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Baking ~ Possibly the best Chocolate Cupcakes I’ve made

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Last year in August, I opened up my kitchen commercially…. taking orders for custom made cupcakes from family and friends and the word spread. Why am i talking about it here? for the longest time, i felt embarrassed to post it here….but it is an extension of what i love, and you my dear blog readers deserve to know…. also, cupcakes are all the rage currently, so i thought i would put the information out there for anyone who wanted to know about where to order custom made cupcakes in Hyderabad. Look no further. Send me an email at arundati(dot)rao(at)gmail(dot)com or leave a comment here and i will get back to you. You could also leave a message for me on my Facebook page.

Recently, I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes with my regular recipe but wasn’t happy with the texture of the cocoa powder only cupcakes. I tweaked the recipe a bit and added melted dark chocolate and a pat of butter to the same batter and the cupcakes turned out like magic! deep dark full of texture and very rich. the compliments I got for these cupcakes alone should keep me from seeking any other recipe out in the future!

here is the recipe

Chocolate Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar (I powdered it finely)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup coffee decoction  (or 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee powder)

1 Tbsp white vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract/ essence

6 Tbsp Vegetable oil

100 grams dark chocolate, chopped

3 tablespoons of butter, melted

METHOD

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt until everything is mixed well.

In the large jar attachment of a food processor (or a large bowl if doing by hand) mix together the coffee, vinegar, vanilla extract, and oil.

Melt the chocolate and butter together (you can heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time till just melted, then stir to mix thoroughly)

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir only until they just come together. The mixture will be thin. Add the melted butter and chocolate into the batter.

Fill the cupcake liners with batter till about 2/3 full.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or till a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool on a rack.

Once cool, frost or eat/ serve as is.

I made 12 mini cupcakes, and 5 regular sized ones with this batter.

Multi city Shopping Guide for Baking Supplies and Chocolate Material

I receive atleast 2 dozen mails per week asking for various bits of information about where to buy material for chocolate making, not just in hyderabad, but in bangalore and chennai too. Replying individually may not always be possible. I thought it would be helpful to write a single post on this for the benefit of my readers. Most of the vendors here are wholesale / bulk supplies. At the end of the post, I’ve included information of a few supermarkets/ departmental stores which stock a few items too.

Please note that these are just pointers. The best way to find something locally is to ask around. The internet is not yet full of information about hole in the wall places in india where supplies are available.

For Chocolate Making you will essentially need cooking chocolate slabs, Chocolate moulds, essence, colour, wrapping paper, etc. If you want to attempt fancy packing you will need gift boxes, fancy bags and pouches and other chocolate making paraphenelia. the places listed below have all of these.

A word about Chocolate Slabs: There are many varieties which  differ in price and obviously quality. My advise to you is to buy the best that you can afford. In India, there is usually no indication of percentage of cocoa which is clearly marked on imported chocolate. the basic dark, white and milk variants are available.

Most supermarkets and large and medium sized departmental stores are now stocking baking material and paraphernalia. A lot of facebook groups also have resource guides with pointers and information.

Wholesalers who will also do retail sales

Secunderabad

Sri Venkateshwara Agencies, General Bazar.

Directions: Get into the main market lane (after the MG statue) and walk past Taruni , CheapJack and Kalpana footwear. go past hardware stores to find Venkateshwara Agencies on your right. The contact person is Prem.

Chawla Essence Mart

3-2-101, Opposite Bommana Bros General Bazaar, Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh 500003 – 040 27812061

Directions: entry is easier through RP Road, Enter at the dargah and walk about 200 metres into the lane. it is opposite Bommana Brothers cloth showroom, to the right of the road.

