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Sweetheart Cookies

Sweetheart Cookies

Sweetheart Cookies

There is a brand of cookies that sells heart shaped cookies made of puff pastry. Sprinkled with sugar, these were quite the rage. I decided to try my hand at them with ready made puff pastry. If you want to make them from scratch, there is an easy to do puff pastry recipe here. I use this quite often, but chill the butter just a bit (because our room temperature is not the same as room temperature in the recipe’s country of origin)

There is puff pastry available in my neighborhood super market and I buy it sometimes to try various bakes. I want to attempt a pot pie with puff pastry  as the topping next.

These are good as a quick snack to serve with tea/ coffee, if you have last minute guests, or even as a valentine treat (since the great festival of love is almost upon us)

Sweetheart Cookies

Sweetheart Cookies

Sweet Heart Cookies (Makes about 20)

10x 8 rectangle of Puff pastry (depends on the size of the sheet that is available. I used half of the sheet I get in a roll)

2 tablespoons Granulated white sugar

2 tablespoons Milk

Spread out the puff pastry on a piece of aluminum foil or butter paper, smoothen it with your hands.

Roll the left part inwards to the right, and the right part towards the left. It should look like a pair of binoculars.

Slice the rolled up dough into ¼ inch slices using a sharp knife and lay them flat on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil.

Brush all the cookies with the milk and sprinkle the granulated sugar.

Bake in an oven preheated to 180 degrees celsius for 12-13 minutes or till they are golden brown. Cool before serving

These cookies taste best fresh. Store in an airtight container if keeping.

They can also be dipped in melted chocolate for a more indulgent treat.

Easter Recipes ~ Baking ~ Candy Studded Vanilla Cookies

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I’ve been wanting to bake these cookies for years. Just plain laziness that I haven’t done it till now! Somehow I give cookies a very step motherly treatment. Am not very fond of cookies, I simply find cakes and cupcakes much more satisfying to make and eat! But even if i may say so myself, these cookies are very good. they have a cake like taste and texture. they are crisp and buttery and not very chewy. They are almost the perfect cookie.

Candy Studded Cookies

Gem Studded Cookies (Makes 12)

Maida                                                              11/2 cup

Egg                                                                  1 (lightly beaten)

Sugar                                                               1/3 cup

Softened Butter                                              ¼ cup

Baking Powder                                               11/2 teaspoon

Coloured Candy                                             36 (use gems)

Grind the sugar to a fine powder.
Beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy. You can use a hand beater or do this with a whisk.
Add the egg and whisk till it is creamy.
Sift the Maida with the baking powder. Add this slowly to the butter and sugar and mix gently till you get a sticky dough.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray with foil.
Drop one tablespoon of the dough onto the baking sheet. Make sure the cookies are at least 1 inch apart from each other. Do not overfill the cookie sheet.
Press in 2-3 candies into the cookie dough and bake for 12-14 minutes or till the edges are turning golden.
Remove from the oven and cool completely. These can be stored for a week in an airtight container.

Valentine’s Day ~ Cake Pops

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So the first post of the year limps in just in time for Valentine’s Day! Lame, i know… but the festive season came and went. New year saw me nursing on oral re-hydrant on the rocks to recover from a stomach bug and I have been buried under by work. Not that I am complaining!

Cake Pops for Valentine's Day

Cake Pops for Valentine’s Day

Work has taken center stage at the Escapades household. In between all the endless hours spent on work, food has been cooked and eaten, festivals celebrated, friends met, and weekends come and gone! the only remotely exciting thing has been pet sitting Sage’s friend, a chocolate Dachshund called Snicker while his family was out of town. The two had the time of their lives and even terrorized pedestrians from inside the car by sticking their heads out and nuzzling unsuspecting folks!

Sage and Snicker

Sage and Snicker

If you like me are dog crazy, follow me on Instagram where I post a lot more pictures of the pooch.

Readers of this blog will know that I am not one for special occasions. The one time i planned a romantic candle lit dinner, K wanted the lights on and left all the vegetables uneaten on the plate!

