condensed milk

“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

[print_this]Recipe: Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta
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Summary: Delicious, creamy, sublime, indulgent and simple, Mango Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta is a great make ahead dessert option. Made with pantry staples, you can use any seasonal fruit that you like. Alternatively, make a vanilla bean panna cotta and serve with fruit on top, or drizzled with a fruit coulis. Serves 8-10

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes plus chilling

  • 50ml milk, lukewarm
  • 2tsp gelatin
  • 500ml low-fat cream {20-25%}
  • 1 tin sweetened condensed milk {approx 400ml}
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • 2 mangoes, peeled, diced {approx 500g net}
  • Fresh mint to garnish


  1. Sprinkle the gelatin over lukewarm milk and leave to stand for 5 minutes to soften.
  2. Place the condensed milk, cream and scraped vanilla bean in a heavy bottom pan and whisk to blend. Simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until it comes to a bare boil. Take off heat and whisk the gelatin mixture in well. Strain and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Reserve 3/4 cup diced mangoes for topping. Divide the rest between the serving glasses. Gently pour the cooked cream over.
  4. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours {preferably overnight} until set.
  5. Top with the reserved diced mango and garnish with fresh mint.
  6. Serve chilled. {Keeps refrigerated for 2-3 days}


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“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!

[print_this]Recipe: Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche your picture

Summary: Chocolate and toffee are a pairing made in Dulce de leche heaven. This Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche makes a fab special occasion cake. It needs a little advance planning though, like all good things in life do!

Prep Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 2.5 hours plus setting time Ingredients:

  • Chocolate Genoise Cake {x 2; I made 2 cakes and cut them horizontally each to get 4 layers}
  • 4 eggs
  • 90g granulated vanilla sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 50g all-purpose flour
  • 45g dark cocoa powder
  •  20g butter, melted
  • Filling 
  • 3/4 thick portion dulce de leche from 1 tin condensed milk
  • 500ml low fat cream, chilled
  • 2 tsp gelatin powder
  • Frosting
  • 200g dark couverture chocolate
  • 200g low fat cream
  • 25g honey
  • Dulce de leche sauce
  • Remaining dulce de leche 1/4 portion from above
  • 15g salted butter
  • 100g low fat cream {or as required for pouring consistency}


  1. Chocolate Genoise Cake {I made 2}
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C. Line, grease & flour 2 X 8-inch round cake pan.
  3. Sift the flour and cocoa together three times; reserve.
  4. Bring some water to a boil in a large pan & reduce to simmer. Place eggs, vanilla & sugar in a large bowl. Place over pan of simmering water, and beat constantly until tripled in volume.
  5. Take off heat and continue to beat for another 3-4 minutes until the mixture cools a bit.
  6. Sift about one-third of the flour and cocoa over the whipped eggs. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the mixture-quickly but gently-until combined. Fold in half the remaining flour and cocoa, then fold in the rest.
  7. Scoop about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl with the melted butter and fold together until completely combined. Use the large rubber spatula to fold the butter mixture completely into the remaining batter. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and level with a spatula.
  8. Bake until the cake beginning to shrink slightly around the edges and the top springs back when pressed with your finger, about 40 minutes. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a rack. Cut horizontally into 2.
  9. Repeat for second cake. Total 2 cakes and 4 layers.
  10. Filling
  11. Mix 50ml cream and gelatin in a bowl. Keep over simmering water to dissolve. Mix well.
  12. Whisk in 100 ml low fat cream into the 3/4 portion of the dulce de leche to loosen it
  13. Beat the remaining cream to medium stiff peaks. Fold in the dulce de leche mixture gently, followed by the gelatin.
  14. Assemble
  15. Place 1 layer of genoise on serving platter and place adjustable dessert ring around it. Top with 1/3 of the filling. {If the cake is dry, brush it with a simple sugar syrup first {1/3 cup sugar + 1/4 cup water + 1 tbsp liqueur if you like}
  16. Repeat with the next few layers and cover and allow to set overnight.
  17. Frosting
  18. Dark chocolate ganache
  19. Place chocolate and cream in a heat proof bowl. Microwave for 1 minute at a time. Stir and repeat as necessary. Once the chocolate has melted, add the honey and whisk well to combine until glossy and smooth. Cool before using.
  20. Unmold the cake and give it a slight crumb coat with a little ganache. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes, then use the remaining ganache to frost the cake.
  21. Dulce de leche sauce
  22. While the ganache is setting, gently simmer the ingredients in a heavy bottom small saucepan. {Begin with half the cream and add as required. The amount will depend on how thick the dulce de leche is. Mine was considerably thick}
  23. Reserve in serving jug and cool until the ganache sets.
  24. Pour along the sides of the cake, allowing drips over the sides.
  25. Finish
  26. Finish the border with dark chocolate shards and a dusting of powdered sugar.


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“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!

[print_this]Recipe:Banoffee Pie
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Summary: Rich, indulgent, addictive, this simple Banoffee Pie {banana + toffee} will win your heart over.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes {plus toffee making time}

  • 1 tin condensed milk {sweetened} 400g
  • 15 digestive biscuits {or Marie}
  • 6 tbsp butter, soft
  • 2 bananas, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 1 cup cream {for whipping} or canned whipping cream


  1. In a large pan that has a tight lid, place the tin of condensed milk, and cover it with water. Ensure that the water covers it. Heat for 1 1/2 hours. {Refer David Lebovitz’s post}
  2. In the interim, crush the biscuits with the butter. Mix well.
  3. In an 8″ non stick pie pan, push the butter and digestive mixture down to the base of the pan to form a crust.
  4. Now cut the bananas into slices and layer the base completely with them.
  5. Once the condensed milk is ready, open the tin carefully after cooling. It should have turned into a beautiful caramelized toffee-coloured semi-solid mix called Dulce de Leche.
  6. Mix the salt in and spread over the bananas to form the topmost layer.
  7. Top with whipped cream.


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