Friday, August 24, 2012

Colourful ChocoChip Cookie Bites

It was a long time since I had baked cookies. After the Reine de Saba I was slightly busy and morally down thanks to the flop show. But hey, a cookie always lifts my spirits especially a chocochip cookie. So I digged into my bookmarked recipe file, found one which I had actually torn from a magazine and voila they also had a twist suggested to the regular cookie. It was to bake it in muffin tins so that you get a cookie cupcake (or is it a cupcake cookie). And thats exactly what I did and here it is.

All Purpose Flour: 1 cup and 2 tbsp
Wheat Germ : 2 tbsp
Cinnamon powdered: 1 tsp
Baking Powder: 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda: 1/4 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

Vanilla Extract: 1.5 tsp
Instant Coffee Granules: 1/8 tsp

Unsalted Butter: 1 stick or 8 tbsp soft
Light Brown Sugar: 6 tbsp
White sugar: 4 tbsp

Egg: 1 or Ener G egg  1.5 tsp pdr packed + 2-4 tbsp water.

Milk Chocolate Chips: 1/2 cup + more
Sprinkles: handful


Mix together the dry items of flour,wheat germ,cinnamon,baking powder,baking soda and salt. Keep aside.

In a small bowl,combine vanilla and coffee granules and stir till the powder/granules dissolve.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy for about 2-3 minutes. Beat in the egg (Ener G /any choice of replacer) and vanilla mixture until smooth. Gradually beat in at low speed the flour mix until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of choco chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto muffin cups. You can even try with just the liners rather than using the actual muffin pan and this saves cleaning up time later.

Top each cookie with 3 choco chips and about 1/8 tsp of sprinkles.

Bake in a preheated oven at 325F for about 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes clean.

Cool on the rack for about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

Munch on anytime.

I actually pulled these out at exactly 17 minutes and cooled for 3 minutes and then immediately tried them. They were crisp but as time went by they turned slightly soft. So bake an additional 1-2 minute if you want crispy cookies.

Else if you want regular cookies, then simply drop tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet and bake. I even tried two in a microwave using teaspoonful of dough in a mini cupcake liner and they were done within 30 seconds at full power.  The one in brown liners are microwave ones.

You can even pass them off as cupcakes I would suggest. They have even the line imprinted on them. So why not.

Now,its cookie time. I do not care for milk also. Calories,... Forget it. More cookies I am planning.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Asian Style Spaghetti Salad

Whenever I try something new, sometimes I am left wondering, how to use it. I  mean, if its a paste or sauce then how can we use it in a dish. I faced a similar problem with sambal oelek as it was very spicy. Now I had plans to use it in a dip, but the heat from the chiles always pulled me back. Then recently I tried a soup in which I added it to he dressing along with coconut milk and found that though sambal oelek makes he soup spicy, it does not assert itself too much. Something similar happens when we add wasabi to a dish. Since the soup was a hit, I decided to try out a dressing with sambal oelek and coconut milk for my spaghetti and tuned it into an Asian style salad.

Spaghetti: 1/2 pack or for 2-3 people.
Broccoli: 1/2cup +/- chopped into medium pieces
Carrot: 1/2 cup+/- chopped into medium long pieces
Bean Sprouts: handful
Peanut Oil : 1-2 tsp

Coconut Milk: 1/2-3/4 cup
Sambal Oelek: 2 tsp +/-
Soy Sauce: 3-4 tsp


Prepare spaghetti as per package instructions. Just 2-3 minutes before it is done, add in the carrot and broccoli pieces and continue. The intention is to blanch them so that they are cooked but still crunchy. 

While the pasta is being cooked, prepare the dressing. Add together the coconut milk,soy sauce and sambal oelek and you will get a light brown colour dressing (white coconut milk + brown soy) with specks of red (from the sambal oelek). I used medium thick coconut milk for this though please use as per your choice. If you feel the dressing is too thick, then add pasta water to dilute the dressing.

Once done , drain and keep aside the pasta water and drizzle little peanut oil so hat the mix does not turn dry.Add in the dressing and toss together so that the flavours are  mingled. 

Serve warm in bowl as a hearty meal.