Hyderabad

Adilaxmi Enterprises, Road 12, Banjara Hills, Next to Familia Hospital, Phone- 040 66633608

Baker’s Kraft (speciality baking supplies store, stockist for Wilton products including fondant supplies)

Ground Floor,Vasant Towers, Behind Shoppers Stop, Begumpet Phone number – 040 2776 3856

Lohiya Agrotech also called Bakers Super Mart

7-1-215/f4, Shop No.6 & 6, Tirumala Towers, Dharam Karan Rd, Ameerpet, Hyderabad
092 46 297889

Bangalore

General Foods and Additives

No.175/3, Opp SBI ATM, 1st Mn Rd, Seshadripuram, Bangalore – 560020

Contact person: Ramachandra Tk

(80)-23367878, 23367874, 23360517

Chennai

Viveka Essence Mart

No 285/128, Wall TAX Road, Park Town, Chennai – 600003

(44)-25350771, 25354240

Directions: This is the lane adjacent to the Chennai Central Station, several of the parallel roads lead to this area sriwhich has an abundance of wholesale chocolate making and baking supply stores. Viveka is the one i go to when in chennai, but there are several others as well.

Retail sellers of chocolate slabs, choco chips, cake decoration material, icing guns and nozzles, baking tins, muffin cups (paper and silicone), tart pans, cookie cutters, icing sugar, food colours, essence etc.

Delhi / Gurgaon

INA market

Morning Stores in GK I

Le Marche in Vasant Vihar (or one of the big markets in South Delhi)

Needs in Gurgaon

Supermarkets and Departmental Stores

Hyderabad:

Q mart – 5th Floor, Uptown Banjara, Road No. 3, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad

Ratnadeep Super Market – Hitech city, Kondapur, Madinaguda, Gachibowli, Sri Nagar Colony and Vikrampuri

Hypercity – Inorbit MAll, Opp I labs, Hitech City

Auchan – Oasis Centre Begumpet, 3rd floor, #6-3-112, Begumpet, Phone: 040-44386233

Chennai

Nilgiris – call to check since the smallers stores do not have the full range of supplies

Amma naana – Chamiers Road Nandanam

Bangalore

Nilgiris Supermarket  – Brigade Road (has practically everything needed for baking, cake decoration and chocolate making, they also have excellent cocoa powder under their own brand.  Makes good sense to stock up, the other myriad branches across the city don’t have as much stuff)

Auchan Supermarket – 3rd floor, Salarpuria Tech Point, Koramangala, Mantri Square Malleshwaram, Bannerghatta Road, Gopalan Signature Mall

Auchan has brances in Chennai, Coimbatore, Mangalore, Pune, Delhi, Gurgaon, Pune, Vijayawada and Ghaziabad. They are a well stocked supermarket and should have most of the basic pans, baking tools and ingredients needed for baking and chocolate making.

Online Resources

There are a lot of reliable websites that have good quality, often imported baking, pastry and chocolate supplies, tools and equipment. If you live in a city that does not have a store, these are good (tho usually more expensive) options. This is not an exhaustive list. Please leave a comment if you know of any other sources.

Houseproud

Magickart

Thebakestore

Zansaar

Tiramisu Recipe ~ Heaven on a Dessert Plate ~ Daring Baker’s Challenge

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The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

When my friend Aparna told me she and Deeba were co hosting the DB challenge this month, I thought it would be a good time to shirk off the lethargy and get daring again. I went over to the forum to check out the challenge and almost had a heart attack that they’d chosen Tiramisu. I mean, yeah they are fabulous bakers and very daring and each of their creations seem better than the other…. but what the heck were they thinking when they decided on tiramisu? For one, mascarpone cheese is something i’d have to give my left arm to buy in Hyderabad, that too for a 100 gm tub and I wasn’t willing to think that the homemade route was good enough. And then there were almost 4 components that had to be made from scratch…. I am telling you, these two were baying for my blood….Tiramisu is something you order for dessert at a fine dining restaurant, not make from scratch….

I kept going back to the forum and took comfort in the fact that many of the DBers had issues and I kept telling myself it was too complicated to handle….A week before reveal date, I finally made the mascarpone because I was having a rough day and nothing like pottering in the kitchen to calm me down…I stuck it in the freezer cos I was still not convinced that I would do the whole thing.

2 days before reveal date, I said to myself…. ah!! Not enough time…. lets just forget about the whole thing…. and so many eggs!! No ways… by the end of the day however, I found myself coaxing my double boiler not to scramble the eggs and was frantically whisking away at the pastry cream and the zabaglione…..see I cant even pronounce it properly!

