cheer to my food and frame. As I have learnt, if the ingredients are good, you love the process, and then turn out amazing goodness. This is just what happened.Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau, Big Banyan Wines

Do serve some wine with the Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau. It completes the experience!

Recipe: Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
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A deeply indulgent, satisfying flourless {read glutenfree} dark chocolate cake that celebrates the best of the holiday season. Sweetened with dessert wine and strawberry wine jam, festival baking doesn’t get better than this Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau with a strawberry wine jam topping. A cake for Christmas! Serves 8-10

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes {plus cooling time}
Ingredients:

  • Strawberry Wine Jam
  • 400g strawberries, diced
  • 100ml Big Banyan Dessert Wine
  • 75-100g brown sugar
    Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4-5 cloves
  • Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
  • 250g dark couverture chocolate
  • 100ml Dessert wine
  • 35g strawberry wine jam
  • 3egg yolks
  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch cream of tartar
  • 175g brown sugar {100+75g divided}
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g almond meal
  • 25g pistachios, blanched, peeled
  • Strawberry Wine Jam Topping
  • 100g cream, chilled
  • 25g icing sugar
  • 3-4 drops almond extract
  • 100gm strawberries, quartered
  • 25g brown sugar
  • 2 tsp strawberry wine jam

Method:

  1. Strawberry Wine Jam
  2. Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom sauce pan, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the strawberries are soft and the consistency is a little thick and jam like. {It will thicken a little more as it cools}
  3. Cool, discard the whole spices and transfer to a jar.
  4. Chocolate Berry Wine Fallen Gateau
  5. Preheat oven to 180C. Line the base and sides of a tall 7″ round spring form baking tin with parchment paper.
  6. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high, until the chocolate has almost melted {else melt over a double boiler} Stir until smooth, and then stir in the dessert wine and strawberry jam.
  7. Beat egg whites with 75g brown sugar and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
  8. Place egg yolks with remaining 100g brown sugar and vanilla extract and whisk to mix. Whisk n the melted chocolate-berry mix. Fold in the almond meal.
  9. Reserve 1/2 cup of the beaten egg whites for topping if desired.
  10. Add 2-3 tbsp of the beaten egg whites to the chocolate mixture and fold in gently. Add the remaining beaten egg whites in two lots, gently folding into the batter so that the air is not released.
  11. With an offset spatula, spread the reserved beaten egg white mixture over the top of the cake. Sprinkle over the pistachios.
  12. Bake at 180C for approximately an hour, until done. The cake will fall as it cools.
  13. Cool in tin until cooled completely, then gently peel off parchment and transfer to serving platter. {I cooled it in the fridge overnight as I find the flavours mature really well. Take out of fridge half an hour before serving}
  14. Top with whipped almond cream, and strawberry wine jam topping {Recipe follows}
  15. Almond whipped cream
  16. Whip the cream with icing sugar and almond extract until medium peaks form. Fill the fallen gateau cavity with it.
  17. Strawberry Wine Jam Topping
  18. Place quartered strawberries in a heavy bottom pan with brown sugar. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until the strawberries just begin to soften. Add the wine jam and stir well until the topping is nice and glossy, a minute. Cool and chill. {Can be made a day ahead}
  19. Note: Is a great on parfaits, ice cream, fresh waffles etc too

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