Cake Pops for Valentine's Day

Cake Pops for Valentine’s Day

Here are some cake pops that I made a year ago. I actually would never have made them heart centered although I wanted badly to try cake pops, but I did a special post for Valentine’s for the newspaper that i write for. Cake Pops are easier to make than imagined. Crushed cake crumbs, cream, chocolate and playing with sprinkles! Whats not to love? I had none of the problems others report with making cake pops. Essentially, when the cake ball is swirled around in liquid chocolate, it has to be done gently. any rough handling will result in broken cake balls. If you are generally not gentle and in a hurry, you may destroy your cakes pops. Best attempted when you have a full 30 minutes at your disposal.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate, stay happy!

 Cake Pops (makes 12)

Cake – 200 grams (can use store bought, 6-7 slices homemade or 5-6 cupcakes)

Cream – 4 tablespoons (like Amul cream from the tetra pack)

Dark / Milk Chocolate – 150 grams

Colorful sprinkles or other decorations

12 bamboo skewers or lollipop sticks

  1. Crumble the cupcake/ cake in a blender till it becomes like fine bread crumbs, remove to a bowl.
  2. Add the cream to the cake crumbs and mix with your fingers till it looks moist. Be careful while adding the cream, adding too much may make the mixture useless. So add half the amount mentioned, check and adjust.
  3. Divide the mixture into 12 equal parts and roll between your palms like a laddu. Place on a plate and keep it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler for about 1-2 minutes. Keep a check if using the microwave as chocolate burns very quickly. Mix it well till it is shiny.
  5. Dip about ½ inch of the skewer/ stick into the melted chocolate and then poke it into the middle of the cake balls to insert. The stick should be halfway into the cake balls.
  6. Dip this into the melted chocolate and using a small spoon, pour the melted chocolate over the cake pops to coat completely. Do not swirl around or it will fall off. Shake gently to allow the excess chocolate to drip off. Pour a few sprinkles or decorations over the cake pops till coated. This step should be done quickly else the chocolate will dry completely.
  7. Stick the skewer into a glass filled with uncooked rice/sugar till they dry. Serve. (Shelf life is 1 day un-refrigerated or 3 days under refrigeration)

 

For more Valentine Day Dessert Ideas check out these recipes:

Chocolate Cheese Cake

Chocolate Valentino Cake 

Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting 

Chocolate Truffles

You could also give these non Chocolate recipes a shot. Just as pleasing!

Orange and Vanilla Cupcakes

Vanilla Custard with Pears poached in Orange Sauce

White Chocolate Pannacotta with Raspberry Sauce

Eggless Star Anise Icecream with Strawberry Compote

 

Baking ~ Boozy Ganache Filled Tarts (Eggless)

Ganache Filled Tarts

Ganache Filled Tarts

For someone who plays and works with chocolate, I post painfully few recipes here using chocolate… am about to remedy it. I first ate a jam tart was in college when my friend got some and I was so smitten. I thought her grandmother (who made them) was some angel with a magic wand. the same year, I spent good friday and easter with them in their home at Trivandrum and indeed her grandmother was an angel with a magic wand. For four days, all I did was gorge on amazing food and sleep like a hibernating bear…. I cannot forget her sweet face and impeccably kept home… more importantly, the warmth of her heart and the terrific relationship she had with her granddaughter, my friend D.

On that nostalgic note, each time I make tarts, I think of Ammachi… This batch was made almost a year ago and filled with Chocolate Ganache.

tart shells

tart shells

Ganache Filled Tarts

For the tart shell (Makes about 14-16 medium tart shells)

Maida – 1½ cup

Chilled butter – ½ cup (cut into small pieces)

Pinch of salt

Ice cold water – 1-2 teaspoons

With your fingers, mix the butter into the Maida till it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the iced water and gently knead into dough. Keep in the fridge for an hour. Make two portions of the dough, using a clean surface; gently roll out using very little dry flour. Make a large chapatti and cut out enough dough to line a tart shell. Press into it carefully and prick all over with a fork. Repeat till all the dough is used up. Preheat oven to 210 degrees C, fill the tart shells with beans or raw rice and bake for 12 minutes or till the edges are golden. Remove and cool completely.