Simple,easy to make and spicy and comforting. The sambal oelek is not overpowering thanks to the coconut milk but it does provide the warmth needed in the chilly nights.Its definitely coconut milk that asserts itself and thus this comforting dish which finds its way to NCR: Coconut at Tinned Tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Experiments with Reine De Saba by Julia Child

Sometime, Pride comes before a fall. Atleast this is the case with me when I attempted the Queen of Cakes by Julia Child - a Reine de Saba with Chocolate Frosting. Almost a month back, I had joined "Baking Partners" and this month  or today which is Julia Childs Birthday we were supposed to bake and post the cake and I am left with no pics just a fallen attitude and 3 attempts at the cake.Let see what good comes out of it.

The moment I got the recipe, I started getting nightmares on how the cake will turn out when I try an eggless version.Finally I could take no more, I baked it a week back with my chosen replacements for yolks and whites beaten stiff and with a serious bit of advice on egg replacements from my baking Guru- Aparna of MyDiverseKitchen. Thus was born the first version.

For this First version, I followed the recipe to the 'T' with just replacements for egg yolks and egg white.The cake has very little flour in it and completely depends on the eggs for binding, leavening and rising. Thus it uses 3 eggs separated - or 3 yolks and 3 whites where the whites are beaten stiff before folding into the cake.
Now egg yolks are protein rich and I thought of replacing them with flax with little besan/chickpea flour thrown in along with the cake flour as besan helps in binding. For the egg whites ,I relied on Ener G egg replacer  powder as I have read that it can be really whipped into peaks. Now I had tried baking meringue cookies with Ener G and they were okish. I had just followed a recipe from the net and found that Ener G does hold soft peaks- atleast mine were never stiff.

And for leavening ,I decided to add the baking powder. I used 1/2 tsp of baking powder which I whipped in with the Ener G egg whites and salt and they really helped stabilize the foam or soft peaks. I also decided to add extra liquid as needed because both Ener G and Besan absorb moisture and have a tendency to make the dish look more dry than it should be.

The cake was almost perfect except for the rise. The top was a bit dry because of a minute or two of overbaking, and the cake was dense and chewy with yes just an inch of rise.The cake had stuck to the baking time of 25 minutes mentioned in the recipe as well.

I was  positively happy with the cake and decided to cut it even though I had not frosted it and what more did not even click  nice picture.I was under the impression that if the first one is this good, then the next one will be better.I was in definitely in fools paradise.But if you were with me then you would have agreed. The cake was perfect. I really felt it was "THE" Queen of cakes. Ofcourse being an eggless version, it might not be holding a chance with the original, but it was EXCELLENT.

  And me in that chocoholic high decided to experiment with it. That definitely was when the nightmares started coming true. For the second version, I replaced the cake flour with all purpose flour and besan and added 1.5 tsp of baking powder to the flour mix instead of Ener G and attempted the cake.I had heard that cake flour which has cornstarch in it makes the cake more dense.Since I am using EnerG which already has several starches, I thought avoiding cornstarch/cake flour would make it less dense. Also flax contributes chewiness though the oils released from flax might make the product moist. Also in my enthusiasm, I forgot to add the pinch of salt while whipping EnerG whites and I found that the peaks became flat within minutes. 

I had heard of salt being used while whipping egg whites and even the recipe insists on that, but never thought this being true for a replacer powder!!. Anyways, I still carried on with the cake and found that the baking time was more than the first version. I also reduced the water by 1 tbsp just like that and may be that also contributed in the flop show.

The second cake rose like anything while baking. I even thought it might spill over and was so happy that I congratulated myself on finding a perfect eggless version of Reine de Saba. But ofcourse, by the end of 20 minutes, the centre started sinking and thought the centres were not still set by 28th minute, I took it out and allowed it to rest for 10 minutes after which I turned the cake over to another plate and look what, it just crumbled into pieces.

Ofcourse the taste was excellent this time as well, but we could not call it a whole single piece cake!. And what about frosting and pictures? Thus I went for Third version.

In this version, I divided the baking powder -added 1 tsp with cake flour+ besan and 1/2 tsp with ener G and salt. Also baked at a lesser temperature. Else no change from the second version. Again, the cake rose,then fell,sunk ,took around 1 hour in the oven and then I decided it was time to inform Swati about my experiments and she being a nice person allowed me to write experiences.