Its a good thing these components can be made ahead, cos if they asked to be made all together, there was no way in hell I would have done it. To be fair to the tiramisu recipe, each of the components, the zabaglione, the pastry cream and the mascarpone, took about 15 minutes individually to make. When I was done, I felt quite ridiculous I was making a mountain of a mole hill. My bane is the part which calls for whipping anything into stiff peaks…. both the whipped cream and the egg whites, had me at hello. With a bad shoulder, this isn’t the best activity to indulge in… But I did so, cos all I could think of was sinking into some of this heavenly dessert by this time!!

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Sinfully Awesome – Double Chocolate Butterscotch Fudge Brownies Recipe

ok that’s a mouthful….and dont let the pictures deter you. This is by far the best brownie i have made/ eaten…and that’s saying a lot, Since the family favourite is this one……

I did a chocolate class on saturday…. had a blast and had some leftover melted milk chocolate that i needed to use up. Normally, most people are chocolate crazy…. in my house, its ghar ki murgi dal barabar… since its so easily available… there are hardly any takers… so i knew keeping the chocolate as is would be a waste….after lunch, i logged in to check my mails, and saw my namesake’s status – double chocolate almond butterscotch brownie…. i knew i had my calling….

i have this habit of keeping unused stuff till it cries and dies, my packet of butterscotch chips, went from chips to slab all because i’d left it unused for ages longer than i should. It was in the fridge, each time i opened to get milk or something else, i’d guiltily look away… now this was a brownie that promised to make up… so i got the recipe from her blog….and read it… then decided that i could remember it and needn’t write it down…

When i got to the kitchen all i remembered was 2 eggs and 1/2 cup melted butter…. i decided to use just one egg as i cant stand eggs in cakes/ bakes…. funny cos i love eggs otherwise!! lets just say that was the end of following a recipe… too much chocolate cant be bad for anyone right? so i made up my own… and boy oh boy… is it fabulous or what… weight watchers, just look at the picture and leave… cos there is serious sugar coming your way!!

Double Chocolate Butterscotch Fudge Brownies

1 cup chopped cooking chocolate ( i used milk, but feel free to use dark/ bitter)

1/2 cup melted butter or oil

2/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 egg

1/2 cup butter scotch chips

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/3 cup sugar (reduce if you dont want it too sweet)

1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

in a heat proof bowl, melt the chocolate and the butter/ oil for 1 minute in the microwave oven. take it out, add the sugar, coffee powder and cocoa powder and stir with a wooden spoon till the sugar has melted and mixed in well. leave to cool for 5 mins. When the butter, chocolate mixture has cooled, beat in the egg. beat this well so that there are no traces of unbeaten egg. Add the butter scotch chips and mix well. slowly add the flour, 1-2 tablespoon at a time till it begins to look like a giant ball of fudge. grease and line a 9×9 inch square baking pan and pour in the mixture, smoothen the top with the back of a spook. Bake for 20-22 mins in an oven at 200 celcius. Check for doneness with a skewer. let it cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares, dust the tops with powdered sugar… serve with whipped cream or plain vanilla icecream, or enjoy on its own.

Verdict: this is a very gooey in the centre, chewy on the top sweet brownie. the butterscotch chips add an extra crunch. you can reduce the amount of sugar if you dont have a very sweet tooth!

Eggless Wholewheat Banana Choco Chunk Bread Recipe

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bananabread

Yeah that title’s quite a mouthful and well worth it too.

Like most others, we end up with a couple of bananas outliving their firm and blemishless skin. Earlier they would land up in the trash can, who wants to deal with the overripe smell of blackened shrivelling bananas in the house. But ever since i realised i could freeze them discreetly and use them straight from the  freezer, i have baked with them happily. This banana loaf too was one such. The original recipe won me over with the lovely brown colour of the loaf, and although it didn’t call for choco chips, i just added them. I know chocolate and banana is a classic combo, but lets just say i’ve arrived rather late at the party!!

bananabread3

I am not very adventurous yet when it comes to baking and i would rather follow a recipe than end up with time and energy (of the appliances too) wasted. This recipe called for eggs, i substituted that with 4 tablespoons of plain homemade yogurt. So you could choose whichever version you want. The slivered almonds were an addition i made in vain. I had them on hand and need to use them before they turn rancid, but K painstakingly picked them out of the cake before he ate it!