tart shells

tart shells

Chocolate Ganache Filling:

Dark chocolate slab – 100 grams

Milk chocolate slab – 50 grams

Milk – ¼ cup

Whiskey or brandy – 1 teaspoon (optional)

In a bowl kept over boiling water, melt the chocolate and mix well. Add the milk and the alcohol (if using) and thoroughly mix. This is the ganache to be poured into the tart shells just before serving. If you want to store it, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge; gently reheat over a pan of hot water to use.

Baking ~ Cranberry Almond Biscotti

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Its almost the end of the month. But missing deadlines is my speciality. I do it like there is greatness in it. Sometimes I don’t miss deadlines, I discard tasks completely and feign it wasn’t important enough to do, so to hell with the deadline anyway!

Having said that, there is allegiance in me so strong, that I just wish I take up more significant causes, cos my conscience sometimes never ever gives up. Pushing me to do stuff which in my mind I had thought it was ok to abandon.

Confused? Don’t be. Its just that, no one wanted it to lose steam. The baking club I mean. Both my namesakes, Aparna and yours truly. We did the mango pound cake with all enthusiasm and then poooof! It was like suddenly thunder struck and lightening did us in. only each of us had a valid reason to not finish the theme this month which was biscotti. Only Arundathi Krishna finished it well ahead of time and posted to…so brownie… err biscotti points to her. Much as I tried to finish this biscotti baking business, my head was spinning around and I was going nuts. Ask my husband K he will vouch for the loony I became this month. I had grand plans to get my apartment painted and that snowballed into an activity that drove me to my edge and made me look like I would have been a better person if I was on drugs!

Anyone who has taken up a remodeling activity while living on the premises will tell you its not such a great idea. Further, anyone who has dealt with labour inIndiawill tell you how they have a mind of their own even if you are paying their wages! Add to that my hormones were in overdrive with an impending birthday looming large over my head and a visit from the mater. All this was brought to a head because I have a house full of so much stuff, I do not know when I acquired most of it, I do not know what to do with it and seriously made me aware of the addiction I have for knick knacks!

So apart from tearing my hair out, whining all evening once K got back from work, painting the study a shade of blue grey and the ceiling of a bedroom green with stark white walls, I was generally being such a pain in the backside even I couldn’t bear myself. Then I went and baked biscotti.

To describe to you the aromas of baking biscuits in a house that looked like the tsunami had hit it is going to be impossible! Lets just say that I sat on my gorgeous sunny now painted warm yellow balcony to enjoy this fantastic biscotti with a cup of elaichi chai, everything was made worthwhile, even turning a year older!

I followed the recipe from Joy of Baking and added chopped almonds in place of pistachios. I got about 14 pieces, but i think i needed to slice them thinner. Below is my version

Cranberry and Almond Biscotti

2/3 cup (135 grams) granulated whitesugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoonpure vanilla extract

1 teaspoonbaking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) all-purposeflour

1/2 cup (60 grams) Almonds, chopped roughly

1/2 cup (75 grams) dried cranberries or cherries (can also substitute with tutti fruitti, raisins or any other sweet dry fruit of choice)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminium foil.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the sugar and eggs on high speed until thick, pale, and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  (When you slowly raise the beaters the batter will fall back into the bowl in slow ribbons.)  At this point beat in the vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to the egg mixture and beat until combined.  Fold in the chopped pistachios and cranberries.

Transfer the dough to your foil lined baking sheet and form into a log, about 12 inches (30 cm) long and 3 1/2 inches (9 cm) wide.  You may have to dampen your hands to form the log as the dough is quite sticky. Bake for25 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Transfer the log to a cutting board and cut into 3/4 inch (2 cm) slices, on the diagonal.  Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet.  Bake for about 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 16 – 20 biscotti.