 I know Julia Child might be turning in her grave seeing how I have dissected her Queen Sheba, but I feel I have gained more I have become wiser and have lots of info -some little some more about egg replacers, my hair has turned grey overnight, but puhleazze, look at the positives.

 For the past 2 days, I am eating lots of cake  pieces, made using healthy dark & semi sweet chocolate and less flour and healthy flax and almond flour. Chocolate is definitely good for you, especially if you turn it into Queen Sheba. And ofcourse, I might turn the crumbles into cake pops. Lets see..

I am simply posting the original Julia Child Recipe and a small picture of my first version. Within brackets are my modifications used for the first version.


Semi Sweet Chocolate: 4 oz/ 8 tbsp grated  melted with 2 tbsp of prepared coffee

Butter :8 tbsp /1 stick soft
Sugar: 2/3 cup or 1 cup works much better. 

Egg yolks: 3 
(3 tbsp flax + 12 tbsp water blended together to a thick paste. Here I have replaced 1 yolk with 1 tbsp of flax seed + 3 tbsp of water. The additional 3 tbsp intended to take care of dryness)

Salt: a pinch

Egg Whites: 3 
(4.5 tsp of Ener G powder + 6 tbsp of water whipped together with salt mentioned above and 1/2 tsp of baking powder)

Granulated Sugar: 1 tbsp

Almond Flour: 1/3 cup ground (I used the almond meal I had made from here)
Almond Extract: 1/2 tsp

Cake Flour: 1/2 cup
(6 tbsp All Purpose Flour + 1 tbsp Cornstarch + 1 tbsp besan)

Melt chocolate with coffee in a double boiler and keep aside.

Cream together butter and sugar for a few minutes until fluffy and then blend well with egg yolks.

In another clean bowl, beat in egg whites with salt (and baking powder if eggless) until peaks start forming. Sprinkle in 1 tbsp of sugar and beat until the peaks hold.

To the creamed mixture, stir in the melted chocolate, almond extract and almond meal. Immediately stir in little egg whites to lighten the batter. Then alternately fold in 1/3 rd egg whites and flour mix until both are used up.

Pour the batter in a buttered and floured 8' baking dish and bke in a preheated oven at 180C/350 F for about 25 minutes keeping an eye after 18 minutes. 

The sides will be set, but the set will still be wobbly. Take out and cool in the cake pan for 10 minutes, after which turn onto the rack or another plate to cool completely. The cake should be completely cooled before frosting.

I never got to frosting and hence avoiding it in this already lengthy post. 

Will there be a fourth? , A BIG YES, I will be making it again and again and mostly will be following version 1. I am ok now with the cake not rising, atleast it did not crumble.

Kudos to you if you reached the end of this post by reading carefully. 
Kudos to others who reached the end without reading - you are definitely faster than Usain Bolt.

Friday, August 10, 2012

White Hot Chocolate

Though the monsoon is delayed, it is very windy here. Wind makes such sounds and is so forceful, we can see  items flown away lying around in the lawns and gardens. Its very chilly and cold and such evenings and nights definitely call for comforting hot chocolate. Though hot chocolate or even hot cocoa are regulars here, I have never experimented with white chocolate. I am not a great fan of white chocolate and have recently started using it in baking but a hot chocolate drink is always welcome.And as with any chocolate  dish, the white hot chocolate turned out awesome. There is not such standard recipe for this and on googling you can find several. Let me just add mine also to that evergrowing list.

White Chocolate : 2 tbsp atleast ,grated/chopped

Milk: 1 cup
Vanilla: 1/4 tsp or few drops

Garnish: grate dark chocolate/chocolate shavings 

Sugar: as per taste
Spices: fresh grated nutmeg, Powdered cinnamon
Flavourings: Peppermint instead of vanilla, Coffee 

In a deep sauce pan, bring milk to boil. If you like, you can add in fine powdered spices like cinnamon, nutmeg etc to it. Take it off from heat and mix in vanilla.

Meanwhile, add grated white chocolate to the serving mug. Pour hot flavoured milk to this mug/cup and stir well so that the chocolate dissolves and a froth is formed on the cup surface. 

Serve warm garnished.