The original recipe is adapted from Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” and calls for browned butter, in my case that would just be melted ghee that i had at home. The second time i made this (oh yeah its now a favourite and i have made it several times) i just used vegetable oil and trust me, there’s hardly any difference that you will notice.

bananabread1

Its a day late, but you started the trend and now how can i not reciprocate? dear dear friend, name sake and sharer of too many kumbh ka mela type of similarities, Happy Happy birthday and wishing you the best that life has to offer always! and also to my friends S and R who together complete a decade together, with one great creation of A and another very special one to complete your lives….Happy Anniversary and Many more wonderful years together…

the cake tin is courtesy a gift thoughtfully given and carried all the way from the US by P, my friend from school. when she found i was writing this blog, she wrote to me and said she wanted to bring me something that i could use for my cooking / baking. i chose a baking set. her hubby works for this company and she refused to allow me to pay for it. this is my small way of saying thanks….i’ve had it for many months now and am excited each time i use it… thanks babe!!

Brown Butter Banana Bread
the recipe below is my version of the one posted on Amateur Gourmet

Ingredients:

6 Tbs (3 oz.) melted ghee or refined vegetable oil
2 cups Whole wheat atta/ flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon candied ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Tblsp plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (from about 3 large ripe bananas)
1/4 cup well-stirred buttermilk

¼ cup slivered almonds

½ cup of dark chocolate chopped into small chunks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown Butter: If you are using browned butter, put butter in a skillet or a small pot and melt it on a relatively low heat. Swirl that pot or pan around as it goes and it’ll foam up and it’ll start browning. When the butter turns a lovely shade of brown, take it off the heat immediately and let cool.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan (9 X 5 inches) with cooking spray or butter.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, the sugar, the baking soda, the salt, the ginger and the cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, beat the yogurt with a fork; then add the mashed banana, the buttermilk, the cooled brown butter, and vanilla and stir to mix well.

Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until it’s just combined (don’t overmix).

Scrape it into the baking pan and smooth the top with the spatula and bake about 50 mins to 1 hr. Testing till a skewer comes out clean

…and bake it in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a tester comes out pretty clean. (Mine took more than an hour, actually, and still wasn’t fully clean when tested, but I stopped so the ends didn’t dry out.)

Cool the loaf in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes then tip out on to the rack and, as Molly says, “let it cool completely before slicing–unless you absolutely can’t help yourself, in which case, dig in.”

Daring Bakers Challenge ~ Chocolate Valentino Cake with Egg less Caramelised Banana Ice-cream Recipe

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chocolate cake

When I joined the Daring Baker’s group a few months ago, I knew it wasn’t for the faint hearted. I also knew that I would spend much time each month, wondering whether I would do the challenge or not. It has been a two out of five for me so far. The first challenge I did was a brilliant success. And I was glad I did it. The next two months of craziness in my life meant I missed the next two, I realized I had to do this one. With posting day being the last day of Feb., I finally did the challenge a few days earlier. I didn’t manage to post it till now though. But as they say ‘better late than never’. I have to thank deeba for the nudges she gave me. It was so easy to let this one go. I am just so glad I did it. Hopefully I will aim for a better track record this year with the Daring Baker’s Challenges!!

“The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE’s blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.”

February’s challenge is a Flourless Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Valentino, inspired by Malaysia’s “most flamboyant food ambassador”, Chef Wan. Recipe comes from Sweet Treats by Chef Wan.