Baking Escapades #17 – Spice it up!! Whole Wheat Ginger Cookies and Masala Tea Recipe

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The Monsoon is my favourite time of the year…..i forget about the wetness and the slush and the inconveniences people face…..i love to curl up on a chair, feet nicely tucked under me and sip on a cup of hot spicy tea…..sweet and strong and flavoured with ginger…..i love the smell of the earth after the rains wash it….

This year we almost didn’t have the rains….there was talk of the rains having failed and all that…..it affects the entire ecosystem…..reservoirs dry up which badly affects water and electricity supply….i was saddened that I wont have my favourite season……and then it came upon us…..later than usual….but in full gusto…..it has been raining pretty incessantly for the last couple of weeks…..just the perfect time for some ginger spiced cookies and ginger chai…..

I made these cookies from sunitha’s blog…..infact Deeba mentioned them and I was interested..i tried them and we loved them….just the right chewiness…..spiced and very mildly sweet….what’s more…they’re made of whole wheat flour…..these cookies have become rather regular at home….its just that the rains have made them all the more special…..

Read the rest of this entry

The Year That Was ~ 2007 ~ A Roundup of Recipes

Today’s the last day of this fabulous year….and tho I hate to see it go; I am filled with hope for the year that 2008 will be…. In many ways, 2007 has been a defining year for me…. If you read my other blog you will know that there have been many firsts for me this year…..things that I gingerly took a step forward to and they firmly became some of the best things I ever did…… this blog for instance…..for much time I was a lurker and trawler of food blogs and looked at them with amazement and awe….and then with one uncertain step I plunged into it…..not knowing if I would be read at all…yet the want to be part of this celebration of all things food was too strong for me to ignore….. I watch with amazement as the modest numbers go up on my stats counter…. More than anything, I am happy with the people I have met and the familiar comfort I feel when I know I am part of this tribe that celebrates food just like I do….the people I have learnt so much from, who’s recipes I have tried with much success, today I am so much more sensitive to what I eat, cook and try out…I am more observant of ingredients and flavors and most of all am willing to try out anything atleast once….of course K accuses me of not cooking for him but for the blog these days…. but then I guess all spouses of food bloggers suffer from the same malaise…..

Apart from a look back and nostalgia, Nupur called out for the best of 2007….. so here it is…..with less than 50 posts and almost those many recipes …..my top ten recipes of the year….these aren’t in any particular order….they’ve graced my blog, table and parties…. Its great to be able to revisit them and share them with you…..

Chocolate Truffles

Chocolate Truffles

Hand Made Chocolates

Hand Made Chocolates

Truffles and homemade chocolate

For the contribution they have made to my life this year, truffles and homemade chocolates they deserve pride of place on this list….chocolates in a way liberated me…from the shackles of identity, possible depression and self belief….they made me do something I loved and enjoyed, brought me a lot of success….much more than I’d have hoped for and even put me on tv!! Chocolates made me choose what I wanted to do…. Enjoy what I chose and reveled in the success that was 100% my own…..they have made me believe in a lot of things I never would have thought possible and put the crown on this fabulous year that 2007 has been for me personally……..

Date and Fig Ravioli

Date and Fig Ravioli

Date and fig ravioli

This one was truly a masterpiece…it is a show stopper and became so popular that I have already made it 3 times…. The light melt in your mouth crust….The ever so slightly sweet filling, the flavours and textures that mingle and make you savour it…. Ravioli…I am glad we met and made acquaintance….the best part is that filling can be varied both sweet and savoury…

Eggless Butter Cookies

Eggless Butter Cookies

Tarts and biscuits

For the sheer simplicity of ingredients and procedure, cookies and tarts make it to my list…again the tarts can be filled with a variety of things both savoury and sweet….makes for a simple yet well appreciated home made gift….it made me believe I can bake much more than bricks!!

Yeasted Hot Cross Buns

Yeasted Hot Cross Buns

Buns

This was a second attempt and met with much success…infact I ate a piece out of each of the 12 buns I baked just to make sure they really turned out as good as they looked…. It was my first attempt at bread of any kind and savoury baking….filled the house with that warm delicious smell that only bread can bring

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins

Muffins

Whole wheat and apple…with very little butter and full of wholesome goodness….these little ones were a big hit…and called for repeats….