You can actually add spices or even pinch of coffee powder to the cup before adding hot milk. You can add several spice combinations and even choice of extracts like peppermint to this drink. You can even make it vegan by using nut milk or choice of vegan diary alternative.You can even go for light or heavy cream along with milk or plainly replace milk with cream.

Optionally add the sweetener. The white chocolate has sugar in it. If you feel the drink is not sweet add in more grated white chocolate or even sugar or any sweetener that you prefer.

The pics were taken in a hurry and might not interest you, but trust me the drink is perfect for cold nights. Chocolate does make it heaven.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Savoury South Indian Shortbread - Khara Biscuits

If you are a resident of Karnataka especially, South Bangalore area, you would have seen and visited an Iyengar Bakery.Or you must have atleast heard of them. These are famous old style bakeries specialising in eggless bakes. If that doesn't ring a bell, then I suggest you visit an Iyengar bakery at evening time. There is such a rush between 3 to 4 for hot fresh masala sandwich, buns, cookies and cakes. I usually prefer the savoury items and unless you are dot on time, you will never get them. So I was very happy to see the savoury shortbread cookies from these bakeries in Priya's Blog with whom I am paired this edition of Blog Hop Wednesdays, an event by Radhika. It was also a long time since I baked cookies and longer since anything savoury. And these were simple to make as well. 

All Purpose Flour: 2 cups
Butter/Shortening: 1/3 cup soft
Sugar: 4 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Yogurt: 2 + tbsp

Grind to a coarse paste OR Chop Finely
Green Chillies: 6 or as per taste (I used my green Chile paste)
Coriander Leaves: 2-3 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1/4 tsp + as per taste
Curry Leaves: few (optional)

Cream together sugar and butter for a few minutes till creamy. Add 2 tbsp yogurt and continue to beat. Add in the dry mix of flour+salt and continue to beat to incorporate it. 

You might have to get down and knead the mix with your hands to get a non sticky crumbly dough. Fold in the ground/chopped herbs and continue kneading adding 1 tbsp of yogurt at a time. 

Roll out the dough on a flat surface -you might not dust the surface as the dough will not stick. Using cookie cutters or appropriate shapes, cut into required shapes or rounds.

Place the cookies in a lined & greased baking sheet and bake until the the edges start browning for about 15-20 minutes. Make sure you check after 10-12 minutes as the time varies from oven to oven. The recipe said 18-20 minutes but mine was done by the 15th minute.. So keep an eye so that they are not burned.

You taste these once, you can understand the rush at the Iyengar Bakeries.Savoury cookies that are different from the regular sweet ones and easy to make as well.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Qishr -Yemeni Ginger Coffee Drink

Sometimes aimless browsing can give an exciting recipe to you.Its like you have hit the jackpot and same thing happened when I came across this name 'qishr' and more googling got me interesting info on it. This is supposed to be a popular Yemeni drink made from dried coffee berries  or coffee husks. The word qishr or geshr,kishr etc is Arabic for skin. I have adapted the  recipe in and have tried it out easily with instant coffee. I liked the ginger coffee and if you are one of those who like the gingery drinks then you will definitely like it. Its perfect especially when its raining or misty and wintry. A warm cuppa with a savoury snack like pakoras, khara biscuits etc is sure to provide warmth and comforting.

Water: 1 cup
Instant Coffee powder: 2 tbsp
Sugar: 2 tbsp +/- as per taste
Powdered Ginger: 2 tsp

Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to boil. Bubbles should appear on the surface of the mix and then you remove it from heat. Cool for a minute and then again bring to boil under high heat. Again repeat the boiling and cooling process for another three times (its just takes minutes altogether).

Adjust and add more sugar if necessary.It is said to be very sugary -atleast the Yemeni version that is. Also if you feel the ginger is too strong, add a pinch of cinnamon/cardamom to dilute it a bit.

Serve in cups preferably small cups as you will not require more than a certain quantity of this sweet strong spicy drink.

A simple yet comforting beverage with a gingery kick. In Ethiopia where it is called buno (bunna for coffee) it is served with dates for breaking the Ramadan fast during the Holy month.So I think its perfect for dear friend Lubna's Joy from Fasting to Feasting event

Thanks for visiting my Blog

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