The cake came together easily enough although I was terrified after reading on the forum that many had disasters with the cakes sinking and some ending up with dry cakes. I am not an accomplished baker. And whatever I bake are always no fuss recipes. There’s nothing like “whipping till it stands in stiff peaks” and “fold in gently without deflating” to send me into a tizzy. I just decided to take a call once I actually had a disaster rather than hyperventilating before something happened.

chocolate cake banana ice cream

 

For the ice-cream, since I had little time to experiment, and I wasn’t sure what to pair chocolate with, I reached back for my trusty caramelized banana ice cream that I have made with much success and is a firm favourite at our house. This time, I used cream instead of condensed milk and omitted the raisins. It turned out to be the perfect pair for the Chocolate Valentino cake. I garnished it with slivered almonds and a sprig of mint.

to serve, i placed the small chocolate valentino cake on a plate, dusted some icing sugar on it with a cookie press design as a stencil. placed a scoop of caramelised banana ice cream next to the cake, added a few flakes of almonds and a sprig of fresh mint.

This was a smash hit. The cake sat for about 36 hours before we ate it. so by the time we got to it, it was moist and dense and fabulous. I cannot describe the texture. It was velvety on the tongue. I used a locally available brand of dark chocolate called Marko. It is a no frills brand. And I use it for my chocolate making as well as baking. I must say I loved it. it could give any chocolate valentine made with fancier chocolate a run for its money. I quartered the recipe and made two small cakes in 3 inch pudding ramekins. Firstly because I am on a diet, and we aren’t a very chocolate craving pair. Rather than have a large scale disaster (as I was sure it would be) I wanted to cut my losses.

This I will definitely make again. It was that good. Thanks Wendy and Dharm for a wonderful challenge.

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Baking Escapades# 16 ~ Chocolate Cake with Easy Chocolate Frosting Recipe

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Ever wished someone would surprise you with something totally unexpected (in a good unexpected) way? I wish… a lot of times…when I have a bad cold, I wish someone would knock my door and offer me strong ginger tea….at work I wish someone sent me flowers (k wooed me with this trick)…a surprise trip, tickets to a movie….anything…something to brighten me when I am feeling low…or take my high to the next level when I am anyways happy….

Then one day I thought, instead of waiting for someone to surprise me…why not I do it for others? I know its better said than done…..so food gifts for friends….handmade and handwritten cards….chocolates by the kilo (but naturally!! For a chocolatier this is expected!!)…keeps me happy and believing that what goes around, comes around!! (Eventually at least!!)

P: who taught me to make Punjabi chole, was having a bad week….her one year old was sick for weeks and people with kids will know what a toll it takes on the parents….just watching her care for a crying, clinging baby gave me the shivers…worse still she got sick…..the same week, was her Wedding Anniversary….what looked like a quiet celebration for two, quickly went down the drain….and she was just happy to be able to have a quick bath that day!! So I decided to make a small cake and surprise her…I had no idea how it would turn out and decided to take a call once I made it….to say that I agonized over it…is an understatement……because I had planned on icing it…and after many near misses, ended up with this!! Lets just say that visually there was a long way for me to go…the taste and texture of the cake was great…but the frosting got the better of me!! I used milk chocolate instead of dark / bitter chocolate and didn’t end up with the colour that I wanted….

P and her hubby were really surprised and I think the look on their faces totally made my day……

The Cake recipe is from Tarla Dalal’s book / website and can be found here. I made one cake in an 7 inch round tin. Once the cake was cooled on a wire rack, I sliced the cake into 3 slices.

I used the recipe from the same site to make whipped cream, but made only half the quantity.

Reserving half the whipped cream for chocolate icing, spread the plain whipped cream onto the layers and sandwich them together.

Melt about ½ cup of grated or finely chopped dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave ( I didn’t have dark chocolate so I used milk chocolate, hence the lighter colour). Stir to remove any lumps. Cool for 5-7 minutes. Fold into the whipped cream. Spread it over the cake, on the outside and on top. Decorate as desired.

I tried out some greetings in script with the same chocolate whipped cream…it was very pale and to highlight it, I dusted the cake with powdered sugar.

Chill atleast an hour to set. Remove from the fridge atleast 15 mins before serving.

other chocolate recipes from this blog you may like

Deep Dark Chocolate cake with frosting

Chocolate Pinwheels

Chocolate Almond Brownie

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