Eggless Chocolate Pinwheels

Eggless Chocolate Pinwheels

Chocolate (Eggless) Pinwheel Cookies

Simplicity is the key that I look for in baking particularly because I am a novice baker….and I feel less nervous tackling cookies rather than cakes….. so chocolate pinwheels takes pride of place because it qualifies on the simplicity factor…but fools you with its beauty…. This is a recipe you can make dough out of and freeze till you are ready to bake…..

Idiappam and Ishtu

Idiappam and Ishtu

Idiappam and stew

Making this was so much like starting the blog…you wacth from afar with awe and respect…then take the plunge and never believe you are going to come into your own…. But you do…and it always surprises you!! Idiappam and stew has been like that for me… its simplicity bowls me over…perfect comfort food, and fix for all seasons

Hara Bhara Kabab

Hara Bhara Kabab

Beetroot Raw Banana Cutlet

Beetroot and Raw Banana Cutlets

All things kababish!!

the beetroot and hara bhara versions of what I dish out with alarming regularity are just a couple of ways to bring nutrition to the table…who can refuse a cutlet when offered? I haven’t encountered anyone till date who does…. Imagine nutrition and taste in one package….

Spice Powders

Spice Powders

Dynamite heaps

spice powders…or chutney podis make it to the list due to their sheer versatility…. They can spice up happenings like none other….idlies, dosas, steaming hot rice, bread and sprinkled on veggies too…..they are time savers and deliver a substantial spice kick

Molagootal

Molagootal

Molagootan

One of the simplest dishes to make and soothing on the palette and the digestive system….from my training under MIL dishes, this one takes the cake for simplicity, appeal and wholesome goodness….

As I went through the picture files, I have realized that I could have put up a much better show with all that I hoarded….so to more frequent and better posts in the new year then!! As I look back on the year of food blogging, I am so happy with finding and being a part of this world…. To meet so many people with similar interests….to be able to find almost any recipe that you are looking for…. With step by step instructions and pictures of real food…. to know that you are one with a tribe of people who don’t think it is weird to discuss kitchen ingredients….to see a little bit of everyones life at the table….peeking into personalities and homes and lives….we are interwoven in the strongest bonds of all….food…..of blog events, deadlines and celebrations!! Of not being able to wait till you post…taking endless pictures, editing and agonizing over them….of the reassurance in the form of comments and feedback….it brings joy known only to a blogger….

I also learnt so much about healthy vegetarian cooking…. That it doesn’t have to be drowning in oil and masala to tickle your tongue….

I learnt that tho this is part of my life for long time now….i need to let go of an all consuming obsession…. Infact in a surprising manner, this blog has helped me put so many things into perspective…and because its out there for the world to see….it has meant a deeper commitment to many of the decisions that I have made….

So in the new year, I hope to explore much more than I thought I would….to cook better, wholesome and innovative meals….to experience once again the joy of creating a meal or a dish … to eat healthier….

A big thank you to all my friends, family …..thanks for being there and for being you…

A warm hug and a huge thank you to you – my readers …………. thanks for coming back to Escapades…for holding my hand through these first few steps…..for all the feedback and encouragement, I am grateful….truly and honestly…..for appreciating all that I have attempted…. escapades has a little bit of me everywhere….and if there is something in particular you’d like to see here, please do let me know….

Finally….to K…my soulmate…. Who painstakingly sat through my bouts of cooking, serving, clicking, surfing, writing and posting…who became my unofficial photographer just to make things easier for me…. Who has valiantly tried to answer the barrage of most inane questions like the 3rd degree…. For being the taster, appreciator of all my culinary escapades…. You know what I want to say to you….

Have a great end to this year everyone……and have a fabulous new year, filled with all that you truly want….may we find answers to the questions we want to ask…and happiness in all that we do…. Have a wonderful new year!!

Cheers!!

To the stars in the sky and our dreams!!

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